Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Stuck On You

Aluminum freehub bodies = Cassette stuck (Most of the time)
Weight. The bane of cyclists, or so it would seem, on anything bolted to a bicycle. The pursuit of the lightest, strongest, most "Bontrager Rule" breaking bits has been happening for years now. Wheels especially, since every gram of rotational weight saved is celebrated by those who see this as being paramount to obtaining "good wheels".

Wheel manufacturers know this and try to accommodate the cyclists with nods to shaving weight here and there. Butted spokes, lighter rim extrusions, carbon fiber rims, less spokes, and aluminum freehub bodies are all typically used to achieve the perceived "Best" wheel for any discipline of cycling.  A few of these marketing ploys I have issues with at times, but none peeve me more than aluminum freehub bodies.

While aluminum is a reasonable material for a freehub body, cassettes that go on them are not really all that well suited to the softer material. Steel is still the preferred substance to craft most cassettes from, with perhaps a bit of titanium thrown in for good measure on top of the line fare. The mating surfaces of most steel cassette cogs with aluminum freehub bodies is a narrow bit. Multiply those narrow mating surfaces by 9 or 10, add in some torque from a chain, and those edges like to dig into the softer aluminum splines on freehub bodies. Then, the thing gets stuck.

Steel vs Steel = No Stuck Cassettes.
There really is no reason for this to happen anymore these days. Wise folks that design nice products, like Bill Shook of American Classic, have figured it out. A few steel strips inserted on aluminum cassette freehub bodies stops this digging in and you can get the cassette off easily, or at least get it off at all.

Yes- you can get cassettes with spiders that don't dig in, but these are expensive and rarer than the more common single cog/spacer/single cog type cassettes you see most often. There are far more aluminum free hub bodies than ever before. Why can't we just have a decent design that works with any proper cassette for your drive train?

American Classic doesn't have a stranglehold on this idea, by the way. In fact, my Raleigh Tamland Two has a cassette body with a single strip of steel on one of the cassette body splines. Those wheels have Novatec hubs, so at least that company has caught on. Hopefully, this becomes a trend. Why? Well......yes, I have a cassette stuck on a freehub body now. It is annoying, and I could leave it until it wears out, (what I'll likely do), or destroy the danged thing trying to get it to come off. A simple solution as shown by American Classic and Novatec would make this unnecessary.


Nate said...

Try using two chain whips to get the cassette off. One that holds the largest cog and prevent the freehub from rotating counterclockwise, and the other chain whip to remove the cogs starting at the smallest and working your way in. You'll probably need to file the hubs off after every 2-3 cogs. Usually the largest 3 cogs are on a carrier.

This has worked for me in the past with DT hubs.

If you've already tried this, ignore.

Guitar Ted said...

@Nate: Yes, I've done all the tricks I know. I am afraid that if I start using more force, I'll go beyond what would be safe to use the cassette anymore, and it isn't all that old.

I can see where it is stuck and where it is mostly loose, so it may even be a corrosion issue. At any rate, I spent about an hour on something that should take less than a minute to do. That's my point here. I mean, you should never have to file a freehub body these days with the solutions that exist and are available to any freehub manufacturer/wheel maker.

MG said...

I feel your pain here... I've been fortunate in that, to-date I've always been able to get my cassettes off my alloy freehub bodies (with the requisite wrangling). That said, it's so much nicer to have a freehub body like what's on the American Classic Hurricane Disc wheelset I tested recently. I've still got those wheels on my Gryphon and just had occasion to remove the cassette. It slid off easily, thanks to the steel freehub body insert. Very nice... Thumbs-up to all who are doing this on their hubs.