Bicycle Mechanics - Single speed pedal effort
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02-21-11, 05:40 PM
Picked up a ladies Sears free spirit for my kid- she loves the retro look of the bike but hates the single speed and the high gear ratio, if that's the term.....
How can I (a complete wrench novice) change out gearing to make pedaling easier? Not looking for speed as the bike is basically a spare for around the town occasional use...
Thanks in advance,
02-21-11, 05:59 PM
Change to a smaller front sprocket or a bigger rear sprocket. A bike shop probably has one or the other. But it might be more than you want to spend.
02-21-11, 06:13 PM
How involved is it to do myself- rear sprocket I would think is easier, yes?
If you can remove the rear sprocket, take it to a bike shop and see if they have one a bit larger. I don't know what is available. Probably need a new, longer chain, too.
A picture of the rear hub/sprocket would be helpful.
02-22-11, 12:07 PM
Many, I'd even say most, single speeds that I've seen are equipped with freewheels that have the sprocket machined as part of the outer freewheeling ring. So changing gearing is a matter of replacing the whole freewheel. The freewheels are on the wheel hubs TIGHT and it'll need a special freewheel tool to remove. The freewheels themselves run from $13 to $20 depending on brand and model. And to avoid having to buy the special tool to remove the other it would be worth it to take off the rear wheel and take it with you when you buy the new freewheel. If you're buying the new one from the shop they should take the old off and spin on the new one for either free or no more than $5 more. It's a quick and easy job with the wheel off the bike but it DOES require a special tool to fit the old freewheel.
If she just needs a slight bit more help then one tooth bigger on the rear would be fine. If she is really struggling then two or three teeth bigger would be best. If only one tooth there's likely enough adjustment in the chain you already have. If two or three it might work or it might not depending on where in the adjustment slot the axle is fitting presently. If the new freewheel puts the axle out where it's not fully clamping onto metal then you'll need a new chain as well. If you're not comfortable with judging the fit of the chain before or after this freewheel swap then you'll need to suck up the extra cost and take the whole bike in.
02-22-11, 01:00 PM
On the old coaster brake bikes, the rear sprocket is just held on with a snap ring and not hard to swap out. The main problem is you'll need a longer chain if you increase the size much.
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