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Lightest steel freewheel?

Old 09-02-13, 10:21 PM
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Campy12
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Lightest steel freewheel?

With alloy being fairly useless as a freewheel material and Titanium being waaaay overpriced if someone was going for a lightweight steel freewheel what is the lowest weight option? Currently my Regina 6 speed 13-21 is 340grams and my 5 speed Suntour winner pro 13-21 is 334grams. Anyone?
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Old 09-03-13, 03:19 AM
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Good question! I think my findings have been similar to yours. Anyone?
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Old 09-03-13, 05:50 AM
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Good question. I've never weighed any of the hundreds of freewheels I've worked on.

Of course there are two variables in every freewheel's weight; the body and the cogs & spacers. Bodies can vary significantly. For instance, without seeing a picture of your two freewheels, I'd guess the 4 gram difference is primarily in the bodies. Regina bodies tend to use less steel than say a Suntour, Shimano, or Sachs.

For instance, look at this Regina Corsa. Originally this design was for a 4 speed freewheel. Regina then determined how to thread the two smallest cogs together, adding the fifth cog. Eventually this same model could thread the three smallest cogs together without enlarging the body, making it a 6 speed.



But now look at the progression in Suntour Perfect bodies. These three pictured bodies are all Perfects. L to R: 6 speed standard, 6 speed Ultra spaced, 5 speed. The difference in body size is apparent.



The second variable would be how much the cogs and spacers weigh. The oldest models tended to use steel spacers. Newer models almost exclusively use plastic spacers. In regard to the cogs, older cogs tended to be solid with no cutouts, newer cogs usually have more drillium on the cogs.

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Old 09-03-13, 06:15 AM
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Over at the Weight Weenies site, they have weights on a lot of cassettes, but not on freewheels....guess they are not into C&V!!! :-)
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Old 09-03-13, 06:28 AM
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The answer will include drillium
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Old 09-03-13, 07:40 AM
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Depending on how many gears you want a BMX single sprocket freewheel will be the lightest. At least the ones I use on my single speeds are. Roger
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Old 09-03-13, 08:21 AM
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I threw some of the spare Freewheels I have laying around on my scale, SORRY, it is in OZ...it is what it is...big difference is, the more gears you have, the more they weigh....BIG SURPRISE!

Shimano MF Zo12 5 speed 14-28 13.5 oz
Regina Corsa 5 speed, 13-26 13 3/4 oz
Shimano Sante' 7 Speed, 12-23 14 1/4 oz
Shimano MF Zo12 6 speed 14-28 15 1/4 oz
Shimano UL 7 speed 14-28 17 oz
Sachs Maillard 8 speed 13-30 20 1/4 oz

Last edited by RubberLegs; 09-03-13 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 09-03-13, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
The answer will include drillium
And Dutch gearing
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Old 09-03-13, 09:29 AM
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How much drillium do you think the steel cogs can handle safely? I've seen people go crazy on alloy chainrings. Without going into the teeth or too near the threads would lots of carefully placed drillium reduce weight noticeably without scraficing too much strength?
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Old 09-03-13, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
Good question. I've never weighed any of the hundreds of freewheels I've worked on.

Of course there are two variables in every freewheel's weight; the body and the cogs & spacers.
Good thing you're in a clergical line of work there, Bob, and not accounting.

That's interesting. I have two Suntour freewheels, a Winner Pro and New Winner, both 6-spd, with similar sized cogs. The Winner Pro is much lighter than the New Winner, but I haven't dismantled them to see where the weight difference is coming from.
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Old 09-03-13, 10:12 AM
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This might be a contender, maybe. How about Suntour's Pro Compe, in 5-speed or 6-speed? I'd never heard of these until yesterday, when I scored an old Nishiki with a Sunshine Gyro Master rear hub, and the 5-speed version Pro Compe freewheel, which is gold colored (the 6-speed one is silver). I've already been to Velo Base, and there was very little info there. EDIT: After a bit of cleaning, I see this particular freewheel must have had VERY little use, and/or the bit of grease really protected it pretty well. It's a nice sensible 14-28, in excellent condition, but I also see now, that it wasn't "really" all that special, just very decent for the day.

Last edited by spacemanz; 09-03-13 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 09-03-13, 10:16 AM
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Has anyone drilled cogs before? I'm going to use my NOS winne pro 5 speed and only the largest cog has cutouts. Even the Campagnolo alloy freewheel in 13-21 has the three largest cogs drilled. I imagine that same drilling wouldn't affect steel like it would on the factory drilled aluminum.
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Old 09-03-13, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Campy12 View Post
With alloy being fairly useless as a freewheel material and Titanium being waaaay overpriced if someone was going for a lightweight steel freewheel what is the lowest weight option? Currently my Regina 6 speed 13-21 is 340grams and my 5 speed Suntour winner pro 13-21 is 334grams. Anyone?
I have a 50 pound pail of 6 and 7 speed Dura-Ace freewheels and spare cogs. I also have an equivalent stash of Winner and Winner Pro hardware. So here is my unbiased advice.

