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Freewheel Brands

Old 10-14-21, 11:05 AM
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Freewheel Brands

I am looking to replace a 13-24 6sp freewheel on one of my bikes with at 13-26. I WAS going to just swap the 21t and 24t cogs for a 22t and 26t that I bought by accident a while back, but the small cog just is not moving, even with my considerable weight pushing on the two chainwhips. So, the easiest solution is to buy a new (to me) 13-26 freewheel. I was hoping for a Shimano, because that's what's on there now, but what I can find is a lot of 13-19, 13-21, etc, or 14-28. So I'm looking at other brands, but I don't have a clue as to quality. So, what are the brands of freewheels that are high quality, and would screw onto a Shimano 6207 hub? And what brands are best avoided?
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Old 10-14-21, 11:48 AM
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I have a IRD Cyclone that I have yet to mount, but I have heard that the design flaws they had in previous iterations have been addressed in these newest freewheels. And, it's a 13-26:

https://www.modernbike.com/product-2...kaAk22EALw_wcB

I'd also recommend Sunrace, which I am currently using, but I'm pretty sure they do not have a 13-26.

I see DNP for sale everywhere, but opinions range from "these are great" to "mine exploded after five miles," and both opinions are well represented, so I have not tried one.
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Old 10-14-21, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
I am looking to replace a 13-24 6sp freewheel on one of my bikes with at 13-26. I WAS going to just swap the 21t and 24t cogs for a 22t and 26t that I bought by accident a while back, but the small cog just is not moving, even with my considerable weight pushing on the two chainwhips. So, the easiest solution is to buy a new (to me) 13-26 freewheel. I was hoping for a Shimano, because that's what's on there now, but what I can find is a lot of 13-19, 13-21, etc, or 14-28. So I'm looking at other brands, but I don't have a clue as to quality. So, what are the brands of freewheels that are high quality, and would screw onto a Shimano 6207 hub? And what brands are best avoided?
Is it for the Ironman you posted in the IM thread? Suntour made good freewheels, but they can be hard to find. If you can't find a 13-26, the stock RD will work with a 13-28. For verification, start at page 331, post 8269 in the IM thread. I was doing various "how tos" during the COVID lull of 2020. Lots of useful IM info posted during that time.

Last edited by seypat; 10-14-21 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 10-14-21, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Is it for the Ironman you posted in the IM thread? Suntour made good freewheels, but they can be hard to find. If you can't find a 13-26, the stock RD will work with a 13-28. For verification, start at page 331, post 8269 in the IM thread. I was doing various "how tos" during the COVID lull of 2020. Lots of useful IM info posted during that time.
Yes. My standard "rolling" route has a couple steep pitches the 42 x24 is just not enough for.
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Old 10-14-21, 12:37 PM
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If your spacing would allow a 7 speed, Sunrace has a 13-28 and a 13-25:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/25514895844...cAAOSwwINhTc-c

https://www.ebay.com/itm/11504441437...0AAOSwPZ5hZvI4
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Old 10-14-21, 01:03 PM
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If you buy a Sunrace, try to get one of the all-chrome models. Their 7-speeds are easier to find than the 6-speeds.

Good deal at under $22 shipped!
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Old 10-14-21, 01:24 PM
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I kinda want to stick with 6 speed, though since I replaced the busted and non-original 6208 SIS shifters with correct 6207 friction shifters, that's not such a big deal. That's assuming that a 7 speed freewheel will fit in the same space as a 6? 126mm spacing, 6207 hubs.
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Old 10-14-21, 03:34 PM
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My experience is that there really is no high quality option for freewheels anymore.

IRD: I have one that does not show much wear, is clean, etc. Six speed 13-26, I believe. It spins like it's full of heavy, heavy grease or something. I disassembled it, cleaned it (there was no heavy grease) and inspected. I immediately noticed that the pawl spring tension seemed much too high. Depressing the pawls took too much pressure. Lubed and reassembled the thing is all friction. Not impressed. What I've gathered from looking into these is that the failures had to do with pawl issues. Not surprised. It sits in a box.

Sunrace: They use Hyperglide style cogs, so shifting is usually very smooth. Priced way more reasonably than IRD. Had a recent issue with a noisy, clunky freewheel - 14-26 I think. Sent a video of the issue to Sunrace and they replaced it. I opened up the noisy freewheel to inspect and found that the pawls did not match each other dimensionally. I also found that the body itself that the cogs slide onto looked like it was made on extremely worn out dies or something. Very poor mating surface quality. This was a new unit. Customer service was good.

Neither of these match the Suntour, Shimano, Atom, vintage stuff that I've serviced. Shimano seems to be the best of the current offerings, but gearing is limited.

Last edited by BFisher; 10-14-21 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 10-14-21, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
My experience is that there really is no high quality option for freewheels anymore.

