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7sp. cassette on'8-11' freehubs - how? limitations, issues? [from freewheel user!]

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7sp. cassette on'8-11' freehubs - how? limitations, issues? [from freewheel user!]

Old 12-22-15, 03:46 PM
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hujev
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7sp. cassette on'8-11' freehubs - how? limitations, issues? [from freewheel user!]

After decades of using only threaded-on freewheels, I am interested to try a cassette hub on a a 26" rough stuff/forest road tourer I'm planning, since there are some interesting/odd hubs about there these days (White MI5, Hope Mono RS, etc.).

My goal is to be able to use the hub with as wide a-spacing between cogs and few rear cogs as possible with friction shifters. I'll shift manually with maybe a 1978 Cyclone derailleur or maybe a 1987 Deore or maybe a new 'SunXCD'. Depending on setup either mid-80s Suntour ratchet bar-ends or thumb shifters. I'll probably build 36 or 40-spoke wheels (I like symmetry front and back so same spoking both) with probably Velocity rims.

I have no interest in 'index' shifting as friction is 100% easy (and part of the 'engagement', as they'd say nowadays, of cycling), so any questions or shifter 'compatibility' are moot (so long as shifers and derailleur can both use friction and travel for each is adequate of course).

So this isn't a question of 'how to get modern' (screw that!). I just want to try a sturdy hub in 135 width other than Phil Wood (which are great). On my heavy tourer I've got the 135 Phil FSA touring hub with a Suntour 6 (or maybe 'ultra 7') threaded freewheel (no spacers) and 1st gen. Cyclone with Sram PC-8x0 chain. So I could always go Phil/freewheel again if need, but would be fun to try something else.

This despite Sheldon emphasizing to me a dozen years ago:
"That's a very Bad Idea. Nobody should buy a new hub that requires the obsolete thread-on freewheel system. Cassette hubs are superior in every respect... Modern stuff works WAY better, don't live in the past! ... Yuck! Modern cassette hubs are WAY better in every respect. This is like buying a new car and having a 20 year old engine installed..."
(Ah, failure to heed - Iconoclast, I! - and note that he also liked to use the ellipses - his own here, not mine indicating deleted words - as I do...)

Years later as I revisit this I think I've got a little insight on the question from Sheldon's website and elsewhere, but want to be sure I'm getting this right. The question may be a very basic or simple one but I have paid zero attention to the whole concept forever! I know bikes very well aside this question... Cripes - finally the question(s)!

1. If I buy a contemporary 'freehub', what is the 'lowest' number cogset I can use? A typical hub mfr statement is "11 speed freehub body which also accommodates 9/10 speed cassettes" ... Does that mean that 7 is just so 'yesteryear' that they don't even bother to mention, or might it just not 'fit'? (5 was enough!, but maybe the lowest is 7 are there sixes?)

2. 'Shimano or Campagnolo-type' seems the standard dichotomy. The lowest for Campag is 8, correct? Are there any technical issues that should make me consider one over the other?

3. What are the limitations of using a 7 (e.g., a Shimano HG) on a recent hub? Maybe too much 'space' or metal exposed on one end or the other?

4. Are the hub flanges much closer together the more cogs the hub's designed for (8, 9, 10...) so that a recent '11' begins to require so much dishing that wheel strength becomes an issue?

5. Apparently one needs spacers for this sort of thing. Are they dependent on the hub design, number of potential (7,8,..11), cassette type, how far L or R you 'want' the cogs, etc?

So, any advice (and opinions!) welcome, thanks, and merry xmas!

Last edited by hujev; 12-22-15 at 05:37 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 12-22-15, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by hujev View Post
1. If I buy a contemporary 'freehub', what is the 'lowest' number cogset I can use? A typical hub mfr statement is "11 speed freehub body which also accommodates 9/10 speed cassettes" ... Does that mean that 7 is just so 'yesteryear' that they don't even bother to mention, or might it just not 'fit'? (5 was enough!, but maybe the lowest is 7 are there sixes?)
With currently available hubs, 7 speed is the lowest you can go, Suntour did a 6 speed cassette/hub, however theses are long long OOP

Originally Posted by hujev View Post
2. 'Shimano or Campagnolo-type' seems the standard dichotomy. The lowest for Campag is 8, correct? Are there any technical issues that should make me consider one over the other?
Campagnolo changed their freehub design when they moved from 8 to 9 speed, unless you really want hard to find 8 speed Campag, would just look at their 9 speed hubs (not that you have much choice today, as only Record hubs are generally available, and these are 9/10/11 speed compatible with no spacers.

