Freewheel fail with cold- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Freewheel fail with cold

    I guess my winter riding has taken its toll on my bike. Today when I went to make a left turn at an intersection I heard a crunch, bike didn't move and got the frame in the crotch. LBS told me it was the cold and being stored indoors that is what killed it. Need some suggestions on what kind of parts to get to prevent this.

  2. #2
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    Fixed gear.

    Haha, kidding. Seriously though, go fixed.

    Hope you get it taken care of. Bike down is no good!
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.

  3. #3
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    Freewheel fail with cold

    Buy a pin spanner and maintain your freewheel. The bearing cap is reverse threaded. All it takes is light oil every month or so...You don't even need to remove the freewheel from the wheel, but definitely do it with the freewheel facing up, or you'll have bearings everywhere. Drop the oil all around and spin the freewheel backwards to distribute it.

    Any freewheel, even a good one, will fail with no maintenance through the winter.

    Side note: is your freewheel single or multi speed?

  4. #4
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    Freehubs can freeze in the winter if there is not adequate lubrication, or if the lube used is too viscous. Water in the freehub can freeze making the pawls stick down and not engage properly. Same if the lube is too thick. I prefer Dumonde freehub oil, or Phil's Tenacious Oil.

    You may need a new freehub body, at best; a new hub at worst.

    The LBS is wrong about indoor storage contributing to this problem. It's more a function of maintenance and the quality of the freehub. Freehubs with more pawls and points of engagement resist sticking down. Most mid-range hubs have three pawls. And like a triangle, they work wonderfully when all three points are there. If one point fails, the entire system fails.

    Edit: If you're using a single speed freewheel, I suggest a White Industries ENO. They're user serviceable (no other is, that I know of) and extremely durable. Pricey, but hassle free. I've had mine for 7 years. I opened it up at the beginning of this year, and the grease was like new, no contamination.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
    Side note: is your freewheel single or multi speed?
    I had the same realization after I wrote my reply.

  6. #6
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    I ended up getting a new wheel for the back for a c-note. Otherwise parts would have to be ordered and that could have meant a few weeks of downtime for my bike which is my sole form of transport. Bike is 7/8 months old, should warranty have covered this? I will also inquire if my credit card will cover this since it adds 1 year warranty on top of whats manufacturer provides

  7. #7
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    Which bike was it that failed? If you have normal derailleur type systems, temperature changes could lead to condensation and freezing, etc., but, not to sudden catastrophic failure on a regularly rode bike. If you have IGH, I am completely out of my depth.

    Warranties are variable. At 8 months old, from a reputable manufacturer, I would expect this to be covered. Check the manufacturer's website to see if they have a one- year warranty on the complete bike (I seem to remember Kona has this), or just a frame warranty.

    Worth checking on both the manufacturer and the credit card, the LBS might be more helpful if they don't think it is out of pocket for them. Best of luck.

  8. #8
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    It was my Rocky mountain vapor, it has what I think is a normal derailleur its a shimano alivio. The fellow who sold me the bike also a part owner of the shop dealt with my issue, I assume if it was under warranty he would have said something. Bike does have about 2200 miles on or about 3600km for us metric folk. Having purchased 2 bikes from them this year I would assume they would have said something. Now I think about it, a few weeks ago bike felt like it was skipping gears, but now I realize it was the freewheel giving up. I emailed the shop today asking if they still had the wheel as I would like to have it repaired for a spare.

  9. #9
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    I don't think you needed to buy a whole new wheel. I looked up the bike, and it has a cassette/freehub, not a freewheel.

    Winter conditions cause lube to freeze up inside bicycle freehubs. Especially if the lube is in need of replacing, anyway. Not a warranty situation, most likely. Symptoms include gears spinning freely when bike is outside and cold. Oftentimes when thawed, everything will work fine. Sometimes not necessarily, though.

    Really, all it takes to fix this problem is to remove the freehub body, clean out the old lube, and put in new lube. After 2200 miles, I could see the lube being degraded and needing cleaned out/replaced.

    I would hope your shop pulled the freehub body off to see if something actually broke inside the freehub/pawls before telling you that you needed new parts. The crunch could have been something breaking, but it might also have been less catastrophic.

    This really has nothing to do with where you store your bike. You've put quite a few miles on your bike this year. Stuff wears out. Especially inexpensive stuff like this bike has. Most people who buy a bike at this level aren't going to ride it over 2000 miles EVER, let alone in just one year. And they won't be riding it in the wintertime, which is hard on bikes and parts regardless of where you store it. Yeah, freeze/thaw cycles are harder than absolute temps sometimes, but good maintenance can minimize problems there.

