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  1. #1
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    Drivetrains driving me crazy. Freewheels/hubs/cassettes

    Ok, I'm sorry, I am totally new to this. Maybe I'm making this harder than it really is. I did a search and learned a lot, but I'm still a little confused. I have a 2008 Trek 3700. I bought it for commuting/winter riding. I want to get another pair of wheels and tires for it, ie. studded snow tires, and maybe later on some less aggressive street tires for the summer. I want to be able to quickly switch out the wheel/tire assembly depending on the weather and terrain.

    The rim has a freewheel not a freehub/cassette. It is a Sunrace 13-34 7 speed. (I hope I worded that correctly). From what I have read cassettes are better than freewheels for whatever reason. Stronger? More dependable? I don't know.

    Can I buy a pair of wheels with a hub that will accept a Shimano 7 speed cassette? Do I need a spacer? Can I buy a pair of wheels that will accept a 7 speed freewheel? If so, which would you do? What should I look for in a a set of wheels? Where can I buy them?

    Sorry for all of the questions. This is all like a foreign language to me right now, but I want to learn.

  2. #2
    WNG
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    Standard rear hubs are still available (ie. takes a freewheel, not cassette).
    You can always recreate your current wheels and gearing this way, and mount the tires of your choice.
    A Shimano Mega-Range 7-spd freewheel is available.

    If you are considering a freehub wheelset, this will work as well. Since 7-spd freehubs are no longer made, an 8/9/10 spd freehub can be used with a 4.5mm spacer to accept 7 spd cassettes.
    Freehubs are superior due to 2 major reasons. They are stronger because the bearings that were at the dished hub flange, are now placed at the end of the freehub. The load is more balanced and this bends fewer axles.
    2nd, cassettes theoretically are simpler to modify and customize your gearing.

  3. #3
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl26 View Post
    \
    Can I buy a pair of wheels with a hub that will accept a Shimano 7 speed cassette? Do I need a spacer? Can I buy a pair of wheels that will accept a 7 speed freewheel? If so, which would you do? What should I look for in a a set of wheels? Where can I buy them?

    Sorry for all of the questions. This is all like a foreign language to me right now, but I want to learn.
    Yes you can buy a wheel with a hub that will accept a shimano 7 speed cassette. Spacer for what? It takes a 7 speed cassette. Yes you can buy a wheel that will accept a 7 speed freewheel.

    What would I do? I would buy the cassette wheel and upgrade to 8 speed while you're at it. It's stronger, has more gears and goes to 9/10 speed as well. (Shimano anyways).

    What should you look for in a wheelset? Depends on what type of riding you're planning to do, how much you are willing to spend and what you expect from it. You want durable, and light - going to be expensive and probably handbuilt.

    If you just want a wheelset that works, anything machine built and cheap will do fine.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    Yes you can buy a wheel with a hub that will accept a shimano 7 speed cassette. Spacer for what? It takes a 7 speed cassette. Yes you can buy a wheel that will accept a 7 speed freewheel.

    What would I do? I would buy the cassette wheel and upgrade to 8 speed while you're at it. It's stronger, has more gears and goes to 9/10 speed as well. (Shimano anyways).

    What should you look for in a wheelset? Depends on what type of riding you're planning to do, how much you are willing to spend and what you expect from it. You want durable, and light - going to be expensive and probably handbuilt.

    If you just want a wheelset that works, anything machine built and cheap will do fine.
    Apparently I need a 4.5mm spacer for the 7 speed cassete to work with a 8/9 speed freehub like WNG mentioned above. Thanks WNG. I might step up to a 8 or 9 speed later on. For now though I just want to get another set of wheels that work. Thanks guys.

  5. #5
    Senior Member biker128pedal's Avatar
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    The cheapest thing to do is to get good at changing tires.

    For a second set of wheels don't forget the rims. Not all rims align the same with the brake pads. You would have to adjust your brake pad every time you change wheel sets. Not very much but some. The easiest/cheapest thing to do is see if the dealer can get the exact same wheel set. Maybe somebody upgraded and they have an extra set.

    The other easy option is to upgrade the wheel set and get duplicates. If a 7-speed cassette fits the freehub you you can use shims. I have a 7 speed cassette on a 9 speed mavic rear wheel. I used old cassette spacers as shims.
    Wheelset
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...%20%2D%20Pairs
    Cassette (Still need shims)
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...A%20Freewheels
    Mike
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    Quote Originally Posted by biker128pedal View Post
    The cheapest thing to do is to get good at changing tires.

    For a second set of wheels don't forget the rims. Not all rims align the same with the brake pads. You would have to adjust your brake pad every time you change wheel sets. Not very much but some. The easiest/cheapest thing to do is see if the dealer can get the exact same wheel set. Maybe somebody upgraded and they have an extra set.http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...%20%2D%20Pairs
    Cassette (Still need shims)
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...A%20Freewheels
    +1 and if the hubs are not the same, the cogs may not line up with the index shifting adjustment. You will only have to change the tires at the beginning and end of the winter. The advantages of a free hub are more obvious for heavy riders.

