I concur. The sound of the freewheel wears off in about 10 minutes. I don't think I have ever bought a freewheel in my life. they just seemed ot be on the wheels or laying around. Maybe I bought one for $10 when I was a kid.
$100 for a freewheel is a little odd to me. My buddy rides with one and it's just another freewheel.
$100 dollars for a damn freewheel is a ****ing rip off now matter how you look at it.
If you measure it in terms of the benefits over a basic freewheel, you are correct. But thats true of all high end gear. The WI freewheel will normally outlast a cheaper freewheel, but it is not likely to last 4-5 times longer, which is how much more you are paying. Even if the WI bearings never die, the teeth will eventually sharkfin and will no longer function smoothly with an unworn chain. I'd love to have one, but its just not worth the money IMO.
Among the reasonably priced freewheels, I like Shimano and ACS. Shimano freewheels are smooth, silent, and almost perfectly round. Every ACS freewheel I have ever bought is slightly out of round and wobbles slightly when freewheeling...its not a big deal but is annoying if you are a perfectionist. However the ACS freewheel is easily rebuildable (the bearings are looseball, unsealed, and held in by a lockring), so in theory, will last just as long as a WI (for 20% the price), if cared for properly.
If you have the money to spend and want by far the nicest freewheel you can get the White one is what you should go for. Its the smoothest, best engaging, and longest lasting freewheel you can find. It is also the most serviceable one on the market. Which means that if something does go wrong you can take it apart and fix the problem, elongating the life even more.
This is out of scope with what the OP is asking about, but not only are ACS freewheels rebuildable, they come in 13-15T sizes, athough the threads are metric in these sizes. If you build a SS wheel using a BMX flip flop hub (i've done this), you can run gear ratios that are not possible with other freewheels.
I put the white industries freewheel on a singlepeed bike, and it has lasted 3 years on a bike I left outside all winter (in edmonton), and still runs as smooth as the day I bought it. Its worth the money if you don't want to have to maintain it. In contrast, ACS and Shimano freewheels on girlfriend and friends bike seem to have lasted no longer than six months a year... the ACS was real bad, it lasted one summer.
My NOS ACS double freewheel has a bad spot in it, it's hard to explain but when I'm pedalling sometimes there will be a faint knocking sound, then when I let it coast for about half a second and start pedalling again it is gone. Other than that it seems okay. I believe it's from 1994.
I'll be one of the few people who say go with the white freewheel. Possibly it's because I've actually used one.
They are manufactured in Petaluma, CA, and the finished product is both beautiful and mechanically awesome. Many folks easily spend $30 on a fixed cog that has no moving parts, so why not $100 for a freewheel that will function amazingly? The Shimano and (especially) ACS freewheels don't compare at all in terms of engagement, wear, tolerances, and smoothness.
Said plain and simple: Don't cheap out on your drivetrain.