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  1. #1
    Senior Member rsd212's Avatar
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    Wobbly freewheel - should I worry?

    Hello. I just got an '86 Schwinn Prelude from a family member and have been fixing it up, getting it ready for some distance riding. Everything seems solid right now except for the freewheel. We went into a shop and got a generic 27" rim to replace the damaged rear wheel. The nice man swapped the freewheel (original Suntour gearing) from the old to the new for free, but now I notice that its a bit wobbly, and makes a "thumping" sound under heavy pedaling. With the wheel off I get about 1mm of play in any direction in the plane of the wheel. There is an adjustment ring similar to a bottom bracket, but I cant seem to get my pin spanner to engage on it. Should I be worried? Some websites say it should tend to tighten over time, not loosen, so should I just ride it a while and see how it goes from there? Is my freewheel just plain worn out? Thanks!

  2. #2
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    It may be that the bearings inside the freewheel are worn and loosened, or it may just be that the freewheel's threads aren't perfectly in the same plane as the gears, and so it wobbles from side-to-side when the wheel is coasting. Either way, it shouldn't really do damage to the rear wheel, but if the wobble causes missed shifts, then it's worth replacing now. 6- or 7-speed freewheels (there's probably six or seven speeds on your Schwinn) aren't particularly expensive, and a modern freewheel with ramped teeth will shift better.

  3. #3
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    I have two freewheel bikes - both freewheels wobble. Both hubs have been rebuilt and one axle replaced, though there was no apparent bend. Nothing made a difference. I figure that the treads are non-axial on one part or the other...

    Doesn't seem to affect shifting, btw.
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

    - Will Rogers

  4. #4
    Gone, but not forgotten Sheldon Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsd212
    Hello. I just got an '86 Schwinn Prelude from a family member and have been fixing it up, getting it ready for some distance riding. Everything seems solid right now except for the freewheel. We went into a shop and got a generic 27" rim to replace the damaged rear wheel. The nice man swapped the freewheel (original Suntour gearing) from the old to the new for free, but now I notice that its a bit wobbly, and makes a "thumping" sound under heavy pedaling. With the wheel off I get about 1mm of play in any direction in the plane of the wheel. There is an adjustment ring similar to a bottom bracket, but I cant seem to get my pin spanner to engage on it. Should I be worried? Some websites say it should tend to tighten over time, not loosen, so should I just ride it a while and see how it goes from there? Is my freewheel just plain worn out? Thanks!
    Freewheel bearings can be adjusted by removing shims under the cone.

    See: http://sheldonbrown.com/freewheels for details.

    Sheldon "Tick Tick Tick..." Brown
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  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    My Shimano mega range wobbles. Posters here have said no problem. It has been no problem. There may even be a reason for the wobble, although I have not seen any agreement on that.

    possibly bogus reasons include: making shifting easier, adjusting misalignment of the chainline.
    2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
    Strida 3, I recommend it for rides < 10mi wo steep hills.
    2006 Rowbike 720 Sport, I recommend it as an exercise bike.
    1996 Birdy, Recommend.
    Wieleder CARiBIKE (folding), decent frame.

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