I have a 70s racing bike equiped with Dura Ace. The cassette was quite wobbly so I dissembled and re-assembled it using new ball bearings & grease.There is still some play left, but to my feeling less than before. Now my question: is this normal & if not what could cause this play?

For good understanding, below some pictures as it is quite an unique system, perhaps the precursor of Shimano Freehub.

The hub on the wheel

The hub

The cassette

The cassette

The cone

The cone with 3 washers

The hub with the cassette mounted The hub with the cassette mounted.

Note: All parts seemed in fine condition to me (i.e. no holes in the cones). But it is the first time I'm replacing a cassette of this type so I might overlook something.

Edit: added picture of the hub from above

  • I think that’s a freewheel hub, not a cassette hub. I am assuming that play means you can move the axle side to side, correct? If so, are there wrench flats on both sides of the hub?
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 18:16
  • That is an interesting system. I will have a look at a book I've seen similar in. Does the hub have a brand name?
    – Noise
    Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 18:40
  • @WeiwenNg with play I mean you can move the cassette from side to side (+- 1mm, it varries when you rotate the cassette a bit further)
    – wouter205
    Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 18:52
  • 1
    The hub has Shimano written on it, no further type information. I assume it's a Dura Ace hub as the rest of the bike is equiped with Dura Ace / Crane components. I have added a picture of the hub in my original post. Thanks in advance.
    – wouter205
    Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


It appears you have this hub or one much like it. The washers with your cone/cup piece ("Body Fixing Race") are what Shimano calls "adjustment washers."

enter image description here

Removing one or more of those washers is how you adjust play out of most Shimano freehub bodies. Generally speaking, start out by taking one away and put the hub back together like that. Having some none-zero amount of play in a freehub body is fine; it has to turn very easily and the parts won't be damaged from the play like if it were a main hub bearing. So in other words you're taking away as many of the washers as possible while still leaving you with some play, which most of the time is one.

If it's not clear, the concept with the adjustment washers/shims is that the body fixing race is torqued down (counterclockwise) to put the freehub body together and secure the bearing adjustment. But, unlike other loose ball bearing systems on a bike, this one doesn't have a multi-fastener or multi-step procedure to make the adjustment. The distance from cone to cone within the freehub body is adjusted by tuning the number of adjustment washers present.

  • Thanks for your explanation. Whilst not 100% the same hub as in your picture (part n°12 - the outer body - is fixed to my cassette) but the principle remains the same. I have 3 washers, each with a different size. I removed the tinniest one but when I tighten down the fixing racing, I can barely turn the cassette. My guess is to leave all 3 washers in and just tighten it down as hard as I can and live with some play in my cassette?
    – wouter205
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 14:03
  • @wouter205 If it's a very small amount of play, then yes leave it. If it's an abnormally large amount and taking a washer away isn't fixing it, then look for other problems, like a bearing or pawl out of place. You might think in terms of whether the amount of play you can observe at the freehub is logically consistent with what should have happened if you took away a washer of X thickness. Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 17:56
  • Yesterday I've added the washer again and now the amount of play is comparable to another freehub I have. So I guess I didn't tighten it down enough the first time. Thanks for your explanation. Just wondering, were did you got the document from Shimano? Next time I have to overhaul an Exage 500 (FH-HG50), such overview would come in handy :-).
    – wouter205
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 8:12
  • @wouter205 si.shimano.com now has a lot of the older documentation. Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 8:35
  • this site is like walhalla for an old bike enthousiast like me :-). Thanks a lot!
    – wouter205
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 9:06

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