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Going from 7SPD freewheel to cassette

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Going from 7SPD freewheel to cassette

Old 04-09-17, 04:25 PM
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Going from 7SPD freewheel to cassette

Hi all.

I am looking to purchase new wheels for my 2006 Trek 3700. I understand that this is an entry level bike and normally wouldn't wast the money but it has sentimental value so I don't mind putting money into it.

Today I replaced the 7SPD Acera rear derailleur with a 9SPD Deore and installed a new KMC Z72 7/8 SPD chain.

The bike shifts much better and road great today. The 7SPD freewheel will probably need to be changed next time around but I would like to upgrade to a cassette as I can see the axle has a slight bend to it.

I'm looking for suggestions or some direction towards a new wheelset and cassette. The current wheels are 26" Matrix 550.

Could I choose any 26" wheelset and slap on a 7SPD cassette and be good to go? I would be ok going to 8SPD if I had to but would prefer to stay with 7SPD so I don't have to change the shifters.


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Old 04-09-17, 04:42 PM
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There weren't many 7s cassette hubs out there, and I don't know if you'll find one new these days.

You can go with an 8s hub, be sure to match the axle (lock nut) width so you don't have o spread the frame. Then you can fit a 7s cassette if it's the right generation -- older 7s cassettes used a threaded outer sprocket, newer hubs have all the sprockets slide on and retain via a lockring. Of course, you'll need to fill the cassette with extra spacers.

What some people in your situation, is buy an 8s cassette, not use the outermost sprocket, respace so it indexes right, and add a spacer behind so the overall width is right. I suspect hat you'll end up going this route if you go ahead with a change to a cassette system.

Of course, moving to 8 or 9s, will entail new levers, but if you spring for the hub, you'll be ready for that change later on.

OTOH - axles are cheap, and freewheels available, so in your shoes, I'd likely stay with what I have until I were ready to jump to 9s later on.
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Old 04-09-17, 04:50 PM
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I appreciate your reply, those are some great options.

I just ran downstairs and measured (with a standard tape measure) the rear drop outs and got 5 1/4" which I'm assuming is probably the standard 135mm spacing?

From your advice it sounds like my best bet is either to make the jump to 8SPD or just stay with the inferior 7SPD freewheel and replace the axle as needed.

I read some other posts from people asking a similar question as mine and some mentioned having to re-dish the wheel? Is this something I would have to do if I went to an 8SPD cassette?
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Old 04-09-17, 05:26 PM
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Just shy of 135mm but close enough.
As mentioned, all you'll find is >7 speed hubs.
What you do is get a 4.5mm spacer (designed for this) and put it on before your 7 speed cassette.
Shifters match the "pull ratio" correctly.
You can probably find less expensive than these-
Wheels Manufacturing 7-Speed Cassette Spacers

IF you want to, at this time, you can go to 8 or 9 speed.
You'd need new shifters and for the 9 speed a new chain also.
Since you need a new cassette anyway, the prices aren't much different from 7>9.
I like 9 speed because it seems to have a much broader range of cog combinations vs 7 or 8.
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Old 04-09-17, 05:29 PM
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7-speed cassettes are still available from many sources, including Amazon and Harris Cyclery ( Bicycle Cassette Gear Clusters from Harris Cyclery) In fact, trying a couple of older LBS's in your area may turn up some NOS ones.

A 7-speed cassette can be fitted to any 8/9/10-speed freehub body by adding a 4.5 mm spacer either under the largest cog or between the smallest cog and the lockring. These spacers are also available from Harris among others.
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Old 04-09-17, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
7-speed cassettes are still available from many sources, including Amazon and Harris Cyclery ( Bicycle Cassette Gear Clusters from Harris Cyclery) In fact, trying a couple of older LBS's in your area may turn up some NOS ones.

A 7-speed cassette can be fitted to any 8/9/10-speed freehub body by adding a 4.5 mm spacer either under the largest cog or between the smallest cog and the lockring. These spacers are also available from Harris among others.
It doesn't work that way.
Since the spacer fits over the FH body, it HAS to be larger than the lock ring.
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Old 04-09-17, 05:39 PM
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This is great news!

So if I understand correctly, I can order a set of 135MM 7,8,or 9SPD wheels and either fit a 7SPD cassette with spacer or go all the way to 8 or 9SPD without one.

Will the front chain rings and derailleur care if I convert to 8 or 9SPD?
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Old 04-09-17, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
It doesn't work that way.
Since the spacer fits over the FH body, it HAS to be larger than the lock ring.
No it doesn't.
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Old 04-09-17, 09:16 PM
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I'm new to freehubs, at least, understanding them, as I've mainly worked on freewheel bikes.

Someone gave me a couple of sets of old, used, freehub wheels. No idea the age. I've got a 7-speed cassette (from somewhere) in my spare parts bin that I had planned on using. How do I tell what speeds my freehub was designed for? Is there some dimension I can measure that indicates this? These are 130mm OLD, 700c road wheels.
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Old 04-09-17, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
I'm new to freehubs, at least, understanding them, as I've mainly worked on freewheel bikes.

Someone gave me a couple of sets of old, used, freehub wheels. No idea the age. I've got a 7-speed cassette (from somewhere) in my spare parts bin that I had planned on using. How do I tell what speeds my freehub was designed for? Is there some dimension I can measure that indicates this? These are 130mm OLD, 700c road wheels.
If the cogs are sloppy loose when you tighten the lock ring, you have a >7 speed hub.
There's around 3-4mm difference in the FH body length.
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Old 04-09-17, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
It doesn't work that way.
Since the spacer fits over the FH body, it HAS to be larger than the lock ring.
Originally Posted by blamester View Post
No it doesn't.
I agree with Bill. Spacer goes first, then cassette. Plus, the lockring is supposed to mesh with the textured part of the last cog, and now what I think about it, putting the spacer last wouldn't work at all... The lockring doesn't have a long enough threaded section to accommodate a spacer. And if they meant put it between the last and 2nd to last cog, it'd throw off the indexing and the chain would fall...

