Riding a singlespeed has its advantages–simplicity, silence and lack of weight, for starters–but it also has one glaring disadvantage: you can’t shift gears.
Ever since I put my new crankset on, I’ve gone back and forth between a 16T and 17T freewheel. The 17T gets around my hilly town pretty well, but the 16T gives me much better speed down hills. Because of the latter, I’ve been riding it more often than the 17T.
Yesterday’s ride was a little rough, with the wind being more of a pain in the ass than usual. Still, I dealt with it for a 30mi ride. Today, however, it was worse: 20mph sustained speeds, with gusts well above that. To make matters worse, it seemed to change direction every time I did, so I never got a break from it. It got to the point, about midway through the ride, where I was no longer enjoying the fight, and wished for easier gearing.
When I got home, I decided it was time to try out my new ACS Claws Double freewheel. It’s basically just like any other freewheel, except it has two sets of teeth on it: 16T and 17T. You pick which one you want to go with, re-adjust the rear wheel, and you’re off.
Weighing in at 194 grams, it’s only 56g heavier than my 16T, and about 30g more than my 17T. In other words, it’s not enough to notice. However, one thing I will notice is the louder ratcheting mechanism, since it’s about twice as loud as either of my two Dicta freewheels. Fortunately for me, it uses the same removal tool as the Dictas, so I didn’t have to buy an extra one specifically for it.
Installation is a breeze; just add some Polylube to the threads, start it by hand, and finish of tightening with the adapter. After a couple blocks of pedaling, it’ll tighten itself completely.
Since I swapped to a 3/32" chain months ago, there are no clearance issues between the teeth, but I’m not sure if you’d be as lucky using an 1/8" chain (if anyone knows, please leave a comment). I’ll spend the next few months adding miles to the freewheel, probably going 50-50 between the two cogs, depending on wind, muscle soreness, and how many hills I have to climb. At the end of the season, I’ll report back with a follow-up review.
By the way, these freewheels can be a bit hard to find. You best option is to check eBay or do a Google search.
Also, White Industries offers two different types of doubles, in 16/18 and 17/19. They’re definitely higher quality, and have a wider difference between ratios. However, they will run you anywhere from $80 to $120, whereas the ACS can be found for under $20.