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Freewheel Supply - Any Worries?

Old 07-27-14, 05:03 PM
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Freewheel Supply - Any Worries?

Who still makes a good quality six and seven speed freewheel of a reasonable yet sporty range - not a corncob, not a wide range, but something like 13-21, 13-23, 13-25, etc?

Maybe it is my imagination, but the supply of such freewheels on the used market seems thinner than it was just a couple years ago. Forget the $200 "NOS" freewheels that never sell. I'm talking lightly used "rider" condition freewheels for pretty inexpensive prices. Not as many as there once were.

Of course, new freewheels are dirt cheap - Sunrace for $18 etc - but they are mostly super wide range, 12-30 and so on. I'm seeing a Sunrace 7 speed 13-25 but nothing narrower range, and for 6 speed only 14-28 which is more for a touring or mountain bike than for a vintage racer.

Is anyone worried about freewheel supply in the future?
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Old 07-27-14, 05:11 PM
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13-24T 7speed IRD. I've never tried one and they're $54. I have one more 7-speed mothballed before I need to buy new...
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Old 07-27-14, 05:20 PM
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I agree, it will probably become a concern. Pastor Bob is one enterprising C&Ver who seems to be jumping in.
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Old 07-27-14, 05:22 PM
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Yes, I share your concern. I'd like to find a 14-26 five speed, and can't. I doubt the situation will ever get hopeless, but it seems every maker has all the 13-28 or 14-28 freewheels you could ever want, and no one makes a 14-26. Sheesh, don't they know a Nuovo Record prefers a slightly smaller big cog?

If a freewheel was worth $200, I wouldn't use it. I have whole bikes that are worth less than that.
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Old 07-27-14, 05:39 PM
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I bought a used Suntour 13-25 five speed last year on ebay for less than $20. Maybe just lucky.
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Old 07-27-14, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
(snipped stuff)

Maybe it is my imagination, but the supply of such freewheels on the used market seems thinner than it was just a couple years ago. Forget the $200 "NOS" freewheels that never sell. I'm talking lightly used "rider" condition freewheels for pretty inexpensive prices. Not as many as there once were.

(snipped more stuff)
I agree with this perception, but how much of it is based on the changes in Ebay, which less and less favors the private seller or very small business seller?

There used to be several other on-line sales or auction outlets, usually specialized for other enthusiast collector hobbies. Some, for audio, fountain pens, and yes, bikes, are far less active since the rise of Ebay. I think it's still true that the best stuff is in the hands of private parties, but I think it's harder to access them.
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Old 07-27-14, 05:44 PM
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HHmmm seems the market may be in my favor for once, time to start cleaning up and moving out my freewheels I am not using.
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Old 07-27-14, 05:52 PM
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ird is your best bet. i can't find a sunrace that meets your (nor my) requirements in a 5- or 6- speed. you have to go to a 7-speed to find a sunrace 13-25t.

i have two ird fives with a 14-28t range. both work perfectly with campy nr.

i started a thread recently about ebay sellers using misleading photos for their sunrace 5-speeds. you may want to send a message to the seller asking about its material and finish before you buy.

do not buy from seller:ichigear unless you want to cover the cost of return shipping on fraudulent listings.
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Old 07-27-14, 06:00 PM
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Depends.

Supply for 3-speed freewheels is atrocious. Good ones rarely come up. But I am lucky in that they are appropriate for prewar bikes, so demand is quite low. All in, they are maybe $30-$40. I have purchased enough of them to satisfy my needs until I die.

But I would guess the production of new 7-speed freewheels is quite low. At some time it will cease (like the 3-speed). They could get expensive, in theory.
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Old 07-27-14, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by eschlwc View Post
ird is your best bet. i can't find a sunrace that meets your (nor my) requirements in a 5- or 6- speed. you have to go to a 7-speed to find a sunrace 13-25t.

i have two ird fives with a 14-28t range. both work perfectly with campy nr.

i started a thread recently about ebay sellers using misleading photos for their sunrace 5-speeds. you may want to send a message to the seller asking about its material and finish before you buy.

do not buy from seller:ichigear unless you want to cover the cost of return shipping on fraudulent listings.

what does ird stand for
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Old 07-27-14, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Depends.

