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I have an old rear wheel - I think its from a Raleigh Arena roadbike from the late 70s or early 80s. There are broken spokes that require the sprockets removed to access. I've done this plenty of times on 26" MTB type wheels.

This bike has me stuck - its a 6 speed and I cannot get the freewheel off.

First image, before removing lock ring

Here's the first shot, after the axle and ball bearings were removed but with the lock ring and dust shield in place.

After locking and dustshield removal. Same as above but with better lighting

I used a "hook" tool to unscrew the lockring - it was a standard righthand thread. The dust cover responded to a screwdriver so I gently levered it out without bending it.

So my question is - do I continue using chain whips to try and unscrew each sprocket, or do I try and snag something into those two slots in the side of the bearing cup, or are those 9 tiny little slots where some special tool should engage?

  • I know its filthy - cleaning can wait till its disassembled! Googling the stamped text was no help either. – Criggie Aug 29 '15 at 11:32
  • This looks like a cassette that has eaten into the rotor. Apply some WD40 at the 'tiny little slots' and let soak in. – Carel Aug 29 '15 at 11:44
  • The sprockets are riveted together into a cartridge. They "slide" off as a unit. May require soaking in solvent, if it's really bad. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 29 '15 at 12:12
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    @Criggie: Cassettes have been around for more than 20 years. The ramps on the cogs hint 'cassette' IMHO because freewheels didn't have those. Anyway soak it overnight and see if it moves. – Carel Aug 29 '15 at 15:39
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It seems like the first question to answer here is: freewheel vs. cassette. The, assumed, age of the wheel and being a 6-speed does suggest that it's a freewheel. However, even if it is an original wheel from the late '70s it is not out of the question that it could be a cassette (at least according to Wikipedia).

Looking at the parts, I see several clues that make me think cassette:

  • The three rivets visible in the second and later photos.
  • The nine splines around the outside of the freewheel/cassette body.

Sheldon Brown has a page called Freewheel or Cassette that may help. The biggest differentiator that he mentions is that:

  • On freewheels the extractor splines do not move when it is spun backwards, but
  • On cassettes the lockring splines do turn when it is spun backwards.

He also mentions that many cassette hubs have a distinctive bulge, like the one on the image below, on the cassette side of the hub. Sheldon says that if it is there you almost certainly have a freehub, but that the absence of a bulge is not a definitive sign of a freewheel.

Shimano freehub showing bulge inboard of cassette.

Once you know what you've got you'll know if the the strategy is to unthread the freewheel body or to find a way to loosen and lift off the cassette. It is possible that the cassette has worn into the freehub body, like this image from Sheldon:

Off brand aluminum freehub body showing splines damaged by cassette.

and will need some fiddling to remove. This article and video may help.

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It is a Shimano uniglide cassette.

  • That may or may not be true but the question is asking how to remove it, not what make and model it is. – David Richerby Sep 9 '18 at 16:49
  • Interesting, I can see it being a Uniglide Freehub, as it has even sized splines and there was a threaded lockring holding it on. But... not a threaded cog. And possibly evidence of Hyperglide cassette teeth; could it be so, adapted/filed to fit the splines? I’ve only just poked around on google. If you have experience of these maybe you can discuss to develop your answer? Welcome to the site! – Swifty Sep 9 '18 at 19:06
  • Cool thanks - how does one remove a uniglide cassette ? – Criggie Sep 9 '18 at 19:29
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I think your best bet is to go visit your local shop and ask them to remove it. Many freewheels look similar to cassettes when disassembled. They drive in a similar method with indexed notches to align the different sprockets. I believe yours is a freewheel. The lock ring threads being on the outside are one hint it may be a freewheel. As such there are a myriad of tools that fit different brands and models. Any tool you order unseen will at best be a guess that it is the correct one. The notch dimensions and I.D. can be difficult to measure. If you are the "need a new tool" kind of guy ask the shop to find the correct tool and buy it from them

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