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What speed freewheel can I use?

Old 06-09-12, 10:46 AM
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What speed freewheel can I use?

I need to replace the freewheel on my 1975 Viscount. I currently has a 5 sprocket freewheel. The rear derailleur is a Shimano Titlist and I have Shimano friction shifters. I wasn't able to find any info on how many speeds I can run. I would like to go for more than 5. I would like to run 11t/12t to 24t-26. The max this derailleur can run is 28t. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 06-09-12, 11:28 AM
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Without respacing your hub, you can use either a standard 5s or an Ultra 6. The 6s ultra has the spacing of a 7s freewheel and puts 6 gears in the width of a standard 5s. You could also go to 7s, but this would require respacing the hub, redishing the wheel, and possibly spreading the frame to accommodate a wider hub.

Redishing a wheel that old can be a problem, because there's a decent chance that corrosion will have frozen the nipples to the spokes, so it's something I'd avoid. In your shoes, having been decently served with the bike for 40 years, I'd take the easy route of the narrow u6 freewheel, and keep things simple.
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Old 06-09-12, 12:36 PM
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A good, Ultra 6 freewheel, will cost serious $$$ for NOS. Five speed is it, without changing rear hub, or modifying spacing. In my experience, used freewheels are a crap shoot, many will skip (worn) and I cannot tell from a picture if it is going to skip, unless it is really bad.

Easiest way to get more speeds is to pick up a nice set of used wheels, with 6/7 speed spacing.

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Old 06-09-12, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by rjhammett
I need to replace the freewheel on my 1975 Viscount. I currently has a 5 sprocket freewheel. The rear derailleur is a Shimano Titlist and I have Shimano friction shifters. I wasn't able to find any info on how many speeds I can run. I would like to go for more than 5. I would like to run 11t/12t to 24t-26. The max this derailleur can run is 28t. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
You won't find a 5-speed freewheel with an 11 tooth small cog, and 6-speed freewheels with 11-tooth cogs were very, very rare back in the day. 12-tooth is closer to doable, but it means a wider "standard" spacing freewheel. Still very rare, though.

The most practical arrangement, IMO, is a 13-24 or 13-28 5-speed freewheel from IRD: https://www.interlocracing.com/freewheels_steel.html . If you want more gears, I agree with WRK: best to convert the bike to a wider rear hub and 6/7-speed (126mm width) or 8/9/10-speed (130mm width).
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Old 06-09-12, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101
A good, Ultra 6 freewheel, will cost serious $$$ for NOS. Five speed is it, without changing rear hub, or modifying spacing. In my experience, used freewheels are a crap shoot, many will skip (worn) and I cannot tell from a picture if it is going to skip, unless it is really bad.

Easiest way to get more speeds is to pick up a nice set of used wheels, with 6/7 speed spacing.
Anyone looking for Ultra 6 freewheels can contact c/o the Chain-L site. I have a large quantity of 6us in a variety of sizes at reasonable (neither cheap nor dear) prices. The size range is mostly 13-low to mid 20s (no 13-28)
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Old 06-09-12, 03:38 PM
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I just measured the distance between the dropouts. It is about 5" or 126mm-127mm. I tried to see if another wheel that I have with a 7 speed freewheel would fit and it was very close. I didn't try spreading the stays at all so my guess is that it would fit. Based on that I think a 6 speed freewheel should work. Would I still have to go with an Ultra 6 freewheel? Will there be any issues with the derailleur handling a 6 or 7 cog freewheel?
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Old 06-09-12, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by rjhammett
I just measured the distance between the dropouts. It is about 5" or 126mm-127mm. I tried to see if another wheel that I have with a 7 speed freewheel would fit and it was very close. I didn't try spreading the stays at all so my guess is that it would fit. Based on that I think a 6 speed freewheel should work. Would I still have to go with an Ultra 6 freewheel? Will there be any issues with the derailleur handling a 6 or 7 cog freewheel?
The answer as to whether you can fit a 5s/6u or a 7s/6s freewheel really depends on the freewheel width allowed on the hub's spacing. 126mm is typical rear axle width for 7s, so certainly a 7s or standard 6s freewheel can fit. But if the hub is currently spaced for a 5s you won't be able to use a standard 6 or 7 freewheel without moving spacers and re-dishing the wheel. Whether that's worth it, or even possible, depends on the condition of the spokes and nipples, and what you're willing to spend.
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Old 06-09-12, 04:25 PM
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If you try to fit in more cogs, be sure that when the chain is on the smallest cog it isn't rubbing against a rear stay. If you don't look for this, you might not notice it. Also be sure there's clearance as the chain shifts up to the second-smallest cog.
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Old 06-09-12, 05:05 PM
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Even if you've put on a compact chainwheel it's just as well that a 11 or 12 tooth is not available, as with fewer cogs it would be wasteful to use one of them for a gear that's only good for downhill. I assume the alloy "fork of death" has been replaced on your bike. I almost bought a Lambert in 1972, thankfully decided instead on a Motobecane Grand Jubilee, which I had until a rear dropout broke in 1984. I still regret that I took a replacment frame from Motobecane instead of having it fixed.
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Old 06-09-12, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman
Even if you've put on a compact chainwheel it's just as well that a 11 or 12 tooth is not available, as with fewer cogs it would be wasteful to use one of them for a gear that's only good for downhill. I assume the alloy "fork of death" has been replaced on your bike. I almost bought a Lambert in 1972, thankfully decided instead on a Motobecane Grand Jubilee, which I had until a rear dropout broke in 1984. I still regret that I took a replacment frame from Motobecane instead of having it fixed.
I just purchased this bike and am in the process of cleaning and tuning it up to ride. I haven't replaced the fork. I have the type 3 fork. From what I have read it is safe. I do have a period correct Stronglight fork and headset available if I get cold feet about riding it. I at least want to get some pictures of it with everything original.

