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Old 05-08-07, 05:43 AM   #1
Rammer
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freewheeling chainwheel?

In this eBay auction for a 77 Schwinn Caliente a freewheeling chainwheel is described:

"The Schwinn Caliente is unique in that it has a front freewheel gear system. This means the chain continues to rotate around when you stop pedalling and was designed to make it easier to learn to ride a bike - you did not have to pedal in order to switch gears."

Apparently, instead of the rear hub freewheeling, the front sprockets do, so that shifting can occur without pedaling. I'm guessing the bike still needs to be rolling, which makes it a lot less useful. Shifting while stopped wouldn't work.

Anyone seen these before?
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Old 05-08-07, 05:49 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Rammer
Anyone seen these before?
Shimano "Front Freewheeling System":
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/shimano1982/pages/35.html

The people in the catalog seem pretty enthused about it, but they just might be the only ones...
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Old 05-08-07, 06:13 AM   #3
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And a whole new set of tools to deal with this one system that you'll have fun finding parts for, I'm sure.
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Old 05-08-07, 06:39 AM   #4
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My younger brother's first road bike, a Panasonic, had that.
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Old 05-08-07, 06:59 AM   #5
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they had positron shifting too, which was an early attempt at index shifting. the cable was solid vs. twisted individual wires, and the deraileur had notches and a spring loaded ball to act as the index. they're actually not that bad to work on, the rear freewheel comes off with a standard shimano tool. haven't gone inside the front freewheel of one before though.
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Old 05-08-07, 07:23 AM   #6
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I think it also adds about 15 lbs to the weight of the bike. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but from what I understand, they are not light.
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Old 05-08-07, 08:39 AM   #7
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Freewheeling chain ring cranks are available through your LBS J&B catalog. Some new electric bikes require this type of freewheeling crank, as the electric motor sprocket is inline with the drive chain allowing the gearing system used for pedaling is also utilized by the electric drive system. This would cause the pedals to rotate when the electric motor is energized without a freewheeling crank.
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Old 05-08-07, 09:43 AM   #8
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Well I hate to stand out like a sore thumb, but I'll jump in and say the system is just fine for what it is. I think Brown described it as "a solution whose problem never materialized". It's not for the alpha speeder or for the weight nut and damn sure not for the latest-release equipment freak, but a collector geek just might like to have one or two in his stable.

They don't require anything special or unique in the way of tools. For anyone who's smarter than the average 8-oz pile of machined steel they're not hard to work on, and they work just fine. Some of the old bikes they're installed on are desireables to some collectors and in those cases they're well worth rejuvenating and maintaining. Finding a proper cable while not impossible nor even hard to do, does take some internet forum effort but then, we do that all the time anyway don't we.

So to the OP and for that matter anyone looking at a bike with either or both of these, if you like the bike don't let these components scare you away from buying the bike.
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Old 05-08-07, 09:49 AM   #9
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Except for use with an electric assist, these seem to have limited benefit. My 8yr old has no problem pedaling when shifting. No wonder these didn't become more popular.

These remind me of Power Cranks, which I would really like to try someday. It looks fun. Basically, the cranks arms have a one-way clutch that allows each to move independently. The marketing hype is very alluring until the price is considered.
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Old 05-08-07, 07:08 PM   #10
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I dug a schwinn with this kinda chainwheel out of the dumpster once, and then left it in disgust.

It sounds like the perfect item to thin out the fixation population
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Old 05-08-07, 07:23 PM   #11
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It sounds like the perfect item to thin out the fixation population
LOL! That would be hilarious to put this on fixed gear bike.
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Old 05-09-07, 03:03 PM   #12
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I have a back wheel from one of these bikes. anyone know what remover the gear cluster takes?
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Old 05-09-07, 05:19 PM   #13
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Someone above said that it could be removed with a standard tool -- but I volunteer at at community bike garage, and as far as I know, there's only one tool that removes this freewheel, and I've never used that tool to remove any other freewheel. You must be able to get this tool from Shimano still, since we have recently had to get a new one. They seem to be made of lead or maybe playdough.