IRD: I have one that does not show much wear, is clean, etc. Six speed 13-26, I believe. It spins like it's full of heavy, heavy grease or something. I disassembled it, cleaned it (there was no heavy grease) and inspected. I immediately noticed that the pawl spring tension seemed much too high. Depressing the pawls took too much pressure. Lubed and reassembled the thing is all friction. Not impressed. What I've gathered from looking into these is that the failures had to do with pawl issues. Not surprised. It sits in a box.
Is yours the newest model, the Cyclone? It would be marked with "Cyclone Mk I" if so. Either way, I do agree with you -- it's very easy to feel the difference when you spin one of these or a Sunrace against a solidly built vintage Suntour.
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Old 10-14-21, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by noobinsf View Post
Is yours the newest model, the Cyclone? It would be marked with "Cyclone Mk I" if so. Either way, I do agree with you -- it's very easy to feel the difference when you spin one of these or a Sunrace against a solidly built vintage Suntour.
The marking on mine reads "Interloc Racing Design Precision Bearings - FW."
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Old 10-14-21, 04:42 PM
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My favorite is Sachs. If you can't get one of those, try Atom. Make sure it is English-threaded.
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Old 10-14-21, 08:51 PM
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I only got 1000 miles on a recent make Shimano 7-speed before it started to make annoying click noises under load. YMMV, but I was not impressed.

Id agree with the general sentiment that, like vacuum tubes, current production doesnt compare to the high quality products made when they were state of the art.

Edit: White Industries is probably an exception, but they only make single and double speed freewheels.

Otto

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Old 10-15-21, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
I only got 1000 miles on a recent make Shimano 7-speed before it started to make annoying click noises under load. YMMV, but I was not impressed. Otto
Especially to be avoided are the Shimano beginning with "MF-TZ". No comparison to a Suntour Winner, etc.
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Old 10-15-21, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
I only got 1000 miles on a recent make Shimano 7-speed before it started to make annoying click noises under load. YMMV, but I was not impressed.

Otto
Ditto. My Shimano 13-28 7-speed freewheel started clicking after at most a few hundred miles. I put the original Suntour 13-24 six speed back on and the bike smooth and silent.
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Old 10-15-21, 09:20 AM
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I picked up a Shimano 6208 6 speed freewheel in 13-26 off Ebay. I may have overpaid, but what are hen's teeth and unicorn horns worth? It matches the generation of 600 groupset that's on the bike, which I like.

But thanks for the info! I saw a number of Atom freewheels on Ebay, but didn't know anything about them, and of course tons of Shimano MF-TZ freewheels, which I now know to avoid!
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Old 10-15-21, 11:21 PM
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Ditto the SunRace MFR30 (7-speed 13-25) and MFM30 (7-speed 13-28) chromed freewheels. I've been riding those for a few years, no problems. They shift and run better than my Suntour and Shimano freewheels. Better tooth shapes. The chromed finish resists wear and mine show no sign of significant wear after thousands of miles. They work equally well on my Suntour GPX Accushift system on one bike, and Shimano SIS shifters with 600 Tricolor/Ultegra setup on another.

Cog spacing might not be identical to Suntour and Shimano, but any very slight misalignment is limited to one cog per system and the slick chromed finish minimizes any slight chain rub. There's no clatter like the chain wants to jump cogs. Following the Suntour and Shimano instructions for aligning the rear derailleur works fine with the SunRace freewheels.

The black carbon steel SunRace 7-speed 14-28 freewheel is just oh-kay. It's adequate for my seldom ridden heavy comfort hybrid errand bike, but not to the standard of the MFR30 and MFM30. It wobbles slightly, like my entry level Shimano freewheel. Functional but not great.

SunRace freewheels have nearly doubled in price since 2017, mostly due to the pandemic economic shortages/supply chain issues, but are still very good values.

I have some older Suntour Alpha 7-speed 13-24 and 13-26 freewheels, which I'm keeping in case nothing else is available. The tooth shape isn't as refined as the SunRace so they don't shift as crisply in index mode. I suspect the squared off teeth tend to make chains hang for a split second before shifting abruptly with a rather loud clacking as the rear derailleur cage snaps back to position. But they're fine in friction mode and well made overall.

