The great frozen Mavic spokes problem and a solution I developed

For those who are still using 2010-201x? Mavic aluminium wheels (Ksyrium, etc.) with the infamous threaded nipples, you have probably experienced the infamous Mavic frozen nipples.


These are the spokes comprising:

  1. Spoke body
  2. Threaded spoke end (the brass nut that threads onto the end of the spoke)
  3. Threaded nipple (the aluminium nut that screws into the rim)

What happens is that over time, the threaded nipple (#3) corrodes and bonds to the spoke body (#1). So you can turn the threaded nipple to adjust spoke tension, but the bonded spoke body turns with it. This is no good for Mavic’s bladed spokes - which need to stay oriented with the flat side facing outwards (the point of bladed spokes).

I’ve searched Google and am yet to find a solution to this. Conventional wisdom is to bin them.

You can hold the spoke blade and twist the nipple with the wrench, but if it’s bonded hard - the spoke will just wind up (twist). Then eventually snap.

The best tip I saw was to freeze them, hoping the nipple expands off the spoke as it heats up when removed from the freezer - freeing it up. But don’t bet on that working.

Anyway my solution is not ideal, but it can work. Basically, if you can access enough of the brass nut above the nipple to turn it with a socket, you can remove that nut. Then, with the spoke in a bench vice, hold the nipple in the wrench - and hit it with a hammer.

This will be enough to break the bond and knock the nipple off the end of the spoke. Or it will snap the spoke if the bond is stronger. I’ve had about 50% success either way.

There you go! Or just buy new wheels, but that’s too sensible.

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I have a pair of Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels with the same problem, I bought a second pair cheap to harvest the spokes from but it’s still proving to be a problem.

I’ve done the same - you get buy them 2nd hand cheap for precisely that purpose. Bike shops won’t touch them. You’ll lose half the spokes using my method, but you might harvest enough to get them working.

Actually the spokes themselves - you can buy on Ebay from other suppliers. It’s the Mavic nipple and end nut that you really need.

Unfortunately the length of spoke I wanted isn’t that common on eBay. For the price of several spokes I bought a pair of wheels. I have to follow up with my wheel builder…

It’s definitely cost effective harvesting spokes from second hand Mavic wheels. Although you can probably just use the wheels you bought, rather than dissemble them to fix the ones you already had.

I’ve had similar problems with Fulcrum Racing 1 and 0 wheels as well as Campagnolo Eurus–all bladed aluminum spokes. First step is WD-40 into the nipples–usually does nothing, but sometimes works. Another solvent is Tri-Flow–a drop in the nipple–better results than WD-40. Haven’t found the freezing aerosol very helpful. One last thing is the opposite–apply heat, then try to twist–and, very important, twist as if loosening first. (Some folks simply try to tighten it up directly when truing a wheel.) I too have donor wheels, and extra spokes, in case none of those techniques work alone or combined.

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