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My girlfriend has had the wheels stolen from her bike. I'd like to replace them, but we're working with a limited budget so I'm going to do the work myself and source the parts second hand.

I've done a basic bike maintenance course but beyond that I'm relatively clueless. I know that the new wheels need to be 700C's, and that the new rear gear cassette needs to be 7-speed (I guess because that's what the gear shifters are) but I have the following questions:

  • Will any 700C wheel work with any gear cassette? From browsing eBay it seems that some of the wheels are specified as working with 7-speed or 8-speed cassettes?
  • The first question aside, will any cassette screw on to the mounting on the wheel I buy, or are there different threads?
  • Should I buy a free wheel or a cassette? I'm not even sure what the difference is!
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3  
Don't feel bad about being "clueless". Rear derailleur hubs used to be pretty simple with basically only one option. Then there were 2, 3, 4, 5... and things started multiplying. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 2 at 17:55
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Manufacturers/merchants don't make it easy either, most product listings are missing important details and if they are included, they are usually pretty cryptic. –  Carson Reinke Apr 2 at 18:24
    
Thanks, I think I'm getting the hang of it now :) –  Jim Apr 2 at 19:20

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Will any 700C wheel work with any gear cassette?

No, it depends on what size free hub is on the wheel. I believe there is also variations in hub spacing too. It could be between 126mm and 135mm.

From browsing eBay it seems that some of the wheels are specified as working with 7-speed or 8-speed cassettes?

That is because the free hub installed will allow those size cassettes.

will any cassette screw on to the mounting on the wheel I buy, or are there different threads?

Cassettes don't screw on unless you are using a free wheel, they have splines and a lock ring. Yes, there are some differences. Most likely it is Shimano Hyperglide, the wheel manufacturer will probably state this. Sometimes, they don't though, which makes it fun.

Should I buy a free wheel or a cassette?

You will want to buy a 7 speed cassette, because your shifter only supports that. See this related question.

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Thanks! So I need to get a 700C rear wheel with a freehub designed for a 7-speed cassette, and then that freehub will only work with some cassettes? –  Jim Apr 2 at 18:07
    
Yes, most likely the free hub is going to be for Shimano compatible cassettes. What is the make/model of the shifter you have? –  Carson Reinke Apr 2 at 18:18
    
Seems like it's an SRAM 3.0. Google's telling me that I can mix and match most Shimano and SRAM components, is that the case? –  Jim Apr 2 at 19:19
    
Yes, the only thing you can't do is SRAM RD with Shimano shifter or vice versa. –  DWGKNZ Apr 2 at 19:41

There are a number of factors to consider when buying a new wheel set:

  1. Wheel size, there are many different wheel sizes to choose from, modern road bikes are generally 700c and mountain bikes 26, 27.5 or 29inch. There's also a number of legacy, children's and specialty sizes.

  2. Rim width, rim width determines how wide a tire you can run and is determined by seat stay and chain stay clearance. If you have a road bike you may be able to fit wider cross tires if you were so inclined.

  3. Axle width, the width of the rear drop outs, generally 135mm on road bikes but older bikes may be less, 135 or 142 for mountain bikes. Front widths on mountain bikes are either 100 or 110.

  4. Cassette size, you need a hub (unless using a free wheel) that is spaced for the cassette you'll be using. There are 7, 8/9/10 and 11 speed free hubs. A 7 speed cassette will fit an 8 speed hub with a spacer.

  5. Cassette type, shimano and sram require a compatible hub, campy requires a different compatible hub.

  6. Brake type, rim brakes need a specific rim, disc brakes and coaster brakes require a specific hub.

  7. Axle diameter, on Mountain bikes there's 9mm QR and 15mm and 20mm thru axle on the front and 10mm QR, 10mm bolt up or 12mm thru axle on the rear.

Everything thing else such as material, number of spokes or valve type is user preference.

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