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Upgrading a 6 speed freewhel to either 8 or 9 speed?

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Upgrading a 6 speed freewhel to either 8 or 9 speed?

Old 06-25-05, 05:11 PM
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transam4life
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Upgrading a 6 speed freewhel to either 8 or 9 speed?

I just got a Specialized Crossroads that I have no idea how old it is, but its in superb shape. It has ALtus C50 components if that helps identify the age.

Anyways it has a 6 speed freewheel (not cassette) in back and I wanted to upgrade to something better. Would it be possible to simply unscrew the 6 speed freewheel and screw on an 8 or 9 speed one? I know that I will need new shifters, that is not a problem as a I want to get rid of the grip shift stuff anyway. I just threw on a SRAM PC-48 8 speed chain last week so I should be good there unless I decide to go to a 9 speed freewheel. What about the rear derailleur...I'm not famaliar with the Altus C50 components...would I need to replace it or would it work?

If all this is possible, what 8-9 speed freewheel would you guys recommend I buy...I want something good quality, not walmart stuff.
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Old 06-25-05, 05:36 PM
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sydney
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Originally Posted by transam4life
I just got a Specialized Crossroads that I have no idea how old it is, but its in superb shape. It has ALtus C50 components if that helps identify the age.

Anyways it has a 6 speed freewheel (not cassette) in back and I wanted to upgrade to something better. Would it be possible to simply unscrew the 6 speed freewheel and screw on an 8 or 9 speed one? I know that I will need new shifters, that is not a problem as a I want to get rid of the grip shift stuff anyway. I just threw on a SRAM PC-48 8 speed chain last week so I should be good there unless I decide to go to a 9 speed freewheel. What about the rear derailleur...I'm not famaliar with the Altus C50 components...would I need to replace it or would it work?

If all this is possible, what 8-9 speed freewheel would you guys recommend I buy...I want something good quality, not walmart stuff.
There are 8 speed freewheels.They have problems with breaking axels. It may not be just a screw deal on either. You could do a 7 speed upgrade but the bike is hardly worth it.
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Old 06-25-05, 06:22 PM
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Yeah I forgot that I can't go past 8 speed on a freewheel, but why are there problems with braking the axel? Do I need to upgrade the wheel?
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Old 06-25-05, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by transam4life
Yeah I forgot that I can't go past 8 speed on a freewheel, but why are there problems with braking the axel? Do I need to upgrade the wheel?
With a spin-on freewheel, the outermost axle bearing on the right side is nearly in the center of the hub. That gives the axle bending forces a lot of mechanical advantage. The more cogs on the freewheel, the more likely you are going to bend axles.

With a cassette hub, the outermost bearing is moved outward into the freehub body. That supports the axle much better.

If you decide to upgrade your rear wheel, the first thing to do is to measure the distance between your bike's rear dropouts. That will tell you what over locknut dimension you need in your new wheel.
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Old 06-25-05, 11:09 PM
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I went with a 7 speed freewheel and their relatively cheap at about $28 for a Shimano. The only thing I had to do with my bike to get it to fit was to have the rear wheel redished just slightly. I don't know anything about the 8 speed freewheel but do know that hub breakage could be a real possiblity if you put a lot of force on it for a long period of time for the reasons others mentioned. If you change to a cassette you going to might have to spread the rear stays, get new hub, chain, new derailleur, respoke the wheel and then yes the cost may be more then you might want to spend.

I'm not sure why you want more gears anyway. Are you in a very mountainous area? I use to race in the mountains of California and rode most of my regular rides into mountains there, and most of that time I did it with 12 speeds and never had a want for more gears. The reason I went to a 7 rear is because I couldn't find a decent 6! But even after the getting the 7 I still didn't think I gained anything, you still have the same low and high gear range just a slightly closer gear ratio...which is ok because it does allow a bit better ability to remain at your RPM level just as the 9 and 10 speed cluster would also do; but mostly the more gears just make you shift more! The only way to gain a lower gear ratio is to change to a triple on the front or replace your inner gear on the front to a smaller tooth one. So if you ride in mountains and are looking for a lower gear range then look at your front gears.

The other downside to going with more gears is using a thinner chain and thinner gears, and these thinner chains and gears last less then a third as long as old wider chains and gears. This means that about every time you wear out a set of tires (assuming you average about 3,000 miles on a set of tires) your going to need a new chain, so instead of spending $80 or so for a set of tires now you going to spend over $150; then about every third set of tires your going to need tires, chain and gears now you got an easy $200 bill. Some people on this forum were saying that about every 3,000 miles or so they were replacing both the chain and gears. The direction bikes have gone seems to have more maintence cost then a car! Who spends $200 every 3,000 miles on their car for maintence? If we spent $200 or even $100 every 3,000 miles for maintence on a car we would be screaming or junking the car, but yet on a bike it's no big deal. I guess I just don't understand; so I'll just stay with my old 7 speed bike where the chain last an average of 13,000 miles and the gears last 40,000.
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Old 03-04-08, 07:09 AM
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I went from Suntour "Ultra" 6 to a Suntour screw-on 7 speeder. It was dead cheap. The reason I changed was that my wife's bike, with that same cheap 7 speeder, shifted so much easier than mine with the old 6 speed. I tried her f/w on my bike and it made an improvement. This was what I used :

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/New-Suntour-7-...QQcmdZViewItem

Tony S
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Old 03-04-08, 10:44 AM
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[QUOTE=froze;1297769]I'm not sure why you want more gears anyway. QUOTE]

