Using simple tools you can make a roadside repair without spare parts so a snapped spoke wont stop your ride. By loosening the apposing spoke with either pliers, a screw driver or a spoke key you can balance the wheel laterally. This will allow the wheel to roll smoothly between the frame stays or fork legs without rubbing.

A bicycles’ spokes are similar to people in a tug of war. If a spoke fails, the wheel bulges outwards opposite to the missing spoke. You can true the buckle in the wheel by either replacing the spoke or releasing the load exerted by the opposite side. To release the load exerted by the opposite side, simply unscrew the nipple with a spoke key. You can use pliers to to this job but they will mark and possibly damage the nipple in the process.  You can achieve the same result by removing the tyre and rim tape and unscrewing the nipple using a flat screwdriver from inside the rim.

In extreme circumstances a roadside repair may require you to snapped or cut the opposite functional spoke if no other suitable tools are available and an immediate solution is required. This might be achieved with pliers or bolt croppers. If you are touring and stuck up a mountain somewhere you might try using the abrasive nature of a rock or stone. Stone will act like a file or emery paper in an emergency. It will take ages but by rubbing a spoke with a rock the spoke will eventually fail.

This last method may cause more issues than it resolves if the spoke you snap does not have a tension similar to the spoke that failed. The method in all versions will weaken the wheel as there is less tension overall in the spokes. This method is only for emergency situations and care should be taken when riding any bike not set up to manufacturers recommendations or if there are known mechanical issues.

 

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