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Advice wanted on chains and frewheels / clusters

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Advice wanted on chains and frewheels / clusters

Old 09-03-15, 06:16 AM
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Vintage Raleigh
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Advice wanted on chains and frewheels / clusters

Hi all have found another bike to play with - a mid 70's Olive green Grand Prix, missing pedals, seat and tyres everything else original - as far as I can tell.

Will post pics when I pick up but in the meantime I need some advice on chains & freewheels as they will undoubtedly need replacing at some point.

Am assuming it has English threaded Normandy hubs so are there any decent new manufacturers of freewheels and chains that work together that I can keep buying as needed? Will have to do the same or similar set up for the international when that's finished too.

Do I have to go nos for everything (which I want to avoid because it's unlikely to find a reliable source) back in the day all the half decent chains and freewheels worked with Campagnolo or simplex derailleurs so never had a problem running an Atom / Regina/ Winner etc freewheel and Regina / Reynolds etc chain.

Concerned more with robustness over weight reduction and consistency.
Are all new chains narrower and therefore prone to wear compared to the standard chain for a 10 speed bike back in the 70s?

Does anyone make a standard robust chain these days or are they all narrow to suit up to 7 speed cassettes?
Brands - KMC? Wippemann?

Same for modern freewheels do they distinguish between English and Italian threads?

Brands? IRD? Sunrace? What are these like?

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by Vintage Raleigh; 09-03-15 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 09-03-15, 06:52 AM
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All modern freewheels are made with ISO threading. Since I'm guessing that the bike was originally a 5 speed, there are plenty of 5 speed freewheels available. Amazon is just one place.

SRAM's and KMC's 8 speed chains work really well with 5-6-7 speed freewheels and seem to hold up very well. Many of us use them. But as you can see, there are plenty of 5-6 speed chains as well.

Realistically, if you take the time to service your freewheels and chains at least annually or about every 1000 miles, they will last a very long time. I know some folks like to just remove and trash, but I'm of the opinion that if a drivetrain is properly cleaned and lubed on a regular basis, it will provide great performing service for years, if not decades, depending on use.

Personally, I remove my freewheels and chains once a year or every 1000 miles. I remove the sprockets from the body and clean all the accumulated oil and road dirt from each one. The chain goes in the ultrasonic cleaner, to the oven for drying, and finally receives a drop of lube on each bearing. The chainrings are removed and cleaned like the sprockets. The RD & FD come off the bike and each is cleaned in the ultrasonic. Pivot points are lubed, the RD wheel and pulley are freshly greased.

Of course I have a long winter here in the mountains of NH and I have time to do such work. But if you have at least two bikes, to have one out of commission for the several hours such work takes, should be of no consequence.

P.S. You don't have to own an ultrasonic cleaner to do any of this work. Old toothbrushes and Dawn detergent work just as well!
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Old 09-03-15, 06:52 AM
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KMC Z33: 5 or 6 speed. KMC Z50: 6 or 7 speed (and since 8 speed spacing is almost identical to 7 speed, some might use it on 8 speed).

I buy Z33 chain on line for less than $5, and Z50 for less than $6. KMC makes good chain. Sheldon explains freewheel threading quite well. I consider new freewheels to be interchangeable. I make my choice based on asthetics and cost (basic Shimanos are double ugly IMHO, black and gold).
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Old 09-03-15, 02:03 PM
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Side note: I've been using 9 and/or 10 speed chains on all of my friction shifting bikes for over a year now and have nothing but good things to say about it. When paired with a set of Bullseye or Shimano jockey wheels and a Shimano UG freewheel, the shifting on Campagnolo Super Record/Nuovo Record with late 70's/early 80's patent dates is, quite literally, like buttah.

Do not yet have enough experience with using narrower chains on indexed systems to give that an unqualified recommendation, but thus far the results have also been quite favorable.
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Old 09-03-15, 02:47 PM
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Sunrace freewheels, KMC X8.93 chains
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Old 09-03-15, 03:08 PM
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sunrace freewheels, sram pc83 chains -- both 'buy-it-now' from ebay.

if you get a freewheel with writing on the largest cog, you can use acetone to remove the writing.
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Old 09-04-15, 05:15 AM
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Hi thankyou for your input eschlwc, nfmisso, rccardr, wrk101 & pastorbobnlnh.

So the consensus seems to be the sunrace freewheel with which various chains work fine.

I have a couple more questions -
• Opinions on IRD freewheels?
• Will an ISO threaded freewheel damage / work better on an Italian or English treaded hub (I still have wheels to build for the international and although my preference is for English, I might end up with an Italian threaded hub and don't want any long term issues with a Record hub)
• Pastor Bob - last time I pulled apart a freewheel it had two long pieces of spring wire with two ratchets and a million tiny steel balls, and that's where it ended. I figured I needed a special tool to hold the ratchets and spring wire in place like some kind of double palette knife and them lower the cogs over. Anyway it never eventuated so I just bought new ones as needed. I'm interested in your opinion on a 40yo freewheel and chain and whether it will hold up to normal daily riding after being decommissioned for I don't know how long as the bike was found, given to a friend who sold it to me.

Thankyou all in advance, Matthew.
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Old 09-04-15, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Vintage Raleigh View Post
Hi thankyou for your input eschlwc, nfmisso, rccardr, wrk101 & pastorbobnlnh.

• Pastor Bob - last time I pulled apart a freewheel it had two long pieces of spring wire with two ratchets and a million tiny steel balls, and that's where it ended. I figured I needed a special tool to hold the ratchets and spring wire in place like some kind of double palette knife and them lower the cogs over. Anyway it never eventuated so I just bought new ones as needed. I'm interested in your opinion on a 40yo freewheel and chain and whether it will hold up to normal daily riding after being decommissioned for I don't know how long as the bike was found, given to a friend who sold it to me.

Thankyou all in advance, Matthew.
Sounds as if you pulled apart an old Regina. They used a wire push spring before evolving into a flat leaf push spring to engage the pawls. There are other freewheel manufacturers which used this method as well, but they used a better mount for their pawls (see the picture of a Suntour Perferct body below).



On the wire push spring bodies I use waxed dental floss to hold the pawls in a compressed position in order to mate the outer body to the inner body. I pull the ends of the floss through the top opening of the outer body. After the two bodies are in place, I hold them in place against the counter top and carefully pull one end of the floss, which slips out the top. The Regina body below uses the leaf push springs. I can now mate the two halves without using the floss, but this shows what I'm describing.



I've worked on many freewheels and chains, and as far as a 40 yo ones are concerned, yes they can be considered reliable. But sometimes they do need to be permanently retired. If you are interested PM me and I'll tell you how I might be able to help.
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