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Change freewheel on my Step (original)?


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How complicated or difficult would it be to change the freewheel on my Step (original)? I want some more hill climbing power to conquer the one or two big hills I haven't been able to beat. I could have an LBS do it, but I'm pretty handy and could save $$ doing it myself.
I asked Sondors some time back what the gearing was and this was the reply;
Step: freewheel is AMFTZ5007428 MULTIPLE FREEWHEEL SPROCKET, MF-TZ500-7,7-SPEED, 14-16-18-20-22-24-28T, BULK and derailleur is ARD-TX35D(RD-TY300),7 speed.
Shimano has a 14--34 freewheel. Would my derailleur handle that?
What special tools would I need? Danger points? Thanks
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All our hub motor Bafang, use the same size chain, I prefer the KMC X8.99 nickel plated chains that are plated on the outer plates and inner lugs, when upgrading. It’s the longest lasting smooth rolling, easy to keep clean chain in the industry. If you’re only going up 6 or 8 teeth, you might find with that with your long cage derailleur, and added a master link,it might still be long enough. But your chain might need to be replaced, depending on milage and your chain care. Do you use a petroleum based chain lubricant? If so and if you are not cleaning your chain regularly, by removing it from the bike, submerging in a solvent, to remove all the grit that the chain lube attracts, you might need a new chain. A chain wear gauge can tell you but I caution against the Parks gauge, it can show significant wear on a brand new quality chain. If you count the the existing links and add the new tooth count on your new rear freewheel, and if it’s close to 116 you might get by with your old chin. Why risk the wear that a used chain can cause on a brand new Freewheel?  On my conversions,  on a Sondors, 1st Gen. Original Fat and my 3rd Gen. Custom Narrow, I need to add more links from a second chain, even with the short caged derailleur that I use, uses fewer links in the system than your long cage. But I also replaced the cranksets in both bikes with a 56T on the 1st Gen and a 58T on the 3rd Gen, further increasing the max length of both chains. So I have the majority of the 2nd chain, required to complete the new  chain lengths, on both bikes, and now have the rest of the 2nd chain for subsequent additions when needed, when replacing new chains on those two bikes, now with over 20,000 miles between the two. 


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Thanks for that extensive reply! I may try my current chain to check for fit, then get the one you recommend.

I just bought materials to make a work stand to elevate my rear wheel by the chain stays. Gavanized pipe, floor flange,24"square plywood and snap pvc T for the chainstays.

I'm sure more questions will arise!

Here are two-- assuming I want to change my chain, would I do well to buy one a bit longer than my current chain, and take out links as necessary?

Does the chain you recommended have a master link, or would I need a chain tool?

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Post Pictures of your invention when you have it in service! I could use that. In the same vein, I use this when fixing flats, mounting new tires or any wheel procedures off the bike. It keeps from damaging the motor cable on that end or on the reciprocal, bending the disc rotor. Milk or Egg Crate and pipe insulation. I build stuff from the simplistic to RC 1/4 scale, scratch build actual exact scale of existing full size aircraft, to my Mobile miPad, a pop top camping trailer. 
Chains come in 116 link lengths.  That’s because that will fit almost every conventional bicycle. I’ve never seen others lengths offered but I’m guessing some enterprising shop with a mile long roll of a 6/7/8 speed (1/8” x 1/2”, I think) chain will send you the length you require but I don’t know who. Might contact one of the recumbent bicycle manufactures for guidance as they use long, LONG chains.  But sure, don’t buy a chain until you try your existing. 
The KMC X-8.99 or a few dollars cheaper the X-8.93, with only the outer plates, nickel plated, come with 2 master links. They both will outlast the Sondors Chain by a factor of x 5. I don't recommend my chain maintenance routine because nobody is as maniacal as I, about chains on this forum but I’ll post if later in this or another thread. It will extend chain life by another factor of 5 and is the most frictionless chain treatment, as proved my other maniacal bicycle chain geeks.  And it’s home made and pretty cheap. 
You should buy a chain break tool and they’re only a few dollars to the Parks brand, the Snap-On equivalent in bicycle tools, very expensive. It doesn't actually break the chain in conventional terms but will push out one of pins, that secures links together. 
Just a tip, but if you wanted to re assemble your chain with only one quick link (or no link), you can push the pins out almost all the way, only capturing one outside plate, then add the new section of chain and push the pin completely thru to the other outside plate. But you’ll want to have at least one quick link to facilitate removal for cleaning your chain.
I use two quart size jars, one filled with gasoline which is a good solvent and handy, to initially put your chain into and agitate for a minute or two,  several times, letting it soak for another few minutes in between agitations. Suspend the chain so you can wipe it off thoroughly, then air dry it for 10 or15 minutes, so all the petroleum aromatics evaporate. Then do the same routine in another jar of isopropyl alcohol, to remove any last bit of old chain lube or gasoline. Clean Chain with no grit left and no substances to inhibit new lubricant from adhering. Especially, the best chain lubricant known … wax,  but any other of your choice.  More on that later.



