Friday, March 8, 2013

Living With The SRAM S40 Wheelset – The One Year Mark

As you may be aware, I have been living, and been pretty happy with, a set of SRAM S40 wheels.  I have elaborated on their features, their pluses and their minuses in an earlier review (SRAM S40 Wheelset Review, Cycling Dynamics, 09-11-2012), thus here is the latest update on our steady relationship.

First the facts:  I like these wheels.  Yeah, they are not the lightest things out there, but their design, construction, and aesthetics impress me.  However, for those whom have been following my relationship with these wheels, there has been one real, nagging problem – Spokes breaking.  The odd things is, I seem to be breaking a rear spoke every thousand (1000) miles, as I had a tick over that mileage when I broke the first one.  Now, at just a tick over two-thousand (2000) miles, I broke another rear spoke.  I hope this is not going to be a trend.

To date, the two broken spokes have been on the non-drive side of the rear wheel only (the front wheel has been trouble free).  The first time, it took almost two months to get the issue resolved (the wheels were under warranty), but that was due to my local SRAM dealer, not SRAM themselves.    

On the second occasion, whilst riding along a flat road, I heard the same “Plink” sound I heard in Ojai (during the Ojai Century Ride, June 2012) just before a rear spoke broke on that first occasion.  Well, that familiar “Plink” resulted in another non-drive side, rear spoke breaking at exactly the same place as the previous occurrence – Right at the base of the spoke-hole on the rim.  You could still hear the tip of the spoke rattling around inside the wheel. 

So, off to Pasadena Cyclery (Pasadena, CA) I went in search of mechanical genius Michael.  He resolved my issue the first time, thus I sought him out on this occasion, as well.  The first time he helped me out, SRAM stated they would send out a complete set of spokes, which turned ultimately into three spokes (replacing the broken one and the two adjacent).  This time SRAM wanted to the wheel back for an inspection and a complete re-lacing.  So, all boxed up, off the wheel went to Zipp (owned by SRAM) in Speedway, Indiana.   

Well, here I am three weeks later (it was about a ten day turn-around), the wheel has all new spokes, was trued, and I am ready to try it out again.  At this point, if you were thinking I may be a little gun-shy, well, you would be correct.  The wheels remind me of my Ducati motorcycle, as well as an Italian ex-girlfriend – Temperamental, but a pleasure to work with.   

While the wheel was off at Zipp, getting, well, Zipped, I have been riding on my trusty 2005 spec Mavic Ksyrium’s SL’s.  These wheels are smooth, light, and are the proverbial definition of “Bomb-Proof.”  However, the S40’s now have new tubes and tires on them (along with my trusty SRAM OG-1090 cassette), and I will be swapping the wheels out soon for a test run. 

Keep your fingers crossed.  Mine are.

Arrangement Of The Non-Drive Side Spokes.

Editor’s note: If anyone would like to share their experiences with SRAM wheels and broken spokes, feel free to enter them into the “Comments” section at the bottom of this posting.  Please keep ‘em factual, and keep ‘em clean, and I reserve the right to edit (or delete) comments not relevant and informative.   

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