Ask Pinkbike: Sizing, Buying, Broken Spokes, & Diagnosing Creaks

Mar 9, 2021
by Daniel Sapp  

Here at Pinkbike, we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers?" to more in-depth, soul-searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand-picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech-oriented.





Press Fit BB Creaking?

Question: Atjr asks in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country Forum: had a LBS replace the BB on my 2017 Rocky Mountain TB Carbon. It didn’t have any issues before. Now after about 1 mile I’m getting intermittent creaking. It was about 6 months ago and I had it replaced with the same Shimano stuff. I only put about 20 miles on it since. I know if I go back there they won’t do anything for me. I’m thinking they didn’t do it right. Should I find a different LBS and buy a better BB? Or is it something a good mechanic can fix without replacing it?

bigquotesIf you had something replaced and put no more than 20 miles on it, it shouldn't be causing you any issues at this point. The first question I would ask you is if you're sure it's the bottom bracket? A lot of other things creak and it's easy to blame the 'ol press-fit BB but, a lot of times it can be a loose shock bolt, pedal, saddle, or something else.

If it is in fact the BB or you can't precisely diagnose the creak, you should be able to take it to your shop and have an open and candid conversation with them about what's going on. If you don't believe they'll stand behind their work, then why did you go there in the first place? It's hard for me to imagine the situation where you would need a new bottom bracket, but if the wrong type of grease was used or something wasn't done correctly it could be making noise resulting from the installation.

Bottom line is, you don't need a better BB. You may need a better mechanic, or you may have something totally different wrong with your bike, but I'd always recommend starting where you left off and if that doesn't work, then it could be worth considering a second opinion.

SRAM
Sometimes you just need to TIAPBT, or take it apart and put it back together.



Would you buy a bike without testing it first?

Question: @kenglish asks in the Beginners Forum: Is it just plain stupid to buy a bike without riding it first?....

bigquotesNo, it's not plain stupid but, it's a good idea to try before you buy. It's harder now than ever to do that with demos and social activities few and far between, but I'd strongly suggest at least riding something similar.

What's a great bike for one person isn't always that good for someone else. That's something we always take into account when reviewing a bike or product here at Pinkbike. A bike that I recommend to you may not be at all what I would choose myself and vice versa. If you can at least get on a bike with a similar geometry and suspension platform to what you're looking at buying, you will be able to give yourself an idea of how what you want may ride. That, coupled with some expert reviews or opinions from friends you trust who know your riding style may help you ensure that what you're getting is a great fit and something you'll be happy with for miles to come.

A full day to start day two of the festival. The festival gate was packed with excited riders.
Mountain bike festivals and demo days are still a ways off but now is a good time to be resourceful and phone a friend or see if you can rent a similar bike from a local shop.



Between Sizes...

Question: @Jrljr777 asks in the Beginners Forum: Looking for some advice. I'm between sizes (I'm 5 foot 6 inches tall) looking at either a small frame 29er or a medium frame 27.5. Not sure which one to get.

bigquotesManufacturers have made a lot of changes in their sizing recommendations across the board over the last few years. The tricky part is that sizing isn't entirely consistent between brands - what one company recommends isn't always going to be the same as what another one suggests.

When you're looking at a small 29er or medium 27.5" bike, the first thing I would ask is if it's the same brand? A lot of 29ers will now fit riders down to 4'11", so you can't just assume that a small 29" frame is going to be bigger than a medium 27.5" frame. Most brands try to keep their size suggestions consistent, regardless of wheel size. Keep in mind the year of the bike you're looking at too. If it's current, that's easiest. If the bike is a few years old, do some research and see where the sizing lands you in regards to wheel size. At 5'6", I would personally almost always suggest a medium whether it's a 27.5" bike or 29" - I think you will be too crowded on a small, but there could be exceptions.

Good luck in your quest for a new bike and if you can, give both a spin before you buy!

Tom Morgan and Roxy Lo
bis President Tom Morgan stands six-foot, six inches, while Designer Roxy Lo is five-foot, one inch tall, and both ride 29-inch-wheel Ripmos. Roxy is on a size small. At your height, you'd likely be on a medium.



Keep Breaking Spokes

Question: @BUNKER63 asks in the Mechanics' Lounge: I am running ENVE m60 HV with Chris King hubs that are about 2 years old and CushCore that was added 6 months back. I have broken a spoke the last 3 times I have ridden. Nothing has been caught on the spokes when riding, it's the impacts that are snapping them right at the nipple. I was wondering if wheels needed to be rebuilt after riding on them for a while even if the wheel is still true. There is no damage to the rim or hub either. Any tips would be helpful.

bigquotesNothing is confidence detracting like consistently breaking spokes when you're out for a ride. Especially when it's happening on your wheels that are worth a couple thousand dollars. Without having more information on how you ride, how much you weigh, conditions, etc. it's hard to make a definite suggestion.

I'd start by checking back in with whoever is replacing the spokes in your wheels or, if that's you, the original builder and see if they have a suggestion. Your spokes may be overtensioned, and if you break one sometimes it turns into a chain reaction nightmare. Everything has a fatigue life and one spoke breaking puts more stress on the others and then it's a downward spiral. As suggested, you could have some corrosion at the nipples, and if that's the case you're due for a rebuild with fresh spokes and nipples. With any wheels, it's critical to have your spoke tension in an acceptable range and if you've by some chance just been tightening loose spokes without checking tension, that can throw things off too and lead to spokes fatiguing quickly.

One last note- I'm guessing this is a rear wheel, but you should get your front wheel checked while you're at it. If there's corrosion, it's likely to be in both places.

Park TM-1 spoke Tension Gauge
A lot of things can cause broken spokes but ensuring things are at the proper tension can help keep a wheel in check and let you know if your spokes are fatigued and need to be replaced.