The best freewheel right now for the combination of light weight and shifting quality is Shimano's TZ20 and TZ21 (6 and 7 speed respectively) Tourney freewheels. Why:
  • They cost less than $15 each.
  • They feature Shimano's superior Hyperglide cog profiles, which provide worlds better shifting than any of the old freewheels. Uniglide and Suntour freewheels were somewhat better than the old Italian cogs, which were hopeless.
  • They have a unique design in which the 2 largest (heaviest) cogs are heavily cut away and supported (pinned to) the smaller cogs. This accounts for their low weight.
  • They have a sensible 14-28 gear range. This elimates the useless 11 and 12 tooth cogs found in current cassettes, and includes lower gears for use with standard crankets. We're not getting younger.
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Old 09-03-13, 11:27 AM
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Great info, Dave. Do you know how much the 14-28's weigh?
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Old 09-03-13, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
I have a 50 pound pail of 6 and 7 speed Dura-Ace freewheels and spare cogs. I also have an equivalent stash of Winner and Winner Pro hardware. So here is my unbiased advice.

The best freewheel right now for the combination of light weight and shifting quality is Shimano's TZ20 and TZ21 (6 and 7 speed respectively) Tourney freewheels. Why:
  • They cost less than $15 each.
  • They feature Shimano's superior Hyperglide cog profiles, which provide worlds better shifting than any of the old freewheels. Uniglide and Suntour freewheels were somewhat better than the old Italian cogs, which were hopeless.
  • They have a unique design in which the 2 largest (heaviest) cogs are heavily cut away and supported (pinned to) the smaller cogs. This accounts for their low weight.
  • They have a sensible 14-28 gear range. This elimates the useless 11 and 12 tooth cogs found in current cassettes, and includes lower gears for use with standard crankets. We're not getting younger.
Conversely, have you looked at the bodies on these Tourney freewheels? They only extend maybe halfway thru the freewheel and seem rather chintzy. I would question their reliability and durability. I have one and haven't used it for this reason.
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Old 09-03-13, 11:54 AM
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Per my experience, most steel FWs with the same number of speeds, weigh very similarly. I don't think the little difference between them is ever going to be noticeable on the road, so picking your steel freewheel on the basis of weight is a bit pointless. I still think that hybrid Al (cogs)/Fe (body) FWs is not a bad way to go if you want to lose some weight. At least you won't have to worry too much about stripping pin wrench holes or notches on them, if you have to remove the thing from your rear wheels. The Zeus 2000 FW is a good one, and the Al cogs for them are still available from sellers at eBay.
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Old 09-03-13, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by RubberLegs View Post
Over at the Weight Weenies site, they have weights on a lot of cassettes, but not on freewheels....guess they are not into C&V!!! :-)
I wonder if that's because the hub+cluster is already lighter for cassette systems, or if other benefits to cassette wheels make freewheels not worth considering for that group...
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Old 09-03-13, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Campy12 View Post
How much drillium do you think the steel cogs can handle safely? I've seen people go crazy on alloy chainrings. Without going into the teeth or too near the threads would lots of carefully placed drillium reduce weight noticeably without scraficing too much strength?
They can handle a lot but most of them are already 'drilled' or have big windows.

Last edited by miamijim; 09-03-13 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 09-03-13, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
[*]They have a sensible 14-28 gear range. This elimates the useless 11 and 12 tooth cogs found in current cassettes, and includes lower gears for use with standard crankets. We're not getting younger.[/LIST]
Useless? I'm not so old that I can't enjoy a +45mph descent every now and again And I live among hills that make that doable, if I wasn't all spun out around there.
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Old 09-03-13, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by miamijim View Post
They can handle a lot.....
Sounds like a challenge...Oh Drillium Dude!!!!!! I don't even want to think about how many bits cutting all that hardened steel would cost me!
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Old 09-03-13, 12:39 PM
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I would never put a $15 shimano on my full vintage super record bike! Gross. 13 is as big as I'd like my smallest gear.must not descend much where you are from. Which also makes the 28 useless. All in good humor of course. I think I'll just disassemble my sun tour and drill the cogs and be happy.
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Old 09-03-13, 12:46 PM
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Going through my 30+ freewheels this is what I've found:

Steel freewheels weigh between 350 and 400 grams depending on gearing. There're a few outliers, a Suntour 13-23 7s I have weighs 335, a Sachs 14-24 6s weighs 411.

A few samples:

Suntour Microlite 194g
Dura Ace 13-21 360
Dura Ace 13-21 398 I don't know why this weighs more, I double checked the weights
Helicomatic 6s 400g
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Old 09-03-13, 12:57 PM
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I have a modern Shimano freewheel on my McLean. It's a wear item, like tires and brake cables. As Dave points out, they're a heck of a lot better than older freewheels. And I do trust it, even though it's chintzier.
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Old 09-03-13, 01:18 PM
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I use only NOS parts on my drivetrain. I replace the freewheel and chain an usually rings all at once. I can get years out of the system as a whole. They wear but not that fast.
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Old 09-03-13, 01:21 PM
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The wear items are the cogs. The body will last longer than any other moving part on the bike, with a modicum of care. That goes for the ball bearings as well, which are at any rate cheap to replace, in the unlikely instance of needing replacement.
Of course, the internal lubrication cannot be expected to last forever, this comes under the "modicum of care" proviso.
For some C&V enthusiasts, it is practical to dismantle and overhaul freewheels, and for others, it is more practical to discard and replace them.
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