This is a cheapo Chinese freewheel, probably from a Walmart bicycle, etc. It's unusually heavy compared to my mountain bike's freewheel. I'm just trying to see if I can disassemble it. It's a learning experiment. I've already figured out how remove the freewheel from the hub, and the gears (chain-rings) from the freewheel-hub assembly. Now I'm trying to unscrew the central ring that allows access to the freewheel bearings and pawls. I can tell it's reverse threaded, so I'm turning it the CW direction. I have a pin tool for that spacing (which I normally use for bottom brackets), but the pins are too short to access the central ring's holes, b/c that central ring is recessed below the hub that the chain-rings slide over. I've trying whacking a screwdriver tangentially in the CW direction, holding the tip against a hole. I get good purchase, not slipping, but the ring won't budge. I've tried this with the freewheel installed on the wheel, and with it off the wheel & secured to the bench, locked in place with the freewheel tool and a wrench. I've never had any problems removing that ring on any other freewheel, it's just a bearing cone after all, so what's up? Any ideas?

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    I'm trying to understand why you'd bother, vs replacing the entire freewheel. Oct 29, 2019 at 2:15
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    @DanielRHicks "I'm just trying to see if I can disassemble it. It's a learning experiment."
    – Paul H
    Oct 29, 2019 at 6:06
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    My first bike was a Walmart bike and heavily used meaning I had to do basically everything to it. I'm so glad I did because I learned so much, and because my learning was on a cheap bike so my mistakes didn't leave me in tears. (Well at least not a lot of tears.) Now I'm on to a steel-frame 90s hybrid, chosen and maintained thanks to what I learned from the first one. Anyhoo, I think you're on the right path with your learning, keep up the good work. (You should post a picture of the freewheel face.)
    – compton
    Oct 29, 2019 at 22:38
  • I suspect its got thread locker. Can you hit it with some heat? Either a short blast with a torch, or a half a minute with a hairdryer on high ? Don't burn yourself.
    – Criggie
    Oct 30, 2019 at 9:50

2 Answers 2


This is the OP, George_San_Jose. I finally got it turning. I'm not exactly sure what the critical step was b/c I tried a combination of ideas. The solution was some combination of a couple days soaking in thread penetrant, working the job w/the freewheel on the wheel, and using a steel center punch (rather than a screwdriver) to whack the hole tangentially with a hammer. I expect the latter was the most important, as some of the impact-value from the hammer was getting lost in the plastic handle of the screwdriver.

  • I'm glad you got it sorted! Thanks for checking back and filling us in.
    – DavidW
    Oct 30, 2019 at 2:12
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    It appears that you have 2 different accounts with your name (the question and this answer have different amounts of reputation). You should merge your accounts.
    – DavidW
    Oct 30, 2019 at 2:17
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    I concur with @DavidW If you merge your accounts then you can select this answer as "accepted" which is good.
    – Criggie
    Oct 30, 2019 at 9:44

Most janky freewheels die by seizing up, or a gradual descent into poor rolling.

Far fewer of them will ever wear out their teeth because they're made of relatively strong steel, which tends to be over-build to account for fairly low-grade steel.

One previous freewheel I worked on had to be removed by angle grinder, because it was so rusted onto the hub, and it used a non-standard chinese spline pattern.

Based on your answer, the pawls and/or bearings were seized and soaking them in some penetrating oil was enough to free them. However they'll never be "great" because the balls will have lost some of their roundness, and there's a good chance the bearing running surfaces are no longer flat.

If its a bike you like and want to keep using, consider a new freewheel with the same/similar toothcounts, and an identical number of gears. Once fitted, store your bike inside a garage or at least under cover out of the rain. That helps a lot.

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