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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 10-02-11, 09:32 PM   #1
gecho
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Frozen Freehub, Common Occurence?

I had my freehub refuse to engage during one commute last year toward the end of winter. It effectively brings your ride to a halt (unless the remainder of your ride is downhill). This was likely caused by condensation due to the fact I use indoor parking at the university.

Has anyone else had this happen? Any tips for preventing this or dealing with frozen freehub pawls should it occur on the road?
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Old 10-03-11, 02:57 AM   #2
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If it's a Shimano freehub then it's possible to take it off and dissassemble it, clean the insides out, put some very light grease on the bearings and some light oil on the pawls and then assemble it back together. Most people don't do this and it's not reccomended by Shimano.. but it can be done. The easiest thing to do is to buy a new freehub body, they're not very expensive.
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Old 10-03-11, 03:17 AM   #3
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Easy fixes for Shimano and a few others can be found here.
http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...reehub-service
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Old 10-03-11, 06:10 AM   #4
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I've had it happen with a Shimano freehub. I didn't totally disassemble the freehub; I just removed it, and pulled the back gasket. Then I used tons of WD-40 on it to displace the water. I blew it out with an air compressor, then let it dry. The next morning I squirted oil in, and replaced. That was 1 1/2 winters ago (the first winter on the hub), and I haven't had any problems since.
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Old 11-11-14, 09:03 AM   #5
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A freehub on a different bike started getting clunky at -3C the other day, and even more at -12C. So I removed the hub and gave it a good cleaning and it was fine yesterday.

One important thing I discovered a few years back, don't use very much oil inside the freehub (a few drops should be enough). I put too much in and it leaked out into the drive side bearing race dissolving all the grease. Eventually the bearings stopped rolling and started to disintegrate.
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Old 11-11-14, 10:31 PM   #6
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I would just flush out all the old grease and relube your freehub with Dumonde Tech's freehub oil. It works in extremely cold areas and does not thicken up like a lot of greases can.

PRO X Freehub Oil | Dumonde Tech | Bicycle Chain Lube | Motorcycle Oil | Bike Lube | Chain Lubricant|
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Old 11-11-14, 10:42 PM   #7
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That seems pretty warm to me for this to happen, but the grease on the pawls inside the freehub body can freeze, and stop them from engaging. Often, if you pedal like a madman, they will eventually catch until you coast again. Obviously, you can't ride your bike like this.

Follow this link for some good info on how to solve this problem.

Winterizing Your Freehub
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Old 11-12-14, 11:25 AM   #8
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One other thought; you can get "freezing" of the pawls due to corrosion as well. I just dealt with that in the hub that is on my (winter included) commuter. Needed to let is sit in solvent for a while, then re-oiled it. So while it may be warm for actual freezing (of intruded water), it is never too warm for rust.
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Old 11-12-14, 01:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fotooutdoors View Post
I've had it happen with a Shimano freehub. I didn't totally disassemble the freehub; I just removed it, and pulled the back gasket. Then I used tons of WD-40 on it to displace the water. I blew it out with an air compressor, then let it dry. The next morning I squirted oil in, and replaced. That was 1 1/2 winters ago (the first winter on the hub), and I haven't had any problems since.
My solution as well. I don't know if it is old grease getting stiff or moisture, but the WD-40 flush worked for me on 'old' freehubs. The fact it didn't reoccur makes me believe it was old grease.
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Old 11-15-14, 02:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gecho View Post
A freehub on a different bike started getting clunky at -3C the other day, and even more at -12C. So I removed the hub and gave it a good cleaning and it was fine yesterday.

