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What Would Sheldon Do? A 5 Speed Freewheel Morality Thread

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What Would Sheldon Do? A 5 Speed Freewheel Morality Thread

Old 04-28-22, 05:57 PM
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uncle uncle
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What Would Sheldon Do? A 5 Speed Freewheel Morality Thread

So... here's the the background... you have a workhorse rider from the days of the golden age of 5 speed freewheels (namely, the 70's) and it's time to give that old steed a new drivetrain. What would you go with? What do think Sheldon would go with (if he were still here)? I kinda want your specifics, as in "I'd still ride 5 speeds, with a Shimano 14-28 freewheel, and KMC Z6 speed chain, because I'm notoriously thrifty and it's a pancake topography here". Or, "I'm going to spread the chainstays, and slip a 7 speed IRD 12-32 in there, with an 8 speed SRAM PC-830 chain, because I'm all about Minimal Gains". Like that. What do you got?
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Old 04-28-22, 06:03 PM
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You don't have to guess what St. Sheldon would do. He already told you what to do:
There are narrower ("Ultra") 6-speed versions, with overhang of 2mm to 3mm as shown in the photo below. These fit 6 sprockets into the space made for 5, and as mentioned are compatible with Shimano 7-speed indexing
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/suntour-freewheel.html
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Old 04-28-22, 06:07 PM
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Personally, I keep fivers as they are anymore

Let's see; my Super Course and my humble Humber are both 2x5. One uses a TDC with very low mileage, and the other an Atom. One is Campy Nuovo Gran Sport, the other Huret Allvit.
I use new production chains.
In the event I need a new freewheel, I'll go NOS vintage (if the price is good), or something brand new from Shimano or Sunrace. I won't buy an IRD.

If I want that extra gear or two (or more), I just ride one of my other bikes.
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Old 04-28-22, 06:31 PM
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The steepest local climbs top out at a 10% grade so 52/42, 14-28 or 14-26 works fine for me. Also you could go with a crank that lets you run smaller rings. I need to build up a 70s Mercier 300 this summer. I'll run a 13-28 ultra 6 in the rear and a 48/34 using a stronglight 99 crank.
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Old 04-28-22, 06:35 PM
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Assuming you are keeping it friction

Does the current gearing meet your needs?

yes: put a 6 speed free wheel (check with pastorbobinhn) on it, any sram/shimano/Kmc 6/7/8 speed chain if you need or want find a matching front, rear deraillers and nice double crankset (treat the beast to some bling)

no: spread the stays (not hard using sheldon's method... I did 126 to 135 on 82 nishki https://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-spacing.html put that ird 12 - 32 on, and put a nice triple up front, with a deore rear derailler of some vintage (new or old)
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Old 04-28-22, 06:39 PM
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sheldon also might put a 3 speed hub, with a 7 speed freewheel and 3 ring crank go for it


https://www.sheldonbrown.com/org/otb.html

63 Speeds

The O.T.B. currently sports a Sturmey-Archer AW 3-speed hub, with 7 sprockets, driven by 3 chainwheels: 3 x 7 x 3 = 63. When people hear that I have built a 63-speed bicycle, the first question they ask is "do you really need all those gears?"

The answer, of course, is "no.", but I don't actually need all the gears on a ten speed either. In fact, most of my riding is done on one-speed (fixed-gear) bikes. Nobody needs 63 gears, but it was an interesting and amusing mechanical challenge to put it together, and it does give a very wide range, with close spacing between ratios. There are probably gears that this bike has never actually been ridden in!

Actually, I guess I was just ahead of my time, because a similar setup is now offered by Sachs, a 3-speed hub which is designed to take a 7-sprocket cassette. Nevertheless, as far as I know, I am the first to succeed in getting 7-sprockets to work on a Sturmey-Archer hub!

