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  1. #1
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    Freewheel recommendation

    Bike: Early 80s Raleigh Rapide 10-speed road bike. (I'm in the process of overhauling the bike.)

    In a previous thread, I explained a noise coming from my rear wheel. Today, I figured out that I think the noise is coming from the freewheel. It still works fine but I don't think I can live with the clicking noise it is making while pedaling. When you shake the freewheel with your hand, you can hear a rattle inside. I'm assuming that isn't normal.

    I don't think many people try this but what are the possibilities of taking it apart and fixing whatever seems to be making the noise inside? I'm assuming most of you will just say it isn't worth the time. If I thought I had a decent chance of fixing it, I would give it a shot.

    More than likely, I will end up replacing it. I would like to get a recommendation on what freewheel I should replace it with. It's a 5 speed Suntour Perfect (model name) 14-28. It might be nice to have a little bigger size on the first speed (like 30 or 32....I have a hill or two in my neighborhood that just about kills me.) I'm not wanting to spend any more money than I have to but I don't want a piece of junk either.

    * Is it possible to upgrade to a 6 or 7 speed freewheel? Is a 6 or 7 speed wider than a 5 or are the cogs just closer together? This bike uses friction shifters if that matters. Also, I measured the frame width and it looks like 126 mm. The freewheel is 27 mm thick and it doesn't look possible to me to replace it with one any wider than that. I'm having trouble visualizing how a 6 or 7 speed freewheel could fit.

    * Are all of the wheel threads standard or do I need to worry about a specific size when I buy a freewheel?

    * Any specific brands/models to stay away from? I don't know the quality rating of the Suntour Perfect that's on the bike now but I think one of similar quality to it would be fine. I would not be happy with the one that is on my wife's Wally World bike. It looks like total junk. (then again....so is the entire bike)

    * I have a 2 prong freewheel removal tool so one that uses that same tool would be a plus but I'm doubting if that is possible unless I get a used one. Correct?


    Thanks for your help.
    Last edited by gnrboyd; 02-22-09 at 01:11 AM.

  2. #2
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    If your frame is spaced 126 mm then a 6 or 7-speed freewheel will fit but you might have to move some spacers around to allow the wider freewheel to clear the drive side dropout and that will also require redishing the rear wheel.

    Nashbar sells both 6 and 7-speed freewheels under their house-brand but made by Sun Race and Loose Screws sells Shimano 6 and 7-speed freewheels and Sun Race 7-speed freewheels. Shimano is very high quality and Sun Race is decent. You may find Sun Tour freewheels NOS at an older bike shop but the real Sun Tour has been out of business for years.

    Loose Screws also still sells Shimano 5-speed freewheels ( http://www.thethirdhand.com/index.cg...d=811536721399) that will fit with no modifications and they are very good quality.

    Your two-prong remover tool will take off your current Sun Tour freewheel. BTW, clamp the Sun Tour remover FIRMLY in place with your QR skewer before attempting to remove the freewheel. If it slips and you damage the notches, you will have to destroy the freewheel to remove it.

    You will need a different tool to remove the Shimano or Sun Race freewheels. Park's FR-1 works and is commonly available.

    The hub threading should be standard ISO/English and nearly any freewheel will thread on properly.

  3. #3
    DOS
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    Suntour made 6 speed freewheels to work with 120mm spaced frame -- which I assume you have since you have a 5 speed freewheel. Look for Suntour "ultra 6", that would be one designed for 120mm spacing. Lots of NOS Suntour freewheels come up on ebay so you might start there. Suntour made freewheels that required both two notch (Pro Comp model) and four notch tools (Winner model, e.g.); so you might get lucky and find one that takes two notch. Otherwise, you'll need to four notch tool.

    Edit: Oops, I missed the bit in the post about having measured to 126mm spacing. With 126mm, you can upgrade to 6 or 7 speed.

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    If your frame is spaced 126 mm then a 6 or 7-speed freewheel will fit but you might have to move some spacers around to allow the wider freewheel to clear the drive side dropout and that will also require redishing the rear wheel.
    I have one spacer on the drive side and none on the other. The one on the drive side is about 1/2" long. What exactly do you mean by moving spacers around? In theory, I would think I need a longer spacer to account for the extra cog. If I did that, the wheel would not fit in the frame. Since the 6 speed is apparently wider than the 5 speed, I don't see how this can work.

