Wednesday, December 15, 2010

freewheelin in a fixed world

The sublime White Industries freewheel

To be honest with you,I've never really understood the whole fixie sub culture.I've always loved the freedom of  coasting down a hill or just being blown along by a tailwind.Riding a fixie,slowed down by your legs,you can't do this .On a single speed bike you can,and the freewheel is the component that makes it happen .It's the small cog attached to the rear wheel, allowing you to pedal forward and 'freewheel'backwards.There's a number of good examples on the market with the Indian made ACS  'clawheel' being just about the cheapest. They all do the same job, and at $15 this is a good, budget option. I used one on my everyday schlepper and it lasted for about 18 months until this winter's really wet weather,  washed the oil out . Next up,at$35, is the Shimano. This is the quality goods and will last for an age.If you are really going the whole hog, then the American made White Industries freewheel is the one for you.(confession,I'm obsessed about American made stuff,particularly American engineered stuff) It will set you back about the same as 2 tanks of petrol for the family hatchback,plus or minus a latte or two and functionally you probably won't notice much difference.Aesthetically though, you will feel a world of difference. The WI freewheel has an extra set of pawls.These are the things that make the clicking sound as you roll down a hill;hence you will be getting a lot more clicks for your dollar.Although there is little noticeable difference in the take up as you pedal away from a standstill,you will notice the reassuringly solid clunks  of the clicks.Additionally, this is one of the few freewheels on the market that can be taken apart and serviced.The rest you just throw out.

Team up a White Industries freewheel with some Phil Wood hubs and bottom bracket and you are approaching perfection.Worth the mullah? Absolutely.