Bent spoke - would you replace?

Just noticed a small kink in one of the spokes on my wheels. At best guess, I thing something might have bounced into it on the weekend when I was riding in a fairly grotty cycle lane at speed. Would you replace? I don’t have a spoke tension meter but the sound of the ‘ping’ is similar to the other spokes under tension. I’m a fairly capable home mechanic but apart from some very basic truing, wheels are a mystery to me. Thanks in advance for any advice.

If the wheel is true, no, I wouldn’t.


I wouldn’t worry about it right away but I would replace it next time you have your tire off…Over time it is possible it could break.


That’ spoke isn’t doing anything and there are a few more likely that have an issue. You need to have the wheel serviced if it is economical. If you can see a kink in the spoke, there isn’t any tension on it to speak of.

Should you replace it? Probably not. It’s a wire with a light bend, and will go back to doing it’s job fine once you tension it. You may see a wave in there, but it’ll be fine. If the mechanic has a spoke handy that looks visually similar, go for it. If it’s round and silver, just pass.


Steel spokes can take quite a hit without losing integrity. I wouldn’t replace it, just check tension across all the spokes.

How many spokes a wheel has also affects things on the road. If a single spoke goes on a higher spoke count wheel you’ll likely still be able to ride on it, without it going much out if true. Low spoke count may mean it becomes unrideable. Disc brakes here help as well as even a wheel out of true if rideable if not hitting brakes and / or frame.

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I’ve had this since 2017 no issues. Wheel is true so no need to fix what ain’t broken


Thanks all. Annoying that compared to the fairly cheap Wiggle own brand set I use for rougher riding, this set of carbon wheels didn’t come with any spare spokes! The wheel is still perfectly true. 24 straight pull spokes on each wheel.

That’s not actually true. The kink is caused by a plastic deformation of the material, and does not indicate the absence of tension, as tested by the OP with the rough but still pretty accurate ping tone testing he did (which is based on the variation in resonant frequency as a function of tension in a string-like object).


Looks like a front wheel, and the non-disc side will have lower tension.

But, that said, I’m still trying to figure out how something can hit it and deform the spoke like that. The forces would have to increase an incredible amount and for sure you would have heard it hit. It was enough to go beyond the elasticity of the metal, but not beyond the plasticity.

I would probably replace the spoke in time. Peace of mind and all that.

When you build a wheel, the spokes deform under tension. You’ll see kinks in the spoke if you deface it. where other spokes cross it and both under tension deform each other.

Where on this curve did you actually go? Does it matter? We know you went beyond yield, for sure, but maybe not to the necking part (?) where you are starting to weaken, and definitely not exceeding plasticity (fracture).

If it’s the same as the deformation when wheel building I could leave it alone, but the visual kink would really bug me. So, I would replace it anyway, in time, when I feel motivated to do more than less.

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It’s relatively easy to get a spoke to bend that way from a lateral impact, and in particular on a bladed spoke, where lateral bending plastic limits are far lower than that in tension. You get plastic deformation laterally, that in theory reduces the tensile strength limit in tension; in practice the tensions are far from that limit.

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I have a spoke like that, it is (ironically) the replacement for a previously-broken spoke. The mechanic bent it a little during the lacing process, but it has served honorably and reliably for 6 years of hard riding since.


I have a very similar kink and it’s been fine for years.

That said, since this is a set of carbon wheels, you should probably invest in getting some replacement spokes and change it out when you get a chance.

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