Okay, let me see if I get this straight: You took a good look at your bike today and realized you’ve broken a spoke on the front or back wheel.
You’re not the most handy person, so you can’t repair them yourself. Nor do you want to learn how to — you prefer having this done by a pro. With the bike repair shop being your only option, you found yourself wondering exactly how much fixing the broken spoke would cost.
Well, it’s good that you stopped by, because we wrote this article to give you the answer. Read on to find out.
How Much It Costs
Let’s start with the long and the short of it: Depending on where you live and which bike shop you go to, replacing a single spoke can cost anywhere from $10 to $20 with a tune-up and $20 to $40 with wheel truing.
Remember that this is just a guesstimate. We’re giving it to help you weigh how much money to set aside, but the final cost may vary. See, there are three factors that affect the final cost of repairing the spoke:
- The price of a replacement spoke
- The extent of the damage
- The labor cost
The replacement spoke:
Repair shops buy their spokes in bulk from wholesalers. Most cost less than a dollar, with spokes for smaller wheels being cheaper and spokes for larger wheels being more expensive (longer spokes require more material). The spokes usually come with nipples, but not always, which may affect the unit price.
Most bike shops charge $1 to $3 for a spoke and a pair of nipples. Even though they buy them for less, they have to factor in the cost of tools, staff wages, electricity bills, and, as with any other business, some profit.
The extent of the damage:
You went to the bike shop to get a single spoke replaced. But what if the nearby spokes are also bent, worn out, and about to snap? The bike shop may propose to you to replace them, too, which would add up to the repair bill.
What if you snapped a spoke because you hit a rock, and the rim got bent? You could try to ride with a bent rim, but then you’d become a regular at the bike shop for getting your tires and tubes replaced.
The labor cost:
Suppose the wheel turns fine, and all that’s needed to replace the spoke is a professional’s touch and a quick tune-up with a spoke wrench. The repair won’t cost much and will probably set you back ten to twenty bucks.
But suppose the wheel wobbles, and it needs to be trued on a truing stand. This takes longer and requires greater skill, so you’ll have to pay up to get your wheel trued — typically, twenty to fourty bucks.
Why Bicycle Spokes Break
It’s normal for bicycle spokes to break, and it’s bound to happen to every rider sooner or later.
Even the most careful rider will get a broken spoke on a wheel or two every so often. The older your bike, the more you ride it, and the rougher the roads, the more likely it is to happen to you.
The spokes distribute the load of the bike, the rider, and the road surface to guarantee a safe and smooth ride. They are subject to a lot of force, and after hundreds of thousands of wheel rotations, their tiny and thin parts wear out. Eventually, they give in, and the spoke bends, snaps, or needs a tune-up.
Making the Spokes Last Longer
Take care of your bicycle. Most riders overlook this since it’s so obvious. Mount the bike slowly, without launching yourself onto it with all of your weight. Avoid riding over rocks and into potholes and prefer smoother terrain. Park it carefully to prevent slamming the wheels into the ground.
It also helps to develop good bike owner habits. Before riding away for the day, lift each side of the bike and spin the wheels to check for wobbling. If they wobble and the wobbling is bad, the spokes need to be tuned or the wheel needs to be trued.
Don’t let this situation linger. If you break one spoke, the nearby and opposing spokes will weaken; it doesn’t take much for this to become a recurring problem.