Oddly, the SunRace MFR30 and MFM30 freewheels are a bit finicky in friction mode. My best guess is the teeth shaped for optimal index shifting tend to want to shift too easily with any slight misalignment in friction mode, making shifter trim more critical. It's a minor issue, just one I've noticed trying these SunRace freewheels with friction shifting using a set of Shimano L422 Light Action friction shifters for a month or so last year.
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Old 10-16-21, 01:19 AM
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I only buy Sunrace. Have them on multiple bikes, thousands of miles and zero issues. They look good and with ramped teeth they shift great, especially with friction shifters. The advantages outweigh the one negative limited gearing option.If they doubled the price I'd still buy them. I'll never buy a freewheel without ramped teeth again. I don't like the Shimano freewheel, it looks like crap with the black big cog and huge Shimano logo.
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Old 10-16-21, 01:57 AM
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Yeah, my only gripe about SunRace is they don't make a cassette equivalent to their 7-speed freewheels. I have a couple of 7-speed SunRace cassettes, but they all have an 11 or 12 tooth small cog. I don't have any need for that. I prefer the better spacing of a 13-25 or 13-28, or at most a 12-25. Some of the cog jumps in the 11-28 SunRace 7-speed cassette are awkward. Same good quality as their freewheels. I just don't care for the spacing between the 11T and larger cogs.
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Old 10-16-21, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Yeah, my only gripe about SunRace is they don't make a cassette equivalent to their 7-speed freewheels. I have a couple of 7-speed SunRace cassettes, but they all have an 11 or 12 tooth small cog. I don't have any need for that. I prefer the better spacing of a 13-25 or 13-28, or at most a 12-25. Some of the cog jumps in the 11-28 SunRace 7-speed cassette are awkward. Same good quality as their freewheels. I just don't care for the spacing between the 11T and larger cogs.
On cassettes, every manufacturer does seem fascinated with 11T or 12T cogs, which work for me only with reduced-size chainrings. I run 13T and 14T high gear cogs on all of my freewheel-equipped road bikes, and I cobbled together various cogs from two cassettes to create the 46-38-26 / 12-13-15-17-19-21-24-28 1.5-step-plus-granny gearing on my mountain bike. (22-25 would have been better, but I didn't have a 25T cog.)
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Old 10-16-21, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by noobinsf View Post
I have a IRD Cyclone that I have yet to mount, but I have heard that the design flaws they had in previous iterations have been addressed in these newest freewheels. And, it's a 13-26:

https://www.modernbike.com/product-2...kaAk22EALw_wcB

I'd also recommend Sunrace, which I am currently using, but I'm pretty sure they do not have a 13-26.

...
I am glad to see a 26T freewheel again on the new market, because some derailleur/hanger combinations cannot accommodate 28T, and 24T has always been a little too stiff for me on hilly rides. (I did run 54-44/14-16-18-21-24 on the Los Angeles Wheelmen Double Century, but "I was so much [younger] then; I'm [older] than that now.") I just wish this one had a 22T instead of the 21T in the second gear position, for a better ratio progression. Back in the days of 5-speed freewheels, I often used 14-16-19-22-26 with a 4-tooth drop up front, and 13-15-17-19-22-26 would be a logical move to 6 speeds with a 3-tooth chainring difference. The 13-15-17-20-23-26 stock "ultra" spaced freewheel I put on my UO-8 works well with 45-42 up front.
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Old 10-16-21, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
I only got 1000 miles on a recent make Shimano 7-speed before it started to make annoying click noises under load. YMMV, but I was not impressed.

Id agree with the general sentiment that, like vacuum tubes, current production doesnt compare to the high quality products made when they were state of the art.

Edit: White Industries is probably an exception, but they only make single and double speed freewheels.

Otto
It's too bad the US military doesn't have any need for freewheels...
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Old 10-18-21, 08:16 PM
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Recently, I purchased a Miyata that came with the original Suntour 6 speed freewheel and a newer 8 speed chain. Even though I cleaned and lubricated the freewheel and chain, the shifting was still awful! It took a few seconds to settle into some gears. I am not sure this was due to the square shaped teeth not mating well with a newer chain or the worn freewheel - though I did not see excessive wear on the teeth of the freewheel. I had the same issue with another 6 speed freewheel a long time ago, and since then, I always preferred a newer 7 and 8 speed system - I made an exception for this Miyata. I gave in and purchased a new 6 speed Sunrace freewheel. With the Sunrace freewheel, the shifting is smooth (though the freewheel itself is a little loud). Perhaps, I should not expect a vintage 6 speed system to shift like a more modern 7/8 speed system? How do I check if my freewheel is worn? The freewheel looks ok to me, as noted in the thread, that would be an evidence of the quality. But I could not make the shifting to work so I do not quite understand the praises for vintage freewheels in this thread. If you have any ideas or suggestions on why the original Suntour freewheel shifted poorly, please let me know. Here's the picture of the freewheels:

