My rear axle broke so I took my bike into a shop to see what they suggested. I had read a few posts that had said it should be fairly easy to replace the axle. The guys in the shop said that because my frame is fairly old (1980s) it would be hard to find one that was the right length and connected in the right way (apparently there are 4 different types?). I think they might have said that because the current wheel doesn't have a free hub it means you need a longer axle to fit over the cassette, which might also make things harder?

They said the easiest thing to do would be to buy a new wheel and suggested the Halo Retro (http://www.halowheels.com/products/part/RMHAR76S).

My two questions really are:

  1. Would it really be so hard to find the right axle if I know what the length of the old one is?
  2. If I should get a new wheel is the Halo Retro a good choice? A few reviews I've seen say it's pretty good and it sounds like it would suit the bike but I was just wondering if there were any cheaper options.
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    If you need to replace the hub it generally is as cheap or cheaper to simply buy a new wheel. As to replacing the axle, it's hard to say -- 1980s isn't that old, so I'd be inclined to check a few more bike shops before giving up. All you need is an axle of the same diameter and thread, and at least long enough -- the axle can be cut shorter. (And axles have gotten longer over the years.) Commented May 7, 2014 at 21:24
  • Thanks Daniel, I'll try some other places tomorrow. I think they might have said that because the current wheel doesn't have a free hub it means you need a longer axle to fit over the cassette. Would an axle of that length be more unusual nowadays?
    – will_m
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 22:53
  • More unusual, but there are still plenty of the older bikes in use. Commented May 7, 2014 at 23:42
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    (You might be able to buy an old matching hub cheap on eBay and swap out the axle.) Commented May 7, 2014 at 23:50
  • Can you post a picture of it please? I never saw a wheel that don't match new axles. It's not a problem to find an axle that is not freehub, as yet there are many cheap bikes that comes with a freewheel.
    – Alexander
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


I have replaced probably three or four axles like yours in the last few months. It is fairly easy; the only special tools that you need are usually cone wrenches (very skinny wrenches to hold the cone-nuts in your hub). The axles are cheap (maybe 10 bucks or so online). You will also need a regular 17 or 16mm box wrench.

Is your axle a quick release (it is hollow inside) or solid? If it is solid, the length does not matter really, as long as it is longer than your old one. If it is quick release, then you have to get it within one mm or so so that the quick release skewer still holds properly. The thread pitch also matters, and is somewhat harder to determine on your own.

I would think that any decent bike shop would be able to tell you exactly what you need. You can order a cone wrench and new axle for probably ~$15 online and do the repairs yourself, and have the original wheel still on your bike.

I'll look around for instructions on how to change out an axle. BTW, this is pretty common for hubs that take freewheels.

  • 1
    I've now spoken to my friend who built the bike for me. He also thought that it would be pretty hard to find the right axle in a reasonable time frame. He suggested I either get a new hub and build it into the wheel, or just get a new wheel. I haven't done any major repairs yet so think replacing the hub might be a bit much for me, and if I got it done professionally the labour costs would mean I might as well replace the wheel. I'm now looking on ebay for a screw-on freewheel compatible. Apparently the parts for these are a bit more unusual which is why finding the axle might be harder?
    – will_m
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 13:05
  • You might look around for older wheels, and borrow the axle from one. Or, just swap out the wheels if it's a fit. If a bike shop has been in business a while, they probably have a heap of old wheels in a back room. Also, you should be able to find a replacement axle online without much difficulty. The only problem is that you then have to wait for the mail to come. Replacing the hub means respoking the wheel. Fair amount of work there.
    – Mark G B
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 1:00

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