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  1. #1
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    Does anyone tour with a freewheel? Field change?

    Hello,

    It looks like my touring wheel will be laced with a freewheel.

    The reasons for this 1.) I already have the hub 2.) I assume freewheels will be much easier to find in the second and third world than a spline specific cassette 3.) I can offset the axle spacing to compensate for the dish and from everything I have read the hub/axle can be made to be just as strong as a cassette.

    My only worry that remains, what if I break a drive side spoke on the rear wheel or a gear or some teeth? Well obviously I will need to take off the freewheel.

    Without bringing a big wrench and a freewheel nut tool are there any other nifty ways to field change a freewheel?

    I found a neat little tool for changing a cassette and I have read that a cassette is easy to remove (if you don't overtighten the lockring) even without a chain whip. Holding it with a towel or using webbing as a chainwhip are other options.

    Any suggestions changing a freewheel while on tour would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    How frequently do cassettes and free hubs have a catastrophic and unexpected failure?

    While I was in Spain, a developed country, a touring cyclist had a breakdown. He parked his bike inside at a local hotel, took a 100 km bus ride to a city, bought what he needed, and bused back the next day.

    Spain isn't Timbuktoo, but my gut feeling is this solution would work just about anywhere.

    I think you are right though. A freewheel is stronger than a freehub and cassette.
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

  3. #3
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    I have broken plenty of freewheels, but only on a tandem. I was late to the cassette game, but as I have gotten new wheels for my bikes over the years, I have gotten strong cassette hubs. Phil Wood is plenty strong, probably stronger than any freewheel I ever used, but also plenty expensive. These days I mostly use White Industries MI5 hubs because I think they are strong enough and they are much cheaper than Phil's.

    As for breaking spokes, I have gone to 48 spoke wheels for my really serious wheels, first for my tandems and then for my touring bikes. I got tired of breaking spokes. The 48 spoke wheels worked well with the not-so-terribly-stiff rims like the Super Champion 58. With the current crop of deep section rims from people like Velocity, 48 is no longer necessary. I am currently using things like the 40 hole Dyad (700c) or Aeroheat (26") rims on my touring bikes. Even at my weight I don't have any problems.

  4. #4
    Senior Member saddlesores's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skilsaw View Post
    A freewheel is stronger than a freehub and cassette.
    i thought a casette hub was stronger than the freewheel hub, both the internal mechanisms
    and the built wheel. the phil freewheel hubs, and the deore hubs before that, were plenty
    stong for loaded touring.

    anyways, you can still find freewheels here in china, but only on the cheapest of cheap
    bikes. i still see the occasional shimano (malaysia production) 14-34 megarange in the
    bike shops.

    for repairs, you can carry a couple kevlar spokes. if you need to remove the freewheel, there
    are some small tools available where you don't need a wrench. i.e. a small thingie that
    holds the freewheel tool, has two 'horns' on the backside that you set over a fence pole or
    similar.

  5. #5
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    The kevlar spoke is your best option until a vice or big wrench is available.
    Be the person your dog thinks you are.
    T.J.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Ran a Phil Hub, 48 spoke , freewheel, no problem (1 broken spoke , 47 spares, already in the wheel)..

    so riding 2 days until I could borrow a big wrench, to turn the freewheel remover I had on hand, was fine.. .

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by skilsaw View Post
    ... ... ... A freewheel is stronger than a freehub and cassette.
    I have bent several axles on freewheel type hubs, the bearings are located farther from the dropout on the right side than they are in a freehub type hub, that results in needing a stronger axle on a freewheel type hub.

    A friend of mine bought a used Cannondale touring bike, I think it had a freewheel (I know it had 126mm spacing), and he found that the axle had broken before he bought the bike. The quick release was holding everything together but there was an odd play to the wheel.

    If your concern is replacement of spokes, I suspect that if you get the right freewheel, you may be able to remove the cogs from the freewheel body while leaving the body on the hub. Years ago, I used to build up Suntour freewheels to have the exact gearing that I wanted. I think that if the freewheel body was left on the hub, that I could change spokes on those hubs. With Suntour hubs, unthreading the outer sprocket allowed the remaining sprockets to slide off the freewheel body. But the hubs in common use back when I was doing that were usually high flange hubs. Not sure if that would work with the more modern low flange hub, that might prevent this from working. A spoke protector would also prevent this from working if you use one.

  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Thing is with a Hub with a really strong axle, the freewheel has only the being turned by the chain to cope with ..

    above post did say the power of two riders is a bit much.. then they have a shorter lifespan.

    Freehub has an axle bearing race on the end of it. so less axle is past the end of the bearing race.

  9. #9
    Senior Member mparker326's Avatar
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    Just bring a fiber fix spoke & the remover tool. You should be able to borrow a crescent wrench if the need arises.

  10. #10
    Senior Member saddlesores's Avatar
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    aha, here it is.....

    http://epicureancyclist.blogspot.com...-revealed.html

    "The tooth-like implement is indeed a freewheel removal tool, a sort of bench vise on the go. You place the freewheel tool on one end, screw in the skewer (hence the threaded hole) and use the other end to grip a fence, pipe, table or even your handlebars (recommended as last resort). Then you simply turn your wheel to break the freewheel free!"