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Old 10-18-21, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by so-ichiro View Post
Recently, I purchased a Miyata that came with the original Suntour 6 speed freewheel and a newer 8 speed chain. Even though I cleaned and lubricated the freewheel and chain, the shifting was still awful! It took a few seconds to settle into some gears. I am not sure this was due to the square shaped teeth not mating well with a newer chain or the worn freewheel - though I did not see excessive wear on the teeth of the freewheel. I had the same issue with another 6 speed freewheel a long time ago, and since then, I always preferred a newer 7 and 8 speed system - I made an exception for this Miyata. I gave in and purchased a new 6 speed Sunrace freewheel. With the Sunrace freewheel, the shifting is smooth (though the freewheel itself is a little loud). Perhaps, I should not expect a vintage 6 speed system to shift like a more modern 7/8 speed system? How do I check if my freewheel is worn? The freewheel looks ok to me, as noted in the thread, that would be an evidence of the quality. But I could not make the shifting to work so I do not quite understand the praises for vintage freewheels in this thread. If you have any ideas or suggestions on why the original Suntour freewheel shifted poorly, please let me know. Here's the picture of the freewheels:

That Suntour freewheel looks fine, hardly worn at all. Save it, you might want to try it again later or on another bike project. Good older freewheels won't be getting easier to find.

As I've described before, in my experience with that type of Suntour freewheel and Suntour index shifting systems, the shifting is a bit more finicky to set up. Suntour acknowledged this in their tech manuals, with fairly detailed instructions for repair techs to optimize the setup for indexed shifting systems. And Shimano quickly surpassed Suntour with index shifting setups, so by the early to mid 1990s Suntour was out of the game.

Sometimes a different chain can help. KMC offers a variety of chains with various sideplate shapes, ranging from rather squared off, to those with bevels, etc., to ease index shifting.

My best guess with the original Suntour GPX Accushift system on my 1989 Ironman: the squared off side plates of the original Suntour chain, and the squarish shaped teeth on the original Suntour Alpha 13-24 freewheel, would cause the chain to hang against the freewheel cog teeth for a split second, pivoting the rear derailleur cage under spring pressure, just for a moment. Then it would snap into position rather loudly.

So I tried a few replacement bits and pieces and found the SunRace MFR30 and MFM30 freewheels and KMC Z72 chain had just enough beveled/chamfered edges to ease the shifts and avoid that momentary hanging. Index shifts were crisp, smooth and quieter. The clicking sound of the downtube shifter lever is the only sound I hear now.

With friction shifting I could finesse the shifts to avoid this. But I liked the index shifting. And while the GPX Accushift downtube levers do have an optional friction mode, it doesn't work as well as good quality dedicated friction shifters.

A year or so ago, for a month or two, I installed a set of Shimano L-422 Light Action friction shifters on my Ironman, with the original Suntour Alpha 13-24 (or 13-26) freewheel. Those are similar to retroshift shifters, with internal springs to balance the feel in both directions. And they work just fine with derailleurs other than the original Shimano Light Action derailleurs. No problems with that setup. But I still prefer index shifting now that I'm accustomed to it, so I put the Ironman back into mostly original configuration, other than the SunRace freewheel and KMC chain.

I'm saving the original Suntour freewheels and the Shimano L-422 shifters for another project. It'll still be fun to ride a bike comparable to my first road bike, a 1976 or '77 Motobecane with friction shifters.
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Old 10-19-21, 05:07 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by so-ichiro View Post
Perhaps, I should not expect a vintage 6 speed system to shift like a more modern 7/8 speed system? ........... If you have any ideas or suggestions on why the original Suntour freewheel shifted poorly, please let me know.
I do expect a vintage 6spd system to shift nicely and my 6 bikes with such do shift great. Mostly Suntour FWs with a couple Shimano units. Generally 14 - 28t clusters. I also use SRAM 830 and 850 chains with no issues. However I will suggest one thought.

I work part time at an LBS and I see a LOT of misaligned/bent RD hangers. I've therefore realigned a lot of hangers and seen the improvement in shift and shifting response from that - both friction and indexed systems. I'm pretty fussy about alignments on my own bikes and I'm convinced that has been worth the time. So, be sure your RDs hanger is aligned. If you don't have the tools (eye balling this will not get you there) and experience ask your LBS to do it. At our shop that should cost $10 for aligning the hanger and $17 for adjusting the RD afterwards.

BTW: your Suntour FW looks fine to me too but I'd need to also use my cog checker to be sure.

Lastly: I recently had a lot of bother with one Suntour FW. Mostly shifted well but the shift between two particular cogs was way too fussy. After all sorts of checking and testing I finally took the FW apart. Found that the spacer between those two cogs had been installed wrong. Fixed that and we were "off to the races". So stay open minded and careful what you assume.
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Old 10-19-21, 07:17 AM
  #25  
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Just for clarity, my comments were directed more at internal parts precision, not at shift performance. While I did have that experience with Sunrace, which they made good on without hassle, I also have several other freewheels from them and they function fine. Bad stuff gets through in mass production. Still, I wouldn't put them in the same class as some of the older Suntour, Shimano, Sachs, and others in terms of overall quality. Competition in the freewheel market just isn't what it was.
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