I have a Giant Rapid 4, bought in 2009.

When freewheeling (i.e. rolling forward but not pedalling) on my bicycle, the chain catches. I had a look and I think this is because the rear cassette sometimes gets 'caught' slightly and moves with the wheel.

This doesn't seem to be a problem when pedalling, but when I am not pedalling and the front gears are not moving, the chain catches. It actually broke my chain.

Just put a new chain on, but I'm reluctant to ride it until this problem is resolved fully, otherwise the new chain will be stressed and may break again.

So, what could cause the rear cassette to be 'carried' forward by the wheel? Is it a bearings problem, or do I need a new cassette? Thanks.

Edit. I took off the cassette and dismantled the hub, it was the freehub body which was broken. It sounded and felt like one of the bearings inside it was broken. However the Shimano freehub disassembly tool is no longer sold and I couldn't find one second hand. The rim was worn anyway so I treated myself to new wheels and reused the old cassette, which was still ok.

  • The ratchet mechanism in the rear hub is probably sticking. My understanding is that it's best to replace the "freehub" assembly than to try to rebuild it, though rebuilding is not impossible if you're so inclined. Commented May 3, 2015 at 19:08

3 Answers 3


Most likely the free hub is sticking. The grease can get old and sticky. Service the hub. Lots of videos on youtube. Or take the hub to a shop. And you can wear out a hub - some parts are serviceable.

Sticky hub is not likely to break a chain but it is a problem that needs to be corrected.


One of the pawls in your freehub is broken.

It happened to me once. After riding up a steep hill, I noticed that my chain would sag and jump as the freehub would stick at different spots.

I took the freehub apart, and found that one of the pawls had broken in half.

Thick/old grease would not cause a freehub to behave like that, let alone breaking the chain.

So yes, you need a new freehub :(


Depends on your budget. I'd try serving the freehub properly by opening it and cleaning it, or quick and nasty by flooding it with petrol for a day then dry it, and then squirt lube in.

Either way if it doesn't work, you're up for a new freehub. Your chain is new which is great, probably a good time to inspect the cassette for wear too.

Do update the question and tell us what you ended up doing.... this helps future searchers.

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