Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: DC / Maryland suburbs
Bikes: Homebuilt tourer/commuter, modified-beyond-recognition 1990 Trek 1100, reasonably stock 2002-ish Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo
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Yep, pins not necessary. You can remove them and take your cassette apart if you want to change an individual cog or something. However, it's often a good idea to KEEP the pins, because they hold the cassette together which causes the force on individual cogs to be spread out over a larger area. With loose cogs, it's possible for the forces of pedaling to wear notches into the freehub body. With the cassette held together with pins, this is less likely to happen.