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Hub axle speed adjustment

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Hub axle speed adjustment

Old 05-25-21, 11:33 PM
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Hub axle speed adjustment

I got an old Maillard hubs that has a 5 speed freewheel, would it be a bad idea if I add spacers on the drive side so that I can used it with a 8 speed freewheel?
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Old 05-26-21, 12:06 PM
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It can be done in principle, at least. You'll need to re-dish the wheel so the rim remains centered between the locknuts, and you may find you need excessive spoke tension on the drive side and inadequate tension on the non-drive side to get it properly dished. Assuming your wheel is threaded for a freewheel, rather than using a freehub system like modern wheels (5-speed freehubs are quite rare, and went out of production several decades ago), the additional unsupported axle length extending beyond the bearing to get room for eight sprockets means it will be more susceptible to bending and breaking axles. Modern freehub systems prevent this by locating the bearing closer to the dropout, so there is less unsupported length.

Before proceeding, I would price a replacement wheel with a freehub designed to use at least eight sprockets and determine if that route might be more cost effective to pursue.
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Old 05-26-21, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by sparksguy View Post
I got an old Maillard hubs that has a 5 speed freewheel, would it be a bad idea if I add spacers on the drive side so that I can used it with a 8 speed freewheel?
Like JohnDThompson already mentioned, if you do this, the respaced axle will be weaker and prone to bending or breaking.

Also, if this wheel is going back into the original frame, there might be clearance issues with the chain. The chain in the new highest gear position might rub on the inside edge of the seat stay or chain stay. I have seen this first hand.

Another thing to consider, is your Maillard freewheel and hub, French threaded. If it is, this entire exercise is pointless, since there won't be any 8 speed freewheel in French thread.
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Old 05-26-21, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by sparksguy View Post
I got an old Maillard hubs that has a 5 speed freewheel, would it be a bad idea if I add spacers on the drive side so that I can used it with a 8 speed freewheel?
If your old Maillard hub is a Helicomatic, 8 speeds are not an option
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Old 05-26-21, 11:09 PM
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As a bicycling Clyde the freewheel system is inadequate for anyone over about 170lbs in weight. You will be bending axles just riding it around. As mentioned putting even more unsupported axle out will mean it bends even easier. Buy a cassette hub. If you have an older steel frame set up at less than 130mm frame spacing on the rear dropouts have the frame re-spaced for the 130mm hub and live happily ever after. If you are striving to maintain the original components and have to live with that hub I commend your resolve and wish you success in your effort.
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Old 05-27-21, 08:22 AM
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If your bike is that old to have a Helicomatic hub, then maybe it's time to let something rest on the shelf. I might even hang up the entire bike and let it become wall art in my garage.

If you figure out what the drop out spacing or OLD is, then you and we will have a better idea of options. Knowing what bike frame it is will let us give opinions about changing the spacing and getting more cogs on the rear.

How bad do you want more gears on the rear?
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