Putting the spacer last would also throw off the chainline.

So for the OP, spacer goes first... then cassette, then lockring.

Last edited by corrado33; 04-09-17 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 04-09-17, 11:30 PM
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Generally you put the 4.5mm spacer first, but you don't have to. You can split the difference and run a 2.5mm, 3.0mm, etc. spacer first and fill up the rest of the space between the small cog and the lock ring with another spacer. The only reason to do this is to improve chainline and I've done it on more than I bike... typically going from a 3x to a 2x (mtb) and installing a bash ring in the large chainring spot. I did have reservations about not having the texture on the small ring, but no issues of the lock ring coming loose after I torqued it a few years ago.

For the OP. Just get any 26" rear wheel, (8-10 speed freehub) with a 135mm OLD, get the 4.5mm cassette spacer, and slap on any 7 speed cassette. Any other speed will require a shifter change. Your 9 speed derailleur will be fine with a 7 speed cassette... mine are.

John

Last edited by 70sSanO; 04-09-17 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 04-09-17, 11:41 PM
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You could use an old sprocket from an old dissassembled cassette, or even the plastic spacers of an old cassette as a spacer - just make a combo to match about 4.5 mm.

Improved shifting, uless the old RD was worn/damaged, is probably mostly due to putting a new, not stretched chain.
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Old 04-10-17, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
It doesn't work that way.
Since the spacer fits over the FH body, it HAS to be larger than the lock ring.
It does work and I've done it that way. The spacer only has to be smaller than the smallest cog. I used it on a 13x26 7-speed cassette and it worked just fine. It won't work on an 11T small cog and perhaps not on a 12T but I've never tried it. In the past, cassettes starting with 13T cogs were common but, unfortunately, that's no longer true.

Putting the spacer outside of the cassette avoided having to remove the long pins holding the largest 6 cogs together as their heads interfered with putting the spacer behind the cassette.
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Old 04-10-17, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
It does work and I've done it that way. The spacer only has to be smaller than the smallest cog. I used it on a 13x26 7-speed cassette and it worked just fine. It won't work on an 11T small cog and perhaps not on a 12T but I've never tried it. In the past, cassettes starting with 13T cogs were common but, unfortunately, that's no longer true.

Putting the spacer outside of the cassette avoided having to remove the long pins holding the largest 6 cogs together as their heads interfered with putting the spacer behind the cassette.
EXACTLY my experience; right down to the 7 speed 13-26 cassette.
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Old 04-10-17, 08:10 PM
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Thanks for all the help with this, everyone; I really appreciate all the responses. It's exciting to learn what I can do with this bike.


My plans for it now are to find a 26" wheelset that is equal to or better than what I have now and to make the jump to 9SPD and get new cassette, shifters, and chain.
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Old 04-11-17, 08:14 AM
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It would be easy to keep your 7-speed setup and make the move to a freehub:

1) Find an 8/9/10 speed 26" (559) wheelset. (Or if you're mechanically inclined, you can unlace your rear wheel's spokes and replace the freewheel hub with a freehub model.)

2) Pick up a 7-speed cassette. Niagara Cycle lists a bunch of 'em on their web site: 7-speed Cassettes.

3) Install the 7-speed cassette on the 8/9/10 speed hub with a 4.5 mm spacer behind it.

...but you could also make the jump to 9- or 10-speed while you're at it.
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Old 04-11-17, 12:59 PM
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My LBS got creative and used a spare chainring as a spacer, I have a 7sp casette on 8/9/10 hubs.

IMG_6754.jpg
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Old 04-11-17, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by kuroba View Post
My LBS got creative and used a spare chainring as a spacer, I have a 7sp casette on 8/9/10 hubs.

Attachment 559015
Very cool!


Sky,
I consider myself mechanically inclined but I'm not sure it's worth taking the time to tear these wheels down being that they're low end wheels.

I think my best bet is to upgrade the wheels to something better and while I'm at it go 8 or 9SPD.

Any advice when it comes to selecting wheels. There isn't a whole lot out there for 26" but there are some choices. I just don't know what makes a one wheel better than another.
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Old 04-11-17, 10:54 PM
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What makes a good wheel is: good hub, good spokes and nipples, good rim, well built.
I'd go with a Shimano Deore rear hub (among the most durable at a modest price), Mavic XM 117 (double walled, aluminium with steel eyelets for nipples), DT Swiss double butted spokes and DT swiss brass nipples.
All with 36 holes (and 36 spokes).
Do it properly yourself, or ask a good wheelbuilder for help, or for them to do it.
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Old 04-12-17, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
I'm new to freehubs, at least, understanding them, as I've mainly worked on freewheel bikes.

Someone gave me a couple of sets of old, used, freehub wheels. No idea the age. I've got a 7-speed cassette (from somewhere) in my spare parts bin that I had planned on using. How do I tell what speeds my freehub was designed for? Is there some dimension I can measure that indicates this? These are 130mm OLD, 700c road wheels.
8 speed or greater.
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Old 04-12-17, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by AlexCyclistRoch View Post
8 speed or greater.
Freehub body height determines the number of speeds it's for. Also, grooves on the freehub body are important. There are old and new standard - uniglide and hyperglide.



For speed numbers, 7 speed ones are "shorter", only about 30 mm long from the sprocket limiter near the hub flange (the heightened part of the freehub body).
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