[Note: this is #7 in a series of 20 tips to be published during 2009 & 2010.]
Your wheel is strong because the hub is centered inside the rim by opposing sets of spokes. Better wheels enjoy high tension in these opposing sets but the structure is less stable in case spokes are missing.
The low tension of everyday wheels is actually in their favor. With lower tension, the balance between spokes is not precarious. If one breaks, the wheel’s trueness is only slightly disturbed and it runs nearly straight. Not so with high tension, lightweight wheels.
That’s the reason you should only replace spokes one at a time. For example, if a chain overshift damages some of your drive side spokes, don’t remove them all at once. Same is true for other forms of damage, like contact between a fellow rider’s pedal and your unlucky wheel. Read more →