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I have a Raleigh Nitro Mountain Bike that I want to convert from a 5 to a 7 speed freewheel. The rear drop-out spacing is 135mm.

Am I right in thinking that all I need to do is get a rear wheel that is 135mm with a 7 speed freewheel? (And obviously upgrade the shifter and rear derailleur.) Am I missing anything obvious?

Many thanks in advance.

  • Unless the parts are available free of charge, this upgrade will cost much more than the bike is worth. If your goal is to get better at bike maintenance, go for it; otherwise, your time and money would probably be better spent looking for a new bike. – David Richerby Oct 27 '18 at 19:57
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You may not have to get a whole rear wheel, you may be able to just replace the freewheel with a 7 speed unit, depending in how much room there is for the wider freewheel. Maybe you will need to add spacers to the drive side and re-dish the wheel to make room.

Five speed freewheel systems were originally used with 120mm drop-out spacing. To get more speeds drop-out spacing increased to 130mm with 8 sprockets but this made the axles prone to break or bend.

If you are going to replace the whole wheel, get one with a modern freehub and 7 speed cassette, instead of the older and much weaker freewheel system.

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I used to own a Raleigh Nitro. Bought for £25 about 5 years ago. I don't think it will be 135mm spacing. Take the rear wheel out and measure carefully.

Also, not sure why you want to go to 7 speed. This is a very cheap bike (towards the bottom of Raleigh's range in the 90s), and I commuted on it as an adult for well over a year using the standard 15 speed setup and it got me up the steepest hills no problem. The brakes, pedals and bottom bracket were a different matter...

You can still get 5 speed freewheels if the problem is that the freewheel is broken.

  • If you look on eBay, practically all 26" mountain bike wheels with a freewheel are 135mm. I buy these and they fit my bike perfectly without modification. An example: ebay.co.uk/itm/… (I keep pressing return to put a space in the lines but it posts the comment - grr!) I've changed most components already. I like the frame and I find it comfortable and I don't have the money for a better bike. (I'd like a titanium Jones bike!) – Knots In Cotton Oct 27 '18 at 12:55
  • Thank you both for your replies though. I'm just going to go for it and give it a try. I'll post back in a few days/weeks to let people know if it is possible. – Knots In Cotton Oct 27 '18 at 12:59

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