  10. #10
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    I bought a rocky in 2001 that had a Formula free hub that cracked within 3 months. No warranty. But the shop replaced it at cost with a replacement free hub (same type) that somehow lasted 15,500 km, outlasting the rest of the bike. So you might just have had a lemon. FWIW I rarely service free hubs, and typically get at least 10,000 km out of them, often way more.

    Free hubs often fail to engage in cold weather when they are either brand new (lots of grease to thicken) or old (the cold exaggerates the effect of the worn pawls) but cold weather doesn't typically cause anything to break.
    The above statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration

  11. #11
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    Not much more to offer than everybody else. I've had it happen too. The hub gets packed with snow, you bring it inside and the water accumulates inside the freehub. You start your ride and it is fine and 10-30 minutes into the ride depending on temp it goes into "neutral" when the water freezes. I took it apart and cleaned it before this season and all is well with the same freehub.

  12. #12
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    Something I would like to add. My other 2 bikes when the rear wheel freewheels it makes that clicking noise. The one that the freewheel broke on never made that noise, but the new wheel I just got does make that noise. Is this something that is an indication of anything. At the time the shop didn't take it apart.

    When I had that skipping feeling it would be intermittent, either first thing from room temp to any time or temp.

    Asked the shop to see if they could repair the hub on my old and was told I could buy a new hub, but labor would make it just as costly to just buy a new one. I will contact rocky myself via email and see what they say about any warranty.

  13. #13
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    Cheap hubs technically have replaceable freehub bodies, but good luck finding one. They're typically as expensive, if not more so, than a new hub of the same model. You can try to find a junk hub in a bin at a coop, but there is no guarantee that the body will fit.

    The clicking that you hear is the pawl(s) engaging the ratchets in the freehub body/hub body (depending on the hub). They work just like a ratcheting socket wrench. Volume, or lack thereof, is not necessarily a mark of quality; people generally associate loud with better quality, but Shimano's freehubs hubs are fairly quiet (especially the older ones) and just as dependable for a commuter as, say, a Hope/DT/etc.

    If you can find one, and it is worth your time to do, Paul Morningstar made a tool called the Freehub Buddy, which worked with Shimano/Shimano clone freehub bodies. You would remove the freehub body periodically (say, after winter?) and hook up the tool to the space that would be occupied by the bearings, and inject lubricant of your choice into the body, until it squeezed out the other end. It really did work well, but the general inexpensiveness of freehub bodies, as well as better sealing, relative to when he came up with the tool has made it something akin to a zerk fitting on a modern hub: completely unnecessary.

  14. #14
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    Bicycles are NOT equipped to be ridden in cold weather as they come from the factory.

    Most grease becomes so thick at cold temperatures that it STOPS lubricating. Even gear lube in automobiles becomes so thick it stops lubricating in subzero weather and is the most likely time for gear and bearing failures.

    I disassemble even new parts and relube them with synthetic grease or oil as it's viscosity does not change anywhere near as much as petroleum based lubricants.

    Redline CV-2 Synthetic grease is rated for operation between -100F and 500F. I use it for all bearings that I can get too. Unfortunately I don't know how to disassemble my Shimano bottom bracket without damaging it.

    Shimano stopped making the tool needed to disassemble their free hub bodies. I'm going to make one out of a socket like the guy did in this video:'

    How To Make A Freehub Body Disassembly Tool
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qBk5pePGRg

    Freehub Body Disassembly/Assembly
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9gIEG1db0s

    Then I'll clean out the original facory grease and regrease it with Redline CV-2 synthetic grease.

    Also, synthetic grease has less friction than petroleum grease and it's film strength is also higher.

    Redline CV-2 Synthetic Moly Grease
    Red Line Synthetic Oil - Grease and Assembly Lube - CV-2 Grease

    Scott Novak

  15. #15
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    I've found that Dumonde Tech's freehub oil works really well in sub/freezing temps.
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

  16. #16
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    Using grease in a freehub body invites disaster, as grease attracts and holds onto grit. Also, the tackiness of grease may cause the pawls to stick down. As GRAVELBIKE said, a lighter oil works best. Dumonde's and Paul's Tenacious Oil both work wonderfully. If you do take apart your freehub and clean it make sure to remove any rubber o-rings before using a solvent. Rubber and solvent do not make friends.

    To help prevent water getting into a freehub, wipe excess ice/snow off the bike before storage. I use a stiff bristled shop brush to knock large chunks of snow/ice off the bike before I bring it inside. Once inside, I wipe the entire bike down with a shop towel.

    If water is getting into a freehub it's past time for a rebuild and/or the rubber seals have failed.

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