BTW, on the cassette, the cogs are not fixed as you might expect. Instead, in addition to the freewheeling at the BB, each cog freewheels independently of all other cogs. This is usually somewhat difficult to do with your fingers, due to the fact that they are normally encrusted with years of grime.
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Old 05-09-07, 05:30 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Roll-Monroe-Co
BTW, on the cassette, the cogs are not fixed as you might expect. Instead, in addition to the freewheeling at the BB, each cog freewheels independently of all other cogs. This is usually somewhat difficult to do with your fingers, due to the fact that they are normally encrusted with years of grime.
Then I'm really confused about how this system works. If both the front and the rear are freewheeled, then how are you able to shift while coasting? The drivetrain will stop moving just like on a normal bike. And the rear cogs are independently freewheeled from each other? What does this accomplish besides being heavy and needlessly complicated?
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Old 05-09-07, 05:52 PM   #15
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After totally disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling both a FF system and a Positron II on the same Schwinn Suburban just a month ago I have a pet theory that the springed pawls in each cog of the FF System "cassette" are there for a safety reason only. For example if some sandal-wearing ***** got his big toe caught between the moving chain and the chainwheel the chain would jam causing the cog to freewheel rather than totally remove the guy's toe. Far-fetched but I can think of no other reason for the pawls built into each cog. They really aren't "free wheeling" as we think of that term. The "cassette" also is plainly marked that it is initended to only be used with the Shimano Front Freewheel System.

And again please let me point out that now - thirty years hence - they're not something people would want to buy (they're not even on the market now) to put on a bike, but to a collector of bikes who might care to have one or two of the Schwinns (just for example) that came new with the FF and/or Positron components they are part-and-parcel of those kinds of vintage bikes.
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Old 05-09-07, 07:58 PM   #16
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I just picked a matching pair (mens & women's) of marroon Shcwinn World Sports with this system out of the trash! Just about brand new. I sold the women's bike for $20 on CL and took the men's bike on test ride tonight. I really enjoyed it! The shifting while coasting is neat, albeit usless. That said for an around town bike it rides very nicely. The upright position was immediately comfortable, neighborhood people waived at me and said "hi". One guy said "nice bike" It is not a system I would go buy but for free, why not. Also, for sitting around for 20 years all I had to do was air the tires and ride. Not all bad.
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Old 05-09-07, 08:10 PM   #17
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All I can add is DON"T get a pant leg caught in it. From personal experience it is not fun. Also if the derailler hangs up or chain comes off it can literaly destroy the back wheel. Once again, personal experience. It is a unique system BUT THAT'S IT! Junk(IMHO) and not worth your time.
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Old 05-13-07, 08:31 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old_alfie
After totally disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling both a FF system and a Positron II on the same Schwinn Suburban just a month ago I have a pet theory that the springed pawls in each cog of the FF System "cassette" are there for a safety reason only. For example if some sandal-wearing ***** got his big toe caught between the moving chain and the chainwheel the chain would jam causing the cog to freewheel rather than totally remove the guy's toe. Far-fetched but I can think of no other reason for the pawls built into each cog. They really aren't "free wheeling" as we think of that term. The "cassette" also is plainly marked that it is initended to only be used with the Shimano Front Freewheel System.

And again please let me point out that now - thirty years hence - they're not something people would want to buy (they're not even on the market now) to put on a bike, but to a collector of bikes who might care to have one or two of the Schwinns (just for example) that came new with the FF and/or Positron components they are part-and-parcel of those kinds of vintage bikes.
I have a Schwinn World Tourist with FFS. Paid $15 for it at a garage sale. I read somewhere else that the rear cogs moved only for safety purposes. I can't remember where, but it seemed legitimate.

I used mine as a commuter for a while and the derailer and shifters are a bit beat up now, but the rest of the bike is decent. I have been considering turning it into a single speed. I'd prefer fixed, but I think it would be too much work...
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Old 05-13-07, 08:48 PM   #19
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BG, PM sent your way.
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