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My Freewheel Can Whoop Your Cassette

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My Freewheel Can Whoop Your Cassette

Old 01-03-11, 11:36 AM
  #26  
Jose Mandez
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"They're only cheaper if you buy the crappy ones anyway, like the falcons or sunrace, or the awful looking brown colored shimano one with the black colored low gear cog."

Haha, that's funny, because I actually use one of those on one of my bikes. I guess I've put about 3000+ miles on it (including about 1,000 touring miles) and it seems to be holding its own. Could I have done better? Probably, but I'm sort of a cheapskate at heart (although now that I'm out of College and working, I'm a little less reluctant to fork over more dough for something that's higher quality).
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Old 01-03-11, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Jose Mandez View Post
Wow, 34-18 is a heckuva jump up/down for loaded touring. I myself get annoyed at the 34-24 jump that I currently have on my touring freewheel...but as long as it doesn't bother you, I guess that's all that matters. I just bought some NOS Shimano 600 7 speed FWs on ebay that are 14-34 with more evenly-spaced gearing.
Actually, the jump is from the big ring/big cog to the small ring/big cog, not from 18 to 34. So that would be 53/34 to 39/34. 53/34 is my second lowest gear, and the shift works really well. The hills around here are either rolling, or monster grades, so I very rarely use the 34, or the 28 on the International, but when I need it, I need it. I rarely even use my small chain ring except in conjunction with the 34 cog.
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Old 01-03-11, 11:44 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
...B. Nobody sells individual replacement cogs (which was part of the cassette concept in the first place)...
Really?

https://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...?category=1569

And over the years I've bent and broken enough fw rear axles to pay for a nice cassette rear hub. After using both setups for many years, I'll take the freehub/cassette option every time.

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Old 01-03-11, 11:45 AM
  #29  
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This thread may or may not turn into a holy war I use both freewheels and cassettes on my own bikes and work on both in a shop environment. My view is a little more skewed to the shop perspective.

In my opinion, separating the freewheel mechanism from the cog-set is useful. Most of the time, cassettes need replacing way before the freehub body ever does. It takes about 2 minutes to replace them. Freehub bodies can be overhauled and replaced as well if needed. Although this is not always the case.

It's also easy to source a variety of cassettes compared to the small selection of newly available multi-speed freewheels. Shimano and SunRace are pretty much the only game in town. SunRace are merely cheaper Shimano clones and IRD is making Shimano clones now too. You're pretty much limited to 11-28T 6,7s and 11-34T 7s Megarange type. The freewheels are not serviceable in a traditional manner. When the cogs wear, you need to replace the whole thing. Of course, some older freewheels are serviceable and you can find the replacement cogs on ebay if you're patient. For what it's worth, I've never seen a broken axel on a freehub/cassette. I've stopped counting the number of broken 126 axels I've run across. Granted, I don't always know the reason.

Pricing: Cassettes from SRAM or Shimano in the same quality level as what is available as a freewheel are so similar, it's not really worth debating imo. The difference generally about $5 for 7s and 8s. 9, 10, 11s is not worth talking about because there's no freewheel alternative.

Tooling: cassettes win hands down. Just to deal with the types of freewheels out there, a typical shop needs a half dozen freewheel removers and a decent vice. I don't think chainships are expensive, but you can make one using vice grips and a piece of old chain if you wish. Even the most corroded cassette usually just takes a squirt of penetrating fluid and a ratchet for the lockring tool. I've had to use a breaker-bar once on a cassette from a bike that was basically left outside for a couple years. Freewheels on bikes that are ridden regularly (especially if they're more than a few years old) require sticking the wheel and tool in a vice. Sometimes you need to soak in penetrating fluid first. If the threads on the hub are damaged, you've just opened up another can of worms.

Both have their place and I will always try to replace a freewheel with a similar freewheel before changing to a freehub/cassette. However, I think the convenience factor and availability factor side with cassettes.
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Old 01-03-11, 11:45 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post
I've spent more money cumulatively on freewheel tools than I have on cassette tools. I've got at least a half dozen freewheel tools vs. one chain whip and one lockring tool.

