I've recently (last 6 months) begun riding again after many years away and have begun updating components on my bike (a mid 80s era Fuji). After replacing the rear wheel and freewheel I developed a problem with the chain slipping. On a 7 speed freewheel, the 2 highest gears run fine, the 3rd gear slips somewhere between the 10th and 15th turn under load (but not when hand cranked with no load), the 4th gear slips so badly under load that it won't engage (again, I can't repeat this by hand cranking with no load), and gears 5 - 7 work fine. Thinking that it could be caused by the old chain I replaced it but the same conditions still occur.

Additional information:

All cables have been recently replaced. The rear derailleur was replaced about 1 month ago.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.


  • Did you buy a chain for a 7 speed freewheel? 5-7 have more points of contact so they will deal with a mis-sized chain better.
    – paparazzo
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 16:42
  • 1
    your chain length?
    – PeteH
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 16:48
  • The new chain is an SRAM 7-8 speed with a few links removed to accommodate the size of the new freewheel. Commented May 29, 2014 at 16:55
  • Odd, if you have no slack and matching chain and freewheel then this should not happen. Is it a Shimano freewheel? Does the chain fully drop into the freewheel. Compare to the freewheel you took off.
    – paparazzo
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 18:12
  • so you have new chain, new freewheel, new cables, new derailleur? That doesn't leave much in terms of parts. It's starting to sound like and adjustment thing rather than a knack'd part - cable tension?
    – PeteH
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 20:25

3 Answers 3


You don't say what derailleur and shifter you have, but if they are an indexed Campagnolo system the spacing they're designed for is different in the middle of the cassette to the ends. I had exactly these symptoms with a 10-speed Campagnolo cassette on a SRAM bike.

You will have an array of problems if the mech and shifter's idea of cable pull do not match, particularly with an indexed system.

You will have exactly this problem trying to use any non-7-speed shifter/mech with a 7-speed system.

You can also get these symptoms if the B screw of the derailleur doesn't leave enough clearance between the top jockey wheel and the sprocket on the cassette, but it is more usual for this to affect the easy gears.


When you've replaced your cassette and chain and you're still getting slippage, the next logical thing to check is the chainset. The teeth up front wear down too and that can sometimes be the cause of slippage. It can be hard to distinguish between rear cog slips and doesn't necessarily occur across all cogs at the back as you assume it would.


This sounds like a worn cassette. For most people, the middle gears are most used and thus have the most wear. I'm not in the camp that you replace the cassette every time you replace the chain, but it sounds like you are ready for a new one.

  • This is a new freewheel. Commented May 29, 2014 at 16:57
  • 2
    If you ran it much at all with a worn chain, it is no longer a new freewheel. If the chain is worn, it can trash the freewheel in a relatively short time. Commented May 30, 2014 at 15:37
  • @FredtheMagicWonderDog - It would take at least 500 miles with a worn chain to seriously damage the freewheel. Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 11:58

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