159 Comments

  • 109 2
 If you buy a bike these days and it doesn’t work out, list it for a day and you’ll probably sell it for a profit. Strange times. SMH
  • 38 3
 Straight up, bike market's hitting harder than the stock market #tothemoon
  • 74 2
 @labrinsky: Out of stock Transition Spur $5999. Used Transition Spur on PB $7500.
  • 3 0
 @chriskneeland: -thats the truth but where I live the used usually has had at least a bit of upgrade (hopefully on the bits that really needed to be upgraded) and there's no sales tax
  • 1 1
 Man that's what I thought to but I've been reposting and reposting even with an OBO in the title hoping to at least have people throw out some offers. Like I for sure posted the bike a little high at first and have dropped it a few hundred bucks since and still no nibbles.
  • 15 0
 @pandafoo: maybe it's because your shock is mounted upside down
  • 3 3
 @labrinsky: It doesnt matter. RockShox tech said it was no worries at all.
  • 6 3
 @pandafoo: I know it doesn't matter, it was a joke lol
  • 8 104
flag onemind123 (Mar 9, 2021 at 15:31) (Below Threshold)
 I purchased the last three norco sights from my lbs and sold each of them for $500 more then what I paid. Took less than a week for all to be gone.
  • 56 2
 @onemind123: if hell turns out to be real, I suspect you’ll have a spot reserved.
  • 27 0
 @onemind123: just because you can doesn't mean you should
  • 4 0
 @pandafoo: to be honest though, I think your bike is still way too expensive. My buddy just bought an '18 carbon Sentinel with XO1 12 speed and i9 alloy wheels for $3700.
  • 4 0
 @onemind123: I hear the bike thieves are getting similar ROI.
  • 2 41
flag onemind123 (Mar 9, 2021 at 16:10) (Below Threshold)
 @digitalcarnivore: is this worse than taking photos of prototype bikes and posting them on pinkbike?
  • 1 30
flag onemind123 (Mar 9, 2021 at 16:10) (Below Threshold)
 @ACree: and bike companies are getting even more
  • 1 29
flag onemind123 (Mar 9, 2021 at 16:10) (Below Threshold)
 @diegosk: muahahaha
  • 8 39
flag onemind123 (Mar 9, 2021 at 16:11) (Below Threshold)
 @ACree: but what's so bad about this? I am supporting my lbs.

I am supporting a bike company.

A bit of Xtra for my family.
  • 1 1
 @chriskneeland: supply and demand, I guess
  • 2 0
 The market for retro BMX bikes is really crazy. Those SEs and 29er GT Pro Performers are bought up on the day they’re released, and people just turn around and sell them for 2.5 times the cost.
  • 2 36
flag onemind123 (Mar 9, 2021 at 18:42) (Below Threshold)
 Lol my local Santa Cruz lbs is going to give me $300 off per bike as I have offered to buy three different models. Going to sell them each for $600 more then what I am going to pay. Picking them up on Friday - check PB buy/sell Saturday am!
  • 8 0
 Don't feed the troll
  • 1 0
 @pandafoo: I had better luck on Facebook marketplace when I sold my bike a few months ago. The offers that I got on PB were very low, had a few crazies on FB as well but ended up getting almost MSRP for a 2020 Stumpy Allowing me to upgrade to a 21 stumpy EVO.
  • 29 4
 @onemind123:
May your tires always flat and your derailleur forever skip
  • 1 21
flag onemind123 (Mar 9, 2021 at 19:14) (Below Threshold)
 @Chief2slo: no flats here - tubeless w inserts.

Derailleurs are for kitties. Singlespeed all the way.
  • 1 21
flag onemind123 (Mar 9, 2021 at 19:14) (Below Threshold)
 @labrinsky: you are the sharpest tool in the shed. Like a shovel.
  • 16 0
 @onemind123: YOU SUCK
  • 9 22
flag onemind123 (Mar 9, 2021 at 19:20) (Below Threshold)
 @rickemgood: for you use discount code "lickmysack" and I will ad an extra 5% onto your shipping
  • 5 1
 @onemind123: all my shovels have axe edges. Sit on one and find out
  • 1 2
 @labrinsky: lol my bad man.
  • 2 4
 @onemind123: either people are too lazy to do any research and shop around or have too much money and don’t give AF. Sounds like your supporting your LBS to me.
  • 4 1
 @labrinsky: I was about to say the same thing. If your bike hasn’t sold in this market, you are asking too much.
  • 2 0
 @pandafoo: thats a $2500 bike at best. $2200 without the covid tax.
  • 1 0
 My 2 favorite hobbies, bikes and computers, have both been hit super hard by this pandemic. Can't get anything and if I do I could sell either for a profit.
  • 6 3
 @onemind123: it’s a dick move. Your exactly like the people who bought all the toilet paper. It’s ridiculously selfish.
  • 1 0
 @conoat: he's not getting what he wants because A) his price is too high for the type/style/makeup of bike people want where he lives B) the person who is willing to pay that hasn't come around
Where i live he would be close into getting his price, while at the same time what i want and can't get is available down where he lives
  • 1 0
 @pandafoo: Technically that's true, but mounted that way the oil has a much harder time keeping the seals lubricated, and tends to just pool up in the head of the shock and not do anything.
  • 2 3
 @techride: just happy I picked up 3 Santa Cruz to resell marked up before they add on their 10% increase. Take possession of them Friday. Will be interesting if they sell faster or slower than norco.
  • 78 7
 Man, I love how people that work in the bike industry have such high expectations of service from bike shops.
For those of us who aren't "bros" or know the guy behind the counter, the service is usually beyond bad. When the guy with the creaky BB says "I know if I go back there they won’t do anything for me" - he's probably right! Or if they do, they'll charge him to look at it.
And as for always test riding before you buy - LOL! Good luck with that BEFORE the pandemic.
  • 29 2
 Providing bad service is inexcusable but charging money for their time is exactly how shops pay the bills; don't fault them for that. Proper assessment of a problem is just as important as and requires as much or more expertise than actually conducting the repair so it all gets billed. If it was easy and worthless you wouldn't be bringing it to a professional.
  • 24 2
 Agree about the shop mechanics. One shop built my bike... I gave them all the parts including my OneUp stem that had the compression fitting so that you didn't have to tap the fork and use the threaded version. My bike came back to me with the threaded version used (they tapped my fork) and my original compression parts missing! I was like umm... wtf guys? They told me they never saw the compression fittings and just threaded the fork and put it together. "Where did you get those parts?" was my question.. "don't know we just have spares lying around and thought you maybe lost them or whatever."... f*ck... maybe call me first... so I really need to spell this shit out??