I don't pack either when I ride...
This is true, since SunTour went neck-to-neck with Shimano in the 80's FW market and then went out of business around the time cassettes were becoming popular, Shimano is pretty much the only game in town for cassettes (unless you count Campy). Hence, only one lockring tool needed for virtually every cassette on every modern bicycle, which I admit is a plus.

I have a long commute to work, so I prefer to carry the tools to fix things like that if I can, so that I don't have to ride 19 miles home with a broken spoke and risk messing up my wheel in the process. For a short commute, it probably wouldn't be as big of a deal to ride 2-3 miles with a broken spoke.
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Old 01-03-11, 11:49 AM
  #31  
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SRAM makes great cassettes and Sunrace has upped their quality a good deal.

And on cassettes... the lowest end Shimano HG cassette will perform as nicely as the higher priced models but just weighs more.
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Old 01-03-11, 11:51 AM
  #32  
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Chainwhips are cheap, and easy to make for free. I made my first one with a length of used chain and a stick of scrapwood. I've had loads of trouble in the past removing old freewheels that have become welded to the hub. Even at the bike coop where we have many freewheel tools onhand, I still occasionally run across one which cannot be reomoved with any of the tools we have and had to resort to destructive removal tactics involving beating them apart with an hammer and punch and smashing them in a bench vise. By contrast I have yet to ever have any trouble removing a cassette lock ring. I've also had tons of freewheels with bad dogs, but only ever had to replace one freehub body ( a six-speed dura ace) for that malady.

I've got both freewheel bikes and freehub bikes in my personal collectio and I wouldn't replace a good wheel just to convert a bike to cassette, but I also wouldn't consider freewheels superior in any meaningful way.

I've also never removed a freewheel on the road, and doubt I ever will. Even if I had the correct tool, I would not have an adequately long wrench or pry bar.
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Old 01-03-11, 11:57 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Jose Mandez View Post
This is true, since SunTour went neck-to-neck with Shimano in the 80's FW market and then went out of business around the time cassettes were becoming popular, Shimano is pretty much the only game in town for cassettes (unless you count Campy). Hence, only one lockring tool needed for virtually every cassette on every modern bicycle, which I admit is a plus.

I have a long commute to work, so I prefer to carry the tools to fix things like that if I can, so that I don't have to ride 19 miles home with a broken spoke and risk messing up my wheel in the process. For a short commute, it probably wouldn't be as big of a deal to ride 2-3 miles with a broken spoke.
Wow. You break spokes that often?? The last spoke I broke was on a 200km brevet 3 or 4 years ago, and I just rode it out (probably 50 miles), and replaced the spoke when I got home. No damage, no problems. And that was on a 20-year old, relatively light racing/training wheel.

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Old 01-03-11, 11:58 AM
  #34  
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I think I have every freewheel tool ever made... even have a 3 prong tool for some very old 3 speed blocks.

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Old 01-03-11, 12:05 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by bobbycorno View Post
Wow. You break spokes that often?? The last spoke I broke was on a 200km brevet 3 or 4 years ago, and I just rode it out (probably 50 miles), and replaced the spoke when I got home. No damage, no problems. And that was on a 20-year old, relatively light racing/training wheel.

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Not too often these days, actually. The last year or so I had kept breaking a lot of spokes (probably once every few months) in a rear wheel that was 20+ years old and had been ridden pretty hard. I've since replaced that wheel and have had better luck. I just like to be prepared...a few years ago I heard a horror story from my cousin while he was cycling the Blue Ridge trail...a friend of his on the ride broke a spoke, kept riding...then broke another, then another, then another, until he basically had to find a bike shop and get a new wheel. When I'm touring, especially, I carry at least 6-8 spare spokes and a spoke wrench.
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Old 01-03-11, 12:11 PM
  #36  
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"SRAM makes great cassettes and Sunrace has upped their quality a good deal.
And on cassettes... the lowest end Shimano HG cassette will perform as nicely as the higher priced models but just weighs more. "

I didn't realize that SRAM and Sunrace were also in the cassette market...So do SRAM and Sunrace have the same lockring removal tools as Shimano? I kind of assumed that something like that would be proprietary and not interchangeable between brand names.
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Old 01-03-11, 12:23 PM
  #37  
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SRAM does, I don't know about Sunrace, but they generally adopt the existing standards as they don't have the market clout to set their own.

