Freewheel VS Cassette – Comprehensive Guide on 8 Major Differences

Although Freewheel and Cassette, both can be an enormous help in boosting your pedaling force without much input, the mechanism is far more different. Both types of cycling parts enable you to freely roll your bike on rough surfaces without applying much force.

Also, both the parts have a very identical appearance, you can easily misunderstand freewheel for cassettes. Yet they cannot be used interchangeably because of the difference. That’s exactly why you better learn the difference between both parts. So, you can decide how you want to ride your bike.

Introduction of Freewheel VS Cassette

The cogs present in the cycle help to make your cycling experience a bit better by offering you a range of gear options. These gear options might be really beneficial for you.

Let’s dive into the details of cassettes and freewheels.

Behind the back side, there is a range of sprockets attached to the back wheel. These rear cogs offer a number of gear options to the bikers. With the increasing modifications in the cycling industry, the number of sprockets has also grown.

After these additions the space got a little less (between the sprockets) which led the cycles to offer two different attachment mechanisms which are the Cassettes and Freewheel.

Keep reading this article to understand which mechanism works the best and how both of them are different.

What’s The Difference between Freewheel and Cassette?

A freewheel often referred to as a block, is made up of one or more sprockets attached to a body with an internal ratcheting mechanism that mounts on a threaded hub. It fastens directly to the locking mechanism on your bike’s back wheel, which forces the wheel to be driven by the train when you pedal forward. It spins freely when you’re just riding along, not pedaling or heading backward.

The contemporary substitute, the cassette, has soon surpassed the freewheel. The mechanical link between the sprockets and the cassette-compatible hub, also known as a freehub and housing the ratcheting mechanism, is created by a sequence of straight splines found on cassettes.

A threaded lockring secures the entire cassette to the hub. A threaded tiny sprocket was sometimes employed in cassette systems during the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s to secure the bigger splined sprockets. When installed, cassettes resemble freewheels, but when removed, they differ greatly because they lack the internal ratcheting process of a freewheel.

Freewheel VS Cassette

Can a Freewheel be converted To Cassette?

No, you can not convert a Freewheel into a cassette. The two systems are complicated and have a unique fitting. The rotations can help you determine the sort of fitting you have.

How to determine which system you have?

The first step is to take off the rear wheel. Try to observe its rotation first if it is backward and the tool fitting does not go along with the gears then it is a Freewheel.

On the other hand, with a cassette system, the tool fitting keeps on rotating with the gears.

Should I go for freewheel or Freehub?

The lesser number of gears in a freewheel system makes it better for a regular rider.

The freewheel system sounds better for cruising. Most conventional bikes have an m freewheel system.

So, if you are a person who prefers classic bikes then freewheel could be a great choice.

However, the bulk of consumers are frequently prompted to choose a freewheel rather than a cassette by the lower price point.

Whereas, Cassettes weigh a little less and are more suitable for riders who want to go for a lightweight.

Both systems have their own pros and cons. If you are a serious, or frequent rider then you should most likely choose a cassette over a freewheel if it doesn’t affect your budget.

Freehub vs freewheel

Freewheel vs Freehub

The freewheel could be a set of cogs on which the chain rests directly and which turns the wheel. Because the ratchet system is built into the block, the wheel will only have a set of threads.

On the other hand, a free hub is a hub on the back where the sprockets can slide. It is devoid of cogs. When the cassette is powered by the chain, which makes the wheel spin, this component’s internal ratchet system locks.

The Cassette

Since its debut, cassettes have been employed on a variety of bicycles, initially on the most expensive models and later appearing on more accessible models. The cogs of a cassette fit onto the cassette body one by one. A locking nut is then used to secure them in position. On high-range bikes, they can have anything from 7 and 12 gears. These are typically installed on mid- to high-range bikes, offering the rider better control and a wider range of speed possibilities.

The bike Cassette
The bike Cassette

Different Types Of Cassettes

●     Road Bike Cassettes

Typically, a small sprocket with 11, 12, or 13 teeth and a large sprocket with 21 or 32 teeth. This is so that a road bike can shift between gears more quickly than a more durable type, such as a mountain bike. Most have a 12 to 25-tooth cassette along with a compact or regular chain set for flat cycling surfaces.

If you have trouble with inclines or plan to ride the bike for hill climbing, a larger sprocket with a lower ratio (27 teeth or more) will be preferable for spinning than grinding.

Make sure you are aware of the types of sprockets your derailleur can tackle. Larger sprockets are needed for a rear derailleur with a longer cage because more chains are required to turn the longer cage.

●     Mountain Bike Cassettes

Off-road riding requires a wide range of sprocket sizes due to the range of terrains and grades that are encountered. For mountain bikes, the invention of the 11, 12, and, now, 13-speed cassettes was crucial.

The biggest gears have more teeth when there are more sprockets, which results in better gears and a smaller gap between each gear. This means that the threefold chain set is no longer essential for mountain bikes to reduce clutter, weight, and mechanical problems.

What should be preferred in Freewheel VS Cassette Decision?

A Freewheel has a lesser number of gears and is suitable for casual riders.

People who don’t want a variety of gear can go for the freewheel. The cassette system is best for coasting. It is also not very heavy on your legs and can be used for inclining on steep roads and hills.

A downside of a freewheel is that it might cause you to lose the pedal stroke and does not turn out to be beneficial for coasting. Also, it doesn’t work best on flat terrains.

Conclusion on Freewheel VS Cassette

Cassettes are composed of individual pieces which makes them lesser in weight than a freewheel system. To change a cassette, we need a bunch of tools. Meanwhile, you can always have a backup plan too. It is best suited when you are riding on a variety of roads with different speeds.

Mark Webster is bike enthusiast and researcher in bike industry from last 15 years. Mark had been working in different bike manufacturing companies for research and development of new models. Mark has mission to make bike design safest for bikers. The dream of Mark is to make bikes too mainstream that we can reduce global carbon emissions.

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