So next year, take my new bike build to another shop... pick it up and the mechanic obviously had no idea what "super boost' spacing was... spacers on the wrong sides and the chainline was all f*cked up and rubbing on the chain guide. Dude... the SRAM puts a very specific document that fully outlines compatibility and how to install that is the third hit on google when you search "sram dub super boost". I fixed it and called them back to speak to the mechanic so I could educate him on SuperBoost.

And these are supposedly shops that specialize in high end enduro/freeride mountain bike service and sales. I think next time I will just take a day off or whatever to take the time to do myself.

I will say though that before the pandemic... I was able to demo 5 different bikes I was contemplating buying. My local shops do... or did have pretty good demo programs.
  • 9 2
 @islandforlife: Yeah I'm not surprised. If you want to done right often you have to diy it. Luckily building a bike isn't super complicated, just requires a bunch of special tools.
  • 20 1
 Yep. Buy tools instead of paying someone else. No mechanic cares as much about my bike working well as I do.
  • 4 0
 @Noah353: well tools and space.
  • 28 3
 @riklassen: I've seen some great mechanics be completely defeated by press fit bb shells that were out of spec from the factory. No matter how many times you remove it, clean it, reinstall it, remove it again, add loctite or whatever other miracle paste you fancy, reinstall it, replace it with a new bb, replace it with a wheels manufacturing bb, what have you... if the frame's bb shell is out of spec, you're screwed and your bike will always creak. Press-fit bb's are garbage.
  • 5 0
 @islandforlife: yup the only work I have had done by a shop in the past 10 years was when they built the new bike I bought from them a few months ago. When I picked up the bike they acknowledged the brake bleed sucked and agreed to redo it (I know shops usually don’t have to bleed brakes on initial builds but they should if the brake feels like crap). but I didnt have time to wait around for the bleed that day. I assumed the bike would be properly set up when I got the call saying my bike was all ready. Not to mention when I showed up they asked if I wanted it converted to tubeless. Maybe ask me this on the phone before I show up ready to pick up my new bike instead of wait until I am there in person and tell me it will take 30-60 minutes? 60 minutes to set up tubeless?

The front pads never bedded in properly. When I called about this issue the mechanic on the phone told me they bed all pads and set up brakes perfectly before sending a new bike home. He obviously wasn’t aware that they knowingly sent me home with a bad bleed to begin with and his assumption they bike was sent out the door with perfectly set brakes was incorrect. I’d rather buy new pads and deal with it myself than continue to deal with that kind of chicanery. And lesson learned i will never try to save a few hundred $ by buying a complete bike again just to have to deal with a sub par build on my brand new bike.
  • 7 6
 @mcgetskinny Nice sweeping generalization. I think it’s funny that people still expect shops to somehow afford to hire skilled mechanics and free service but they buy their bikes and parts online. Unless it’s a really busy area, shops can’t make it on labor alone. I’m not blaming the riders or the shops, it’s just a trickle down effect of how consumerism has been so well received in the bike industry.
  • 3 0
 You are so right. A good LBS with a mechanic you trust is so important. I bought my last bike from a different shop as my favorite LBS was sold out. Turns out there were nipples in the rim rolling around. They said they would charge me to rebuild. I asked about a warranty and they said they charge for sending things out for warranty "because there's paperwork".
  • 7 0
 @Super7: LoL I had a shop try to charge me for a warranty part without telling me up front about it. The individual also flat out lied to me and told me that replacing the part myself would void my warranty, clearly because they were mad I wasn't paying them to do the work. Funny thing is I was about to drop 6k on a new bike, on a brand they carried no less. Needless to say I took my business elsewhere.

Lots of terrible shops out there but the good ones are worth their weight in gold!
  • 2 3
 @TEAM-ROBOT: if its the frame’s bb shell is out of spec why is it the bb that is garbage? Surely its the poor tolerances during manufacture (of the frame) thats the elephant in the room here.
How come our pressfit hub bearings; pressfit frame bearings don’t creak... until their worn at least)
  • 4 1
 @mcgetskinny don’t tar us all with that brush. Some of us put a lot of passion into and our very good at our work!
If your lbs doesn’t do that then go somewhere else
  • 3 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: no, manufacture's tolerance spec and QC are garbage. all of them. not a single manufacturer spends the time and money to get it right! not even for threaded bb's! the difference is a threaded bb doesn't creak and eat it's self when it's out of alignment. It might not be as buttery smooth and may wear a bit faster but at least it's reliable.

