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Pedals Turn But Rear Wheel Doesn't

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Pedals Turn But Rear Wheel Doesn't

Old 06-17-19, 12:46 PM
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Pedals Turn But Rear Wheel Doesn't

I occasionally will ride my oldest bike. It's a Raleigh hybrid and I suppose that I keep it around for sentimental reasons. The other day while taking it out, I immediately began the descent of my sloped driveway while shifting and although I was able to turn the pedals (which of course turned the cassette in the rear), my rear wheel wasn't being "driven" by my work. I might have resolved it by a momentary pedaling backwards, but to be honest, I'm not 100% sure. Right or wrong, after it began working again, I did take it out for a 10 mile ride and experienced ZERO problems.

For those who have had this happen before, is it likely to recur?

The rear cassette has eight cogs, and from the YouTube video that I watched, the problem was probably pawls that momentarily slipped/slid over the ratchet perhaps due to accumulated gunk in the grease over the years. What would you expect your LBS to charge you to clean and regrease this wheel if I brought them the whole bike?

On another note, when do you decide it's time to get rid of your older bikes?
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Old 06-17-19, 12:59 PM
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It probably is the pawl. Remove the freewheel using the appropriate tool (Park’s Tool is pretty good about tool pictures and applications). Soak in mineral spirits or simple green, either blow out or spin and let dry. Then use a light oil to lubricate it back up inside.
As to how long to keep a bike? There are plenty of folks here who have 50 year old + bikes. My daily commuter is 30 years old. Some people have the money to trade a bike every couple years. Me personally, if I like the bike can keep it going indefinitely.
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Old 06-17-19, 01:01 PM
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The hub pawls sound like the problem as you stated.

Inside the rear hub there are pieces that engage the wheel when the chain is pulling the cassette forward. But they disengage when you're not pedaling, so the wheel can still spin without the chain moving.

The question is why?

Are they just gunked up with old grease? Is the hub broken and needs to be replaced or repaired?

Even if the hub had the be replaced completely this shouldn't be a terrible expensive repair. And the shop should be able to give you a reasonable estimate right away. But of course they could take it apart and realize that not only was the hub broken but so was something else, which would add to the cost.

Still....this should not be terribly expensive.
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Old 06-17-19, 01:41 PM
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Tub of axle grease & a good cleaning. Super easy if cartridge bearings & the freehub slides right off.

Otherwise if freewheel &/or cup/cone you might as well pull the axle & service the cup/cones axle bearings, pawls, etc, all in one shot & be done with it for the next few years. Any shop ought to equipped to do this with minimal turn around time if you don't have the tools. And buying tools for a one time job doesn't make a lot of sense.

I say this because if the pawls are sticky, theres no telling how old dried, or congealed the grease is. Congealed grease would indicate a long time since anything back there was serviced.
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Old 06-17-19, 02:00 PM
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Definitely inside the wheel.itself. It might be easier to just get a new wheel from a donor bike.
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Old 06-17-19, 02:04 PM
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If it is a really old bike it has a freewheel. Newer bikes come with a cassette. You can easily tell the difference because there is no lock ring on a freewheel but there is on a cassette. This video shows the cassette lock ring at around 30 seconds into the video
. If you have a cassette, then you have a freehub beneath the cassette and that contains the pawls. I have old bikes with both and there is no way I would throw away a bike because I needed to replace either a freewheel or freehub.

No bike shop in their right mind disassembles a freewheel or freehub to access the pawls because there are a skillion small bearings inside and they fall out when it is opened. You can buy an old style freewheel on eBay for between $10 and $20 for an 11-28 or 11-34 in 7 or 8 speeds. Just make sure it is really a freewheel and not a cassette as many sellers don't seem to know the difference. Ditto for the freehub which should be under $20. The only problem is having the tool to remove either the freewheel or cassette and freehub. Freewheels are a particular problem as there are different tools for different brands of freewheel.
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Old 06-17-19, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Payton1221 View Post
On another note, when do you decide it's time to get rid of your older bikes?
Age doesn't really play into the decision-making process.
A race bike in any era is a highly personal choice that at its "best" balances the requirements of fit, weight, handling, durability and cost tempered by the willingness to toss it and oneself down the pavement at considerable speed. ~Bandera
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Old 06-17-19, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Payton1221 View Post
On another note, when do you decide it's time to get rid of your older bikes?
When someone offers me more than I value it.

Or the frame is toast.
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Old 06-18-19, 09:30 AM
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Just a thought: Do you think you might have been in a really low gear when you started your driveway descent? If so, you could have had the sensation of pedaling without drive when it really was that your cadence couldn't catch up.
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Old 06-18-19, 10:32 AM
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8-speed so probably a free hub bike. Also, it's been idle for awhile.

Quick and dirty:
1. Take off your rear wheel. set it horizontally across a trash can with the cassette facing up.
2. Spin the cassette with your fingers. Notice what rotates and what doesn't.
3. Dribble some WD40 into the crack between the moving part and the stationary part of the free hub body. Give it time to soak in.
4. When the cassette spins freely in one direction and immediately locks up when spun in the opposite direction, you're good.
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Old 06-18-19, 01:11 PM
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The problem is, with age the grease hardens up and eventually prevents the pawls from moving freely. Even with a freehub, sometimes you can squirt light oil into the works without disassembling it and get it working properly again.
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Old 06-18-19, 07:27 PM
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Thanks for all of the replies guys. And to Moe, I thought that at first but when the driveway leveled out and my coasting had almost stopped entirely I was still pedaling with no affect. It was messing with my mind for a moment like how could this be happening?!?!
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