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  1. #1
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    Rear hub/cassette confusion

    I have a Raleigh Scorpio 12-speed bike, which I'm wanting to get back on after about 14 years away from cycling (through laziness I'm ashamed to admit). I don't want to shell out for a new bike until I get fit, and then get something really nice. I had upgraded bits and pieces on the bike so it is now a complete hotchpotch. I changed the standard Shimano SIS rear mech for a Shimano 600 Ultegra unit, put 105 dual-caliper brakes on it, and also swapped the standard wheels (+cash) for a pair of really nice Mavic GP4 on some old but very smooth Shimano 600 hubs.

    I want to change back to clincher type rims from the Mavic tubs, but I'm not keen on getting new rims built onto my old hubs as I reckon I could probably just buy new wheels for the same cost. I'm worried because it doesn't appear that you can get decent 6-speed hubs anymore, everyone seems to be doing 8/9/10 speed nowadays. So, my questions are:

    - If I buy a new pair of wheels with an 8/9/10 speed cassette, will they fit my existing frame, or do I have to put '6-spd' hubs on it with a 6-speed cassette?
    - What's the difference between a freewheel and a cassette?
    - Do I have to buy wheels with a Shimano cassette, or could I use wheels with a Campagnolo (for instance) cassette where everything else in the 'drivetrain' is Shimano?

    Any help gratefully appreciated!

    Mark

  2. #2
    ot.net slave
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    ... the brief version:

    your frame is probably spaced at 126mm across the dropouts. Modern 8/9/10 speed wheels are 130mm across the dropouts. You can respace it OK if it's a steel frame, which it's likely to be.

    if you put an 8 speed (wouldn't go for the 9 or 10 personally) cassette wheel on there you may have to replace the chain (a good idea to do this periodically anyway) and you may get some chain rub (against the frame) on the smallest sprocket. At a minimum though, a respace of the frame and you should be right to go.

    don't mix campagnolo and shimano. Don't even start thinking about that.

    A freewheel is an integrated freewheel/cluster unit which screws onto a hub.

    A freehub is a splined freewheel unit which is a part of the hub. The cassette (sprockets) are a matched spline and slide onto the freehub, before being secured by a lockring, or the final sprocket is threaded to act as a lockring.

    - Joel

  3. #3
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    Joel,

    Many thanks indeed - that's cleared things up. What exactly do you mean by 'respace' my frame - is this a permanent and deliberate thing, ie by getting a bike shop to permanently reset the rear triangle 4mm wider apart, or do you simply mean 'stretching' the rear triangle apart when I put the wheel in?! Presumably if it's the former it would then mean my current wheels would then be incompatible anyway.....

    Many thanks for the help!

    Mark

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Fear
    Joel,

    Many thanks indeed - that's cleared things up. What exactly do you mean by 'respace' my frame - is this a permanent and deliberate thing, ie by getting a bike shop to permanently reset the rear triangle 4mm wider apart, or do you simply mean 'stretching' the rear triangle apart when I put the wheel in?! Presumably if it's the former it would then mean my current wheels would then be incompatible anyway.....

    Many thanks for the help!

    Mark
    You can do either. The most convenient way is to permanantly "cold-set" the frame the additional 4 mm. This can be a DIY job or done by the LBS if you aren't comfortable doing it your self. The alternative is to leave the frame alone and just force the wider wheel in each time. This isn't too difficult but can be annoying after a few road-side tire repairs.

  5. #5
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Fear
    Joel,

    Many thanks indeed - that's cleared things up. What exactly do you mean by 'respace' my frame - is this a permanent and deliberate thing, ie by getting a bike shop to permanently reset the rear triangle 4mm wider apart, or do you simply mean 'stretching' the rear triangle apart when I put the wheel in?! Presumably if it's the former it would then mean my current wheels would then be incompatible anyway.....

    Many thanks for the help!

    Mark
    Mark, there are actually two ways to do this:
    * "spreading" the frame involves permanently bending it. This is ONLY SAFE TO DO on a steel frame. Here's how to do it: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-spacing.html
    * the other option, as you guessed, is simply to "stretch" the dropouts open by an extra 4 mm (126 to 130) in order to take the wheel in or out. This is non-permanent and requires no special tools or anything at all. It takes an extra few seconds to get the rear wheel in and out, which is not usually a problem. This is safe to do on pretty much any metal frame, though NOT on a carbon fiber frame.

    I highly recommend the second approach, because it's so easy. I have been doing it on my steel touring bike and aluminum racing bike frames for a while now, and both work fine. 4 mm is a pretty small difference, so there should be no problems with alignment or the chain bumping against the seatstay on most frames.

    Good luck.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member deathintransit's Avatar
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    Thanks for the information! New wheel here I come.
    This is no cross on my hand!