TLDR: the principles behind PF BB's aren't the issue, the execution is.
  • 2 0
 @conoat: I would argue that Pivot does PF BB shells right. Mine have been flawless.
  • 2 0
 @bchampig: I might listen to that. my FB went 2 full years(2500mi 1M+feet of descending) and not a peep.
  • 5 4
 @emptybe-er: 1. Bikes aren't hard to build... you don't need to be very "skilled" to be a good shop mechanic and so the pay is appropriate and reflects that. Any shop worth visiting should be falling over backwards to service bikes bought online. Shops make great money in service (margins on bikes are very tight) and servicing someone's bike they bough online is a great way to bring a new customer into the shop who might by some kit, tires, upgrade parts etc, etc, etc and may even buy their next bike from them. Also it's been years now and online bike sales have not destroyed shop sales... good LBS's are doing just fine. Shitty ones aren't... but that's on them.
  • 5 4
 @islandforlife: Shitting on an entire profession then claiming those same people should be bending over backward for you really betrays how arrogant and entitled you are.
  • 3 3
 @fullfacemike: What?? haha... just telling it like it is, if you can't handle reality, that's on you man.
  • 3 0
 @conoat: It sounds like we're in agreement. When I said "Press-fit bb's suck," I wasn't specifically referring to BB cups or press-in bearings, I was referring more generally to the whole system, as in "The press-fit bb system sucks." Like you said, manufacturers have poor tolerances for all bb's and bb shells, press-fit or otherwise. The difference is that the threaded bb system can accommodate bad tolerances and the press-fit system can't.
  • 2 2
 @islandforlife: margins on bikes are not tight
  • 5 2
 @islandforlife: Nah dude, that entire paragraph is based on your (crappy) opinion. Go do some research and see how fast bike stores are closing.
  • 4 2
 @islandforlife: Ha! That’s an unfortunate viewpoint. And a common one, usually held by people with little skill. Being a good mechanic takes time, just like any trade. You probably just don’t know enough to know what you don’t know, I’m guessing.
  • 2 1
 @timbud: Margins on bikes have always been pretty tight, actually. And since customer direct sales have taken over in the last 5 yrs, full retail is maybe around 30% margin. But when do bikes sell for full retail? Never.
For a small/med size shop, margins are usually around 15-20% all said and done. That’s not counting shipping, building the bike, etc.
  • 2 1
 @Super7: warranty ain’t free. Shipping. Handling.
  • 1 0
 @WavisOShea: Typically that's covered by the manufacturer doing the warranty but not always. I had to deal with SMITH recently and it specifically says in their warranty policy that you pay shipping.
  • 1 0
 @emptybe-er: its been full rrp in the UK since covid kicked the industry up the arse... even with the recent increases.
  • 34 0
 Clean your seatpost. I can't tell you how many times a "creaky bottom bracket" is a nasty seatpost with "I hose my bike off every ride and nothing else" grit all the way down. Dropper posts are great but if you never move the post/clamp you never realize how gross it gets in there.
  • 4 0
 True, but this is easy to test. If the creaking stops when you pedal out of the saddle, it’s probably the seatpost. Personally I’ve had a lot of success with removing / cleaning / re-installing the pedals.
  • 11 1
 @cvoc: Sometimes there's enough flex in the frame to still creak at the post even when you're standing. The true test is pull the post out completely then test ride. Checking the pedals is the real deal though; always my first step when I'm unsure.
  • 4 0
 I've had more creaking noise coming from dirty threads in seatpost clamps and saddle clamps. Also, it really helps if you grease the interface between the seatpost clamp and the frame, because it distributes the clamping force more evenly.
  • 1 0
 @fullfacemike: This. It took me a month to realize it.
  • 1 0
 what if I just hear the creak, recognize it's the seat post and turn the music up? :-D
  • 3 0
 saddle rails. Urghrghgrhhgrhgrh
  • 29 6
 Spokes breaking is due to under-tensioning and unequal tensioning of spokes on the wheel and the break is likely at the head of the spoke (not at the threaded end or the middle). Nipple break if your spoke is too short and the spoke end does not protrude through past the bottom of the head of the nipple. Spokes never break when they're overtensioned. Your rims may buckle when they're under extreme spoke tension but rims are so strong these days, you can overtension the spokes past the recommended loads by the spoke manufacturers. Just don't go past the maximum load of the rim.
  • 5 1
 This man speaks the truth.
  • 27 0
 this man spokes the truthes
  • 8 4
 Also, aluminum spokes are definitely brittle after a couple years. Always go brass if you aren't racer!
  • 3 2
 Exactly. When the spokes start to break at the nipples, there is a good chance the spokes are too long, and the nipple threads are cutting into the spoke. Or maybe there is sand or salt in the nipple, causing premature wear and corrosion fatigue.
  • 8 0
 @harmar: brass spokes hey tell me about these things...
  • 1 3
 My experience breaking 5 spokes over the course of the 2019 summer says otherwise (4/5 of which occurred while climbing).

Backed the tension off a bit from the recommended spec and no issues since - We Are One wheels.
  • 2 0
 @hhaaiirryy: **nipples
  • 3 1
 Love WeAreOne!
  • 4 4
 This is an incorrect statement, don't over-tension your spokes or they will continue to break at the nipple.

Which would you say is the weak point in the system:
a) Hub
b) Steel Spoke
b) Carbon (in this case) rim
c) Aluminum nipple

Unless you have garbage rims, the aluminum nipple is the weak point in the system by design. Aluminum has no fatigue life so it will always fatigue to a point of failure. Exceeding recommended tensions will accelerate this.

I had some cheap gravel wheels that were doing the same thing and the guy who taught me how to build wheels (he is now a DT Swiss tech rep) told me they were over tensioned and to start saving for a new set. Once they are over-tensioned like this, you cannot simply reduce the tension or they will be under-tensioned, you basically need to rebuild with fresh spokes and nips.
  • 1 0
 @hhaaiirryy: Probably not what he meant but your comment gave me a chuckle. My first thought was how much extra weight brass spokes would add. A quick look at the Google box tells me brass is roughly 3x denser than an aluminum alloy.
  • 6 2
 Well said overall! Under-tensioning always causes more problems than over-tensioning. The reality is that many rims can take tensions exceeding what's labelled as the max - though always aim to use the max as the guideline. As Jobst Brandt lays out in "The Bicycle Wheel," still the most important book ever published on wheelbuilding for cycling, back in the day wheels were deemed properly in suitable final tension at the point of buckling, at which point you would back things off and call it a job. Rims are eons stronger now. Most quality spokes - meaning butted spokes with 2.0+ mm thread areas and made by DT, Sapim, Wheelsmith, or Pillar, as opposed to straight-gauge spokes or cheap generics - will have a maximum tensile and yield strength exceeding rims and hubs and nipples. Aluminum nipples weakened by corrosion (salt, sand, grime, etc.) may end up being the weak link in a wheel system, but in good shape most 7000-series alloy nipples can take up to 125 Kgf (1250 N) before they start to round out or become vulnerable to deformation and thus potential premature wear when riding. The reality is that the best wheelbuilds are tensioned at or close to the max listed rim tension on the "high" flanges: typically 120 Kgf (1200 N) on the NDS front and DS rear. "Deliberate low tension" (NOT suggested above in this piece) is an absolutely nonsensical concept in professional wheelbuilding! When race mechanics dalliance in this practice they do so knowing that they will need to replace or re-tension such wheels immediately after the race or thereabouts. When spokes break at the nipple, the most likely cause is bad articulation - non-straight nipple-spoke angles from the hub flanges to the spoke holes - and/or winding during assembly, with the result that the nipples essentially create stress risers in the spokes that may also have wound and misthreaded. Clean, lubricated nipples and the use of non-marring pliers to prevent winding of butted spokes (and a bladed key to prevent winding of bladed spokes), tensioned highly with good articulation and even tension on a given rim side, leads to strong mountain, CX, road, or e-bike wheels.
  • 3 3
 I have broken spokes on wheels from being overtensioned. for sure. Reynolds Black label hoops and Cx-Ray spoke on a DT prolock nipple. I know they were all even and over tensioned because I built the wheels. lol. I popped multiple spokes within a month. rebuilt the wheel to 90% tension(after correctly reading the spec), and never broke another spoke for two years.