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    WNG
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    Yes you can buy a wheel with a hub that will accept a shimano 7 speed cassette. Spacer for what? It takes a 7 speed cassette. Yes you can buy a wheel that will accept a 7 speed freewheel.
    The OP wants to be able to quickly swap to his 2nd set of wheels, that means no fiddling around with derailleur alignment. Imagine NASCAR pitstop.


    So he either gets the same standard hub and 7-spd freewheel. Or a freehub and have to space the 7 cogs to his original pair of wheels.
    Sometimes you gotta read what the OP was asking for, and not come along and tell him what you'd do instead.

  8. #8
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by WNG View Post
    The OP wants to be able to quickly swap to his 2nd set of wheels, that means no fiddling around with derailleur alignment. Imagine NASCAR pitstop.


    So he either gets the same standard hub and 7-spd freewheel. Or a freehub and have to space the 7 cogs to his original pair of wheels.
    Sometimes you gotta read what the OP was asking for, and not come along and tell him what you'd do instead.
    I missed the part about the quickswitch so scratch the 8+ speed recommendation. Anyways, there's no reason to go 7 speed freewheel or 7 speed specific cassette. Just use a 8/9/10 cassette hub with a spacer.

    Quickswapping doesn't mean he doens't have to do anything to his RD. He still needs to check that the limit screws are doing their job and that it's still shifting correctly.
    Last edited by operator; 11-11-07 at 12:12 AM.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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    Quote Originally Posted by biker128pedal View Post
    The cheapest thing to do is to get good at changing tires.

    For a second set of wheels don't forget the rims. Not all rims align the same with the brake pads. You would have to adjust your brake pad every time you change wheel sets. Not very much but some. The easiest/cheapest thing to do is see if the dealer can get the exact same wheel set. Maybe somebody upgraded and they have an extra set.

    The other easy option is to upgrade the wheel set and get duplicates. If a 7-speed cassette fits the freehub you you can use shims. I have a 7 speed cassette on a 9 speed mavic rear wheel. I used old cassette spacers as shims.
    Wheelset
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...%20%2D%20Pairs
    Cassette (Still need shims)
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...A%20Freewheels
    I like cheap, but I also like easy. I didn't think about possibly needing to make adjustments if the wheelsets aren't exactly the same.

    Now I need to decide if I need the strength of a cassette. I am about 150lbs. but I tend to ride my bikes somewhat hard. I'm used to riding a Trek 8500. These bikes feel completely different. I bought the 3700 (the black one) knowing that I might want to make some changes to it. I know I could have spent a little more and bought something with better options and components, but I figured wrenching on this one would be a good learning experience.

    Oh, thanks for the links biker128pedal. Those wheels might fit the bill if I decide to go with discs in the future. That's another thread for another day. Thanks everyone!

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    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl26 View Post
    I like cheap, but I also like easy. I didn't think about possibly needing to make adjustments if the wheelsets aren't exactly the same.
    Even IF they are the same, I can't stress enough that the adjustments STILL NEED TO be checked.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  11. #11
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    Even IF they are the same, I can't stress enough that the adjustments STILL NEED TO be checked.
    Okay, but let's be clear. If you have identical wheelsets with identical cassettes, sure, check to make sure everything works (brakes, derailleur), is adjusted correctly, etc. with both wheelsets. But after you've made sure everything's good the first time, you're good to go and can switch quickly and easily from then on without the need to keep checking everything, or at least you'd not have any more reason to check than you would if you were just running one wheelset all the time.

    If you want to make quick, easy, wheel changes without having to worry about brake adjusments, derailleur adjustments, etc, the best way to make sure everything is going to work the way you want is to get identical wheels and cassettes, but again, verify everything's good the first time you switch them out. Even without being identical it can be done, but you have to know what to look for. After a little careful research, I recently purchased an extra wheelset for a friend that can be switched out perfectly (no adjustments necessary) so she doesn't have to intall/uninstall tires very often. Nothing is the same brand on the wheelsets at all, the only thing "identical" is the cassette. Of course, I checked everything for her when I first installed the new wheelset.
    Last edited by well biked; 11-11-07 at 09:46 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl26 View Post
    I have a 2008 Trek 3700.

    The rim has a freewheel not a freehub/cassette. It is a Sunrace 13-34 7 speed. (I hope I worded that correctly). From what I have read cassettes are better than freewheels for whatever reason. Stronger? More dependable? I don't know.
    ...
    Can I buy a pair of wheels with a hub that will accept a Shimano 7 speed cassette?
    It's a 2008 bike, and it has a freewheel?! Fortunately, it's only $300.
    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...3_series/3700/

    You can buy a pair of new wheels, but good wheels will cost more than $200.
    Do the math, buy another bike for $300 for the summer. It can even be another type of bike.
    Also, a bike is not a car. You have to fix flats anyway, so eventually you'll learn to change tires very quickly.
    Last edited by Barabaika; 11-11-07 at 11:42 AM.

