Yup, that’s what I heard as we were cruising down the billiard table smooth, 4% payoff grade called County Line Road at 35 mph tonight. At first I thought something had gotten shot out from under the tire that I didn’t see in the road, but as I continued to quickly assess the noise I immediately knew: we’d finally had one of the threaded-ends of our Topolino’s composite spokes break.
I say finally because I always suspected it was a matter of when and not if we’d experience one of these types of spoke-end / nipple interface break. We have several friends who were also early adopters of the Topolino’s but who live and ride on roads that aren’t as nice as ours and several of them had front spokes break early on. I believe we may have been late in getting ours because our original front wheel was replaced about 6 months after we started riding on the wheels, and because we’ve since been using three other wheelsets on our tandem which also kept the mileage low. However, last year we decided to start riding on the Topolino’s more often just to see how long we could go without any issues. Well, apparently it was about a year and perhaps 1,500 miles, noting that we put about 700 miles on our conventional wheels and another 700 miles on our Rolfs before selling them this past fall.
Getting back to tonight’s ride, it took me about 2 seconds to realize what I’d heard was a spoke end snapping, confirmed by the new wobble that didn’t exist in the front wheel just moments before I heard the “Doink”. I immediately informed the lovely Miss Debbie that we’d just broken a spoke so that she’d know why I was now coasting and testing the stability of the bike with some subtle steering inputs as I confirmed that we’d be able finish the last 9 miles of our ride without being at risk due to the broken spoke.
About the only time the spoke made any racket was when we were climbing out of the saddle and I was throwing the front end of the bike back and forth as I usually do: the loose spoke didn’t like that and let me know with a “whack, whack, whack” noise.
Suffices to say, we made it home fine, albeit at a somewhat slower pace that we would have ridden without the broken spoke. I’ve shot off a note to Topolino asking for advise on how to go about getting the wheel repaired and replaced the Topolino’s on our Calfee with our ‘back-up’ conventional White Industries / Velocity Deep-V wheelset. Yes, I practice what I preach and always have a backup wheelset on hand!
Fingers crossed, it won’t cost too much to have it put right + the cost of shipping the wheels from Georgia to Massachusetts and back.