so saying they never break from overtension is simplistic and inherently not true. in fact, even in an undertensioned wheels, they break from being over tensioned momentarily! but yes, even tension uber alas!
  • 1 2
 @hhaaiirryy: it's a really heavy concept, you wouldn't understand! Wink
  • 3 2
 @HogtownWheelsmith: Have you ever tensioned a nipple to failure in a load jig? If not you should, and will find pretty quickly that a quality alloy nipple has higher tensile strength than a steel spoke. Though I wouldn't really call it tensile strength for the nipple. The spoke will sheer off before the nipple rounds or sheers. Inside a wheel, a hub flange or rim will give way before the nipple does.

As far as I can tell there are a LOTS of rims that CANNOT exceed what's labelled as there max - probably more that cannot than can. Some can't even tolerate their suggested max. From what I have seen come though the doors of a couple of shops I have been associated with, RaceFace rims go whacky before you reach their max tension and bulge around the spoke holes. Stan's and several others will develop waviness and eventually cracks. It has been our practise to target 10-15 kgf under the max for many rims. Some wheel builds, especially with offset spoke holes, tolerate a lower max tension well because the low side has been brought up closer to the high side, and it's the low side that we are concerned most with anyway, right? After all, as you say, spokes fail from being under-tensioned, and it's the low side that would be under-tensioned the most.

Add to that, that there are also specified max tensions on hubs, that you seem to have totally skipped and not mentioned. There are a number of hub manufacturers that will not warranty hub beyond their specified tension limits. Most I know if stop at 125 kgf, so while some alloy and carbon rims may have a sticker that says 130-140 kgf is okay, it often isn't.

IMHO, 105-115 kgf is a very safe place to be for most rims. Some like Stan's older generation mtb rims or very light carbon rims require even less. To make the blanket statement that you should always work to the recommended max or in the 120 kgf zone on a regular basis is a bold and dangerous statement. And I definitely wouldn't go above it in my limited experience as there seems to be no benefit, but a lot of risk.

@hardcore-hardtail You guys are wrong in saying the alloy nipple is the weak link here. Not if built right. Perhaps over time they may become so especially if low quality products are used, but they don't start that way. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with some good mechanics who have demonstrated these things to me in real life, as mentioned above, and I've built 40 or 50 pair myself under pretty good supervision.
  • 3 5
 @ahootes I'm glad you didn't build my wheels...
  • 3 0
 @ahootes: As long as ALL nipple threads (including the partial threads in the head with the the slot) are utilized from the threads of the spoke, the spoke will take all the tension. It's not the nipple taking the tension. If you're into wheel building, take a look at some of the Youtube videos from Bill Mould. He's a master wheel builder and he's part of the ASTM bicycle committee. I had a chat with him over the phone a few weeks ago. He knows what he's talking about. People like him, Brandt, Sheldon Brown, Musson, and a few others who are pioneers of wheel building - those are the ones I trust. It's funny how Bill mentioned there are so much crap out on the Internet about spoke tensioning since he teaches the physics about wheels at the university.
  • 3 2
 @CSharp: Exactly. When you build an alloy nipple correctly, just as you say, filling all the threads to the slot as the back of the head of the nipple, the nipple really can't fail strictly due to high tension. It's not carrying the tension itself, which is why I said "Though I wouldn't really call it tensile strength for the nipple". You're right on point.

Easy to demonstrate this as I mentioned, in a load jig. The spoke will fail before the nipple. I've watched this with my own eyes. Mr. Hardcore just doesn't like being wrong.

But ally may see an early grave if they aren't made from quality alloy and don't have a good anodization treatment. Corrosion is a dog, but with good nipples comes corrosion resistance. On the good alloy nipples - hint for Mr. Hardcore - DT isn't making them!

Anyway, I agree fully with your original post, and this one as well. There is a lot of bull out there. And a lot of people just repeating what they hear without doing the work and testing to see the results for themselves. I'm familiar with Mould, and have read lots of literature from Brandt, Brown, and Musson. Brandt was the most interesting of them to me, only because I think he had several flaws in his book (and I'm not the only one to think so) and he went down ardently defending himself against his detractors. All in all though, the summation of these works is a great body of knowledge. That said, there are many very experienced wheel builders creating new literature and bodies of work currently that are great as well. We live in a great time for learning not only from the peers in our shop space, but peers all over =). You just have to be careful who you are sponging up information from, as you have pointed out, there is a lot of bull out there.