The toughest challenge of this was getting enough axle length. I used the longest Sturmey-Archer axle available, but even that was far too short for a normal installation on the right side. I used a conical countersink drill bit to countersink a hole into the adaptor claw, then I bevelled the edges of the special axle nut so that they would fit into the countersink. This only gives 5 or 6 threads of engagement, but since the countersinking prevents the axle from being able to slide forward, that is enough. Axles on internal-gear hubs have a tendency to rotate if not secured solidly, so I took extra pains on the left side to use the appropriate anti-rotation washer, and two nuts, both tightened quite snugly.

The cluster is a Sun Tour "Ultra 6" unit, which is threaded onto a threaded (old-style) Sturmey-Archer driver. This means of attachment leaves the freewheel rather far from the spokes, so far that there is room for a seventh sprocket. I have mounted the extra sprocket by bolting it (a 28 tooth) to the 24 tooth sprocket on the freewheel. (On my 54-speed tandem, I did a similar modification, turning a 5-speed 14-28 freewheel into a 6-speed 14-36, using an old T.A. chain ring as a rear sprocket.
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Old 04-28-22, 07:06 PM
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I’m kinda a gear calc nerd and strive for even gear spacing. It isn’t always easy getting nice gaps with a six speed. 5 speeds however seem to make it pretty easy. I even converted my 1983 Trek 700 from a 12 speed to a 10 speed. Don’t tell anyone.
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Old 04-28-22, 07:38 PM
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It is extremely hilly (with some extremely steep grades...) where I live, my knees ain't getting any younger & I find I've got a fairly narrow (and fast) cadence 'sweet spot' so.... My PX-10 got spread to 126, 7sp freewheel fits*, triplized the Stronglight 93, KMC 8sp chain, the SLJ mechs play nice with it all. I love it.

*contemplated one from IRD, but in the end went cheap with a Sunrace.
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Old 04-28-22, 08:06 PM
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My IM of course came with a six speed , I had this Sun Tour 5speed sitting around and thought it would be cool .
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Old 04-28-22, 08:08 PM
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OPM - Other People's Money...

So many BF members are happy to spend other's money on upgrades!!!

Specs for "standard" 5 speed rear hubs and FWs: 5 Speed 24mm to 25mm wide (YMMV). 6 Speed Narrow ~2-3mm wider (YMMV)...



When I put together my bumble bee 1971-72 Motobecane Grand Record, I didn't have a decent French thread 5 speed FW in the range I wanted - 13 or 14-28T. The French standard widths were 96mm front and 122mm rear and my rear wheel was 122mm wide. I had an ATOM 77 COMPACT (narrow) 13-28T that did the job. It was a few MM wider that a standard 5 speed FW. The 122mm wide axle compensated for the extra width but... scroll down.





A frequent problem with older bikes was the chain could catch on the inside bottom of the seat stay when shifting up off the small sprocket. Ran into that on at least 30-35% of the new bikes we assembled back in the early 70's. The quick and dirty solution was to put 1 or 2 spacers behind the lock-nut on the DS of the rear axle which increased the width to 122-124mm . This also occurred when replacing or upgrading a FW on repairs. On better quality bikes we did what should have been done at the factory... file down the bottom of the seat stay for enough clearance.




The magic answer... SPREAD THE CHAIN STAYS! This usually results in the rear triangle being out of alignment with the center line of the rest of the frame. Check it before and after spreading and you will see what I mean.

Also, the rear dropouts should be realigned after spreading. I got an Uncle Ben that says a large percentage of frames were misaligned out of the factory!

I bought my set of Campy dropout tools in 1975... One of the best investment in bike tools that I ever made!


A cheap and easy way to do the same thing...



Several problems with just spreading the dropouts: the derailleur hanger can get out of alignment too although many were/are misaligned anyway. When the dropouts are angled inwards toward the front it can put uneven force on the cones. Since they are stationary, you'll find they're worn through the hard surface in one area not evenly around the race! It can also lead to axle breakage because it's always having to flex a little...



Some will say " I've been spreading rear triangles for years and never had a problem"... I've been fixing problems for years and checking the dropout and hanger alignment is one of the first troubleshooting I do!

