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Newbie Freewheeling

Old 04-01-20, 10:43 AM
  #1  
Yonah
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Newbie Freewheeling

TL;DR - Newbie here, I believe I broke the freewheel on an old bike. Looking for advice on how to replace it.

I have an old bike - which I wasn't using much. It's a Lotus Elan bike - I bought it on Ebay in 2003, and it was probably from the late 70's early 80's. Because I've been working from home due to Corona, and owing to the fact that I have no Gym, I started biking again. It went great for the first week, but then on Sunday I was going up a hill, shifted gear, and as I was pedaling forward, I got zero resistance. I first thought my chanin popped off, but then realized the chain was working fine.

My guess is I broke the freewheel - as the chain can easily turn the back sprockets but doesn't turn the rear wheel.

I had already ordered a new bike before this incident - now that I've been biking more, figured it was a good idea - but I am wondering how hard this is to fix.

I imagine I need:
- A free wheel removal tool
- A new freewheel

How do I go about choosing the new freewheel? Can I just go out an replace the freewheel, or do I need to replace other complimentary components - shifters, derailleurs, crankset, etc?

I don't want to put a lot of money into this, but don't want to throw the bike away. Any advice is appreciated?

TIA
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Old 04-01-20, 12:45 PM
  #2  
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How many cogs? Just match that up.
Scroll down a bit and pick the tool you need to remove the old one.
You don't need a tool to install, only remove.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/freewheels.html
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Old 04-01-20, 12:51 PM
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[QUOTE=Bill Kapaun;21395464]How many cogs? Just match that up.
Scroll down a bit and pick the tool you need to remove the old one.
You don't need a tool to install, only remove.
.../QUOTE]

Thanks for passing along this resources - so I just simply need to add the new freewheel with the matching cogs - they'll work with my current groupset?
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Old 04-01-20, 12:52 PM
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It's prudent to replace the chain when installing a new cog set. Otherwise at best the old chain wears the new teeth faster and at worst the chain skips over the teeth when power is applied. The freewheel removing tool might be a one time need as the new freewheel is likely to use a different tool. We'll remove a freewheel from a bare wheel for a token cost, less then the tool costs, if the customer buys the freewheel from us.

When installed the rear der will need to be made to shift over the new cog set, limit screws may need slight tweaking. The best time to clean and lube the rear hub bearings is when the freewheel is already off. Andy
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Old 04-01-20, 12:58 PM
  #5  
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Before you spend money replacing the freewheel, chain, or any parts, you might just try
spraying some oil into the body of the freewheel edgewise. sometimes that will free the engagement
pawls to start working again. Worth a try since it has worked for me before.
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Old 04-01-20, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by onsay99 View Post
Before you spend money replacing the freewheel, chain, or any parts, you might just try
spraying some oil into the body of the freewheel edgewise. sometimes that will free the engagement
pawls to start working again. Worth a try since it has worked for me before.
Edgewise? i.e. behind the sprockets?
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Old 04-01-20, 02:31 PM
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https://www.sheldonbrown.com/freewheels.html#lube
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Old 04-01-20, 04:10 PM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by Yonah View Post
Edgewise? i.e. behind the sprockets?
Into the gap between the inner and outer body. If you look at the cluster while turning the pedals, the part that moves with the cogs is the outer body. The part that remains fixed to the hub in the inner body. Squirt lube into the gap between them and turn the pedals until something catches, adding more lubricant as needed.
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Old 04-01-20, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by onsay99 View Post
Before you spend money replacing the freewheel, chain, or any parts, you might just try
spraying some oil into the body of the freewheel edgewise. sometimes that will free the engagement
pawls to start working again. Worth a try since it has worked for me before.
Take the wheel off the bike and hold it horizontally with the freewheel pointing up. When you turn the freewheel notice the cogs move when you puch them but there is a center part that is fixed to the wheel. Put lube in the tiny gap between the moving and not moving parts. Any VERY thin lub work. Chain lube is good or even 10W motor oil if that is all you have The rotate the gcogs and add lube and let it sink into the gap. Add more and spin the cogs more. Eventualy you have diluted and washed out the dried up crud inside.

It is possible to move and overhaul the freewheel but don't bother. It is a lot of work and the tools needed cost more then a new freewheel. New freewheels are cheap and are MUCH better than the old ones.

The safe advice is to buy a freewheel with the same number of cogs. You can change the number of teeth to suit your ability and the local hills. But many times you can fit on a freewheel with one more cog. Especially if you only have 5, 6 might fit. But I said "might". Check the clearance from smallest cog to frame. if it is about 8mm or more then likely one more cog could fit.

You will need to buy removal tools for the old freewheel and the new one. Buy from Park Tool or at 1/3rd the price but with a longer shipping time from Chinese eBay sellers

Shimano makes some very good 6 and 7-speed freewheels and you can find them on eBay. These new ones have the modern shifting ramps which work very well compared to vintage parts.

If the bike is old, buy a chain. Any 3/32 width chain will work.
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Old 04-03-20, 09:52 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by onsay99 View Post
Before you spend money replacing the freewheel, chain, or any parts, you might just try
spraying some oil into the body of the freewheel edgewise. sometimes that will free the engagement
pawls to start working again. Worth a try since it has worked for me before.
Originally Posted by Yonah View Post
Edgewise? i.e. behind the sprockets?
1. Take off your rear wheel and set it on a trash can sprocket side up.
2. Spin your sprocket cluster with your finger and notice what rotates and what doesn't.
3. Spray some WD40 or something similar into the crack between the moving and stationary parts. Spin the sprockets with your finger.
4. Give it a few minutes to work and repeat as necessary.