Really I think experience counts as much as reading; learning how different rims react to tension, and seeing the results with our own eyes, versus chirping out random boiler plate tension numbers and making blanket statements for all builds, that counts in my books.
  • 2 0
 @conoat: could also be that the nipples are oxidised considering they are 2yrs old. Had similar problem, changed the nipples and not a broken spoke or nipple last year and half. Not shure by the question posted if the spokes crack or the nipples. Smile
  • 21 4
 I don't think I've test ridden a bike before buying it in... 6 years? They've all fit like a glove, except maybe a stem swap here or there. Geo and sizing are so spot on from major manufacturers these days; find a shop who you trust to fit you properly and send it. Buy the bike you want based on its functionality and know that when you get down to it pretty much everything rides f*cking amazing.
  • 1 0
 I didn't test ride the bike I just bought, but I did get to sit on it, which I found very helpful
  • 4 1
 Same here, I haven't test rode a bike before buying for many years, some bikes have worked out better than others, buying and selling is not that big of a deal. Just bought a Druid, never tried one, only seen one in wild once. Built it last weekend, two rides in, still tweaking set up, so far it rides fine.

Demo events are fine, but trying to demo a bike is often difficult, esp if it's a popular bike. Even then,. what are we talking about for a demo,. parking lot, five hundred yards on the trail?

I balk at buying boutique, like the Cavalerie, but I've bought Lenz, Guerilla Gravity, Foes, and now Forbidden without a single demo, and I loved them all!
  • 3 0
 Absolutely to that. But it does take some confidence in your knowledge of your own riding and desires.

If somebody's an absolute beginner then they likely don't know the "difference" between a 120mm light trail bike & a 150mm borderline-Enduro bike, let alone what's good for the trails they enjoy riding.
  • 2 1
 @EnduRowan: That's fair. It's tough as a beginner but they're also the folks least able to tell the difference between two similar bikes even with a proper test ride. I think it's important to ask "what do I want to do with this bike?" and "what am I actually going to do with this bike?" and buy the correct travel and features accordingly. Fit can be a little tricky but most people do ultimately fall into one size or another. That's where a good shop with proper guidance comes in. Can't tell you how many people I've talked down from massive enduro rigs when they're exclusively riding local XC with no aspirations to do much else and they've had a better experience for it. The whole "sell the customer exactly what they ask for, no holds barred" mentality is what makes bad experiences.
  • 2 0
 @nurseben: before I bought my last bike, I was able to demo 5 different bikes I was looking at. My local shops all seem to have pretty good demo programs. You pay $50 and get the bike for 3 days... as much as you want to ride it. Rinse and repeat... if you buy a bike they put the money you spent on demos towards the purchase.

This was pre covid... I'm sure those bikes are sold now.
  • 2 0
 I ride a small, so test rides are almost non-existant. Have not tested any of my bikes before buying. Luckily all have been fantastic, minor setup changes and good to go.
  • 1 0
 I’ve only test ridden the first of my last three bikes. They’re all the same manufacturer. I’m not a brand loyalist, per se, but I know how the bikes will fit and ride. Even between models somewhat.
  • 1 0
 @EnduRowan: haha that's funny as I was going to buy an Anthem, but hated the geo on it and bought a Trance instead. At least I did know what I was getting when it bought it, lol.
  • 9 2
 What surprises me more than manufacturers building bikes with a press fit BB is knowledgeable folks buying a bike with a press fit BB. Friends don't let friends buy bikes with a press fit BB.

As to creaks, check pivots and shock bushings. Sseat and seat post, BB/chainring, pedals, even headsets can creak, but most of mine have been pivots and bushings.
  • 3 0
 When my BB creaks, it's often time to clean pivots, the crank and the bb bearings. A grain on sand in any thight spot creaks...
  • 1 0
 @okidou: I came here to say this, we are well past the days of poor pressfit tolerances. If a bike is creaking it usually is NOT the BB, but any manner of pivot or part attached to the frame. Grease your hanger/frame interface, check your headset bearings. Try different pedals. Is your crank spindle properly greased? There's a dozen other places I'd check before going to the BB.
  • 2 0
 @BigLips93: rear axle
  • 6 0
 I'll be interested to see how this summer goes for "testing" bikes. There's two issues as I see it.

1. Less large demo events, if any due to you know what.
2. Some dealers may see no point. They barely have inventory to sell, let alone to dedicate to test rides. And if the dealer does have decent inventory (I've seen some) why would they want to make half their bikes "used" by letting them be demoed? Ok great, you demoed that SLX aluminum build and loved it...we'll have that size L, Carbon XTR build here for you sometime in January 2022!
  • 2 0
 The latter is probably the bigger issue. Why from when you have nothing to sell. It could be good marketing but could also backfire.
  • 6 0
 @BUNKER63 I had the same problem with the same wheels. Kept breaking spokes, finally reached out to Enve, they rebuilt the wheel for free. It happened again, and they warrantied and upgraded me to the new 60/30’s. File a ticket with Enve, use your warranty, it’s what you paid for.
  • 8 1
 Re: broken spokes. Could have been laced wrong. Rim spoke holes usually offset. If around the wrong way you'll keep breaking spokes at the nipple
  • 5 0
 After two years, it's probably just fatigue from the super stiff Enve rim. Once you've broken three spokes in separate incidents, it's time for a full rebuild.
  • 2 1
 @nouseforaname: I had a rash of 3 or 4 spokes break on a set of pre built dt swiss m1700 wheels after about a year. replaced em 1 at a time as they broke, kept checking for proper tension and didn’t need to make any major adjustments and haven’t had another break for 2 years. Maybe an anomaly and I’m still wondering what that issue was that went away suddenly. But in many cases you are probably correct.
  • 3 0
 Hmmm, the only spokes I’ve broken over the years are: 1) black Sapim CX Rays right at the nipple with both brass nipples and aluminum nipples on two different builds, properly tensioned, just after the squashed bladed section right at the threads, 2) the original black DT spokes that were reportedly more brittle due to the original black-oxidation process, and 3) Union / Marwi rainbow-ano titanium spokes. Never broken silver steel DT or Wheelsmith spokes, nor Mavic’s aluminum spokes, nor DT Apline 3’s (which seem the most durable and lively).