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Maxcar hubs did a clever Keyhole like slot for the spokes,
    a hole in the center of the slot is big enough for the spoke head =0=

    3 cross builds on a 36 hole large flange.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by steltz02 View Post
    Without bringing a big wrench and a freewheel nut tool are there any other nifty ways to field change a freewheel?
    Big wrenches (or vices) should not be too hard to find in second/third world as long as you in civilization.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ciufalon View Post
    The kevlar spoke is your best option until a vice or big wrench is available.
    This.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
    aha, here it is.....

    http://epicureancyclist.blogspot.com...-revealed.html

    "The tooth-like implement is indeed a freewheel removal tool, a sort of bench vise on the go. You place the freewheel tool on one end, screw in the skewer (hence the threaded hole) and use the other end to grip a fence, pipe, table or even your handlebars (recommended as last resort). Then you simply turn your wheel to break the freewheel free!"
    Wow! Cool. Now how do I get my hands on one of these

    Has anyone used an offset rim to create a dishless wheel with a freewheel? According to what I have read you can make the hub/axle very strong this way and with equal length spokes.

    Kevlar spokes might be an option, but I do think that for many days at a time we will often be away from towns.

  14. #14
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steltz02 View Post
    Has anyone used an offset rim to create a dishless wheel with a freewheel? According to what I have read you can make the hub/axle very strong this way and with equal length spokes.

    Kevlar spokes might be an option, but I do think that for many days at a time we will often be away from towns.
    I think you're worrying too much about this topic.

    If you don't weigh over 180 lbs, and don't carry a ton of stuff, and avoid bombing down terrible roads, then you should be fine on a regular ole dished cassette rear wheel.

    A kevlar repair spoke should last for a long time unless you ride through brush/tall grass.

  15. #15
    lowlife bottom feeder BassNotBass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
    I have bent several axles on freewheel type hubs, the bearings are located farther from the dropout on the right side than they are in a freehub type hub, that results in needing a stronger axle on a freewheel type hub...
    +1. However I've never had a sudden failure of either freehub/cassette or freewheel arrangement. Sure I've bent plenty of freewheel axles for the reason described by Tourist in MSN but it was gradual and never a show stopper.

    With regards to removal of freewheel due to a broken spoke on the drive side... I had that happen only once and was during a long ride, not while touring. The wheel wasn't out of true enough to tweak it or replace the spoke until I got home. But then I usually run stout rimmed 36 spoke 3-cross rears anyway,

    As an aside, this is one of the reasons I prefer touring on my 20" wheeled folding bike. From personal experience, the wheels are usually stronger and less prone to side-lining failure.
    I plan on living forever... so far so good.

  16. #16
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    I just carry the little freewheel remover nut and carry an adjustable crecent wrench with the handle cut down. The crecent wrench is my main nut turner in my tool kit so I already carried that; the little nut thing weighs only an ounce or two more. We tour in a group and all can share my remover system and in every tour we have used it at least once to replace a broken spoke behind the freewheel. The little nut thing weighs less than a bite of a bagel, so if you want to save weight, just leave the last bite of a bagel on the plate instead before you shove off in the AM....

  17. #17
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Since you need a special tool and some kind of lever either way, my vote is for a cassette wheel.

    Tweaking the axle spacing to reduce asymmetric dishing isn't a bad idea either -- that's why MTB wheels went to 130mm and 135mm spacings before road bikes. The extra axle spacing is on the NDS. Running a 7-speed Freehub with 4mm extra spacers on the NDS in a 130mm-spaced bike would give a pretty strong wheel, too.
    Last edited by ThermionicScott; 01-05-13 at 11:52 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

  18. #18
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    I still run freewheels, purchased when they were class, on some of my bikes. New stuff has been cassette. I also run the White, I think I have the M16.

    I would like to run a Phil Freewheel hub. A few years ago they were about 130 rear, and 110 front, and the cassette was 350. Today the freewheel is reaching up there also. One can't break the Phil freewheel hub, and it is light. The cassette hubs are expensive and heavy. But in the end I bought the White hubs instead.

    The argument freewheel hubs are weaker is based on axle breakage. I am not going to buy a NOS shimano freewheel hub, though as I say I still run some old stock one. To me the pro freewheel argument depends on buying the Phil.

    The weak point on cassettes is the shell. The Phil Cassette hub is massive, so if they got the engineering right that pretty much tells you how weak the design is. The White hub is not so heavy, it used a Ti shell. And the need to go to Ti is another lesson.

    Like some others I have not caused a failure running smoothly on the road.

  19. #19
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    Years ago, I had a catastrophic failure of a freewheel while going up a mountain pass in Switzerland. I don't weigh a lot but I had panniers & camping gear. I don't know why it failed, but suddenly there were ball bearings rolling down the road. I was able to put my bike on the postal bus going to the next town, where I bought a new freewheel.

  20. #20
    Senior Member shipwreck's Avatar
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    I have usualy toured with a freewheel because I have two nice Sansin Gyromaster sealed bearing hub wheelsets with forty spoke rears. Never had a problem with them yet, though I built them myself and am not a pro.
    Carry a freewheel tool with me, and some fibre spokes to get me to where I can use a vice. Had to use it once on a semi offroad canal path/rail trail trip with a 26 inch wheel mountain bike when a bunch of barb wire wrapped behind the freewheel. A guy let me use his vice. Most service stations, auto repair places, farms, and the like would have a vice they may let you borrow.

    If you do ever pull the freewheel on the road to fix a spoke, then check all the spokes at the hub. when one goes, it means more might be ready to go. Then be very carefull rethreading the freewheel. Thats not the thing you want to cross thread miles from an actual bike shop.

    Once I was on a trip where the bike I had was an older one with a suntour freewheel, with the two prong remover. the freewheel gave out, and the removal tool at the local shop stripped the thing. Took it to a machine shop and they let me weld it solid, and then I smashed it in thier vice and screwed it off. Back to the shop for a new shimano freewheel. there is always a way.


    If you manage to break a gear or teeth on your rear meck, then in all probability you will need to fix a lot of stuff.

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