Supply for 3-speed freewheels is atrocious. Good ones rarely come up. But I am lucky in that they are appropriate for prewar bikes, so demand is quite low. All in, they are maybe $30-$40. I have purchased enough of them to satisfy my needs until I die.

But I would guess the production of new 7-speed freewheels is quite low. At some time it will cease (like the 3-speed). They could get expensive, in theory.
I make sure to keep several of the Sunrace 7s 13-25t freewheels on hand, in case the production ceases. I feel lucky that these are being made!

I had a Shimano UG freewheel board that is by now about used up, but these Sunrace freewheels greatly spare my precious freewheel resources.

For friction shifting, I still greatly prefer Uniglide (or secondarily Suntour) cogs. I use 4, 5, 6 and 7-speed freewheels on my various "rider" bikes.

IRD stands for "Interloc Racing Development", selling freewheels and cassettes made to their spec's by Giang of Malaysia iir.

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Old 07-27-14, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Who still makes a good quality six and seven speed freewheel of a reasonable yet sporty range - not a corncob, not a wide range, but something like 13-21, 13-23, 13-25, etc?

Maybe it is my imagination, but the supply of such freewheels on the used market seems thinner than it was just a couple years ago. Forget the $200 "NOS" freewheels that never sell. I'm talking lightly used "rider" condition freewheels for pretty inexpensive prices. Not as many as there once were.

Of course, new freewheels are dirt cheap - Sunrace for $18 etc - but they are mostly super wide range, 12-30 and so on. I'm seeing a Sunrace 7 speed 13-25 but nothing narrower range, and for 6 speed only 14-28 which is more for a touring or mountain bike than for a vintage racer.

Is anyone worried about freewheel supply in the future?
No, and the reason why is 3D printing, they can 3D print in steel, the cogs are the part that tend to wear out. So if it gets iffy that freewheels are going out of production, take one apart, get the cogs scanned, and then get them printed as needed.
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Old 07-27-14, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Wogster View Post
No, and the reason why is 3D printing, they can 3D print in steel,
At a cost of at least $150 (for a single cog) for the foreseeable future. 3d printing is most certainly not the manufacturing process to lower costs.
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Old 07-27-14, 09:08 PM
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Duplicating dimensions is very different from conforming to design specifications, which requires material selection, processing, testing, quality control, you get the idea.

So of course one is on their own in terms of first establishing the design specifications, and that's just for starters. Sourcing suitable material and performing needed processing is daunting to the point that it can only be justified for a large production run.

A LOT of hard work goes into manufacturing a decent freewheel, freewheel cog, or almost any other part on a good bicycle.

A well-developed process and production line then may make it look easy!
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Old 07-27-14, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Yes, I share your concern. I'd like to find a 14-26 five speed, and can't. I doubt the situation will ever get hopeless, but it seems every maker has all the 13-28 or 14-28 freewheels you could ever want, and no one makes a 14-26. Sheesh, don't they know a Nuovo Record prefers a slightly smaller big cog?

If a freewheel was worth $200, I wouldn't use it. I have whole bikes that are worth less than that.
I, too, have been frustrated by the rarity of 26T cogs, which are perfect for short cage SunTour and Campag. derailleurs. I run 6-speed (two ultra, two standard) freewheels on all of my road bikes: two 14-26, one 13-26, and one 13-23. The 13-26 seven-speed I gave to my son for the Peugeot PKN-10.

