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Old 03-01-08, 10:51 AM   #1
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what makes a cassette better than a freewheel?

I'm not in a situation of money to do an upgrade without selling some of my vintage goods. I have no issues of spacing my vintage frame to 130mm...

I'm just wondering what the main advantage of a cassette is. Right now it seems higher quality vintage freewheels are starting to reach the price of new modern cassettes.

what is the mechanical advantage of a cassette to a freewheel? How about weight...?

The reason I ask is because in order to finance a modern set of cassette wheels I will have to sell a pair of NOS campy freewheel hubs. I'm not so attached to them but they were a nice gift.
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Old 03-01-08, 11:00 AM   #2
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The main advantage is that the drive side bearing can be spaced further from the non-drive side, which puts less stress on the axle and lessens the chance of breakage. Edit: This is not as big of a concern on older road bikes, partly because the axles are shorter on 120 or 126mm spaced frames and the freewheel stack is smaller.
http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html#advantages
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Old 03-01-08, 11:02 AM   #3
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Freewheels have a nice propensity to get seized onto the hub.
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Old 03-01-08, 12:23 PM   #4
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More cogs possible on a cassette without axle breakage.
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Old 03-01-08, 12:34 PM   #5
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With the removal of a simple retaining ring, the entire cassette slides off of its splines and can be cleaned in a solvent in just a few minutes. All of this is possible without any worries about the solvent getting into the bearings or dribbling onto the rubber tire or the finish of the spokes and the wheel.
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Old 03-01-08, 12:46 PM   #6
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With the removal of a simple retaining ring, the entire cassette slides off of its splines and can be cleaned in a solvent in just a few minutes. All of this is possible without any worries about the solvent getting into the bearings or dribbling onto the rubber tire or the finish of the spokes and the wheel.
Do folks realy do this just for cleaning? I just installed my first cassette a few months ago and was surprised at all the little spacers and the requirement to keep things aligned to get all the shifting ramps and the like to line up. It went on but I thought overall there was a lot of opportunity for error.

And you have to have a chain whip to remove the "simple retaining ring", right?

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Old 03-01-08, 02:07 PM   #7
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Yes, removal is the best way to clean a cassette. Chain whip and cassette removal tool. Really an easy job.
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Old 03-01-08, 02:48 PM   #8
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Yes, removal is the best way to clean a cassette. Chain whip and cassette removal tool. Really an easy job.
I think I removed the cassette once without a chain whip, just a tool made for the retaining ring.

If you have ever tried to clean grit and gunk out of a freewheel while it is mounted on the wheel, sliding the cassette off of the splines and putting it into a bucket of solvent is s-o e-a-sy by comparison.
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Old 03-01-08, 02:49 PM   #9
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When you remove the cassette for cleaning just put a zip tie through it. Keeps all the spacers and everything in the right order.
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Old 03-01-08, 03:06 PM   #10
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was surprised at all the little spacers and the requirement to keep things aligned to get all the shifting ramps and the like to line up. It went on but I thought overall there was a lot of opportunity for error
Not to worry, Mark, it won't let you misalign the cogs when you put them on the cassette body. They'll only go on the right way.
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Old 03-01-08, 03:32 PM   #11
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http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html
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Old 03-01-08, 08:46 PM   #12
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When you remove the cassette for cleaning just put a zip tie through it. Keeps all the spacers and everything in the right order.
My Shimano 9-speed cassette has most of the sprockets and spacers rivetted together so they cannot come apart. I did work on my wife's X-mart bike and its sprockets and spacers were loose.
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Old 03-01-08, 10:12 PM   #13
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Freewheels have a nice propensity to get seized onto the hub.

