Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Spokane, WA
Bikes: Specialized Sequoia Elite/Motobecane Fantom Cross Team Ti/'85 Trek 520
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As far as I know, the spacing is the same. I actually have a spare 7 speed hub that I have left over from when I swapped it out for an 8 speed hub. I could use another 8 speed free hub for a project bike that I'm working on. It is easy to swap out the freehubs. Too bad we don't live closer, I would swap my 7 speed for your 8 speed.
I would say the biggest problem you will find is that the 8 speed freehub assembly is wider than the 7speed freehub. So even after you get the axle back together, the width will be wider than the old freewheel spacing. You don't want to spread an aluminum framed bike and it can be a bit of a challenge to coldset a steel frame. Then you will probably have to redish the wheel to compensate for the wider freehub. When I swapped out my 7 speed for the 8 speed, I ended up having to redish my wheel so the tire was in the centerline rather than being too close to the non-drive side of the bike.