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Old 06-09-12, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
The answer as to whether you can fit a 5s/6u or a 7s/6s freewheel really depends on the freewheel width allowed on the hub's spacing. 126mm is typical rear axle width for 7s, so certainly a 7s or standard 6s freewheel can fit. But if the hub is currently spaced for a 5s you won't be able to use a standard 6 or 7 freewheel without moving spacers and re-dishing the wheel. Whether that's worth it, or even possible, depends on the condition of the spokes and nipples, and what you're willing to spend.
While this is correct, it won't cost much to have the rear wheel redished to accept a 7 speed freewheel, maybe $30 tops, but this is good because the rear wheel would be trued and properly retensioned. I had that done to one of my bikes and they added about a 3 cm washer; total cost of labor $15...of course that was about 15 years ago.

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Old 06-09-12, 10:23 PM
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The type 3 fork in your sketch is fine. The original forks were cast with a stub above the crown onto which the steerer was fitted and pinned. The failure point was at the base of the crown where the stub would sheer off eventually. Any of the later forks which had a steel pin running vertically to the base of the crown area (visible from the bottom of the fork) were OK.

So You should be fine, at least as far as the fork is concerned.
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Old 06-09-12, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata
while this is correct, it won't cost much to have the rear wheel redished, maybe $30 tops, but this is good because the rear wheel would be trued and properly retensioned.
The argument about re-dishing the wheel isn't necessarily money. My argument against re-dishing a 30-40 year old wheel, is that there may be a number of frozen nipples, so there's a good chance that what seems like a straight forward job could turn into a nightmare.

Whether having an extra gear is worth $30.00, is up to the OP, but whether it's practical may be out of his hands.
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Old 06-09-12, 10:54 PM
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I think I am going to stick with the 5 cog freewheel. This will be my #5 bike so it is no big deal. I thought if I could slip on a 6 speed freewheel with no issues I would do that. My main concern was whether there would be any issues going from a 5 to a 6 as far as the derailleur was concerned. I recently sold my 1973 Raleigh Grand Sports that had a 5 speed freewheel. It worked out just fine. I am replacing the freewheel because it has a little wobble. I might try it out and see how it rides but will probably just replace it. Thanks to all for the info.
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Old 06-09-12, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by rjhammett
I am replacing the freewheel because it has a little wobble.
FYI- freewheel wobble is normal, and a non issue, I wouldn't replace a freewheel over it, and there's a good chance that the replacement freewheel will wobble just as badly, or maybe even worse.
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Old 06-10-12, 12:24 AM
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Before you completely give up on the idea, at least take a look at your rear wheel and see if there is room for another cog. A 5 speed freewheel is about 23.2mm wide and a 6 speed is about 28.3; so if there is 5mm or more space at the end of your freewheel than you can just bolt on another gear or two.
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Old 06-10-12, 02:29 AM
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There's no need for the trial and error that has been suggested so far. There are clearly published specs:

Here they are:

A = Freewheel Stop to End-of-Locknut
B = Drive-Side-Flange-Center to End-of-Locknut
C = Outside-of-Locknut to Outside-of-Locknut

Regular 5 and 6 Speed

A = 29.00mm for 5 Speed
A = 35.00mm for 6 Speed
C = 120.00mm-122.00mm

Narrow 6 Speed, 7 Speed and 8 Speed

A = 31.00mm for Narrow 6 Speed
A = 36.00mm for Narrow 7 Speed
C = 125.00mm to 127.00mm

A = 40.50mm for Narrow 8 Speed
C = 130.00mm or 135.00mm

Most folks who want to build a classic 80s 126mm 6/7 Speed rear hub will simply go:

A = 36.00mm
B = 43.00mm to 44.00mm
C = 126.00mm to 127.00mm

IMPORTANT NOTE:

Get the freewheel side perfect as possible. That side must be correct.