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I told you I'd have more questions 😁

It does not look like the 7 speed 14-34 is being offered anymore.

The good news is, that is the cluster on my "analog" bike, also with Shimano Tourney, so I could swap them.

The question is, is it really worth it? Is the jump from gear #2 (24T) to #1 (34) too big of a leap to be practical for the very occasional hill that defeats me? Would I be better off just accepting my Step for what it is, namely not a super hill climber?


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That jump would be considered a bailout gear for someone who has the occasional need to climb really steep hills. I have used closer ratio 14 -34  but now an 11-34 on my Electric Black Lightning and there is only a few minor hills along my regular routes. I think I have a spare in my parts supply, I’ll go look. 
No, I have 3, 11-28T out in my Studio that I could find.  Two are nickel plated Epoch freewheels and the other is Sunrace, nickel plated freewheel. All fit Shimano threaded hubs. 
I’ll have to look thru my recent purchase history, within the last couple of years and see if I can find where I bought that, but now that I’m recalling, the 750 watt motor on the EBL is a Cassette Hub. I switched because of availability of a wider selection of Clusters in Cassette and the dwindling supply of Freewheels. Cassette Hubs have their outboard bearing closer to the Dropout and the Pawls and Drive Ring comprise the Ratchet mechanism and is built into the Bafang’s Case Hub, the Freewheels have the Ratchet mechanism built into the Sprocket Cluster and the outboard bearing is closer to the Bafang’s Case not the Dropout and not as desirable. 
‘Try https://tinyurl.com/Reddys-Private-Stash


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Here's my jerry rigged rear wheel stand. I'm not thrilled with how the bike rests in the PVC cradles but fixing them will have to wait. With the wheels up in the air, I had to close the front hand brake with rubber bands to prevent the bike rolling off.

So, I got the axle nuts and shrouds off, but now I can't see how to actually remove the wheel. It's not dropping out of the left side dropout. Do I have to remove the brake caliper to let it come out? Then I guess that the cable will have to thread through the right axle holder, which isn't a dropout. Every success brings new questions!


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It's been an educational experience.

I checked my old non electric bike and lo and behold it also has Tourney equipment, including a 14-34 Freewheel. I took the wheel off, hoping to steal the freewheel cluster for my Step. No luck! The bike is well over 10 years old and that bad boy is welded in place. Even with a wrench extender it wouldn't budge, even after soaking with penetrating oil. That's OK for now.

I learned how to break my chain in order to clean it well, off the bike, then put it back together afterwards.

Getting the rear wheel off the bike required removing the brake caliper,which I had to put back later.

I learned that I'd better take some pictures of where all the various washers and spacers on the rear axle go!! At my age, I can't trust to memory.

I learned that my chainstay bike lift needs some rethinking. As it is, I can't put the bike on it with the kickstand down or the pedal hits the kickstand. As it is, the only main option might be to take off the kickstand when I want to use  the lift. To finish this job I fell back on my lift using two saw horses and a very stout hoe handle through the frame resting on them . I'll tweak the lift somehow.

I gave the derailleur a good cleaning, off of the wheel. then learned how to get the chain,sprocket,derailleur and rear gears to go together so they work, I also found an excellent tutorial on setting up a derailleur from scratch,setting the limits and the indexing. In the past, I just tinkered with this, which is how I got in trouble in the first place. I still need a tiny tweak of the derailleur. Gears 6 and 7 hop back and forth between each other. However, dinner was ready and I had to call it quits.

If I ever do decide to get a 14-21 gear, I'll have a MUCH better idea how to do it!



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