Loose SunTour cogs can still occasionally be found on eBay, and the larger ones are pretty interchangeable across various freewheel bodies, which has enabled me to turn a common 14-28 into a 14-26. With a 3-tooth drop in front, 14-16-18-20-23-26 is ideal, but 14-16-18-21-24-26 (made from a 14-28) works almost as well, since one generally avoids large-to-large cross chaining.
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Old 07-27-14, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Wythnail View Post
what does ird stand for
Interloc Racing Design: Interloc Racing Design

Here's their freewheel combinations: Defiant Freewheel Range
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Old 07-28-14, 04:30 AM
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In that second link, it doesn't even look like they make 26 tooth cogs! Stoopid, IMO.
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Old 07-28-14, 05:29 AM
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The real challenge is cogs. Period. There is no reason why a freewheel body if properly maintained can't last for centuries.

Getting back to cogs. The next challenge is the lack of a cog attachment standard. There are threaded cogs (with dozens of different standards), notched cogs, and cogs with splines (with different patterns depending on the manufacturer). I believe if there had been one, or even three or four standards, someone would still just be making cogs.

IMO, this is why SunXD and Compass are offering vintage looking freehubs with a shortened freehub body. This offers, hopefully, a solution with a long shelf life. At least then cogs from Shimano, SRAM, Sunrace, etc., cassettes can all be utilized to achieve the desired gearing on a 120-126mm rear spacing.

Unfortunately, no one makes a freewheel body that can accept modern cassette cogs and spacers.

Maybe I should look into the possibility of manufacturing just 26T freewheel cogs. But the big question would always be, which freewheel body standard?

In the mean time, my recommendation is to increase the life of your current cogs by regularly removing them from the body and cleaning them, keeping the chain clean, and making certain the body is serviced. After all, road grit and dirt along with improper lubrication is the worst enemy to your freewheel's and chain's longevity.
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Old 07-28-14, 05:39 AM
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here are more options.
I used these the 11-28t, 21 spd. with no problems and the 11-? are hard to come by. lot of searching to find these:
DNP Epoch 7 Speed Freewheel > Components > Drivetrain > Freewheels | Jenson USA
DNP Epoch Freewheel 7spd 11-28 Nickel Plated
Epoch 7 Speed Freewheel Nickel Plated in Tree Fort Bikes Freewheels (cat818)
DNP Epoch Freewheel 7spd 11-28 Nickel Plated from BikeBling.com

you need to get a special install tool.
I used a sram chain pc 850.
it was smooth shifting an quite.
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Old 07-28-14, 06:15 AM
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Seeing as how we're 20+ years past when cassette freehubs took over the market and the death of the last major freewheel player (Suntour), it would be reasonable to assume that any old stock has long since been hoarded, dried up, or disposed of by shops that haven't had a need for an Ultra-6 freewheel in the current staff's collective memory.

Like any hobby or interest where folks appreciate/cling to obsolete technologies, the passionate will hoard the consumables: vacuum tubes for old amps, needles for turntables, breaker points for less-common cars, or freezers full of Kodak Tri-X Pan film.

Like any production, the market and elasticity of demand play a role. C&V bike folks aren't as well heeled or as willing to spend huge amouts of money to produce new parts, damn the cost. BMW makes almost every part of the the 2002 available as a marketing gimmick via "Mobile Tradition" but there's a market from retiring dentists and lawyers to have that car they wanted in college. The market for vintage bicycles is simply less affluent and there's a much greater willingness among that market to embrace technological progress/updating in bikes: to whit, the fitting of STI/Ergo shifters to older downtube shifter frames.

As a clydesdale who routinely bent axles back in the day on my freewheel equipped hubs, I embraced freehub systems without looking back just like I did fuel injection with carbs. I made my share of early adopter mistakes: Suntour Microdrive and Campy 8 speed left me high and dry.

I've got one freewheel equipped wheelset in the garage: a Sachs 7 speed on Miche hub. it sees trainer duty on an 80's Peugeot with friction downtube shifters.

Personally, the RIDER (vice wall art) bike apex for me is a good steel frame with cartridge bearing bottom brackets, Campy 9 speed Ergos, a threadless headset, and dual pivot brakes. In a pinch, I'll take Shimano 8 speed. Both are the overlap in the Venn diagram of price, availabilty, and performance benefit.

3D printing will likely never work at an economic level for cogs because it's not just the shape, it's the materials and hardening treatments that make a workable freewheel cog.