    Could my wheel hub be too wide to allow the 6-7 speed freewheels. I don't know how they are typically measured but here are a few measurements I took. (outside to outside) Dustcap to dustcap=90mm, cone to cone=102 mm, cone nut to cone nut=125 mm.

    I approximated adding another cog onto my existing freewheel and estimate there will only be 3 mm from the end of the last (smallest) cog to where the cone nut (terminology?) sits. I don't think that is enough gap to allow for the chain. Will the standard 6 speed freewheels be closer together than the 5 speed?

    Edit: Oops, I missed the bit in the post about having measured to 126mm spacing. With 126mm, you can upgrade to 6 or 7 speed.
    I'm having trouble seeing that the 6 speed will work and obviously the 7 speed. Sorry to be so dense, but I just can't see how going to 6 or 7 speed freewheel can work.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOS View Post
    Suntour made freewheels that required both two notch (Pro Comp model) and four notch tools (Winner model, e.g.); so you might get lucky and find one that takes two notch. Otherwise, you'll need to four notch tool.
    The two notch Sun Tour freewheel remover can be used with four notched freewheels although the four notch remover is stronger and more secure if the freewheel is made for it. Obviously the 4 notch remover won't work on 2 notch freewheels.

    To the OP; if your frame and hub OLD (over locknut dimension) are both 126 mm I don't see how a 5-speed freewheel wouldn't leave a lot of clearance between the smallest cog and the dropout face or if the cog is close to the dropout, why there aren't spacers on the nds side. Something isn't right here. What make and model is your hub?

    6-speed and 7-speed freewheels are wider than 5-speed freewheels (with the exception of the Sun Tour "Ultra-6" freewheels) so if your current small cog is very close to the dropout face, a 6-speed freewheel will make it worse. Again, given 126 mm spacing, something isn't right.

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    if the cog is close to the dropout, why there aren't spacers on the nds side. Something isn't right here. What make and model is your hub?
    I don't see a model number anywhere on the hub. It has a logo with a crown with the letters K.K. in the middle if that helps.

    See photos in next post.
    Last edited by gnrboyd; 02-22-09 at 11:35 AM.

  7. #7
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    So i'm not understanding why on earth you just can't stick a spacer on the drive side till it clears and remove washers as necessary on the left side to compensate. Or hell just jam the wheel in there and spread the dropouts.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    To the OP; if your frame and hub OLD (over locknut dimension) are both 126 mm
    Yeah, that's assuming he even measured the right thing, or measured it correctly. Lets just doublecheck that you're doing it right:



    And that's even assuming that he's not actually squeezing down a 126 spacing to something smaller that the rear wheel is actually spaced out to. Measure what your rear hub is spaced out too and report back.

    That would be this dimension although it doesn't show the solid axle you probably have:

    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  9. #9
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    Here are some photos (sorry a couple are a little blury)









    If you visualise another cog and chain in this photo, it looks to me that the chain might rub against the inside of the dropouts or be very very close.
    Last edited by gnrboyd; 02-22-09 at 12:12 PM.

  10. #10
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    So i'm not understanding why on earth you just can't stick a spacer on the drive side till it clears and remove washers as necessary on the left side to compensate.
    There are no washers/spacers on the non drive side. There is only one 1/2" spacer on the drive side.

    Or hell just jam the wheel in there and spread the dropouts.
    The point is that I think it would fit with the given spacer but I am concerned about the last cog being too close to the frame.

    Yeah, that's assuming he even measured the right thing, or measured it correctly. Lets just doublecheck that you're doing it right:
    The inside of the dropouts is 126 mm. The outside of the nuts in the first photo measures 125 mm. (Although my calipers only goes to 120 I could be off by a mm but no more.

  11. #11
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    a six speed freewheel will fit on there with no problem. even if it doesn't go to your lbs and pick up longer spacer on the right side.

  12. #12
    DOS
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnrboyd View Post
    Here are some photos (sorry a couple are a little blury)

    .
    You've got a lot of spacer sticking out the end of that freewheel before you get to the locknut, and way more clearance for the chain to get passed the seat stay than you need. Thats because five speed freewheel is designed to fit in 120mm spacing; the spacer sticking out the end makes up the difference for the 126mm spacing you have. In contrast, on my 6-speed, 126mm bike, my locknut is almost flush with the small cog. So it looks to me that you can easily put a 6 or 7 speed freewheel in there. Also, keep in mind that bike makers figured out two ways to get more cogs onto a bike. One way is to make frame spacing bigger, and they have done that, going from 120, to 126, to 130, etc.; the other way is to make space between cogs smaller, and they have done that too, compensating by making chains naarrower. For example, the reason a 6 speed ultra freewheel fits on 120mm spaced bike is because the space between the cogs of the 6 speed are smaller. Similarly, space from one cog to next on a seven speed will be smaller than on a 6 speed freewheel, Same is true for modern 9 and 10 speed fcassettes. Both fit on 130mm spaced bike but the space from cog to cog gets smaller.

