Freehub Removal, Installation and Service
Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
Typical Tools and Supplies Needed 
- Cone wrenches
- Combination wrenches, sizes vary.
- Hex wrenches: 10mm for Shimano®, some brands use an 11mm or 12mm.
- Pencil Magnet and seal pick
- Compressed air and blowgun
- Axle vise
article will discuss the service of freehubs. The freehub is the ratcheting
mechanism attached to the rear hub of most modern derailleur bike hubs. The
freehub uses a splined cylinder to hold the cassette cogs. Inside the freehub
mechanism will be bearings and a clutch system, usually ratcheting teeth and
pawls. The cassette cogs have no moving parts. All moving parts are in the freehub
body. Details of freehub designs difffer between manufacturers and you should
refer to manufacturer's literature as well as the following instructions.
Most rear hubs allow the freehub body to be removed. The body can then be flushed
with solvent for cleaning, dried, lubricated with oil, and then re-installed.
Much of the process is similar to a hub
overhaul. To service the freehub, begin by removing
The common Shimano® freehub uses internal loose ball bearing, pawls and springs.
Be aware that it is not recommend to completely dismantling the freehub itself.
There are no parts available, such as the pawls or springs. The small ball bearings
are available as replacement parts. However, if the bearings are worn out and
require replacing, it is very likely the entire freehub is needing replacement.
The blow-up image seen below is a ball bearing type freehub.
freehub pawls and bearings operate only while the bike is coasting. There is
very little load or stress on the freehub during this time. When the bike is
pedaled, the pawls lock onto the ratcheting teeth, and the freehub bearings
take very little stress. Because of this, bicycle grease is typically not required
inside a freehub. Most manufacturers recommend liquid lubricant for the inside
of the freehub. With enough use, the freehub will simply wear out. The pawls
may begin to slip and the bearings may become rough. If cleaning and lubricating
the freehub does not resolve issue of slipping, sticking or noise, replace the
freehub unit with a new one.
Freehub Service: Shimano® and loose ball bearing types
The procedure below is based on the Shimano® freehub removal process. Several
other brands follow the same steps.
1 Remove axle as during hub overhaul. See
Hub Service if you are unfamiliar with this process.
2 Use a hex wrench to loosen and remove the freehub holding-bolt.
Most brands are accessed through the right side, but a few are accessed through
the left side. The bolt is typically very secure and may require much effort
3 Note any spacer behind freehub.
4 Gently remove any seal behind freehub body.
5 Flush freehub in solvent, spinning body to remove dirt. NOTE: Do
not attempt to pry out right side dust cap from Shimano® freehubs. Damage
may result. Clean under dust cap using a brush and rags. Clean area above
cap as well.
6 Blow dry with compressed air. Use normal precautions when using
compressed air. If no compressed air is available, allow freehub to sit until
7 Use a liquid lubricant in the back side and front. Spin freehub
to work lube inside.
8 Grease freehub mounting-bolt.
9 Install freehub and any spacer onto hub body. Thread in freehub
mounting-bolt and secure fully. Tighten to about 360 inch-pounds. If you are
holding a wrench 6 inches from the bolt, apply 60 pounds of effort.
10 Assemble and adjust hub as with
American Classic® freehub
The American Classic® freehub contains cartridge bearings. These may be removed
1 Hold drive side axle securely in an axle
2 Hold non-drive side sleeve nut with cone
wrench and loosen locknut counter-clockwise. Pressed-on axle cap will
prevent locknut from being completely removed. Make sure locknut is spinning
freely and is not engage on thread.
3 Loosen sleeve nut. Sleeve nut will press against locknut and act
as a press to remove axle cap. Remove cap, locknut and sleeve nut.
4 Remove axle by pulling on drive side.
5 Pull freehub to remove from hub shell. Pawls are inside hub shell.
Clean and flush all ratcheting parts. Use care not to get solvent in cartridge
6 Grease the
pawls and teeth of the freehub. Install freehub into shell.
7 Install axle and assemble non-drive side parts. Axle should turn
smoothly with no side-to-side motion after adjustment.
8 Install non-drive side axle cap.
The DT-Hugi® freehub uses cartridge bearings inside the body.
1 Pull on freehub body to remove from shell. This will remove drive
side axle cap and freehub body.
2 The clutch is composed of two gears. The angled teeth face one another.
The gear inside the hub shell rides on a spring.
3 Clean parts. Use care not to get solvent in cartridge bearings.
gears and spring.
5 Install one gear inside freehub with smooth side facing freehub,
and toothed side facing hub shell.
6 Install spring inside hub shell, with small end facing toward freehub.
7 Install second gear into hub shell, with smooth side facing hub
shell and teeth side facing freehub body.
8 Slide freehub onto axle and press to seat freehub over seal.
9 Install drive side axle cap.
Chorus and Record freehubs are held on by the axle. The freehub body holds
cartridge bearings. The axle is independent of the freehub.
1 Remove set screw from side of drive side locknut.
2 Hold non-drive side cone with cone wrench. Loosen and remove drive
3 Pull freehub to remove. Use care not to loose small parts. Note
orientation of pawls as you remove freehub.
4 Clean parts as needed.
5 Grease springs and pawls, and install into freehub.
6 Engage freehub inside hub shell. It can be difficult to engage pawls
into hub shell. If necessary use the Campangolo® UT-HU080 tool. You can also
tie a string around the pawls to help engage it into the shell, then pull
the string loose.