One important thing I discovered a few years back, don't use very much oil inside the freehub (a few drops should be enough). I put too much in and it leaked out into the drive side bearing race dissolving all the grease. Eventually the bearings stopped rolling and started to disintegrate.
I like to give mine a good flushing with a lot of oil, and then let them sit on one end until all of the excess has dribbled out before reinstalling.
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Old 02-17-15, 07:32 AM   #11
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Bit late on this thread. This happens to me so this is my solution (hopefully). I tried this before with oil, next time I am going to try a grease like for snowmobiles. You may also need the wifes permission to do this operation. Get a tin can and put a wad of the grease in it. Heat it on the kitchen stove until very hot. carefully drop the freehub into it. Make sure there is enough liquid to completely cover the freehub. Let it simmer in there for a while. When I did this with oil I could see the water leaving the body.
Hopefully the liquid grease will find its way into the freehub and be ready to go when cooled. I actually plan to let mine set in the cooled/cold grease before I remove it.
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Old 02-17-15, 03:42 PM   #12
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Bit late on this thread. This happens to me so this is my solution (hopefully). I tried this before with oil, next time I am going to try a grease like for snowmobiles. You may also need the wifes permission to do this operation. Get a tin can and put a wad of the grease in it. Heat it on the kitchen stove until very hot. carefully drop the freehub into it. Make sure there is enough liquid to completely cover the freehub. Let it simmer in there for a while. When I did this with oil I could see the water leaving the body.
Hopefully the liquid grease will find its way into the freehub and be ready to go when cooled. I actually plan to let mine set in the cooled/cold grease before I remove it.
This is like sharing a recipe before tasting it. If an oil flush doesn't keep freehub pawls from sticking open, I'm not sure why you'd expect grease to.
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Old 02-17-15, 10:17 PM   #13
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The idea is that the hot grease gets into the freehub and then sets up again. I think a extreme low temp grease would offer better protection than oil. I guess I will have to try it and see.
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Old 02-18-15, 01:42 AM   #14
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The idea is that the hot grease gets into the freehub and then sets up again. I think a extreme low temp grease would offer better protection than oil. I guess I will have to try it and see.
Check jwarner's post above -- typically you want to leave the pawls themselves dry or coated in light oil at most, since grease will thicken up at low temperatures and cause the freewheeling-in-both-directions issue we're trying to avoid. Grease is a fine thing on the bearings themselves, but you'd need to disassemble the freehub in order to apply it just to the bearings.

I suspect, but leave up to you to find out, that if you let the freehub sit in the grease bath while it cools down, that it will end up so packed full of grease that it may not even function well in warm temperatures. But the bearings would be really happy.
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Old 02-18-15, 06:59 AM   #15
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Good point. Maybe remove when hot then and let drain. This is for my winter beater bike. I rode it the other day -25 and was constantly losing drive.
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Old 02-25-15, 02:50 PM   #16
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That man that writes those really good bicycle maintenance books covers this well with pictures to boot.
Cheers,
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Old 02-25-15, 09:51 PM   #17
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Don't use grease in the freehub! I used gear oil in mine this winter and it was much too thick. Seized on the really first cold day. I'd say use the lightest oil you can find.
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Old 02-25-15, 10:24 PM   #18
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I keep mine packed with marine grease, and I always park my bike in non heated garage after each ride. This way I'm sure that whatever moisture got in, it won't have a chance to freeze.
I think I took hub apart only once, and the bike was bought in 2010. Didn't have any issues with Shimano freehub yet.
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Old 02-25-15, 10:35 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by fotooutdoors View Post
I've had it happen with a Shimano freehub. I didn't totally disassemble the freehub; I just removed it, and pulled the back gasket. Then I used tons of WD-40 on it to displace the water. I blew it out with an air compressor, then let it dry. The next morning I squirted oil in, and replaced. That was 1 1/2 winters ago (the first winter on the hub), and I haven't had any problems since.
I did the same and used the opportunity to overhaul the hub. Instead of using WD-40 I used Tri-Flow. Let the Try-Flow work its way through the hub body. That took care of the pawls. I then added some Phil Woods Tenacious Oil to the bearings under the gasket and worked it in. The freehub has been happier since.
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Old 02-26-15, 10:34 AM   #20
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Good point. Maybe remove when hot then and let drain. This is for my winter beater bike. I rode it the other day -25 and was constantly losing drive.
As it happens, I was just doing some winter maintenance on one of my road bikes last night. I had noticed that the freehub seemed a little "gooey", to use Sheldon Brown's word: the rear wheel had some resistance to coasting when on the stand, and the freehub would actually continue to push the chain and cranks around a little!

So I removed the freehub body and flushed it with some WD-40 after wiping out the bearing track. It turned out that some of the wheel bearing grease had migrated into the freehub mechanism and gunked it up. After working enough of the WD-40 through it, the freehub spun as freely as it was supposed to, and that was a lesson that I should probably allow more time for the solvent and excess oil to drain out before reinstalling, and to go a little lighter on the grease when repacking the wheel bearings. For what that's worth.
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