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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 02-19-12, 08:18 AM   #1
trailz
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Freewheel just spins in both directions (1998? Specialized HardRock)

So, when I pedal, the free wheel (rear) just spins with the crank arms. I think I'll have to take this to my LBS, but maybe someone here can give me insight to perhaps fix it myself. I don't yet have a tool to remove the free wheel, but will be getting one later today.
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Old 02-19-12, 08:30 AM   #2
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The pawls may be stuck. Once you get your tool and remove the FW, soak it in solvent or spray it with WD40 to see if that helps. When the pawls are free, follow up by dripping in some lightweight oil.

If the above does not work, you may opt to disassemble the FW (be sure to catch all the bearings), take it too a shop, or just buy a replacement.

Good luck.
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Old 02-19-12, 08:32 AM   #3
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If it's a '98 it has a freehub not a freewheel.

Freehub: The ratcheting mecanism is built into the hub. Sometimes it can be removed. The gears/cogs slide onto a freehub.
Freewheel: The ratcheting mechanism with gears/cogs attached is not part of the hub and screws om/off.

Sounds like the ratcheting mechanisn is either gummed/frozen or its broke. The process to un-gum it is similar:

Freehub: Remove gears/cogs, remove axle, liberaly apply some type of solvent to flush out the ratcheting mechanism. Lube. Re-assemble.
Freewheel: Can be done on bike. Aplly slovent to flush out the mechanis. Lube.
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Old 02-19-12, 08:36 AM   #4
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Quick and dirty answer.
1. Remove the rear wheel and lay it horizontally across a trash can with the cogs facing up.
2. Spin the cogs. Pay attention to what spins and what stays stationary.
3. Spray some WD40 into the crack between the spinning and stationary parts.
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Old 02-19-12, 08:45 AM   #5
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Quick and dirty answer.
1. Remove the rear wheel and lay it horizontally across a trash can with the cogs facing up.
2. Spin the cogs. Pay attention to what spins and what stays stationary.
3. Spray some WD40 into the crack between the spinning and stationary parts.
+1 but use a lot of WD-40 to flush out any crud. Then drain the excess and add a lot of light oil. Unless there is something broken inside, that should free up the pawls and restore the functioning.
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Old 02-19-12, 11:37 AM   #6
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Worked! Used PB Blaster over the garbage can, let it sit, spun it every every few minutes for the first 15 mins, no change. Let it sit for another 45 minutes and it's now working properly! Thanks all for yet more great advice. I'm learning.
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Old 02-19-12, 11:53 AM   #7
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Given the amount of PB Blaster you sprayed in there to make it work again (I know, done it before too) there's a good chance it got into your hub bearings. This would be a good time to overhaul your hubs, especially if this hasn't been done since 1998!

Instructions: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tooltips/hubs.html and http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cone-adjustment.html
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Old 02-19-12, 01:30 PM   #8
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I would still recommend opening up your freewheel when you get a chance. Clean it out and re-lube it properly. It isn't as hard as others say it is, just have a clean work space to work in and some time.
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Old 02-19-12, 03:24 PM   #9
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I would still recommend opening up your freewheel when you get a chance. Clean it out and re-lube it properly. It isn't as hard as others say it is, just have a clean work space to work in and some time.
And a lot of patients to replace those 50 or so tiny bearing balls. Unless you have way more time than money a new freewheel is a cheap investment.
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Old 02-19-12, 04:18 PM   #10
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And a lot of patients to replace those 50 or so tiny bearing balls. Unless you have way more time than money a new freewheel is a cheap investment.
+1

I hate telling someone not to do maintenance but let's face it, the freewheel is the least important bearing on a bicycle as it only spins when coasting under no load. If it spins freely, it's fine. The teeth will probably wear out before it becomes worthwhile to tear open the body and service it.
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Old 02-19-12, 06:46 PM   #11
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Worked! Used PB Blaster over the garbage can, let it sit, spun it every every few minutes for the first 15 mins, no change. Let it sit for another 45 minutes and it's now working properly! Thanks all for yet more great advice. I'm learning.

Since you've got a cassette rear hub (a 99% certainty on a late-'90's bike), you should now learn about overhauling the bearings. You've contaminated the bearings with the PB Blaster.

Here's instructions: http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...and-adjustment
and here's how to lubricate the cassette body: http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...reehub-service

Do it now, before what's left of the grease washes out.
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Old 02-19-12, 07:12 PM   #12
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And a lot of patients to replace those 50 or so tiny bearing balls. Unless you have way more time than money a new freewheel is a cheap investment.
Well, then, I don't know what to say. It seems easy for me.

*shrug*
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Old 02-19-12, 07:34 PM   #13
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Well, then, I don't know what to say. It seems easy for me.

*shrug*
Obvious answer; more patients and time then money.
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Old 02-19-12, 08:35 PM   #14
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Obvious answer; more patients and time then money.
Or, perhaps I enjoy working on bikes. It saves me money too!

But it's your money, you can do what you like.

Last edited by ben4345; 02-19-12 at 08:40 PM.
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Old 02-20-12, 01:13 AM   #15
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google atomic zombie for a picture guide on how to work on a freewheel. If it is a freehub park tools website has a pretty good walkthrough of how to take everything apart even the hub to service that. I just used the park tool help stuff last week to fix my rear wheel problem (similar to your own, and also my first time) and also serviced my hub while I was taking stuff apart. It turns the whole process if really fairly easy. Bike rides a whole lot better now so I definitely recommend doing it.
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Old 02-20-12, 08:35 AM   #16
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He should have a freehub, not a freewheel.
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Old 02-20-12, 09:02 AM   #17
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Well, then, I don't know what to say. It seems easy for me.

*shrug*
Its not a matter if its easy or not....its of matter of its worth it. I cant say I've ever come across a freewheel that needed to be dis-assembled to return to service, every one became serviceable with the standard flush-n-lube.

And for the record, I've dis-assembled a few dozen over the years.
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Old 02-20-12, 09:27 AM   #18
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I cant say I've ever come across a freewheel that needed to be dis-assembled to return to service, every one became serviceable with the standard flush-n-lube.
+1 This is really the heart of the matter. If the problem is dirt or hardened lube, a flush and relube will get the freewheel back into service with no disassembly. If the problem is broken internal parts, there are no replacement parts available and all disassembly will tell you is that it's truly broken.
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