If you ride around on a single speed bike or a BMX, then once every one to two years you need to replace the freewheel cog.
It became apparent that my freewheel needed replacing on my bike after I kept hearing a clonking sound, each time I’d be applying a lot of pressure to the pedals. This was particularly apparent, when pedalling uphill.
To complete this repair you’ll need a couple of tools:
- BMX Freewheel remover – one that will fit your freewheel cog. Note that as crazy as it sounds, some freewheel cogs are not designed to be removed. See destructive freewheel removal.
- Spanner – this will fit on to the freewheel remover. Ideally, don’t use an adjustable spanner as you are likely to slip and damage the tool and potentially your freewheel.
- Grease – use quality bike grease such as this one.
Buying a new freewheel
A cheap freewheel will cost you £20. A more expensive one will cost you around £40. However, the more expensive one is likely to last a couple of years or more. The cheaper one will probably last around 12 months, depending on usage.
Therefore, this is one of those scenarios where it’s worth spending money now, to save money in the long term.
At Lunar Cycles, my favourite local bike shop, we decided to order in a more expensive freewheel. They recommended the Halo Clickster. Besides being more durable, the Clickster also delivers a satisfying constant clicking sound when you are freewheeling.
Whichever model you order, make sure you count out the number of teeth that you need by comparing it to your existing single speed or BMX freewheel cog.
Step by step instructions
Step 1: With the wheel removed from the bike, fit the freewheel remover on to the cog, making sure you align the four notches.
Step 2: Using a spanner (or wrench for our American counterparts) undo the freewheel counter clockwise.
Step 3: With the freewheel removed, add plenty of quality grease and make sure you apply it evenly by using your hands to ensure all threads are fully greased.
Step 4: Add grease to the threads of the freewheel cog and make sure you apply it evenly.
Step 5: Carefully fit the freewheel back on to the threads. Never use force when doing this. The freewheel should slide on easily, without resistance. If you need to use force, then you probably haven’t lined up the threads correctly. You should feel for a smooth movement as the freewheel fits in to position.
Step 6: Refit the freewheel remover in to position and use a spanner to tighten the freewheel in place. Note that you don’t need to use excessive amounts of force at this stage as the freewheel will tighten as you pedal.
Step 7: With the threads slightly greased, refit the nuts and replace the wheel back on to the bike.
Thank you kindly to Lunar Cycles for allowing me to observe and picture this repair. We will be adding it to the next update of Bike Doctor.
Join 5,112 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter
Sign up for our free newsletter to get...
- Advice on the best cycling gear
- A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
- Exclusive content not available on the blog
Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)
*No spam, ever!
As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.