Sunday, April 17, 2011

Strange Occurence and New Freewheel

As I pedaled away from my son's school on Thursday morning I was looking forward to my commute. It was one of those glorious spring days. The sun was shining and I hadn't ridden my bike since Tuesday. I turned a corner by the university and started to pick up speed. And then, just as suddenly, my pedals spun freely as if the chain had come off. I pulled over to the sidewalk to inspect my bike. Weird. The chain was fine, but the freewheel seemed disconnected to the hub. Mind you, not falling off, but clearly not engaged with the hub. Very strange. I shifted the gears, hoping that would help but it remained unattached. I groaned, realizing I wasn't getting to work by bike that morning. Rolling and pushing with one leg I rode the bike like a scooter back home.

On Friday I brought the bike to Old Spokes Home. Their mechanics had put on the new wheel and freewheel in the fall. According to Harris, a soft spoken and very knowledgeable bike guy (who I always hope works on my bike) the pawlings (new word for me) were not consistently connecting to the holes inside the freewheel. The freewheel mechanism acts like a ratchet and when properly working creates the friction for pulling the hub forward, or loosen when we pedal backward. Though he got the freewheel working again with lubrication, he didn't trust it and put on a new one on my bike. All without cost. Though Harris might see this problem if one rode through the winter and corrosion built up in the mechanism, clearly that was not the case this time.

So my Miyata is sporting a shiny freewheel, yet again. Anything for you, my big blue!


  1. I went on the Sheldon Brown (Harris Cyclery) website to read more about freewheels as I never heard of this happening before. If you get a chance read the section on "servicing a freewheel" in case it ever happens to you again to get you home safely. Your bike mechanic did the right thing in replacing it with a new one. Interestingly enough freewheels screw on and tighten over time and lock in via pedaling power. I'd be interested in knowing if it was a SunTour or other brand component, which have a tendency to have this problem of unlocking.

  2. I do not see a brand name on the new freewheel. According to Sheldon Brown I must have a freehub and cassette type of freewheel. I never knew there was a difference...hmmm. I thought they all still threaded onto the hub and tightened with time and pedaling. It uses the ratchet and pawlings design. It all looks a bit complicated to me. I'm just glad it's working again.


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