Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Bikes: '''96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '12 Surly Pacer, All are 3x8,9 or 10. It is hilly around here!
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If the cogs are "screw on" and 5-speed they are almost certainly a freewheel, not a cassette, and you can't upgrade to 9 or 10-speed as freewheels were never made that wide. You could get a 7-speed freewheel to replace the 5-speed and these are available. If you want to go to 8,9 or 10-speed you will need a new rear wheel with the appropriate freehub configuration.
The way components are priced these days, buying a complete wheel is almost always cheaper than buying the parts and building your own. In fact, it's often cheaped to buy a complete wheel even if you already have a suitable hub. Such is life.
BTW, your 5-speed hub is probably spaced 120 mm. Any 6 or 7-speed hub (freewheel or cassette) will be 126 mm and 8/9/10-speed hubs are 130 mm so be sure the frame is compatible with what you buy or can be cold-set to a wider spacing. Steel can be. Al and carbon can't.