Originally Posted by Jose Mandez View Post
"SRAM makes great cassettes and Sunrace has upped their quality a good deal.
And on cassettes... the lowest end Shimano HG cassette will perform as nicely as the higher priced models but just weighs more. "

I didn't realize that SRAM and Sunrace were also in the cassette market...So do SRAM and Sunrace have the same lockring removal tools as Shimano? I kind of assumed that something like that would be proprietary and not interchangeable between brand names.
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Old 01-03-11, 12:41 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by mattface View Post
I've got both freewheel bikes and freehub bikes in my personal collectio and I wouldn't replace a good wheel just to convert a bike to cassette, but I also wouldn't consider freewheels superior in any meaningful way.
Don't you also have to take a 2 x 4 to a classic 40 to 60-year old steel frame to update it to a cassette? Don't you have to toss all your cool looking Tipo hubs and expensive NR hubs?

I know we don't need another flame war here, but I don't get you nutso cassette people. It's not an update or conversion, it's a Drewing when it involves a vintage bike. I'd love to have 11 speed indexing, but the price is too high.
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Old 01-03-11, 01:20 PM
  #39  
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Thanks for the input, everybody. Maybe someday I'll get a cassette rear wheel and manufacture my own chain whip tool using an old chain and a wolf femur, but for now I'm sticking to the good ol' freewheel...
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Old 01-03-11, 02:03 PM
  #40  
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Really, all you need is an old chain. Wrap it on a cog, step on both ends, remove lockring.

I made my own out of a piece of aluminum I had and an old chain. Toytech graciously supplied the chain, too. But now it's a spare as my parents knew just what I wanted for Christmas.
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Old 01-03-11, 02:05 PM
  #41  
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Didn't we just have this thread? What amazes me about these old v. new technology debates is how many posters will take a position without any experience with one of the technologies, whether freewheels v freehubs, DT's v. STI's, etc.

Last edited by RFC; 01-03-11 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 01-03-11, 02:06 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
I think I have every freewheel tool ever made... even have a 3 prong tool for some very old 3 speed blocks.

Do you have a Suntour 6-prong for the aluminum bodied Winner ?
I made my own on a lathe & milling machine, lent it out, and never saw it again.

Originally Posted by sciencemonster View Post
Don't you also have to take a 2 x 4 to a classic 40 to 60-year old steel frame to update it to a cassette? Don't you have to toss all your cool looking Tipo hubs and expensive NR hubs?

I know we don't need another flame war here, but I don't get you nutso cassette people. It's not an update or conversion, it's a Drewing when it involves a vintage bike. I'd love to have 11 speed indexing, but the price is too high.
Nobody is required to cold set a frame. I run 130 mm hubs with 10 speed gearing on my old bikes by just spreading the dropout the extra few mm when I install the wheel .... no big deal ... I updated my vintage bike's drivetrain for about $350 (used wheels, new cassette, new 2009 Campy shifters, used crankset, used RD). My other bike has 10 speed on it now, still using a 1985 crank. So it can be done cheaply depending on the degree of "bling" you want. Cassettes aren't that expensive unless you buy the high end models, which are a tiny bit lighter.

I appreciate vintage stuff, and raced it for a long time, but I prefer riding with indexing and am selling my vintage parts.

PS. I thought "Drewing" was doing irreparable damage to a vintage frame, not a slight modification to allow a different axle length.

Originally Posted by RFC View Post
Didn't we just have this thread? What amazes me about these old v. new technology debates is how many posters will take a position without any experience with one of the technologies, whether freewheels v freehubs, DT's v. STI's, etc.
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Old 01-03-11, 02:20 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by RFC View Post
Didn't we just have this thread? What amazes me about these old v. new technology debates is how many posters will take a position without any experience with one of the technologies, whether freewheels v freehubs, DT's v. STI's, etc.
I'm confused. Are you saying I'm inexperienced?
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Old 01-03-11, 03:05 PM
  #44  
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You cheapskates should check Performance - chain whip $10, cassette lock ring tool, $5
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Old 01-03-11, 03:10 PM
  #45  
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I am able to rebuild/repack older Freewheels successfully. I have at least 3 SunTour five and six speed freewheels that have been rebuilt waiting in my parts bin. I looked at a Chinese-made Shimano Freewheel- It looked like it wasn't meant to be taken apart! The tool for dismantling Shimano Freehubs is apparently no longer available, so the "flush-out and re-lube" approach seems to be the only option, besides replacing the freehub mechanism completely.
Does anyone know if a non-Shimano freehub dismantling tool is available?
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Old 01-03-11, 03:10 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by RFC View Post
Didn't we just have this thread? What amazes me about these old v. new technology debates is how many posters will take a position without any experience with one of the technologies, whether freewheels v freehubs, DT's v. STI's, etc.
Or... you have people who have experience with all of these things and can see the pluses and minuses with the new and the old.

