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Freewheel or Cassette and Threaded or Unthreaded on new SS?(7 posts)

Freewheel or Cassette and Threaded or Unthreaded on new SS?zmarke
Jan 15, 2003 2:55 PM
Rear hubs:
If you were going to build a new set of wheels for a single speed (not fixed-gear) bike (and did not want to use track hubs - too much to explain why), would you rather use a new-old-stock freewheel type hub and use a Shimano BMX freewheel or would you use a newer cassette type hub with spacers and a BMX cog? I am asking the question in relation to long term durability and setup of chainline and any other maintenance issues.

I have heard that unthreaded is better but nobody has ever really given me a good answer. It seems that people with unthreaded are always complaining about their setups and the use of spacers and that once the fork is cut you are "sol". With a threaded headset you can always make changes to your setup without too much trouble. If you were going to build up a new 1" headset frame and had the choice of threaded or unthreaded fork, which would you choose and why? What about maintenance issues?

Look and feel...
This is the non-technical question. Would your answers change to either one of these questions if you are the type that likes "modern technology" or the type that goes for the "retro look"?
Although I use BMX freewheels, There are better options..Dave Hickey
Jan 15, 2003 5:47 PM
I'd buy Shimano DX hubs. They're made for a single cassette cog. BMX freewheels don't last very long(750-1000miles).

Here is an example:
Although I use BMX freewheels, There are better options..zmarke
Jan 15, 2003 6:02 PM
Since the hub is 110 can it be re-spaced for a 120mm frame like the surly steamroller or a 130mm frame like the urbanite and still have a dishless rear wheel and good chainline?

Do the BMX freewheels just break and/or wearout?

Jan 15, 2003 7:07 PM
From what I've read on the MTB single speed forum, the BMX (both ACS and Shimano) freewheel life can be prolonged by cleaning and repacking every so often, like 500-600 miles, or more often when used offroad. They get full of dirt and start sounding really rough when the pawls don't engage so well. Some people just toss them after 1000 miles.

There are newer, more expensive BMX freewheels available that are claimed to last longer, but I think it would be better to use a modern cassette hub and a conversion kit with a cog. You should get many, many more miles out of a cassette, and the $9.95 kit from (shown below) allows for plenty of chainline adjustment using the spacers. A $4.95 Shimano cassette cog and a standard cassette lock ring completes the package.
Although I use BMX freewheels, There are better options..Dave Hickey
Jan 16, 2003 3:52 AM
The axle is long enough for 120mm with a couple of spacers. The chainline is adjustable. The freehub has a couple of spacers.
Jan 15, 2003 7:34 PM
You heard it right about the wide range of adjustability of a threaded fork steerer tube and stem. I use a threadless fork on my geared road bike since that's the way it came. I do like the availability of so many different threadless stems and lightweight carbon forks, including 1 1/8th steerer tubes. However, it isn't a must have. I'd be plenty happy with a good ol' threaded steerer and quill stem. Not for just a classic look, but for the ease of adjustment and functionality.

Unthreaded hasn't been proven to be "better" other than being slightly stiffer (the ability to use a 1 1/8th inch steerer), and more modern, light stem options available. I'd go with a quill/threaded fork on a custom bike if I ordered one today. Some people think it just isn't a cool bike without a threadless stem/fork, but who cares. There are some beautiful quill stems available out there.
I'm my 3-yrs of SS'ing....SS_MB-7
Jan 16, 2003 3:15 PM
I'm my 3-yrs of SS'ing, I've gone from:
1- a converted rear geared hub (Hupe Bulb disc hub) with spacers and a Shimano BMX cog, to
2 -a SS-specific rear hub (Spot disc hub) with both Shimano and ACS freewheels, and now to
3 - a King SS disc rear hub which uses King legendary internals with a shorter cassette body with spacers and a Kog (similar to the Shimano BMX cog, but uses a wider base to distribute the load over a wider area).

Of the three options, #1 and #2 have been 100% reliable. #2 has been hit-n-miss. I've had good and bad luck with both ACS and Shimano freewheels. It seems their tolerances and quality are flaky. It was recommended to me by Brent @ Phil Wood to occasionally squirt some Phil's Tenacious oil in the freewheels. This seems to help somewhat.

White Industries has a new freewheel which should be more reliable, but at a cost.

Also, riding in colder winter weather (-25C) seems to sieze the freewheels. I almost got stranded 2 hrs from my car during a winter night ride when my freewheel temporarily siezed in the colder temps. Never had this problem with my converted rear wheel or King.

Lastly, despite my best efforts, I cannot get those damn freewheels off my hub no matter how much I reef on the 15" crescent wrench and no matter how much anti-sieze I use. I always have to take my rear wheel to my LBS to use their permanently attached vise to remove the freewheel....pain-in-the-ass. Fortunately, I've finally installed a work bench at home with a vise, so this won't be an issue, but it is still going to be an issue during races, rides, etc if a freewheel dies, or I want to switch freewheel sizes. I've never had a problem with cassette lockrings so swapping cogs/Kogs is a snap.

Unfortunately, if you want a flip-flop, you are stuck with freewheels.

Ride Hard,
Mike B.