Freewheel lateral play / rear wheel pinging
Just recently I noticed a pinging sort of sound that only occurs when I'm pedaling and seems to only occur in the higher gears in the back. The rear wheel has an older suntour pro-compe 5 speed freewheel. The teeth are all in good shape and it doesnt appear to be too heavily used but when I pulled on it, I noticed a bit of lateral play.
Is this play due to bearings in the hub or due to bearings in the freewheel? Can I adjust it out? Would this cause the irregular pinging sound I'm hearing when pedaling in higher gears?
Loose spokes ping. I don't know if that's your problem but it may be worth checking out.
Almost certainly loose spokes.
The freewheel play won't matter much; shifting might improve slightly if you fix it. You'd need to be keen, though.
Spokes can develop ridges where they cross if ridden loose for a long time, and "then "ping" when flexed. I've seen this happen after spokes have been tensioned because the ridge is now directly under a spoke.
Thanks everybody, I plucked each spoke and there were a few ones that were slightly more loose and a few that were slightly more tight but I didn't notice anything extreme.
I noticed that it's only making the noise when the chain is moving. When I'm pedaling or when it's on the stand and I spin the wheel backwards (with the chain moving the cranks) it makes the noise. When I let it coast or spin the wheel forwards and the freewheel is clicking it doesn't make the noise.
Would this imply that it's spokes, freewheel, hub or chain?
That is a difficult one and noises are hard in this venue anyway. I would suggest you look and listen very carefully to pinpoint the noise. Where does it come from, how often does it occur, and can you describe the sound more accurately? I would guess taking it to a shop would solve the problem much more quickly than what could evolve into a guessing game here.
I lubed the chain and all the pivot points and rode over to get pizza a couple nights ago and I didn't hear the noise anymore. Then, this weekend, I was going on a longer ride and I heard it again, louder. I stopped and looked down and saw that my freewheel was flopping around.
Apparently, the lockring on it loosened itself up enough to let all the bearings fall out and then loosened the rest of the way so the lockring was just sliding around on the axle while the freewheel slid back and forth. I took the back wheel off and was able to get the lockring back on tight enough by hand to hold it together while I limped back home.
The freewheel is (was) a Suntour Pro-Compe nickel plated deal. I've read more about it since then and it sounds like they had a tendency to unscrew their lockrings by themselves and have this happen. Just thought I'd post an update here in case anyone has a similar problem in the future.
Servicing Freewheel Bodies
Some SunTour Pro Compe and Perfect freewheels tend to unscrew the lockring. Fortunately, only the bearing balls will fall out: the axle and dropout will retain the other parts. It is usually possible to screw the lockring back in (counterclockwise) and ride home as long as you don't coast.