  7. #7
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    I normally do a permanent (which is not permanent, you can undo it) respace on my frames, as this way I can double check alignment with an alignment gauge as I go. By spreading the frame there's a (perceived, by me) risk that one dropout will spread more than another due to small asymmetries in the frame. It also means you can get wheels in and out quicker, as discussed. Sheldon't article (linked above) has information on how to check frame alignment without an expensive tool.

    - Joel

  8. #8
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomacropod
    I normally do a permanent (which is not permanent, you can undo it) respace on my frames, as this way I can double check alignment with an alignment gauge as I go. By spreading the frame there's a (perceived, by me) risk that one dropout will spread more than another due to small asymmetries in the frame. It also means you can get wheels in and out quicker, as discussed. Sheldon't article (linked above) has information on how to check frame alignment without an expensive tool.

    - Joel
    As Sheldon sez, spreading the frame is the preferable solution with a steel frame.

    But he also says that "stretching" the dropouts is fine when you're only going up one increment... e.g. 120->126 or 126->130. In my experience, stretching the dropouts is a great solution for 126->130.
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  9. #9
    ot.net slave
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    yeah - and hub spacing isn't always spot on anyway. There's normally a bit of squeezing and stretching to get...well anything into anything these days...

    - Joel

  10. #10
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    I have new wheels but...

    OK, after that was all cleared up I managed to get my hands on a pair of really nice Mavic CXP33 rims on Ultegra (FH-6500) freehubs which were used on eBay. I have ordered a 9-speed Shimano Ultegra cassette (presumably it will be a CS-6500) and also a HG73 (now known to be a 105) 9-spd chain, plus the tools I'll need to put it all together. Oh, and some tyres and tubes!

    The wheels arrived in good condition a few days ago, the cone adjustment looks like it will need sorting and lubing, but I'm worried because the freehub body is solid, ie it doesn't 'freewheel' when the wheel is turned in either direction, which it should do right, because it is a freehub? Is it jammed/seized or am I just being an idiot..........

    Mark

  11. #11
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Fear
    OK, after that was all cleared up I managed to get my hands on a pair of really nice Mavic CXP33 rims on Ultegra (FH-6500) freehubs which were used on eBay. I have ordered a 9-speed Shimano Ultegra cassette (presumably it will be a CS-6500) and also a HG73 (now known to be a 105) 9-spd chain, plus the tools I'll need to put it all together. Oh, and some tyres and tubes!

    The wheels arrived in good condition a few days ago, the cone adjustment looks like it will need sorting and lubing, but I'm worried because the freehub body is solid, ie it doesn't 'freewheel' when the wheel is turned in either direction, which it should do right, because it is a freehub? Is it jammed/seized or am I just being an idiot..........
    All right, no reason to be scared of 9-speed. Although I like 8-speed's durability in principle, and I find that I really don't need more gears, 9-speed stuff has worked fine and been plenty durable in most people's experience.

    If your freehub won't spin backwards, there's a big problem. Good thing is that you can remove the freehub and replace it, or try to service it by soaking it in solvent to see if it gets un-gummed. You'll need to remove the hub's axle, and then you can get in with a 10mm allen wrench and remove the freehub body from the hub shell.

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    Excellent - many thanks for putting my mind at rest and proving I'm not being a muppet!

    I'll try what you suggest and see if I can get it sorted - the eBay advert did say the rear hub needed a service!

  13. #13
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Fear
    Excellent - many thanks for putting my mind at rest and proving I'm not being a muppet!
    I'll try what you suggest and see if I can get it sorted - the eBay advert did say the rear hub needed a service!
    Well, if the freehub wouldn't spin backwards, they should have described it as such. This is more than just "needs service" - this is "doesn't work" and they should have said so.

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    Good point, but I'll reserve judgement on that until I've taken it apart and cleaned it out. Whilst you're entirely right with your observation that on the face of it, it looks badgered, that's the trouble with eBay - you pays your money, you takes your chance. I don't really have much recourse now I've paid him and taken delivery of the goods. Replacing the freehub body will still make the wheels cheaper than 50% of new ones.

    At least I got the wheels to play with and tart up, unlike some Canadian eBay shytehawk I tried to buy something off recently who took my money and hasn't coughed up with the goods. Fortunately it was lingerie for my GF , and not bike parts!

    Mark

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    Success! Many thanks for the help Tim, I stopped by my LBS on the way home tonight and got cone spanners, a 10mm allen key, some degreaser and teflon lube. After pulling the hub apart, cleaning it and relubing it, it now works like a charm. The only slight concern is that the freehub body sounds like there's metal rubbing on metal inside it, like there's not enough grease inside. So, can someone tell me please, where should a freehub body be greased, and how much is required?

    Many thanks

    Mark

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