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So my old road bike has a 3-speed freewheel, dropout spacing is about 114 mm. I'd like to give it an upgrade and put a 7 or 8 speed cassette (maybe stick with a freewheel if 6-7 speed, I just want more range and less hustle)

Spacing of a modern cassette-type road hub is 130 mm. As the Sheldon Brown bible says cold setting is achievable but it doesn't say how many speeds you can go up. Many people go from 5 speed to 7 speed, or from 7 speed to 10 speed, but I couldn't find anyone on the internet who tries to go from 3 speed to 7 speed. My worry is that it is too much difference I have to spread apart and that it may damage the frame. My weight is on the heavy side and I don't want to end up with my teeth on the road :-P

To sum up, will it be safe to resize from 114 mm to 130?

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  • From 114 to 130 means 8mm each side, which doesn't seems too much. Thou I'm not used to steel frames building, and don't know for sure.
    – Alexander
    May 17 '15 at 20:00
  • It surely doesn't seem like much but it would stress out the solder joints. I've seen many videos on youtube where people show how to take from 5 to 7 speed, which is less difference than 3 to 7. The frame belonged to my father and the last thing I want is to brake it. Maybe I'll go back to my original idea which was to add back the rear derrailleur (forgot to mention it is currently single speed), add a front one and a second smaller chainring. This will be much easier and I won't have to touch the frame
    – rMaero
    May 17 '15 at 22:38
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    OMG, I've never seen a 3-speed freewheel on a road bike. How old is it? Best thing would be to keep the 3-speed freewheel, and restore everything as close to original as possible just for the extreme novelty factor.
    – Angelo
    Jun 17 '15 at 15:11
  • @Angelo its a national-built mid 80's bike. It even had cottered cranks and the bottom bracket is 35mm right-hand thread on both sides (the right cone came loose every now and then so I replaces everything with a sealed BB with square taper. Here's a picture I took when I retrieved it from 20+ years in a "garage": i.imgur.com/IytdrX3.jpg Also, at some point after 6 months of using. the smallest sprocket detached from the freewheel. And since the biggest made the derraileur rub against the spoke guard I was left with just one speed.
    – rMaero
    Aug 27 '15 at 0:27
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Cold setting a 114mm to 130mm is significant. Usually the rule of thumb for cold setting is you can go up one step, such as from a 126mm to 130mm or 120mm to 126mm. A three speed freewheel bicycle is extremely rare and I'd personally leave it alone, it's just too valuable to risk destroying the frame.

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Personally I would not stretch it that far. Aside from spacing you should check if your frame has derailleur hanger, and cable stops. Lastly you would have to ensure proper chain line after the stretch, possibly requiring BB and/or crank set change.

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One upgrade you could make without attempting to cold set the frame to far would be to use a kit like fyxation sells which works on a 120mm (track spaced) frame and works with bar end shifters. It's a much smaller width, so it would possibly work better than cold setting to 130.

I bet you could mount the bar end shifter on some Gevenalle levers if you prefer shifting from the hoods or use some paul mtb thumbie adapters to mount them on flat bars if that's preferred.

http://www.fyxation.com/products/six-fyx-conversion-kit

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  • That would be a nice solution. Although that kit costs pretty much what the bike costs now... My idea was to change the freehub and be done with it, or in a further future change the hub to a cassette one and installing STI's
    – rMaero
    Aug 27 '15 at 0:32

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