B
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Old 07-28-14, 06:26 AM
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I have a reasonably large selection of suntour cogs (bought in bulk in a bankruptcy sale many years ago), suntour freewheels, and sachs freewheels, and a few shimano 600 freewheels. I probably have a few other odds and ends floating around. The point is that I stockpiled this stuff way back when cassettes started to take over and freewheels were being blown out. Having the stuff floating around makes it easy to fix up an old bike. Even though I bought my stuff dirt cheap, I'm skeptical it was worth it. I guess I'll flog the stuff one day on ebay. I tend to ride bikes with modern drive trains though. Cassettes are great and spreading a steel frame to 130 is no big deal.
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Old 07-28-14, 07:03 AM
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Reading this thread got me to thinking. And looking. Just bought one of these and, it sounds as though he/she, MAY have more of these.
You will rarely, if ever, see NOS Regina Extra freewheel with these ratios for this price from any of the "savvy" ebay sellers. Sure, it is the old 2 notch design, but that's OK with me. I know how to use them.
Regina 5 Speed Free Wheel Italian Thread Road Racing | eBay

By the way, if you want a real forehead smacking moment, check out what she sold many sets of NOS Campy track hubs for! Wow.
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Old 07-28-14, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
The real challenge is cogs. Period. There is no reason why a freewheel body if properly maintained can't last for centuries.Unfortunately, no one makes a freewheel body that can accept modern cassette cogs and spacers.
It is really too bad that freewheel cogs were mostly threaded not splined. Splined cogs would be easier to manufacture.
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Old 07-28-14, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
ICassettes are great and spreading a steel frame to 130 is no big deal.
I would not hesitate to cold-set a 126 frame to 130. But ... a 40 year old 120 mm spaced racing frame with shorter stays ... (like a 'crit' bike?) not for me unless I get convinced otherwise.

OK ... flame me and flay me for saying this. I would not do it. And some us have these 120 mm dimensions between the DO's.

Decades ago, I shared shop-space with a guy who rebuilt vintage race car frames very likely it was Reynolds 531 tubing he was working on. He talked about crystals and stuff. He showed mistakes made by Colin Chapman's 'Lotus' frame builders. I started looking at steel and indeed other metals in a different way.

So ... maybe I am all wet: but moving a 40+ year old piece of steel tubing 5 mm? Be my guest. I refused the idea and went as far as 126. If it had been a boring piece of Hi-Ten WTH! The frame builder I had do the set did not seem to be disagreeing with me.

The answer to this shrinking supply of closer ration FW's may be this:

If the market screams loud enough, some factory like the one that makes millions of wide range and quite effective, quiet, long wearing, very utilitarian looking freewheels for Shimano, and who is already set up to produce decent metallurgy in a closer ratio or differently cogged freewheel cog range on the same core should not be a huge stretch. They just have to be convinced that there is a market.

So let's start yelling. And if you have to pay $22 instead of $12 dollars pay for it!

There are HUGE numbers of vintage bikes that have been dug out of Granddad's basement/garage in just the last few years even here in boring Sendai Japan where a few years ago a vintage steel frame spied on the street was like spotting a Trumpeter Swan. I see more and more them around these days.

IMHO make a noise, and they will come!
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Old 07-28-14, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
Interloc Racing Design: Interloc Racing Design

Here's their freewheel combinations: Defiant Freewheel Range
Maybe this is just me, but why, oh why does IRD make a 14-16-19-24-28-34 freewheel? That's a very useful overall range for the kind of riding I do, but that 24-tooth cog makes no sense when using a 23 in the same position would give a perfect 14-16-19-23-28-32 progression. If you chart the resulting ratios, IRD's approach gives a big hiccup in the middle of the range. I've made up a couple of Suntour Perfect freewheels in that exact tooth count, but would consider buying them from IRD if they'd get rid of that wacky 19-to-24 jump.

Am I just too much of a dim bulb to understand why IRD chooses to do it that way?
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