The freewheel is a ratcheting mechanism, that coupled with a set of gears, is that threaded onto the rear hub of a bike. The freewheel allows the rear wheel to engage and move when the pedals are spun forward, but coast freely when the pedals are stationary or spun backwards.

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What can I do to keep my rear derailler in good condition when commuting in the snow?

In the winter, it seems that whatever I do, my rear derailleur stops functioning after few weeks of commuting in light snow. Ice always gets in there somehow, and the chain refuses to move the wheel, ...