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I need to change the freewheel and the hub on my road bike and have been looking for a suitable replacement. I wish to keep my rim so I will rebuild the wheel. Also, I want to stay with a 6 speed cassette due to the limits of my current derailleur.

It seems easy to find a 14-28 6-speed freewheel. However, I haven't been able to find a 6-speed freewheel compatible hub, or at least one that states explicitly such compatibility.

My question is:

How do I know that a hub is 6-speed freewheel compatible? What measures do I need to look for to make sure that the cassette will match the length of the hub?

Here's an example of a frewheel that I'd like to match with a new hub http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SHIMANO-6-or-7-SPEED-FREEWHEEL-14-28-TEETH-SCREW-ON-NOT-CASSETTE-REAR-WHEEL-/121300234787?pt=UK_sportsleisure_cycling_bikeparts_SR&var=&hash=item1c3e0eb223.

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    Are you sure that you have a cassette+freehub system (the freewheeling mechanism is not in the cluster of sprockets) and not a freewheel system (the cluster of sprockets has the freewheeling mechanism built in)? 6 speed is normally a freewheel system. – Batman Sep 14 '14 at 16:46
  • Are there 6 speed cassettes yet? I saw only freewheels. – Alexander Sep 14 '14 at 18:49
  • Thanks, @Batman. I'm quite new to hubs, freehubs and frewheels and you've pushed me in the right direction. I've now updated the question, hope I'm making more sense. – David Sep 14 '14 at 20:17
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    Also, why are you rebuilding a wheel? Typically buying a new wheel is cheaper - you just need to get the right width hub and have it be marked for freewheels (e.g. the grand cru from velo orange). – Batman Sep 14 '14 at 20:18
  • Originally, I thought it would be less expensive but thanks to your hints I figured that a new wheel with a screw-on hub will work out relatively cheap. Thanks both for your comments! – David Sep 16 '14 at 20:06
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All freewheel hubs have the same thread and are compatible with single, 5, 6, 7 and maybe some 8 speed freewheels. Position of the hub is set by dishing of the wheel and spacers on the axle. It's an interesting question. But I think that you should worry more about the rear spacing. 6 speed modern freewheel is not considered to be wide comparing to ones with more cogs. I wouldn't worry about this, just in case stay away from track hubs which are designed for single speed freewheels. I'm upgrading a 1980's ten speed bike now by replacing old 5 speed freewheel with 7 speeds to match new indexed 7 speed shifter. Previously I put 8 speed freewheel on that wheel but I had to add spacers to spread the seat stays a bit. It worked with original friction shifter but I don't like it.

  • Technically, there are 5 or so different threadings for freewheels, though you're unlikely to encounter anything other than ISO (which is pretty much completely compatible with Italian and British), though French threading, for example, will not go on the same thread. – Batman Jan 16 '15 at 16:41
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6 speed spacing is 126mm wide measured from the outside of the locknuts. It's easiest to measure with calipers. However, you can add or remove spacers and possibly install a longer or shorter axle to get that spacing. I bought Campagnolo hubs "back in the day" that came as 6 speed hubs and eventually ran them with 8 speed freewheels, using longer axles and additional spacers.

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