My bet is that will fix it.


Oops. I should have read more posts before posting myself.
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Old 04-03-20, 10:00 AM
  #11  
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To all those that replied - I tried to lube it as described above - no dice. Considering that this bike is AT least 20+ years old (I've owned it since 2003, but it's much older than that) I don't think it's ridiculous to have to replace the freewheel. Considering it's not my only bike, I would like to think it's worth the experience to learn how to replace it. I'll post an update when my parts show up.
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Old 04-03-20, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Yonah View Post
To all those that replied - I tried to lube it as described above - no dice. Considering that this bike is AT least 20+ years old (I've owned it since 2003, but it's much older than that) I don't think it's ridiculous to have to replace the freewheel. Considering it's not my only bike, I would like to think it's worth the experience to learn how to replace it. I'll post an update when my parts show up.
One thing to consider: assuming that this is a 5 or 6 speed freewheel, most of the replacements available are low quality and may not have the cog configuration of the original one. Since you will have to remove the dysfunctional freewheel anyway, try soaking it in kerosene (or similar solvent) for a day or two. If this frees up the pawls, all you have to do is dry it out and then add oil as you did before. If soaking doesn't free things up, you've only lost a day or two.
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Old 04-03-20, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Yonah View Post
To all those that replied - I tried to lube it as described above - no dice. Considering that this bike is AT least 20+ years old (I've owned it since 2003, but it's much older than that) I don't think it's ridiculous to have to replace the freewheel. Considering it's not my only bike, I would like to think it's worth the experience to learn how to replace it. I'll post an update when my parts show up.
You will be disappointed to find how little there is to learn. The freewheel simply unscrews from the hub and you put a new one on. The trick might be getting the old one off if it has been on for 20+ years. It might take a lot of force. Just make 100% certain you are turning in the correct directin. It is easy to figure out which way, normal riding tightens it and the backpedaling direction will remove the freewheel.

I am sure that after the effort to remove it you will know to put grease on the threads so the next person to remove it will not have to work as hard as you did. Grease the threads well because that next person might be you.

My opinion is that the new freewheels are actually better than those 70's vintage Suntour and the like.
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Old 04-27-20, 01:26 PM
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switch freewheel,

Want to know if a TZ-21 14X28 can be used when changing out a MZ-31 14x34 freewheel, hate the megarange 7 speed
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Old 04-28-20, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by element04 View Post
Want to know if a TZ-21 14X28 can be used when changing out a MZ-31 14x34 freewheel, hate the megarange 7 speed
It's usually no problem going from a large cluster to a smaller one, but not the other way that might run into derailleur capacity problems. Welcome!
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Old 04-28-20, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by element04 View Post
Want to know if a TZ-21 14X28 can be used when changing out a MZ-31 14x34 freewheel, hate the megarange 7 speed
You might need to shorten the chain a bit. If the freewheel you're replacing is old, I'd get a new chain too.

Cheers
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Old 04-28-20, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Yonah View Post
TL;DR - Newbie here, I believe I broke the freewheel on an old bike. Looking for advice on how to replace it.

I have an old bike - which I wasn't using much. It's a Lotus Elan bike - I bought it on Ebay in 2003, and it was probably from the late 70's early 80's. Because I've been working from home due to Corona, and owing to the fact that I have no Gym, I started biking again. It went great for the first week, but then on Sunday I was going up a hill, shifted gear, and as I was pedaling forward, I got zero resistance. I first thought my chanin popped off, but then realized the chain was working fine.

My guess is I broke the freewheel - as the chain can easily turn the back sprockets but doesn't turn the rear wheel.

I had already ordered a new bike before this incident - now that I've been biking more, figured it was a good idea - but I am wondering how hard this is to fix.

I imagine I need:
- A free wheel removal tool
- A new freewheel

How do I go about choosing the new freewheel? Can I just go out an replace the freewheel, or do I need to replace other complimentary components - shifters, derailleurs, crankset, etc?

I don't want to put a lot of money into this, but don't want to throw the bike away. Any advice is appreciated?

TIA
Can you post an image of the freewheel on your wheel now? So we can see which tool you need to remove it.

A bicycle co-op, if it's open should have the needed tool. Some bike shops will remove an old freewheel for free if you buy the new freewheel from them. Depends how busy they are.

Cheers
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Old 04-28-20, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrisAlbertson View Post
You will be disappointed to find how little there is to learn. The freewheel simply unscrews from the hub and you put a new one on. The trick might be getting the old one off if it has been on for 20+ years. It might take a lot of force. Just make 100% certain you are turning in the correct directin. It is easy to figure out which way, normal riding tightens it and the backpedaling direction will remove the freewheel.

I am sure that after the effort to remove it you will know to put grease on the threads so the next person to remove it will not have to work as hard as you did. Grease the threads well because that next person might be you.

My opinion is that the new freewheels are actually better than those 70's vintage Suntour and the like.
The trick to getting the old one off is, first of all, finding somebody who has the correct freewheel remover. Second, as Chris said, it's likely to take a LOT or torque to get it off:
If you have access to a sturdy bench vise the traditional way is to clamp your freewheel remover vertically in the vise, thread your freewheel onto the remover and use both hands on the wheel rim to twist it off. If you have a helper, use four hands.
If you don't have a vise, use an axle nut or quick release loosely to hold the freewheel remover in place. I have a 15" Crescent wrench that's never been used for anything else.
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