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Old 01-03-11, 03:18 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Jose Mandez View Post
1. They seem to be a lot easier to remove: All you need is a $10 freewheel removal tool and a $5 adjustable wrench. To re-install a freewheel, you don't need any tools at all: Just screw it on, and your riding will tighten it the rest of the way!.
I am told that cassette removal requires a chain whip or two (which your friendly neighborhood bicycle shop will be happy to sell you for $29.95 plus tax) in addition to the cassette removal tool and the wrench. As most of you know, freewheel/cassette removal sometimes becomes necessary for spoke replacement (since the Spoke Gremlins always like to take out the spokes on the drive side of the rear wheel, especially if they notice that you're miles from home and that you've forgotten your tool bag that day). If I am going on a bicycle tour, it seems a lot easier to carry an 8 oz tool and an adjustable wrench than it does to carry an 8 oz tool, an adjustable wrench, and a large, unwieldy chain whip (or two).
Meh, I've had chainwhips for years. Have about 4 different freewheel tools and one cassette tool. I don't feel all that put out by swapping cassettes or freehub bodies.
Originally Posted by Jose Mandez View Post
2. Maybe Lance and his riding buddies need 11 jillion gears in the back, but I don't. Most of my bikes are 12 or 18 speed (six gears in the back), and most of the gear jumps are just fine for me...I'm not out to win any races, just to get where I'm going.
I think 8 speed is the sweet spot. Cheep cassettes, easy to maintain decent shifting, seem to wear well.
Originally Posted by Jose Mandez View Post
3. Many of the reasons for the superiority of cassettes don't ring true to me. For example, I'm told that freewheel use results in a greater likelihood of bending an axle, since the bearing compartment in the axle doesn't come out as far as it would in a cassette wheel. However, I tend to be pretty hard on my bikes, to carry a lot of weight on them, charge up hills under load, etc., and I have never bent an axle in thousands of miles of riding on 6-speed freewheel wheels that are 20+ years old.
I've broken 2 axles and bent a handful. I did a fair amount of MTBing on 5sp and 6sp freewheels, though.

Definitely less bending and breaking on 8sp MTB wheels, IME.
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Old 01-03-11, 03:28 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by elcraft View Post
I am able to rebuild/repack older Freewheels successfully. I have at least 3 SunTour five and six speed freewheels that have been rebuilt waiting in my parts bin. I looked at a Chinese-made Shimano Freewheel- It looked like it wasn't meant to be taken apart! The tool for dismantling Shimano Freehubs is apparently no longer available, so the "flush-out and re-lube" approach seems to be the only option, besides replacing the freehub mechanism completely.
Does anyone know if a non-Shimano freehub dismantling tool is available?
They're not really meant to be serviceable. Most don't even have holes or notches for a pin spanner. All you can really do is flush out and spray some high quality lube in there.
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Old 01-03-11, 03:29 PM
  #49  
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Thought I should throw in the other added benefit of a freewheel. That is, how ninja like quiet it is. This is one of the main reasons I'm glad I had a rim built on my old hub. Also, I have the old-school uniglide setup and the bearings are actually closer to the outside edge of the cogs. I guess the other freewheels were more inboard, but these sit right on the edge as much as the ones on the non-drive side. So I guess I get the best of both worlds.
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Old 01-03-11, 03:38 PM
  #50  
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As long as they come apart for cleaning, I don't care if it is a cassette or a freewheel.

L-R: SRAM 9 Speed Cassette, 7 Speed Suntour New Winner, 6 Speed Suntour Alpha


Reassembled. Pardon the plastic Simplex.



P.S. This thread was worthless before I added pictures!
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