May 17, 2018 at 10:17 am #240246
Disclaimer – this is not a post asking what bike I should buy.
Today was my first ride to work for the year. I live on a hill next to Cleveland Ohio and on the way down there is some nice singletrack. Still a little wet from the recent rain, I was able to resist the temptation to do any of my favorite sections but toward the bottom there is a little section that I gave in to because I wanted to work on a couple skills.
I forgot a couple things as I was coming around a nice sweeping turn and preparing for a short punchy climb over a rock pile. 1) I was in the big ring and 2) I shortened my chain a bit too much last week. The result when I down shifted was I tore apart my derailleur. Bent metal and chunks of the pulley missing. I managed to get into the big ring in front and big cog in back and it was tight.
I fussed with it a while and eventually the missing-link in my chain came apart. After I sifted through the leaves to find one of the halves of the missing-link, I was able to hack my drive train together by bypassing the broken pulley and rode to work. Even with all the trouble it was still more fun than driving or taking the train.
Now the fun part. What to do now? The bike fits me well and it is good for at least riding to work, so I am going to fix it. A little background on the bike. It is a base-level Breezer Squall with 3×7 (i.e. freewheel). I have been a little hard on it but for $300 it has held up pretty well. Here are the options that I have thought of:
1) Replace exactly what I broke. Tourney 7 speed derailleur and chain.
Pros: cheap and should work
2) Convert to single speed. Single speed freewheel, single speed ring in front, chain and chain tensioner. What ratio? Commuter or MTB?
Pros: cheap and will be less fussy than 3×7
Cons: already have a single speed
3) Start upgrading. Ultimate goal would be a 1×10. 10 speed derailleur and chain for now and get 10 speed wheelset and single ring later. Would this work on the 7 speed freewheel with the 7 speed shifter and chain?
Pros: incremental improvement, if it works
Cons: will start me down the path of putting a lot of money into a bike that literally everything could be upgraded
What other ideas are there? What would you do? Would 2 or 3 actually work? Thanks for reading.
May 17, 2018 at 11:25 am #240252
You might be able upgrade to 9 speed without changing much or spending a lot. If you have a Shimano freehub the 9 speed cassette should fit. You can get a wide ratio Sunrace 11-40 9 speed cassette for about $30. I would keep the front derailleur for awhile, and switch to 1x only if you never use the high and low front rings. Then get a Shimano Alivio or Deore 9 speed derailleur and shifter. you should be able to get the shifter for about $20, the derailleur for about $25, with your choice of 9 speed chain starting about $15. Total cost somewhere around $90.
May 17, 2018 at 11:30 am #240254
Thanks Alvin. Unfortunately, I have a 7-speed freewheel not a 7-speed cassette. So if I want more cogs I have to buy a new wheelset. I would ultimately want to go with a 9 or 10-speed wide ratio like you suggested. But the first step is can I get a 9-speed derailleur to work with the 7-speed cassette until I get the new wheelset?
May 17, 2018 at 2:31 pm #240315
I would just leave the 7spd and fix the freewheel. Get a better bike to build if you want to upgrade beyond that
May 18, 2018 at 1:15 pm #240395
if you have to start replacing wheels, probably better off just replacing the existing parts.
July 11, 2018 at 8:32 am #243197
Update and new question
I went with the 7/8 speed derailleur which will give me the option of going up to an 8 speed if I so choose. Found out that freewheels are indeed available up to 10 speeds (apparently used on some e-bikes – not sure why). Got everything working real nice and did a good amount of trail riding and commuting.
Which brings us to the new question…
Does anyone know a higher quality replacement axle? I ended up bending my rear axle for the second time. In my quick internet search, the reviews seem to indicate that while they work they seem to be low quality and prone to bending. I plan to use this wheel set primarily for commuting but can’t resist hitting some of the trails on the way home.
The previous axle was a standard 135mm QR with loose bearing (all accounted for). I am wondering if a bolt on axle is the best bet. Perhaps a BMX axle would be a bit stronger.