I've found some nasty old unmaintained bikes in the last 3-4 years, and have yet to find a seized freewheel? Guess I'm lucky, eh? Some are tighter than others, of course. That's a given.,,,,BD
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Old 03-01-08, 10:23 PM   #14
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I've found some nasty old unmaintained bikes in the last 3-4 years, and have yet to find a seized freewheel? Guess I'm lucky, eh? Some are tighter than others, of course. That's a given.,,,,BD
Whoa you sure showed me. Now my statement has to be false.
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Old 03-01-08, 10:30 PM   #15
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Well, if it was that common I would've found at least one by now? Right? Would you have gotten this upset if I hadn't quoted your post? Just my experience, that's all. Grow some skin, it was not a personal attack just because I quoted your post.,,,,,BD
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Old 03-02-08, 09:17 AM   #16
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Bikedued, you live in Texas. Y'all don't put salt down on the roads in the winter for snow and ice. operator lives in Toronto, Ontario, which is in Canada. Canada is an Inuit word for "10 month winter". They routinely apply salt to the roads to deal with ice. Ice forms when water freezes, and Houston doesn't get prolonged periods of sub freezing tempatures. Neither does the Sea Islands here in South Carolina where I live.

If I have a seized freewheel, the bike probably came from up North and belongs to a retiree or a snowbird. I can also pull a freewheel off a rusted old Schwinn with ease that belongs to a local bum that has always lived, in poverty, here. Why? We don't salt roads at all.
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Old 03-02-08, 09:55 AM   #17
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Not to throw any more gasoline on this fire but I've run into cassette lockrings that were frozen on so tight the chain whip broke without removing them. The same conditions as those that seize freewheel threads, salt and winter roads, were responsible.

Back to the original question, the chief advantage of cassette hubs over freewheel hubs is the fact that the drive side bearings can be placed much closer to the dropout which greatly reduces the length of unsupported axle. They made 8/9 and 10-speed hubs reliable.

BTW, Campy freehubs do not have the drive side bearings that far outboard (Shimano patent IIRC) but their freehub body has a larger hole through it than a freewheel which allows Campy to use a much larger diameter and stronger axle.
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Old 03-02-08, 10:43 AM   #18
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Canada is an Inuit word for "10 month winter".
Actually it comes from Huron-Iroquois language, means village, settlement.
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Old 03-02-08, 11:12 AM   #19
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I've found some nasty old unmaintained bikes in the last 3-4 years, and have yet to find a seized freewheel? Guess I'm lucky, eh? Some are tighter than others, of course. That's a given.,,,,BD
It depends on how much they've been ridden. Every time that you ride a freewheel bike up a hill it tightens the freewheel a tiny bit more. Sometimes getting one off can be an adventure.
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Old 03-02-08, 11:20 AM   #20
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Yes, I live in Texas. I'm also abought 50-60 miles from the ocean. Bare metal begins to rust in a few hours
on a dry day. Not as much as road salt, but there's still salt in the air when a strong South wind is coming off the gulf.,,,,BD

It's pretty flat here though, so that would account for some of the looseness as well.
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Old 03-02-08, 11:31 AM   #21
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I've never encountered a freewheel that I couldn't remove fairly easily, but I've only been working on bikes since the '60s.
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Old 03-02-08, 11:48 AM   #22
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I've never encountered a freewheel that I couldn't remove fairly easily, but I've only been working on bikes since the '60s.
I can remember chucking a freewheel remover into a vice and it taking two guys working pretty hard to bust it loose. Either the people in your part of the country are lots stronger than us midwesteners or you're all wimps not to be able to pedal the freewheel on so tightly.
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Old 03-02-08, 12:00 PM   #23
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I can remember chucking a freewheel remover into a vice and it taking two guys working pretty hard to bust it loose. Either the people in your part of the country are lots stronger than us midwesteners or you're all wimps not to be able to pedal the freewheel on so tightly.
The vise trick is how I was taught, but I just use a really big adjustable wrench with the wheel on the floor so I can use my weight rather than brute strength. Maybe we're just smarter.
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Old 03-02-08, 12:07 PM   #24
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Or heavier.
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Old 03-02-08, 12:09 PM   #25
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Maybe we're just smarter.
Nope. That ain't it. I've got a 15" Crescent wrench too.

I will admit, however that I didn't used to have nearly as much body weight to work with as I do today. Could that be it?
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