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Old 07-08-14, 05:29 PM   #1
Rocky Gravol
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Swapping old wheels

I have two 35 year old French bikes.

I hear that I can have problems if I put a new chain
on an old gear cluster.

My question is do chains and gear clusters break in together?

Will I have the same kind of problems if I try to switch the rear wheels?
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Old 07-08-14, 06:06 PM   #2
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It depends on how much wear they have. If they haven't seen many miles you probably won't have a problem.

Freewheels (FWs) and chains aren't too expensive anyway though you may have to dig up French-threaded FWs. New FWs and chains shift much better than the old ones.

What do you mean by switch the rear wheels? Switch with what? Another wheel completely, with its own FW?
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Old 07-08-14, 07:21 PM   #3
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Just swap wheels between bikes.

The Peugeot has a six speed cluster 14-28 teeth,
the Motobecane has a five speed cluster 14-32 teeth.

It doesn't seen like much, but there are a lot of hills in
my neighborhood and that bigger gear seems to make a difference.
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Old 07-08-14, 07:56 PM   #4
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Just swap wheels between bikes.

The Peugeot has a six speed cluster 14-28 teeth,
the Motobecane has a five speed cluster 14-32 teeth.

It doesn't seen like much, but there are a lot of hills in
my neighborhood and that bigger gear seems to make a difference.
Does the 6-speed have standard spacing (basically a 5-speed plus one more cog) or "ultra" spacing (using the narrow 7- or 8-speed spacing)? A 5-speed wheel takes a nominal overlock width of 120mm; 6-speed ultra, about 122mm; 6-speed standard, 126mm. Make sure your frame, rear derailleur, and chainline can accommodate this.

If I were in your situation I would look for a 6-speed freewheel with a 32 or 34 tooth low cog. My Nishiki came with a 14-18-22-27-34 5-speed, and that is a pretty tall jump between gears, even with the 6-tooth drop in front to make it a half-step.
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Old 07-08-14, 08:06 PM   #5
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14-16-18-21-24-28
On the Peugeot with a Simplex long cage.

14-17-22-27-32
on the Motobecane with a Suntour GT

Steel frames.
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Old 07-08-14, 08:09 PM   #6
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Just swap wheels between bikes.

The Peugeot has a six speed cluster 14-28 teeth,
the Motobecane has a five speed cluster 14-32 teeth.
Ah. That could be problematic, maybe. There are two key differences (in case you haven't seen them described elsewhere or elsewhen). First, the widths inside the inner edges of the rear dropouts (DOs) are different, 126mm for the 6-spd (unless it is an Ultra), 120mm for the 5-spd. You may be able to swap them but they won't fit quite right. When you force the 6-spd into 120mm or squeeze the QR skewer to clamp the 126mm down to 120mm it can pull the DOs to be non-parallel so that the skewer doesn't grip well. Also if the left and right stays don't move in or out the same amount it can make the wheel be offset to one side; this is unlikely but worth knowing about. In any case, it has been done before and it may work just fine for you.

The second difference is chain length. Your Motobecane's 5-spd has 4 more teeth so it would likely have a longer chain. The Peugeot's derailleur and chain length may be such that it can accommodate the need to "give out" 4 more links, but check it before riding. What you DON'T want to happen is you shift to the big cog and the derailleur breaks because its tension pulley is already stretched to its forward limit. The Motobecane probably wont have a problem with the smaller big cog because it must already be able to handle the smaller cogs anyway.
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Old 07-08-14, 08:20 PM   #7
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It doesn't seen like much, but there are a lot of hills in
my neighborhood and that bigger gear seems to make a difference.
FWIW, the difference between 28 and 32 teeth is a lot, one whole "click" if you know what I mean. So it should make a difference! Note that if you want lower gears another option is smaller chainrings. With that 6-spd cluster a 48-34 "compact double" crank would be nice. The trouble with changing chainrings is you have to get the right BCD (bolt circle diameter). The standard compact BCD is 110mm, but many older cranks were different.
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Old 07-08-14, 09:07 PM   #8
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Where is Rat City?
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Old 07-09-14, 06:56 AM   #9
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Where is Rat City?
White Center. A few miles south of Seattle.
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Old 07-09-14, 01:24 PM   #10
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Where is Rat City?
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White Center. A few miles south of Seattle.
"White Center"

"Not so centered, not so white."

As the bumper stickers say in our neighborhood.
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Old 07-09-14, 01:42 PM   #11
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Thanks for the info.

What I probably should have asked is
are the wheels "easily interchangeable."

From what I'm hearing, apparently not.

Both bikes are using a 52/40 chain ring.

As much as I would like a lower gear,
I'm reluctant to give up my high gear.

Yes I thought about going to my LBS and
have a custom set built for me,
but you know I was trying to budget.
I've already spent to much on these old bikes,
but hey you never add it up. Right?
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Old 07-09-14, 01:49 PM   #12
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i would just switch them and see if it works
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Old 07-09-14, 02:22 PM   #13
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i would just switch them and see if it works
What's the worst, that could happen
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Old 07-09-14, 07:06 PM   #14
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Different chain lengths for the different size FW's could mean that with switched wheels the chain fits tighter (on large chainring/FW cog combinations) on one bike and slacker (small CR/FW) on the other. But with a 4-tooth difference it probably shouldn't be a big deal.
Also, are the rims the same size? Might have to adjust brake pads.
Different axle lengths and freewheel widths could mean the rim and FW align differently. The rim could be a bit more to the right or left relative to the brake pads. This means redishing the wheel to center it. The FW could be a bit more to the right or left relative to the derailleur. The derailleur might overshift off the FW, or undershift and not get the chain onto the last cog. This is easy to adjust.
Worst case is you shift the rear derailleur into the spokes and break it and maybe bend the dropout too.
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