So, I have this tire with a factory sealed bearing. It has a few broken spokes. TO get these off, I'd need to remove the freewheel. Sadly, the "studs" on both sides seem to turn independently, suggesting the axle is broken. As a result, I don't know how to brace the axle so I can unscrew the freewheel and get it off. Or should I even ride it like that at all?

What I'm asking is, is this wheel repairable, or should I buy a new one?

enter image description here

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    Add one additional photo please, showing the middle of the cogs where the axle pokes through on the Right-hand-side of the wheel.. If it is a freewheel you need a special tool to fit it. If its a cassette you need a different-but-similar tool AND a chain whip. If the bearings themselves are okay. there's no need to remove the axle. – Criggie Jul 8 '17 at 10:22
  • What makes you say that the bearings are okay? – user1833028 Jul 8 '17 at 14:57
  • You don't do anything with the axle when you're removing the freewheel or a cassette, aside from possibly using it to hold the freewheel/cassette tool in place depending on the model, so I'm not sure what you're doing. – Batman Jul 8 '17 at 17:14
  • @user1833028 You said it has broken spokes, but said nothing about crunch in bearings. Sealed bearings tend to last a lot longer than loose or caged bearings. You need to get the cassette/freewheel off to fit new spokes, and the axle generally doesn't need to be touched. – Criggie Jul 8 '17 at 22:10
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    @user1833028 that last comment had me thinking your wheel had a broken axle which has no relationship to the freewheel. It sounds like you have both a broken axle (the two ends should not turn separately) as well as a freewheel that turns forward and backward without engaging the drive pawls. When turned clockwise, the freewheel should lock up and drive the wheel - if it doesn't then its stuffed. – Criggie Jul 24 '17 at 1:29

Your freewheel seems busted from what you say, it happens when the cogs are worn, nothing much to do there.

Everything is reparable but it sometimes takes a lot of time for not a lot of gain. Question is what is the value of your wheelcircle and from picture i'd say that's and old aluminium one. I don't know how that is where you live but in my neighborhood you can get a "brand new" used one for under 5 bucks. If the freewheel is busted you have to replace the entire bearing, meaning you have to take the entire wheel apart and then do the spoking from scratch. If you have a bit of experience and tools that is a good 1-2 hours of work, if it's your fist time count merely your sunday afternoon on it.

So my conclusion is : get a new wheel and recycle this one into an artistic project of some sort :)

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  • Cog wear has zero to do with pawl engagement, other than they both wear out over time, not necessarily equally. – Criggie Jul 24 '17 at 1:29
  • Replacement is a perfectly reasonable solution, if a suitable spare wheel is available and will take less effort than repairing the existing wheel. The replacement axle/bearings and freewheel+chain have a cost, but being new will have more life than a used donor. It all comes down to cost. – Criggie Jul 24 '17 at 1:32

I get it now - its a freewheel, not a cassette so you need to unscrew the whole thing.

Normal process is to use a freewheel removal tool into the freewheel and unscrew it using the rim as a lever,

In your case the freewheel pawls are not gripping when driving, so the rim will turn freely in both directions, and not unscrew.


  1. Blast the middle of the freewheel with penetrating oil, to try and get a pawl to fall into place enough to undo the freewheel.
  2. tap it gently with a small hammer, again to get a pawl to drop
  3. bash it firmly with a medium hammer. Don't worry about saving the freewheel at this point, denting it is okay. Remove the axle and all the bearings. don't want to brinnel/damage your bearing races.
  4. wail on it with a large hammer.
  5. Last resort is to mound the wheel flat with the freewheel facing up, and cut through the freewheel with a thin cutting wheel in a 100-125mm (4" or 5") grinder. I've done this and even a cheap knockoff freewheel was hard to remove.

Your goal is to get a good slot in the body of the freewheel, but not to cut the threadded part of the hub at all. The pesky cogs are just in your way, you can cut them off.

I've done the grinder thing, and it was on a 20" wheel where I just wanted to save the spokes. So I wasn't careful to avoid the hub, and this made it harder to undo because of the slot I'd cut, and that it was cheap nasty pressed metal.

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