Originally Posted by hujev View Post
3. What are the limitations of using a 7
Originally Posted by hujev View Post
(e.g., a Shimano HG) on a recent hub? Maybe too much 'space' or metal exposed on one end or the other?
None, just use the appropriate spacers

Originally Posted by hujev View Post
4. Are the hub flanges
Originally Posted by hujev View Post
much closer together the more cogs the hub's designed for (8, 9, 10...) so that a recent '11' begins to require so much dishing that wheel strength becomes an issue?
Some seem to think it's an issue, given that if you can swap freehubs from 10 to 11 speed on some (generally wheelsets) and not change the dishing, I can't see this as an issue (others will chime in here)

Originally Posted by hujev View Post
5. Apparently one needs spacers
Originally Posted by hujev View Post
for this sort of thing. Are they dependent on the hub design, number of potential (7,8,..11), cassette type, how far L or R you 'want' the cogs, etc?
Spacers always go on the back of the cassette, you only need these with 10 speed or 7 speed cassettes, 10 speed are supplied with the appropriate 1mm spacer, 7 speed you need to purchase the part (Shimano and Wheels Manufacturing make these), 11 speed Shimano freehub hubs normally come with a spacer for 8/9/10 speed cassettes.

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Old 12-22-15, 04:15 PM
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In my mind, the best option for you is an 8 speed cassette on an 8,9,10 speed cassette body. Hubs are readily available, as are cassettes at fairly low prices. Cog spacing is very close between 7 and 8 speed so with friction shifting there are no issues. As a plus, with no downside you get an extra gear. Forget about 7 speed, with the setup you propose, 8 speed is the way to go
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Old 12-22-15, 05:36 PM
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I'd go 9 speed myself. You only have to add a 9 speed chain.
The cassettes aren't that much more expensive and you have a much better selection of cog combinations.

My Rockhopper actually got more precise shifting as I went from 7 to 8 to 9.
It was simply a matter of ergonomics between my thumb and the shifter.
You may or may not experince the same thing.

11 speed does start getting into severe dishing issues.

An OC rim can go a long way to restoring more equal spoke tensions.
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Old 12-22-15, 10:17 PM
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I ran a 12-32t 6 speed cassette with friction shifting on my mountain bike briefly. It's about the same as freewheels as far as how big of a jump you can get away with between each cog, maybe a little better as modern cogs have shift ramps and such. That was using a bunch of spare 9spd cogs and spacers if I recall.

It did have the unintended benefit of saving my wheel, derailleur and chain one time. All that extra space behind the cassette allowed the chain to just glide along on the spacers instead of jamming into the spokes and ripping everything apart when my derailleur cage came apart, probably because I didn't tighten something.

Get your hands on a bunch of cheap cassettes and take them apart, you'll have plenty of cogs and spacers to build something that will work for you.
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Old 12-23-15, 07:34 AM
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For a couple years, my only bike had an eight speed cassette with friction shifting. I currently friction shift a 7 speed Shimano cassette on the same 130 spaced hub. It is better because 7 speed spacing between cogs is closer or same as regular 6 speed freewheel. The eight speed was fussier to keep quiet and the derailleur was very very close to the spokes when pushed to the biggest cog. The spacer behind the 7 speed cassette keeps the whole mess out of the spokes. I recently put a regular 6 speed freewheel on that bike and it is an improvement over the modern cogsets. I think to decrease dish on a modern wheel, you need a longer axel, more spacing in the back, and a longer bottom bracket to move the whole drive chain out.
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Old 12-23-15, 08:05 PM
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Thanks for this (so far - more!). I took a look, and my current setup has a suntour 'ultra 7' spacing, which according to
Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Frame and Cassette Spacing Crib Sheet
is pretty similar to the shimano 7-speed. In reading phil's comment I was momentarily persuaded to think 8 speed (but anything more - forget it!), but I remembered that I heard that the 7-speed shimano HG cassettes are (were?) still made in Japan.

So I guess if I did go with a cassette hub instead of freewheel, cassettes are relatively cheap so I could try 8 and 7. Certainly 7 x 3 is enough for me - 5 x 3 - even better!).

Also I plan/hope to use a spoke guard on this build (which might complicate the spacer issue, will worry later), reemphasized by the comments above, so will have to check if the ones for old freewheel hubs'll fit (or if some alternative to modern crappy plastic, like the nice old alu Suntours I have for 'bikes of ole'.)
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