Why do I dread spoke replacement so much? It's not that complicated. It doesn't seem rational. But here's why I think I avoid it like the plague:
- There are always more spoke issues than I thought. Sure one spoke broke. But 3 others are bent or gouged. If I'm going to the trouble or replaceing one, might as well do everything that needs it. But a little job just got much bigger.
- Rim tape. I hate removing perfectly good rim tape just to get at one spoke. Guess this is just me being cheap/picky. Does anyone spot-cut out old tape just at the spokes being replaced?
- Getting the right replacement spoke at a LBS is difficult. The bike techs are usually nonchalant about finding an exact replacement spoke when I bring the broken one in. "This is pretty close." Rarely is it an exact match. With a recent spoke breakage on my MTB, on close inspection, I'm realizing this is a spoke I replaced a few years ago, and the butting clearly does not match that on the original spokes. Probably why it always creaked and finally snapped. Sigh.
- Spoke wrenches. Never found one I really like that doesn't tend to round the nipples. Please someone recommend a wrench they use and like!
- Spoke prep. Do I need it? I know I can get away without it, but am I making the job harder and will it have less longevity? I think the issue here is that I have never used it, but then I worry that since I didn't use it, I somehow screwed something up...
- "It takes brass nipples to sell real estate." - Glengarry Glen Ross (sort of). Alloy nipples suck. Never again. I have an MTB wheelset that was obviously built to be light, but never again would I opt for alloy nipples. They are too soft. They round, strip, and crack so easily it's a crime. Maybe these wheels just used the crappiest alloy nipples on the market. But it's brass for me from here on out.
- Truing. And More truing. I actually don't mind wheel truing. I kind of like it. But if I'm replacing 4 spokes, must I re-true the wheel after replacing each new spoke? This takes a long time, but it seems less risky than replacing 4 at once and truing once. What do you do?