Can You Ride a Bike with Broken Spokes? A Thorough Answer!

Can You Ride a Bike with a Broken Spoke?

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Wondering if you can ride your MTB or road bike with broken spokes? You are in the right place.

“Yes! Riding a bike with a broken spoke will not cause much harm to the wheels. However, we suggest you remove the spoke from the nipple to avoid further damage to the tires.”

That said, riding the bike with only one or two broken spokes is not dangerous. The problem might arise with bike wobblier issues when a lot of spokes get broken.

Therefore, this guide will help bikers understand the basics of bike spokes, what causes them to break, and how to repair them quickly.

Have a look as follows:

The Basics of Bike Spokes:

Bike spokes are small rods that connect a wheel’s rim with the hub.

In doing so, the spokes allow for better weight distribution while a rider sits on the bike.

Spokes also maintain the shape of a wheel and keep it away from any deformity.

So, to think of them as building blocks of a bike would surely not be an exaggeration.

We, now take a look at how riders could identify the broken spokes in their mountain bikes quickly:

How to Identify Broken Spokes in a Bike?

Not rocket science at all!

Generally, you will hear a breaking sound of a broken spike even if you are riding your bicycle at a higher pace.

Apart from the sound factor, you will already know that something is wrong with your bike while riding it.

That happens when the bike’s wheel becomes wobbly due to the broken spokes.

So, the two ways you can identify broken spokes are either through hearing their sound or when the wheel becomes wobblier.

After identifying, the next question is that whether you can trust riding your bike with a broken spoke/spokes or not?

Let us explain it as well:

Are Broken Spokes Dangerous for Bikers?

It depends upon how many spokes have you broken in the first place.

If it’s only one or two broken spokes, there won’t be any harm for the riders to keep cycling their bikes.

However, they must remove these broken spokes from the rim’s nipples to avoid any extra damage.

Moving on next, what will happen if you break more than two to three broken spokes?

This is where bike riding will become dangerous for you!

Stop cycling and, if possible, walk it to a nearby bike shop and get it repaired as soon as possible.

If you keep cycling with more than two broken spokes, it will deform the wheel to the extent that your bike will not move quickly. Moreover, it will also call for expensive repairs due to the rim’s deformity.

Similarly, it can also cause wobbliness in the mountain bike wheels, which means riders will face issues while controlling the road bike.

If the spokes get broken in thin tires, they will fall off, and you will have no other choice but to get them repaired from a bike shop.

While discussing the bike’s front wheel, with broken spokes, it could get seized and throw a rider over.

For the rear wheel, however, the spokes will mainly cause a skid or a stop only.

Another harm one could expect from cracked bike spokes is penetrating the wheel tires, thus causing instant punctures.

In many cases, the broken rods can also damage other spokes causing a complete mess and wreckage.

The road bike mechanics will advise changing the wheel to avoid any mishap.

It’s an investment that you’ll need to make to keep cycling smoothly on different terrains.

Answers from Experts about “Can You Ride a Bike with a Broken Spoke?”

We take a look at how a bicycle community at StackExchange answers this question!

Deemar, a senior biker, says that “Yes! You can ride a bike home with a broken spoke. What I usually do is that I remove the spoke from a nipple. This way, it won’t keep harming the other spokes, and I can keep cycling until I hit a bike mechanic or reach home.”

Dhaust, on the other hand, says that “You can even ride back home with many broken spokes! So yeah, it’s possible when you are cycling on smooth terrain with low bumps, and it won’t damage the shape of your wheel as well.”

Huygens has a unique experience in this situation. According to him, “I’m doing a bicycle tour and the type of bike I was riding ended up with one or two broken spokes with no solution to replace them. The longest stretch I remember with broken spoke was 120kms down in the South of Chile. The strange thing was that I rode with luggage, and there were many bad and gravel roads on the way I covered.”

As per these views from different bikers, one thing is quite evident that broken spokes would not cause any problem as far as you remove them and keep cycling.

Primary Causes of Frequent Spokes Breaking

No one likes when some damage occurs to their bike, and it’s pretty understandable!

You must, therefore, know some of the primary causes of spokes crashing to take some precautionary measures to avoid it.

For instance;

Damaged Rim!

If you face frequent dislocation of spokes, then the problem is with the rim. A damaged rim is one of the primary causes you can break the spokes of your wheel. Get it checked and apply rim tape on it to maintain its durability.

Extra Luggage on the Bike!

Extra luggage means extra weight for the bike to handle, which can directly impact the working of wheel spokes. To avoid this problem, invest in a wheel with sturdy spokes and rim.

The load of the Biker!

Moreover, the extra mass of the biker can also cause the spokes to get wrecked, especially while riding uphill.

Manufacturing Defect!

If you get yourself a new bike and face this problem the next day, it means there’s a manufacturing problem with your bicycle. Bike manufacturers would be responsible for this, and you should contact them as soon as possible. 

Not Replacing the Wheel!

Biking frequently for a long time means different parts of the bicycle are about to be worn out. Not replacing the bike’s wheel could thus be another significant cause of spokes getting crashed.

How to Repair Broken Spokes?

Repairing means replacing the broken spoke/spokes with a new one!

Mostly, riders have repair kits along with replacement spokes stored in their luggage.

So, they can quickly repair them in case of any problem.

Other than carrying the long loose spokes in luggage (problematic), many riders with store cheap spokes replacement in their bike’s chainstay protector to save their day.

Lizard Skins offer a durable protective chainstay that you can consider to store the replacement spokes without any hassle.

Meanwhile, many riders could slip the replacement spokes down their bags and tape them to the tube. In addition, they also carry an extra cassette tool, rim tape, as well as a chain wrench to maintain their bike while riding a long journey.

Those were some primary repairing options you could consider to maintain the wheel’s rim’s integrity easily.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How much does it cost to fix a broken spoke?

Replacing broken spokes is an inexpensive operation. A mechanic will ask somewhere around $5 to $10 to fix it correctly for you. But if you are professional enough, you can just get the replacement spokes for not more than $1 to $2 and install them manually.

2. What is the primary function of spokes?

Bike spokes are pretty essential to keep the weight distributed properly. They add strength to the rim and help transfer the force applied by a rider from the hub to the wheel to make it spin properly.

3. What to do if bike spoke breaks?

If it is a single spoke, remove it from the rim’s nipple and keep cycling the bike without facing any problem. However, if two or three spokes get wrecked, stop cycling and find a nearby mechanic shop to get it repaired.

Final Takeaways: Can You Ride a Bike with a Broken Spoke?

Riding a bike with a broken spoke is possible and entirely safe for cyclists.

However, the problem may arise where you will get two to three broken spokes problems, and this is where you will need to repair it properly.

We suggest loading your bicycle gear with replacement spokes if you are aiming for a proper bike tour.

Other than that, keep enjoying a smooth ride even with two to three broken spokes and get them repaired by a nearby mechanic.

Good Luck!!

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Written By

From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 50+ trails across the globe. For Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

1 thought on “Can You Ride a Bike with Broken Spokes? A Thorough Answer!”

  1. I broke THREE spokes a few nights ago while out and yes, did I notice on “banking” to turn. I have since changed them myself though. Interestingly, all were on the brake side of the back wheel (ie the non-drive side) two were adjacent (for that side of the wheel so think left (bad)-right (ok)-left (bad), then one on the absolutely opposite side of the rim (ie half a wheel away). No idea why. I only ride on roads and I don’t abuse my bike by kirb hopping, etc


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