+1 Although this is pretty cool.
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Old 03-04-08, 11:11 AM
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I just recently did the same step-up from a 6 speed freewheel. Before doing so, I read one of Sheldon's pieces on the topic, which said that you can pretty much get away with stepping from a 6 to a 7 with no problems or adjustments, but that going to an 8 may present clearance problems. So I went with the 7 as suggested by the late great SB, and that worked out fine.
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Old 03-04-08, 12:48 PM
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[QUOTE=jbonamici;6277074]
Originally Posted by froze View Post
I'm not sure why you want more gears anyway. QUOTE]

+1 Although this is pretty cool.
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Old 03-04-08, 01:36 PM
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Since I also have an older bike with a 6 speed freewheel, this thread is of interest to me. My question though, is what is gained by upgrading to 7 cogs instead of six? Does it provide a wider range of gearing, or just smaller jumps between gears? One poster mentioned smoother shifts, is this a common result? I'm all for upgrades, but like to make sure my money is going in to actual upgrades, not just change for the sake of change.
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Old 03-04-08, 01:52 PM
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[QUOTE=jbonamici;6277074]
Originally Posted by froze View Post
I'm not sure why you want more gears anyway. QUOTE]

+1 Although this is pretty cool.
How about this ... 63 speeds!

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/otb.html
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Old 03-04-08, 01:52 PM
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"I'm not sure why you want more gears anyway. Are you in a very mountainous area?"

You don't have to ride the mountains to take advantage of more gears. I ride flat land but have varying wind conditions. I've made up a "custom" cassette with 13-14-15-16-17-19-24T cogs.
It's nice to be able to gear down 1 tooth if the headwind gets a bit stronger and keep my cadence in the narrow range that works best for me. (bad knees & old, overweight body)

I'll agree more gears isn't always the answer. More USEFUL gears however, are nice to have.

A couple years ago I had 1 bike with a 6 speed & 1 with a 7. Both were 14-28's.
14-16-18-21-24-28 & 14-16-18-20-22-24-28. I much preferred the 6 speed, since the extra lower gear on the 7 didn't buy me anything. Now if the 6 speed had a 15T cog added, I would have loved that as a 7 speed.
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Old 03-04-08, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by TBatty View Post
Does it provide a wider range of gearing, or just smaller jumps between gears?
That depends on the cogs you choose. As you increase the number of cogs, you gain some ability to accomplish both things at once. Ride your bike a few times, taking note of which gears you use most often. Also notice if there are gaps in your current setup where you think "gee, wouldn't it be nice if there was something in between these two?" Then play around with this (courtesy of Sheldon Brown, once again) to see what would be ideal, then shop for something that comes close. Also remember that it's best to avoid the extremes of inner chainring-outer cog and outer chainring-inner cog.
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Old 03-04-08, 04:11 PM
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http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/freewheels.html
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Old 03-05-08, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ginsoakedboy View Post
I just recently did the same step-up from a 6 speed freewheel. Before doing so, I read one of Sheldon's pieces on the topic, which said that you can pretty much get away with stepping from a 6 to a 7 with no problems or adjustments, but that going to an 8 may present clearance problems. So I went with the 7 as suggested by the late great SB, and that worked out fine.

This sort of clearance problem can be attacked by adding spacers suitabley to the hub axle. It might also need a new longer axle. Then if the frame is steel and can be flexed outwards to accept the wider wheel you should be able to go ahead with enough clearance to use the 8. The hub axle is still probably weak compared to an 8-speed cassette hub.

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Old 03-06-08, 02:44 AM
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Exactly what I did. 126mm frame spacing. I used a 140mm axle, and had to play around with the spacers to get it happy. The 7 speed was tight, and my first arrangement left the freewheel clear of the frame, but no space for the chain on the smallest cog. I bit more fiddling was needed.

By the way, it was a Campag hub, and I used an old axle from a "Joytech" mountain bike hub. Shimano threads are different.
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Old 01-25-16, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by transam4life View Post
Yeah I forgot that I can't go past 8 speed on a freewheel, but why are there problems with braking the axel? Do I need to upgrade the wheel?
c

As someone else mentioned the big difference is the smaller "fulcrum force" on a freehub than on a freewheel because the cones on the freehub are quite a bit further apart than the ones ona freewheel axle are. Even with 7 speed freewheels bent and/or broken axles was quite common.

Here's an image from Sheldon Brown's site that shows the difference.



Shimano Cassettes & Freehubs

Cheers
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Old 01-25-16, 05:49 PM
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Re-spacing a frame to 130, while scary looking, is pretty easy. Sheldon Brown (pbuh) has instructions on his website. I did it once to an old frame, worked great, and allowed an upgrade to nice new components.
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Old 01-25-16, 07:28 PM
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11 years later, OP has probably worn out that bike.
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Old 01-25-16, 08:33 PM
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Huh. Wow.

How did this thing get drug up?

Maybe he takes good care of his stuff, or is very indecisive...
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Old 01-25-16, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
Huh. Wow.

How did this thing get drug up?

Maybe he takes good care of his stuff, or is very indecisive...
I was surfing the various forums, saw that post but DID NOT notice it was 11 years old. Mea Culpa.

Maybe the extra info will help someone else?

Cheers
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Old 01-26-16, 09:50 AM
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Miele man , I upgraded just the hub* & kept using 6 speed freewheels. 7 speed freewheels too.

* Phil Wood , their freewheel hubs are a super strong axle design.
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