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Old 04-28-22, 08:13 PM
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Modern 5 Speed FWs

One thing that I forgot to mention above, there are some new Asian made 5 Speed FWs on the market. A number of the ones that I've seen use a 6-7 Speed body with only 5 sprockets. I some cases the bodies are too wide to work with a 120mm wide rear hub... DOH!!!

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Old 04-28-22, 08:17 PM
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There is something just cool about a bike with 2 x 5 gearing. You have to think about the gear ratios and usually make compromises. Bikes with modern gearing just don't have that problem.
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Old 04-28-22, 08:39 PM
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Depends on the bike and my goals for that bike.

Do we only get one bike?
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Old 04-28-22, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
Depends on the bike and my goals for that bike.

Do we only get one bike?
No, not necessarily. I think if you have, or thought about having, more bikes set up with 5 speeds in the back, and you catered them w a freewheel/chain/crankset to meet a certain riding goal, then you could certainly talk about all of them.
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Old 04-28-22, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
sheldon also might put a 3 speed hub, with a 7 speed freewheel and 3 ring crank go for it


https://www.sheldonbrown.com/org/otb.html

63 Speeds

The O.T.B. currently sports a Sturmey-Archer AW 3-speed hub, with 7 sprockets, driven by 3 chainwheels: 3 x 7 x 3 = 63. When people hear that I have built a 63-speed bicycle, the first question they ask is "do you really need all those gears?"

The answer, of course, is "no.", but I don't actually need all the gears on a ten speed either. In fact, most of my riding is done on one-speed (fixed-gear) bikes. Nobody needs 63 gears, but it was an interesting and amusing mechanical challenge to put it together, and it does give a very wide range, with close spacing between ratios. There are probably gears that this bike has never actually been ridden in!

Actually, I guess I was just ahead of my time, because a similar setup is now offered by Sachs, a 3-speed hub which is designed to take a 7-sprocket cassette. Nevertheless, as far as I know, I am the first to succeed in getting 7-sprockets to work on a Sturmey-Archer hub!

The toughest challenge of this was getting enough axle length. I used the longest Sturmey-Archer axle available, but even that was far too short for a normal installation on the right side. I used a conical countersink drill bit to countersink a hole into the adaptor claw, then I bevelled the edges of the special axle nut so that they would fit into the countersink. This only gives 5 or 6 threads of engagement, but since the countersinking prevents the axle from being able to slide forward, that is enough. Axles on internal-gear hubs have a tendency to rotate if not secured solidly, so I took extra pains on the left side to use the appropriate anti-rotation washer, and two nuts, both tightened quite snugly.

The cluster is a Sun Tour "Ultra 6" unit, which is threaded onto a threaded (old-style) Sturmey-Archer driver. This means of attachment leaves the freewheel rather far from the spokes, so far that there is room for a seventh sprocket. I have mounted the extra sprocket by bolting it (a 28 tooth) to the 24 tooth sprocket on the freewheel. (On my 54-speed tandem, I did a similar modification, turning a 5-speed 14-28 freewheel into a 6-speed 14-36, using an old T.A. chain ring as a rear sprocket.
I'll see your 63 speeds and raise you by 18.

Quite honestly, I'm not sure whether Sheldon would have jumped all in, or would say that living in Kansas, the Author only needs one gear for upwind and one for downwind - which could be achieved by either a kickback hub, or by going with a single rear sprocket and a double, or a flip-flop. I think the key is to do something audacious and do it unapologetically. If the rear is to be spread, go to 130 and throw a 9-speed in there. One never knows when you may have to outsprint a pack of rowdy farm dogs, or get swept up in a tornado and find yourself in some far off land that has hills.