Plan to go to a bike store on Friday but would love to be a bit more educated on the subject. Thanks.
July 19, 2018 at 8:52 am #243807
You post this on 7th may. I am a newcomer in this group. Now I read your post. I don’t like to use a 7-speed derailleur. I love to ride 9-speed which is Shimano. If you do not change your cassette please use Shimano CS-6500. I use it. Very good product. I purchased this for $ 49.
September 14, 2018 at 9:30 am #246840
This post is a bit of musing about what is an entry level mountain bike. I am the owner of the bike from the original post and am shocked with the amount of trouble that I have caused with it.
There are some things that I get mostly because they are cheap and it is a cheap bike (under $300 before tax). 1) 3×7 – cheap riveted cranks and cheap freewheel, 2) cheap-o coil fork, 3) cheap shifters and brake levers and 4) all cockpit components – cheap.
There are things I don’t get: 1) geometry – 71 degree head angle and 2) tires – lower center knobs than most race tires and no side knobs to speak of. This is not a hybrid so I don’t think it is designed for bike paths. It weighs a bunch but it has tires and geometry that would make you think it was an XC racer. It would cost nothing more to put knobby tires and a 69 degree head angle and it would perform much better for the entry level mountain biker.
What are these bikes? You can find them from pretty much every big brand and if you are like me and didn’t have a new bike for 30 years they seem great with a bunch of gears, suspension fork and disk brakes.
After breaking a little bit of everything (in order of appearance): 1) snapped chain, 2) dinged rear rim, 3) split rear-axle, 4) destroyed rear derailleur (see above), 5) bent rear-axle, 6) cracked chain stay, 7) rear triangle bent, 8) rear wheel is hopeless and 9) tacoed front wheel going over roots at 1 mph.
Up to a certain point, I was babying this bike after some bad experiences with lesser quality bikes. I recognize this is not a freeride bike. The latest break happened at seriously 1 mph. Going uphill slipped a couple inches to the left off of some roots and I could see the wheel just bend and collapse about 3 inches before rebounding to the picture above.
What are these bikes? This experience will not build brand loyalty for me.
I am keeping mine and for as cheap as possible going to make it something I want to ride. I will learn from the building process and apply that to the next bike.
But seriously: What are these bikes?
May 12, 2020 at 4:33 pm #346381
Lessons learned from trying to turn an entry level bike into an on-the-cheap legit trail bike.
I had converted to 1x with wide rims and hefty tires with the intention of adding a dropper post, short stem, wide bar and air sprung fork. But I made a mistake – I forgot to put my new chain on and chewed up the brand new wide-ratio cassette. This lead to a lot of trial and error to fix that problem. Then a little stick jumped up and killed my rear wheel and derailleur. Just as soon as that was fixed my free hub imploded. I have fixed everything but it will never be the bike that I want it to be and I will not be putting that new fork and cockpit on.
So what did I learn? Inexpensive is good – cheap is bad. It isn’t just chain retention, a clutch derailleur would avoid the chain such issue that I have. There is such thing as too much tire. That last one is hard to tell when buying tires online. The grip is nice but I am so much slower and it is so tiring.
May 15, 2020 at 11:09 am #353759
Think we’ve probably all had some hard lessons in this sport be it working on the bike or riding on the trail. But it’s always good to hear/learn from others where potential pitfalls are. Thanks for posting.
May 18, 2020 at 12:02 pm #359666
Hey. Thanks for sharing your story. I think you should upgrade your bike, because such a breakdown makes it possible to try new technologies or their variations for riding. I wish you good runs on this or a new bike
May 23, 2020 at 2:04 pm #369263
When you ride a modern trail bike with modern geometry you will get it. At 66 I’m descending faster than ever! Your weight should be figured into what you buy as bigger guys need tougher parts. At 140 pounds nothing ever breaks. 1 broken chain in 60 years of biking!
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