  13. #13
    cab horn
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    [QUOTE=Barabaika;5614145]
    You can buy a pair of new wheels, but good wheels will cost more than $200.
    [QUOTE]

    No it won't. You can get a set of shimano rim/hub wheels (bladed even) for ~ $150. 8/9/10 speed. He's not worried about flats, he wants a second wheelset to be able to quickly sawp in and out for changing winter weather.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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    Yes, but good wheels with good rims and hubs are more likely in the $200 range. There are $50 wheels on eBay, too.

    He told that he wanted studded snow tires for the winter and street tires for the summer. I'm sure he will have flat tires in between, so he'll have to take off the tires anyway, a 5-minute process. Also, if he's took off the wheel to put another wheel, he's done 50% of the tire changing job.

    By the way, good studded tires are expensive, Nokian for $50-70 each; and he will lose studs if he rides on the paved roads.
    I would say that he needs 3 sets of wheels (or tires): studded - ice, knobby - show and mud, slicks - for the paved roads. Though, I suspect that for the city commuting some all-season semi-slicks will be OK:


    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/ice.html
    Ice riding is best done with studded tires of which there are a few suppliers, mainly in northern Europe, such as Nokian.
    In the absence of studded tires for frozen lakes without a snow crust, slick tires are better than ones with miniature automobile tread because they give more contact surface, thereby reducing contact pressure and slip.
    Last edited by Barabaika; 11-11-07 at 03:26 PM.

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    My new bike has a 52 chain ring and 34, 30, 26, 23, 20, 17, 15, 13, 11 rear, 20" drive wheel, giving me slightly less top end than the standard 42/32/22 & 28, 24, 21, 18, 15, 13, 11 on the 700C tourer I'm replacing.
    I'm relaxed about it, having rarely got the chance to use top gear previously, but I got that 'hmm, could do with an extra gear feeling' yesterday.

    Can you get:
    chain rings with more than 52 teeth?
    cassettes sprockets with less than 11 teeth?
    a hub gear wheel with better ratios?

    the chain is new so I could make changes quickly couldn't I?

    Cheers

  16. #16
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    54 teeth chainrings are available depending on the crank BCD:
    http://aebike.com/page.cfm?PageID=30...ils&sku=CR3718
    http://aebike.com/page.cfm?PageID=30...ils&sku=CR1171

    Sturmey Archer has an 8-speed internal hub that is good for folders with small wheels.
    http://www.sturmey-archer.com/hubs_8spd_XRF8.php
    According to the gear ratio calculator
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/internal.html
    if you use this hub, you'll get 52(chainring) x 23 (SA rear sprocket) x 20" (wheel) = 10.3
    Your tourer: 42(big chainring) x 11 x 700c = 7.8
    Your current: 52 x 11 x 20" = 7.1
    With 54 teeth: 54 x 11 x 20" = 7.3

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barabaika View Post
    Yes, but good wheels with good rims and hubs are more likely in the $200 range. There are $50 wheels on eBay, too.

    He told that he wanted studded snow tires for the winter and street tires for the summer. I'm sure he will have flat tires in between, so he'll have to take off the tires anyway, a 5-minute process. Also, if he's took off the wheel to put another wheel, he's done 50% of the tire changing job. [/I]
    Thanks for your input. I understand what you are saying. This would definately be the cheapest way to go. I might try winter riding and say, "Forget about it. I'll drive. " I just want to know what my options are. This is pretty much a beater bike. I'll maintain it, but I don't need really nice wheels. If I did buy wheels, I'd probably go the Ebay route.

  18. #18
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    Thanks Barabaika

    I've been looking at Sturmey Archer XRK8 for I have a disc brakes

    I prefer a simple spreadsheet myself: gear inches = chain ring teeth x wheel diameter / rear sprocket teeth
    or, for hub gears, gear inches = chain ring teeth x wheel diameter x gear ratio / rear sprocket

    if this is right, the bottom gear on my 'bent (not a folder) is equivalent to 3rd on my tourer. Lowest gears on the hub come in around 4th on the 'bent and 5th on the tourer. whilst I could still do with a 10th gear on the 'bent, the hub options give whopping 130-ish gear inches top end

    It has only been my first proper day out on my first 'bent today, and I'm getting to appreciate 1st while I wobble about from a stop. I think I'll give it a couple of months (the recommended training period) the see what I want to do. At $135 + shifter + rest of wheel + other stuff for converting 'bent from derailleur to hub gear, a bigger chain ring + a longer chain looks a bit more attractive, for when I'm better at riding it!

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