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  1. #1
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    Freewheel too tight to remove?

    On the 4 year old or so Trek Navigator 3, one of the spokes finally wore out. When we went to get it fixed, the shop reported that the freewheel is apparently too tight to remove, even after applying triflow and letting it sit. It was removed a few months ago by a different shop to do some maintenance. Any thoughts on whether there's any quirky tricks that might help, or do we just have to buy a new wheel?
    Current stable: Sun Atlas X-type (mine), Trek Navigator 3 (wife), two Sun Revolution cruisers (wife, daughter)

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    my advice would be to find a new LBS.

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    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    Interesting. Never new spokes wore out! Didn't know freewheels were still being offered on bikes either. Thought that was a 80's when they moved to cassettes and free hubs. +1 on the new LBS as quirky trick.

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    "Triflow the snooty man's WD40."

    I'm willing to bet that the MAJORITY of new, geared bikes that are sold today in the US have freewheels. Removing one is a relatively routine task. In this case, "routine" isn't necessarily a synonym for "easy". Removing a freewheel can take a prodigious amount of torque. It comes off CCW. The only real trick is to keep the freewheel remover tool engaged while you're torqueing on it.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

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    Okay, well, my LBS can't get enough torque to get it off, so what should I do?
    Current stable: Sun Atlas X-type (mine), Trek Navigator 3 (wife), two Sun Revolution cruisers (wife, daughter)

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    Senior Member alcjphil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    Okay, well, my LBS can't get enough torque to get it off, so what should I do?
    Find another shop, I have removed hundreds of freewheels over the years. Unless the freewheel was installed cross threaded, it can be removed

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    So, did they break their freewheel removal tool trying?

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    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
    Find another shop, I have removed hundreds of freewheels over the years. Unless the freewheel was installed cross threaded, it can be removed
    If the shop lacks the proper tool for removal, or if the engagement slots on the freewheel body have been damaged such that they no longer hold the remover tool securely, removal can become problematic.

  9. #9
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    Okay, well, my LBS can't get enough torque to get it off, so what should I do?
    Apply more torque. Install a freewheel removal tool, secure it with he skewer, and turn the tool with a big wrench. Better yet, install the tool in a bench vise, and turn the wheel off the freewheel. Turn harder than your wimpy LBS mechanics turned it.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  10. #10
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    i remove the wheel, put a 10" adjustable wrench (we used to call it a Crescent wrench) then slide on 2.5 ft. of 1.5" ID galvanized pipe over the handle. hold the wheel and a 10 year-old can remove it. what a bunch of pansies your LBS guys are. unbelievable!

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    Senior Member alcjphil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    i remove the wheel, put a 10" adjustable wrench (we used to call it a Crescent wrench) then slide on 2.5 ft. of 1.5" ID galvanized pipe over the handle. hold the wheel and a 10 year-old can remove it. what a bunch of pansies your LBS guys are. unbelievable!
    I figure the bike shop guys must have the arm strength of a TDF mountain specialist

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    If the shop lacks the proper tool for removal, or if the engagement slots on the freewheel body have been damaged such that they no longer hold the remover tool securely, removal can become problematic.
    On a 4 year old bike, the freewheel almost certain has the now-standard Shimano spline. So the shop will certainly have the tool, and this remover is basically impossible to strip. So it is a matter of force, something that the shop clearly did not apply enough of. Lazy. Weak. Easier to sell you a whole new wheel I guess. Time for a new shop.

    I have a 15" wrench. Using this, I have never been defeated in the task of removing a freewheel. Even on 30+ year old wheels, which have had a lot more time for the freewheel to become corroded onto the hub.

    BTW: a spoke replacement is a 15 minutes job, including the freewheel removal.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
    I have a 15" wrench. Using this, I have never been defeated in the task of removing a freewheel..
    I have the same size adjustable wrench and have also never met a freewheel it wouldn't remove. I always clamp the remover tool to the hub using the qr skewer or axle nut so it can't pop off. This was essential with the old Sun Tour 2 and 4-prong removers but useful with splined tools too.

  14. #14
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    Well, they haven't tried to charge me or sell me a new wheel, so I don't blame greed. I'll stop in in the morning and see what tools they were trying to use.
    Current stable: Sun Atlas X-type (mine), Trek Navigator 3 (wife), two Sun Revolution cruisers (wife, daughter)

  15. #15
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    noglider +1

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    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Also the suggestion you find a different bike shop is probably the best idea. Apparently the one you are dealing with has a wimpy mechanic with very little strength or experience.

  17. #17
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    Keep in mind that it doesn't matter how long the wrench is, you cannot get more leverage than the radius of the wheel you're holding back.

    So the key to getting more leverage is to hold either the wheel or remover rigidly. There are various tricks to bracing a wheel, but far and away the simplest approach is to hold the remover in a vise and turn the wheel to the left. Channel the spirit of Ralph Cramden making a hard left turn before the advent of power steering, and use both hands and body English to free it.

    BTW- if it doesn't pop free, and you haven't heard spokes pinging and creaking, get a truck driver to turn it for you.
    FB
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  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    We put the freewheel removal tool in the bench vise , then unscrew the wheel from the freewheel
    which is fixed in the vise by the removal tool .. if too tough for 1 to turn, its a 2 man job.

    NOLA was that bike submerged in the Flooding?

  19. #19
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    We put the freewheel removal tool in the bench vise , then unscrew the wheel from the freewheel
    which is fixed in the vise by the removal tool .. if too tough for 1 to turn, its a 2 man job.
    I work on a lot of tandems... sometimes it is a one man and one woman job and even after applying penetrants those freewheels can take an immense amount of torque to remove since so much torque gets put into tightening them up.

  20. #20
    Senior Member JTGraphics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Apply more torque. Install a freewheel removal tool, secure it with he skewer, and turn the tool with a big wrench. Better yet, install the tool in a bench vise, and turn the wheel off the freewheel. Turn harder than your wimpy LBS mechanics turned it.
    This method should do it.
    It may not be fancy but it gets me were I need to go.
    http://www.jtgraphics.net/cyclist_bicycles.htm

  21. #21
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    To the OP

    This may be an age/generational thing. The staff at the shop may have been raised in the age of the cassette, and not that familiar with freewheels. Being used to cassettes they may have no idea of the amount of torque freewheel removal can involve. Instead of getting help within the shop, they simply said too tight and handed it back.

    If the shop is at all decent (or at least convenient) this may be a teachable moment. See a senior staffer, and let him teach his people how it's done.
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  22. #22
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I borrowed a Big Wrench , in a town I was Passing through, when I needed to remove my freewheel

    to replace the broken spoke, On a Bike tour , in England ,,

    went to the Pub with the wrench owner, and had a few Pints, afterwards

  23. #23
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    According to the Trek website, this bike has a cassette not a freewheel. At least the Trek archives for the 2009-2011 Navigator 3.0 indicate a Sram 8-speed cassette.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Willbird's Avatar
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    There is also the option of destructive removal :-). Never done it but have removed lots of OTHER things with a careful application of a makita grinder :-)......

    The guys at the auto salvage yard are artists with the oxy acetylene hot wrench but that probably not work out well here :-).

    Bill

  25. #25
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    Another vote for putting the removal tool in a vice, then as FBinNY siad, play bus driver. you may also have to jerk it a few times. It will come off.
    Iv'e taken them off after; the vice moved, tigntened the vice with a pipe. Then he workbench the vice was attached to moved, had three guys hold the bench. Then my feet slid on the floor, had another guy help turn the wheel. It came off, it took 5 guys, but it came off.
    If you don't know the way, you shouldn't be going there.

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