Glad this tread was resurrected, as I'd missed it before (hoping I did at least; if I didn't, I probably already replied with 87% the same thing I'm about to write here...
5, 6, or 7 speed freewheels (er, blocks) for me! I'm finally getting around to building up two Woodrup frames; one a custom touring I took delivery of going on 3 years ago (!), and another, an 86 Giro Touring I bought used in .. 2008(!!).
I've never used more than 7
, and (save on short-owned interim bike 15 years or so ago), never had a 'freehub', finding freewheels 100% adequate
for me. Another thing that's adequate is 21 gears!
(I'm always a 3x up front which apparently is also an anti-fad now)... Never found it that difficult to vary cadence
despite what the gear-hucksters
would lead one to believe, that you should constantly shift to keep a dingle, clockwork cadence... After all, we can walk and run, dance (not me) or stagger, even kick, so why is it made to be such an impossibility to pedal at a variable speed?
Maybe if I weren't too old I'd try a single-spped, fixed gear, or penny farthing.
So I've always been a 'crossover' shifter, as they used to call them, using the small chainwheel for the steep hills or especially hellish headwinds, the large for tailwinds and downhill, and middle for everything (95%) else (see again this in Tony Oliver's book
). I guess that's more common now with 10 or 12 or whatever on back but I guess I was getting to saying I never fell for the much-discussed 'half step' and similar schemes (which received as much letters to the editor and so forth, period-corrected, as a 'hot button forum topic' would nowadays).
Anyway, all I wanted to say before going off on the above is that for the 2016 Woodrup I'm using my first-ever 'custom' block
! .. of sorts .. because factory spec blocks have always been good enough, but I have to justify my chain whips
So thought I'd try a nice increasing cog size since I seem to notice differences in the smaller cogs more than the higher. Luckily I have an absurdly plush stash of NOS Suntours
, Winner Pros in large part, so was able to do 13,14,15,17,21,26,34.
Let's see if copying this gear chart from the St. Sheldon website works: 24 50.00% 36 27.80% 46
13 50.4 75.7 96.7
14 46.8 70.3 89.8
15 43.7 65.6 83.8
17 38.6 57.9 73.9
21 31.2 46.8 59.8
26 25.2 37.8 48.3
34 19.3 28.9 37
... well not so well, but anyway... too bad I can't specify monospaced type. At least I can change the colours... Chainrings on top line, with percent (in gear inches!) between, and cogs down the left side and gear inches to the right of each, etc.
24,36,46 up front. All this on a 135-spaced rear hub (Phil Wood), so plenty of room for my preferred dork disc (spoke protector) too! And I'll hear nothing of
'.. weak axles.. mm .. blablabla .. hmmm .. .. 135 spacing .. blabla bearings further out, freehubbs, mmblabla
' with a Phil Wood Hub!!
On the 85 I happen to have a 13-30 7 sp. Sachs
I haven't used much since buying ca. 1998, so may try that (a better match, I think, with the Campag 1034 record hubs & Mod. 58 rims with my Ofmega/Avocet triple chainset; the 144 BCD sadly allows me a smallest 41t middle and I'll probably swap-down the 50 to a 48).
Here's another hard to read table: 30 36.70% 41 22.00% 50
13 60.6 82.9 101
15 52.5 71.8 87.6
17 46.4 63.4 77.3
20 39.4 53.9 65.7
23 34.3 46.8 57.1
26 30.3 41.4 50.5
30 26.3 35.9 43.8
I'm also a fan of 5-speed
, esp. as the Winner Pro which has a nice flat, 'no-soak-in' outer body in 5-speed (the 6&7s, like most freewheels, have an outer cog that acts as a sort of 'dish' to feed water into the bearings; illustrated also in Oliver's book on the page near the above link, but I didn't scan that part). So good on muddier bikes (like my 84 Trek or Kibo). But I'll be honest - even if I rusted out a freewheel I year I believe I am covered for life... A recent Winner7 freewheel I had on since 2005 still spun like new when I removed it tho, even after four long, sometimes wet, heavy tours and other 'weather'.
Lately I've developed a fetish for 'normal' 6-speeds, too
(and have a small stash). Why go 'ultra 7' when you can go 'straight six'? Who knows, I like both! I may yet change my mind on the Giro touring (126mm spaced) and instead of the Sachs use a Winner Pro-6000 (the non 'ultra' spacing model) with whatever combination I can dream up that requires switching at least one cog.
All these 5, 6, & 7-speed freewheels, at least (know nothing of freehubs) also allow me to use my favo
)rite Sram PC-8x0 chains
, too. I think I saw somewhere that the narrower and narrower chains for those 9,10, 12, 15 or whatever freehubs use chains more akin to (and expensive as, and maybe as fragile as?) jewellery chains, eh? A nice PC-870 will cost me about $20, but did I see 10-speed chains at like $80 or something?? I may be wrong as I wasn't looking, but seem to recall some shock in the background of my chain listing.
So the timeless appeal of 5,6,7 for me is
1) I have a good stash,
1.5) I need a 1.5 for the colour blend - how about freewheels are, well, just Cool, and they're mostly 5, 6, & &7!
2) they've always been 100% adequate technologically and in number of gears provided,
3) a Phil freewheel hub costs me $175, but a Phil freehub-hub os about 400...
3.5) Nice wide, easy to shift spacing (especially with Manly Friction Shifting!)
4) they're (mostly, for me) Suntour!
//robert, going crazy with the colours
to make up for my table formatting inadequacies