Also, I only have wheels built with brass nipples by two super-expert builders...minimal weight penalty for massively increased reliability relative to aluminum nipples (particularly as I suspect aluminum oxidation can cause increased abrasion with the spoke threads, as well as some level of galvanic corrosion on steel spoke threads if/when the alloy nipples starts to oxidize with moisture).
  • 4 1
 I don’t believe in testing bikes. All riding a bunch of different bikes does is help you decide which bike is most similar to your current ride. You really got to be on a bike for a week or so to get used to it before you know if you like it. Why I saw figure out the suspension platform you want and look at geo charts.
  • 2 1
 That makes no sense whatsoever. If it helps you decide which bike is most similar to your current bike, it also helps you decide which ones are different and how. As long as you can test ride the bike on trails which are representative of the kind of riding you want to do, it should be pretty easy to tell in a few minutes whether you like it or not.
  • 4 0
 Just don’t think a quick demo ride tells you a whole lot because you never get used to the different setup and dial everything in then get dialed in to how the bike rides. It makes sense if you can demo a bike for a week but most demos I’ve seen are for an hour or two maybe a whole day and trying out a few bikes via a 1 week rental would be stupid money that could be spent on better components. I just think for most research is better than demoing.?5
  • 1 0
 I hate how some bikes pedal. I have no idea how to tell from reading a review but a quick demo and I can tell if I can live with it. I'll never buy a bike again without a short test at least.
  • 2 0
 @iantmcg: another factor is how well each individual can understand the feel of a bike and how well it achieves their intended purpose. Even after 25+ years of mountain biking I sucked at this until the past few years when I finally acquired a few different bikes with adjustable Geometry and travel. And I’m still learning.
  • 1 0
 @acali: Yeah, but you should know what you like based on anti squat and other suspension curves. A quick demo often isn’t enough time to get to the techs climbs that will test rear suspension climbing performance.
  • 1 0
 @iantmcg: "trails which are representative of the kind of riding you want to do" is the operative point.

The local specialized dealer is the only shop that regularly has demo bikes, and they were generous enough to let me take out an Enduro for a four day trip to Derby as nobody else had it booked in. Giant do a big demo day at a local MTB park once every couple of years, but the shop haven't had any demo bikes in ages. The local Norco & Merida shop and the Trek dealer let you do a car-park test ride but likewise don't get any demo stock from the importers. For anything boutique, you're laying down cold hard cash sight unseen.

Hardly anyone does organised demos here, so most of the bikes I tried before my last purchase (Remedy, Hightower, Megatower, SB150, SB130, Strive, Spectral, Optic, Reign, Stumpjumper) were borrowed from friends, or from complete randoms of similar height & weight I met on the trails who agreed to a 5 minute swap. "Nice bike mate, I'm looking for a new one, what do you think of it? If I can keep up with you, would I be be able to have a ride of it when we get to the last set of berms/techy uphill switchbacks/off-camber rock-garden?". Rode close to $50k worth of bikes in a single day in Derby (twice voted EWS race of the year) without paying a cent just by being friendly to other riders.
  • 2 0
 ONYX DVO was a rattle right out of the gate. Love DVO and the company, but they had a press fit issue on my sons 180mm Onyx. Took some time to figure it wasnt the cane creek hell benber 110 headset. So check the forks...They are back at DVO, hopefully getting epoxy crazy....
  • 2 1
 Regarding buying a bike without testing it, and being in between sizes... The answer to both of these questions is the same, you need to demo the bikes and try it for yourself. I would be comfortable purchasing a bike without riding it at this point, but that's after being at this for 15 years and consuming (and at times, regurgitating) the kool-aid of treds, bike nerdism and overall gear obsession. Only after 10 years of riding my own various bikes, bike demos and riding friends bikes, am I truly able to narrow down if a bike has a good chance of fitting me based off of the geo and paper. Even all of that knowledge and experience will only get me 90% certain.

The last 10% can only come from a test ride. Whether it's around a bike shop parking lot or out on the trail. There are nuances such as how the bike feels and then the overall inaccuracy of geo charts posted online that come into the equation and muddy up the waters.

I know this sounds elitist, and at the same time defeatist (with current pandemic supply reality factoring in), but these bikes are a huge purchase decision. Only once you've bought one and had regrets, will you end up resigning yourself to almost never buy a bike without being able to confirm it yourself. It truly sucks to plop down cash and then realize you're on the wrong size, or that the bike works on paper, but something about it doesn't work with your riding style and you're sent chasing your tail.

The good news? It's pretty hard to find a crap bike these days. The bad news? The devil is in the details and since we're now paying used car prices for bikes... it's too big of a thing to just roll the dice on. Unless that is: You are a fanboi, a gambler or rich af. Then, yolo it and treat yoself!
  • 1 0
 Ok I’ll admit, I’m 5’5 1/2” and finding properly sized bikes is difficult. I’ve had all but one size small DH bikes and the one medium I had just felt awkward and too big in the reach department. Fast forward and now I have a size medium trail bike and same thing, just feels a bit awkward. Definitely would enjoy swapping or at least trying a size small trail bike due to short little t-Rex arms. That was also not demoing the bike before purchasing. Oh well love and learn.
  • 1 0
 PSA: If you walk into a bike shop with a creaky bike and they diagnose it as a creaky bb; leave and never go into that bike shop ever again!!

