I was recently given a mountain bike for free, which I could fix for use by my husband. It is just missing the rear wheel and freewheel/cassette. As far as I can tell it would have been a 7 speed one,as there are seven gears on the handlebars (correct me if I am wrong) plus the three on the front crank.

Could anyone tell me how I would know if I need a freewheel or a cassette, or if it matters? For info:

  • 26 inch 36 spoke wheel on front
  • Shimano SIS rear derailleur
  • Shimano altus front derailleur
  • SRAM twist shifters I think
  • it will just be used for laid back family rides
  • it is a Explor brand made in 2000

Everything needs cleaning but seems to work. It is a bit modern for me! My other bikes are all 70's and 80's so it will be fun to do something new. I have never done indexed gears before 😊

Many thanks for any advice. Gill

1 Answer 1


As you are starting from nothing, it doesn't matter whether you use a freewheel or a cassette. The 7 speed chains are the same regardless. I would look around for a secondhand wheel, as it will be much cheaper, and you'll want one that comes with cogs, tyre etc.

If you are lucky the chain isn't too worn, and it will just work. You may, perhaps, need to adjust the gears as the offset might be different

  • 1
    Thank you. I did see prices were high for new wheels and most people are out of stock anyway. The chain looks practically new. I don't think the bike had been ridden much.
    – Gill
    Oct 11, 2020 at 21:19
  • 1
    @gill consider searching in your area for a bicycle cooperative - Or ask neighbours/family if they have an old bike laying around unused.
    – Criggie
    Oct 11, 2020 at 21:31
  • Yes, buying new components gets expensive fast
    – Mikkel
    Oct 11, 2020 at 21:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.