Author Topic: Winter cycling — pawls freezing  (Read 4644 times)

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Offline geegee

Winter cycling — pawls freezing
« on: February 14, 2009, 02:08:20 pm »
Anyone here into winter cycling? I wonder what you do about pawls freezing in your freewheel hub. I am also thinking about getting a bike with an internal hub — are these immune to freezing?

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: Winter cycling — pawls freezing
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2009, 07:11:11 am »
Hi Geeg. Like you, I still ride a freewheel. Some water got into yours, or possibly really old dried-out gummed-up grease. The cures for both are the same:

1. Replace it. They are getting hard to find, but are not terribly expensive. Certainly cheaper than a rebuilt wheel with internal gearing. I bought my last one from Loose Screws at http://thethirdhand.com/.

2. Find a bike shop with a special tool for flushing it out with solvent and injecting fresh oil.

3. Disassemble, clean, and re-lube it yourself. I do mine every spring. Try it only if you are comfortable with this sort of thing, as there are about 100 tiny ball bearings in two races inside. If you have ever overhauled your wheel bearings happily, see removal instructions at http://bicycletutor.com/replace-freewheel/. The incomparable Sheldon Brown shows removal and disassembly at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/freewheels.html.

If yours has a lot of miles on it, or a lot of gritty years, the water may well have carried in enough grit to wear it out. You may find the balls corroded and the races pitted.

Internally geared hubs are definitely better sealed than freewheels but have their own disadvantages: cost, difficult maintenance, cost, restricted choice of gears, and cost.

Why not consider a cassette hub? The better ones are well sealed and not expensive. They had taken over the market for good reasons.

Fred

Offline DaveB

Re: Winter cycling — pawls freezing
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2009, 05:24:02 am »
I ride all winter, often in well below freezing temperatures and often in rain or on wet roads and have never had a freehub freeze or refuse to work properly.  Annually, I remove the freehub body and relube it with a light oil like Tri-Flow by removing the rear seal and flushing the lube through the internals.   The "secret" is the use of a light, modern oil as these work over a very wide temperature range.

The same technique will work with a freewheel also.  Dribble the light oil into the narrow gap between the stationary core and the rotating outer shell while rotating ther freewheel to distribute it.  It the freewheel is not working, a flush with kerosene or mineral spirits prior to the oil should free it up.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Winter cycling — pawls freezing
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2009, 09:25:08 am »
My freehub stopped working a month or so on a ride.  Freehub, not freewheel.  1991 Deore DX to be exact.  130mm hub, 7 speed cassette.  I soak it in gear oil each year so doubt there is any grease left in it.  My winter commuting bike lives in the garage when its cold.  Gets into the 20s I suspect in the garage.  It had been cold for awhile.  It was near 0 on the day it froze up going to work.  About 1/4 mile from work the pawls stopped engaging so the freehub freewheeled in both directions.  Had to walk the remainder.  Took it inside at work and it unfroze during the day and worked going home.  For a few days I kept the bike inside the house at night and inside at work.  So no problems.  Once it got back up into the 20s for the day I left it outside again and it was fine.  Have no idea if the other ideas suggested work or not.  My suspicion is they do not.  Once it gets into the single digits and lower, freewheels, freehubs stop working.  Only 100% trouble free solution for cold weather is a fixed gear.  I thought about getting a fixed gear / freewheel cyclocross bike that could accomodate my 35mm studded tires and fenders.  Freewheel on one side and fixed on the other.  So if the freewheel stopped working, just flip the wheel around and continue.  For various reasons I have not done this yet.

Offline geegee

Re: Winter cycling — pawls freezing
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2009, 03:53:13 pm »
I brought the bike inside the other night and that seemed to do the trick in getting the pawls to spring back and engage with regularity. I've had it outside all winter, including during a couple of cold snaps when temperatures dropped down to  -30˚C (-22˚F), so the grease must have really gelled up. I'll try putting some oil as you guys suggest.

Although I have done a bit of winter cycling before, this is the first winter I've done it extensively with studded tires, and I really enjoyed cycling through a couple of snow storms. We had a public transit strike during the months of December and January, so many of us in Ottawa were left to taking up cycling through the worst of the Canadian winter. I've kept it up even though the buses have started running.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Winter cycling — pawls freezing
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2009, 06:35:14 am »
My winter cycling has always been restricted to the southern tier of states. It did get quite cold though. One night I survived a blizzard near Guadalupe Pass in west Texas. It was New Year's Eve of 1984 to 1985. I didn't sleep a wink all night. The next morning I had to use a screwdriver to chip the ice off the brake handles, brake calipers, and deraileurs before I could get going again. The thing is, in all my S-tier winter cycling, I cannot remember a time when the cold actually caused any of the bike's moving parts to malfunction. A temporary halting of function? Yes, as just described. A breakdown of the gear itself? Never.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Winter cycling — pawls freezing
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2009, 07:20:53 am »
I suspect in all your Southern Tier travels the weather has never gotten really cold and stayed cold.  By cold I mean 0 F.  20s isn't cold.  And stay at 0 F for days in a row.  Blizzards don't occur when its really cold.  The air is too cold and dry to hold moisture.  Blizzards and snow occur when its in the 20s, relatively warm.  My freehub stopped working after it had been cold, 0 F, for a couple days.  Once the weather warmed up into the 20s or so, it worked fine and did not stop working again.  20 F no problem, 0 F problems.

Offline DaveB

Re: Winter cycling — pawls freezing
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2009, 07:32:03 pm »
My freehub stopped working a month or so on a ride.......I soak it in gear oil each year so doubt there is any grease left in it. 
Your problem is the gear oil.  It's too viscous to allow operation in severe cold.  There are modern synthetic and synthetic blend oils that remain fluid down to -60°F or there abouts and they will prevent freehub problems at any weather you will ever ride in.  The folks who ride Iditabike have reliable freehubs at super cold temperatures for days at a time so it's quite feasible.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Winter cycling — pawls freezing
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2009, 10:07:49 am »
I suspect in all your Southern Tier travels the weather has never gotten really cold and stayed cold.  By cold I mean 0 F.  20s isn't cold.  And stay at 0 F for days in a row.  Blizzards don't occur when its really cold.  The air is too cold and dry to hold moisture.  Blizzards and snow occur when its in the 20s, relatively warm.  My freehub stopped working after it had been cold, 0 F, for a couple days.  Once the weather warmed up into the 20s or so, it worked fine and did not stop working again.  20 F no problem, 0 F problems.

0 degrees F for days all day or mostly all day? You got that right. I am from Florida. If that kind of weather were to hit, I would be hightailing it to the nearest motel. I have cycled for days in freezing weather, and in the twenties at times, but probably not all day. Many nights I have slept out in freezing temperatures, or down into the twenties. I have never had the first bit of mechanical breakdown caused by it. However, that is why I specified all my winter cycling was in the southern tier of states. I come from warm weather, and have lived there most of my life. But, I did have to take courses on cold weather operations when I was in the army, and I know cold weather can adversely effect many different kinds of mechanical devices. However, in the southern tier of states you should not have to be concerned about cold-weather induced breakdowns of your bicycling equipment.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Winter cycling — pawls freezing
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2009, 10:56:24 am »
0 degrees F for days all day or mostly all day?  However, in the southern tier of states you should not have to be concerned about cold-weather induced breakdowns of your bicycling equipment.

Temps ranged from -10 or so to about 5 above F.  So an average of 0 is about right.  I would agree on the southern tier route and those states prolonged cold is not a real concern.  Definitely not enough to affect equipment.  Human comfort, yes.