bottom brackets rarely ever creak, the most common creaking points on a bike are the suspension pivots, headset, seatpost, seat, and pedals always try those first before checking the bb
  • 3 0
 bruh, if you're breaking spokes like this...it means you are a bad mamma jamma and no bike is beast enough for you ;-)
  • 2 0
 What about a 36 spoke hub and rim combo using double butted spokes and brass nipples?
  • 1 0
 @abzillah: We ride profile 32 hole hubs. Just cause they could take the beating in our BMX days. 32 hole front and rear. Sapim spokes seemed way better than DT swiss. We did lace the Profile MTB elite hubs to DT swiss rims and so far 2 seasons DH fun
  • 4 2
 I am an expert on being 5'6" and have found that the biggest problem with medium frames is fitting a dropper post. You might be looking at a dropper with 75mm or less.
  • 3 1
 I'm 5'6" and have never had an issue with droppers. Always ride a m with 150mm drop.
Normally a couple inch between seat clamp and dropper collar. What bikes are you buying where you have to have a 75mm one.
  • 2 0
 @filryan: I bought a Vitus Mythique that was a medium, ended up selling it because it was too big. Would have had to replace the dropper and stem. Also couldn't really stand over it even on my toes. I now have a Scott Genius thats a small. It has a 100mm dropper. Maybe, I could fit a 125mm. The medium I would have had to replace the dropper out of the box.
  • 4 1
 @twoflats: wow thats crazy. I've had
Cannondale jekyll, intense tracer, lapierre zesty and now santa cruz megatower all with 150mm no problem. Surely you either have short legs for your height or you pedal with you seat too low.
  • 2 0
 @filryan: I like to think of myself as a fairly proportional person. Maybe I'm finding all the bikes with long BB to seat tube measurements.

Medium Scott BB to seat tube is 440mm + 170mm for crank+ 150mm dropper + 75mm seat = 835mm almost 33 inches.
  • 2 0
 @twoflats: dude something is def off, my gf rides an SB115, Medium, with a 150mm dropper. one inch shorter than you and there is actually like a good 3/4 of collar before being slammed
  • 1 0
 @twoflats: yea maybe you are mate. The megatower is 380 seat tube length so if measured from same place you have lost 60mm there, but I have nearly 40mm between seat clamp and collar. Running a re verb.
  • 3 0
 That's something you have to watch out for, but many new bikes are trending towards shorter seat tubes for exactly this reason. Stay away from frames with bends in the seat tube though! I am 5'6" on a size medium Knolly Fugitive and could probably fit a 200mm dropper if I wanted to.
  • 1 0
 I'm also 5'6" and have the short legs/long torso problem! Currently riding a Small Nukeproof Mega as standover was a bit tight on anything bigger, but that's a few years old now. Newer bikes are definitely getting better for us stumpy legged folks, I'll be going medium for my next ride.
  • 1 0
 I’m 5’6 with midget legs but I rock a bike yoke revive on my medium HD4 with 160 mm of drop and room to spare and recently test rode a 2021 sentinel also in medium with a 180 oneup dropper and also had room to spare!
  • 5 2
 Every creaking BB I've ever had turned put to be a creaky headset, usually dust or debries in the spacers.
  • 1 1
 I lace my own wheels. Ride for 3 weeks and dial them in. ride for 3 more weeks and dial them in. In all my years I have never broke a spoke at the brass nipple. they always go at the butt like other folks have posted. On my Ebikes even pulling 1000W 48V 15amp front hub I never had a spoke go at the nipple. If you do, Like every one else says, its too tight...
  • 2 0
 "Tom Morgan stands six-foot, six inches, while Designer Roxy Lo is five-foot, one inch tall, and both ride 29-inch-wheel Ripmos. "
...AND BOTH HAVE THE SAME LENGTH CHAINSTAYS
  • 1 0
 I had a creak a couple years ago that my shop owner buddy could not find. He finally decided to replace the seemingly underworn oval chain ring and guess what.... the creak went away.
  • 1 0
 Headset, cables, SEATPOST, ffs check the derailleur hanger then you know its the bb so bin the carbon frame and buy a metal one with a threaded bottom bracket ????
  • 1 0
 Bike with press fit BB is going cheap... YT,Yeti and Commencal are at the top of my list of being cheap. You want a threaded BB..
  • 1 0
 "Is it just plain stupid to buy a bike without riding it first?....

No, it's not plain stupid but, it's a good idea to try before you buy."

Me: [laughs in Australian]
  • 9 7
 If you keep breaking spokes there's really only one answer: I9's.
  • 6 0
 3 of us in my riding group had issues with many broken spokes on our I9 Enduro S wheels. The steel straight-pull spokes always break at the first few threads inside the nipple, which is super annoying because you have to remove the tire and rim tape to fix it. I9 has been very good at taking care of us under warrantee though.
  • 2 0
 @Skooks: Wow...that's honestly the first I've heard of this. I've been hammering the shit out of the I9's on my enduro bike for the last two seasons with no issues. Meanwhile my DT Swiss wheelset on my DH bike can't handle a weekend without snapping a spoke. I'll keep an eye on that.
  • 1 0
 @chriskneeland: Yeah, hopefully it's just a problem with a small batch of these wheels and not a systemic issue. I actually really like them and think they are some of the best aluminum wheels going.
  • 1 0
 @Skooks: Exact same, here, sprung a spoke on my rear of my Enduro S wheelset 3 straight rides. i9 took them back and totally re-laced, even serviced the hub and everything.
  • 1 0
 @Skooks: I suspect Chris is talking about I9 wheels with alloy spokes, not steel spokes? Still odd though, seeing consistent breakage of steel spokes like that. I9 is one of very few manufacturers who build a pretty good wheel from the factory. They have a pretty slick operation.
  • 1 0
 I also have had issues with my Enduro S rear rim. I lost two spokes in the course of three ridesFrown
  • 1 0
 @BenReohr: Are they still under warrantee? You should give I9 a call.
  • 2 0
 Replace those bloody aluminium nipples if you have them
  • 2 1
 I think Tom needs a larger size. His seat looks like it lives in a different zip code from the rest of the bike.
  • 2 0
 It needs a flag.
  • 1 0
 If he's 6'5" I'm guessing that's the biggest they have. I am 6'6" and ride an XXL and my 210mm dropper is a few inches out of the frame.
  • 2 0
 @OgreRider08: I know. I'm 6'5" and that's part of the reason I don't ride Ibis.
  • 1 0
 How is it that the Pres of Ibis is that tall and they do not make a XXL bike
  • 1 0
 Price. They thread the small frames but not the XL or XXL. Crazy. All comes down to quick output..
  • 1 1
 Good questions and great answers this time, as per usual. Good job, PB.

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