Maintenance 101 – The Freehub

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Do your wheels feel rough or sticky when you give them a spin? It’s time to glove up, examine the hub, and give it some love. Your freehub, which drives the bike when you pedal, is worth giving a quick spring clean, as servicing it would only result to a smoother ride.

Made up of pawls and springs, the ratchet mechanism lets the gears to spin freely in one direction, but not the other, allowing your bike to coast. This mechanism (bearings, ratcheting teeth and pawls) is contained within the freehub body. Remember, the cassette cogs have no moving parts, all of them are in the freehub body.

So, by cleaning the ratchet and pawl system of the freehub body, it produces a faster pick-up as big teeth and pawls will bite harder as you pedal faster.

Usually the problem would be the wheel bearings wearing over time, especially when you’re cycling often in wet and gritty conditions. Sealed (or cartridge) and non-sealed (standard or open) bearings will both run more smoothly and will prolong the lifespan of the hub if they are lubricated. So, occasional maintenance to keep them running at their top condition is a must.

If cleaning and lubricating the freehub does not resolve the sticking or noise, replace the freehub unit with a new one.

Right here, we provide you simple steps that would spruce up your wheel’s performance. The tools and procedure shown below were applied to a Campagnolo Zonda™ wheel. Remember, each manufacturer has their own recommended service procedure. Check with them, the instruction manual, or your local bike shop for advice.

In this maintenance, you will need:

  • Sprocket remover (Park Tool SR 2)
  • 5mm Allen key(Hex wrench)
  • Lubricating grease(Campagnolo)
  • Spanner
  • Freewheel Remover
  • Degreaser

1
Use the sprocket remover to get a firm grip on the cassette while you use the freewheel remover to loosen the cap, by turning counter-clockwise.

2
Remove the cassette.

3
Firmly grip the spacer with spanner. Use the 5mm Allen key to loosen the screw shaft. Remove the spacer.

4
Remove the freehub body.

5
Use a clean cloth or clean tissue to wipe the inner track of the freehub body. Apply degreaser onto the nuts.

6
Apply lubricating grease around the freehub and the pawls.

7
When assembling parts back to their respective places, the hub should have smooth but firm rotations, so do not overtighten the nut.

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