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Old 04-28-22, 09:15 PM
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I ride an old ten-speed road--bike a LOT and I don't have any problems with it. Being in some sort of shape helps. Having a triple crankset makes my 24-speed mountainbike more useful off-road, but when I ride it on the road I only use three or four of those 24 speeds. If you want an apple, pick one up, if you want an orange pick one up, it makes more sense than trying to turn an apple into an orange.
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Old 04-28-22, 09:38 PM
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My 120 spaced lifetime keeper is already 2x6 and I’ve stashed enough Ultra 6 freewheels to keep it that way for a very long time…
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Old 04-28-22, 10:16 PM
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Retro direct!

...anyone? no?
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Old 04-29-22, 04:38 AM
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Sheldon would go 5-speed indexed.
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Old 04-29-22, 05:28 AM
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My 2 cents:

Having recently retired, and now I find myself spending considerable time on the very flat (but often windy) GA coast, may I share my recent gearing change?

The bike I brought from NH to GA was geared with a Campy triple (50-42-30) and a six speed Ultra Suntour (13-32) freewheel. After a couple of months, I decided the freewheel and the lousy shifting Campy RD needed to be retired. I was always hunting for a correct gear in the rear and never finding one.

I replaced the RD with a short cage Shimano Crane and the Suntour was regeared to 14-16-18-20-22-24. Now I spend 90% of my time on the 18-20-22 in the rear and the 50 in the front, depending on the wind direction. When the wind is strong (15-20mph) I shift down to the 42 and primarily use the same three rear sprockets.

So my vote is to keep the 5 speed freewheel.
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Old 04-29-22, 05:34 AM
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Sheldon would have bought a Schwinn Sports Tourer . . .

Sheldon would have bought a 70s Schwinn Sports Tourer if he lived, like the OP does, in hilly Kansas. With 54/40 rings and a 14-34 freewheel, the gearing runs from a high of 104 inches to a low of 32. Not bad for 2 x 5 gearing. This is my '73 Sports Tourer.



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Old 04-29-22, 06:15 AM
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Keep it 5 speed. IRD makes a decent one. And Boulder Bicycles may have a 5 speed chain for you.
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Old 04-29-22, 06:48 AM
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In Grant Petersen's book Just Ride is a chapter titled "You have way too many gears". I think he's right, for most people. 2x5 is plenty of gears to ride your bike just about anywhere you want to go. We didn't lack for more gears back when that's all there was, when a "ten speed" was the pinnacle of bicycle engineering. We just rode our bikes and did just fine.

All that is to say that if it were me, I would keep the original configuration and enjoy the bike for what it was originally. I never understood the obsession with putting more gears on an older bike, even up to and including spreading the rear triangle. If you need (or want) more gears or a different configuration, that's why we have more than one bike.
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Old 04-29-22, 09:10 AM
  #24  
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I have converted my 2x5 UO-8 to 2x6 (superb 45-42/13-15-17-20-23-26 half-step), using a Shimano "ultra-width" freewheel, because with half step, or even 1.5 step, I don't get both the range and tight ratio progression I want on 2x5.
I did the same with the 1959 Capo (very nice 46-38/13-15-17-19-22-25 1.5-step), using a standard-width Regina America freewheel
My Bianchi was already 2x6 (52-42/13-23, too high for my tastes), so I simply changed the 2x6 sizes to 50-42/14-16-18-20-23-26, another very nice 1.5 step.
I am leaning toward keeping the "keep it original" Capo Sieger as a 2x5, leaning toward 49-45/14-16-19-23-26 or, if the Gran Sport will handle it (iffy!), 14-17-20-24-28. (45T is the smallest chainring the period-correct 3-piece 3x6 bolt Simplex spider adaptor will accommodate.)

The mountain bike was sold as a 3x6. I bought it used as a 3x7, and it is now a very satisfactory 3x8: 46-38-24 / 12-13-15-17-19-21-24-28. It does NOT have too many gears, Grant!
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Old 04-29-22, 09:17 AM
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I kept my '84 Roberts at 120 OLD but maxed the gear range with an ultra-6 13-34 and Stronglight 106 Tri 55/43/30. This works for me for riding with constantly changing gradients up to 25%. If I go elsewhere then it is easy to change the sprockets and chainrings.

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