Hold the hub and ruler "vertically" when reading your results to get a good read.

Use the non-drive side as your "buffer", "fudge" or "play loose" side in order to get "C". "C" doesn't have to be perfect. Most of my 6/7 Speed rears end up being 126.50mm when I'm done.

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Old 06-10-12, 02:32 AM
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Originally Posted by rjhammett
I think I am going to stick with the 5 cog freewheel. This will be my #5 bike so it is no big deal. I thought if I could slip on a 6 speed freewheel with no issues I would do that. My main concern was whether there would be any issues going from a 5 to a 6 as far as the derailleur was concerned. I recently sold my 1973 Raleigh Grand Sports that had a 5 speed freewheel. It worked out just fine. I am replacing the freewheel because it has a little wobble. I might try it out and see how it rides but will probably just replace it. Thanks to all for the info.
Are you sure it's the freewheel that is wobbling and not the hub? Most freewheel wobble is caused by the hub shell machining work.

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Old 06-10-12, 02:33 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
The argument about re-dishing the wheel isn't necessarily money. My argument against re-dishing a 30-40 year old wheel, is that there may be a number of frozen nipples, so there's a good chance that what seems like a straight forward job could turn into a nightmare.

Whether having an extra gear is worth $30.00, is up to the OP, but whether it's practical may be out of his hands.
Always valid concerns when trying to re-work an old wheel...

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Old 06-10-12, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by mrrabbit
Are you sure it's the freewheel that is wobbling and not the hub? Most freewheel wobble is caused by the hub shell machining work.

=8-)
It is the freewheel. I grabbed both sides of the axle and tried tried to move it side to side and there was no play at all. When I grabbed the freewheel and tried to move it side to side there was some play.
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Old 06-10-12, 09:51 AM
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You might find that the wheel is actually dished with space for a 6-speed freewheel. My 5-speed is set up this way, with a small spacer behind the freewheel to centralise it. If this is the case, you should be able to switch to a 6-speed without difficulty, and there may even be space for 7 as these are only slightly wider than 6.
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Old 06-10-12, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by rjhammett
It is the freewheel. I grabbed both sides of the axle and tried tried to move it side to side and there was no play at all. When I grabbed the freewheel and tried to move it side to side there was some play.
All freewheels when slightly worn will have a very slight touch of play - freehubs as well.

I wasn't pointing out internals - I was pointing out hub shell machining...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI6JxL-zjXc&feature=plcp

=8-)
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4. I will provide information as I always have to others that I believe will help them protect themselves from unscrupulous mechanics.
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Old 06-10-12, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
The answer as to whether you can fit a 5s/6u or a 7s/6s freewheel really depends on the freewheel width allowed on the hub's spacing. 126mm is typical rear axle width for 7s, so certainly a 7s or standard 6s freewheel can fit. But if the hub is currently spaced for a 5s you won't be able to use a standard 6 or 7 freewheel without moving spacers and re-dishing the wheel. Whether that's worth it, or even possible, depends on the condition of the spokes and nipples, and what you're willing to spend.
I'm curious. I know that at least Campy hubs, at least through 7 speed are usually the same width (flange to flange). When I have bought hubs NOS they are always spaced according to the axle width. Would one not assume (you want to measure to confirm) if the OP has 126mm dropouts, that the hub was spaced for a 6-7 speed freewheel?
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Old 06-10-12, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by rjhammett
It is the freewheel. I grabbed both sides of the axle and tried tried to move it side to side and there was no play at all. When I grabbed the freewheel and tried to move it side to side there was some play.
You are using the wrong evidence to come to an incorrect conclusion, and are addressing a problem that is either non-existent or not related. As the person you responded to noted, the wobble is due to the hub shell, and freewheel play is normal as well. If the machining of the shell where the freewheel seats is not exactly perpendicular to the axle at all points the freewheel will wobble. I would argue that the play/float in the freewheel could possibly cause the wobble to be somewhat less. Any play in the freewheel or hub will evidence itself in a random fashion, and I would bet that the wobble you notice happens at exactly one time per revolution and always at the same spot on the rotation of the wheel (not the freewheel).

The other point made is that freewheel wobble is normal. It does not adversely affect performance. If you are having no shift problems there is no reason to address the wobble anyway, and if you are there is a different problem than the freewheel.

Last edited by cny-bikeman; 06-10-12 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 06-10-12, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker
I'm curious. I know that at least Campy hubs, at least through 7 speed are usually the same width (flange to flange). When I have bought hubs NOS they are always spaced according to the axle width. Would one not assume (you want to measure to confirm) if the OP has 126mm dropouts, that the hub was spaced for a 6-7 speed freewheel?
I posted a chart above earlier...pay attention.

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