    So, get yourself a 7 speed freewheel and a moden 8-speed chain and you should be good to go.

    And, by the way, Hillrider is correct, a two notch tool will work on a four notch freewheel. It also occurs to me, that the tool is really only really importantfor removing the freewheel. When installing one, you can screw it on with your hand, then turn the cranks for a while and let the chain tighten the thing down (the act of riding tightens freewheels, which makes them a pain to get off later, but makes installing rather uncomplicated).

  13. #13
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    So, get yourself a 7 speed freewheel and a moden 8-speed chain and you should be good to go.
    I have a new Shimano IG70 chain so I think that is considered ok for up to 7-8 speed.

    I guess I will look for a 6 and see what happens. Thanks for your advice everyone.

  14. #14
    DOS
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnrboyd View Post
    I have a new Shimano IG70 chain so I think that is considered ok for up to 7-8 speed.

    I guess I will look for a 6 and see what happens. Thanks for your advice everyone.
    IG70 will work just fine on 6 or 7 speed.

  15. #15
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    Base on your photo, you have a ton of extra room for a wider freewheel. Most hubs only have 2 or 3 mm between the outside of the smallest cog and the inner face of the dropout.

  16. #16
    DOS
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    "Your two-prong remover tool will take off your current Sun Tour freewheel. BTW, clamp the Sun Tour remover FIRMLY in place with your QR skewer before attempting to remove the freewheel. If it slips and you damage the notches, you will have to destroy the freewheel to remove it."

    Not to hijack this thread, but man hillrider, you are right about the QR thing. I had tried a couple of weeks ago to get my ST Winner freewheel off with a 4 prong tool. I did not use a QR and ended up shaving off a chung of the notch for the tool. No wanting to do further damage, I stopped. After reading this thread, I decided to give it another shot with the two notch tool and a QR -- couldn't use the 4 notch with QR because the tool is too wide for the QR to get all the way through; its designed for use with a ratchet wrench. The combo of 2 notch and QR worked, but I ended up snapping the the end off the QR. Them Freewheels get on there mighty tight. Lesson learned; thanks.
    Last edited by DOS; 02-22-09 at 07:29 PM.

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    Have you ever seen a 6 speed freewheel with a 30 on the low gear? I have a 28 now and there are a couple of hills in my neighborhood that are pretty tough on the 28. Overall I like the 14-28 but slightly lower would be nice in a couple of places. I've seen the 34 model but I don't think that would work with my derailleur.

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    The IRD freewheels are top-quality. I ran a 7spd on my Puch before I changed to wheels w/cassettes. They come in both 32T and 34T in 6spd. You can find cheaper, of course. But you will have a hard time finding better. Shop around, but this place has what is considered the going cost:

    http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...s.php?id=24445
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DOS View Post
    The combo of 2 notch and QR worked, but I ended up snapping the the end off the QR. Them Freewheels get on there mighty tight. Lesson learned; thanks.
    Whoops, I forgot to mention that you have to back off the qr's nut a bit as soon as the freewheel breaks free a small fraction of a turn and continue to loosen it as the freewheel backs off. Otherwise, you can snap the qr skewer as you found out.

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    I just recieved a NOS suntour new winner freewheel and it also rattles. Mine is servicable, so I'm going to try to re grease is, but I wonder if this is normal for the era.

    [QUOTE=gnrboyd;8402452]Bike: Early 80s Raleigh Rapide 10-speed road bike. (I'm in the process of overhauling the bike.)

    In a previous thread, I explained a noise coming from my rear wheel. Today, I figured out that I think the noise is coming from the freewheel. It still works fine but I don't think I can live with the clicking noise it is making while pedaling. When you shake the freewheel with your hand, you can hear a rattle inside. I'm assuming that isn't normal.

  21. #21
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    Consider the ratios you actually use, marketing calls it a 'speed'
    but its just a cog [6 versus 7]
    will a single tooth matter added next to one almost the same size?

    a little 'looseness ' is room to add lubrication, , just lay the bike on the side,
    and put some oil in the gap.

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