I was heading down to the Liberty Village Farmer’s market today when my chain jumped on Strachan just before King Street. No problem I thought. I coasted onto the fore-court of the local ESSO station. I struggled for 15 minutes to get the damn thing back on. I could not for the life of me get the chain to catch and stay. This is not the first time I’ve had to deal with a stubborn chain so I knew something was up. Finally got the damned thing back on and got no farther than a block and a half before the damned thing jumped again. This time though I knew what was up. Any time I stopped pedaling and let the bike coast through the freewheel locked up and sent the chain flying off the front cog. F*&%$! Dammit. (I was more florid than that).

After much effing, blinding and reseating the chain AGAIN. And having struggled to get the bike in the back of my parent’s kia (which I failed to do because of my over-sized handle bars) I finally gave up and pedaled gingerly back home – making sure i did not coast for so much as a second. Basically I rode the brakes all the way to a full stop – ev – er – ry – ti – me.

Got home. Had to look up what was wrong ( for which I have to say the bike manual known as google was very helpful ).

Chain too loose? Nope.

Derailleur FUBAR? Not that I can see by looking at it.

Its yer freewheel or freehub. My wha?

Well for those of you who, like me, had no real clue what the difference is, I point to this rather useful piece by Sheldon Brown.

By a process of elimination (eyeballs) I was able to figure out that I had a freewheel rather than a freehub.

Having made the determination I did what any aspiring wrench monkey would do. I took apart the rear end of the beloved IRN HMSTR.

Old toothbrush, sudsy water, and small flat-head screwdriver in hand I then went about my business cleaning the offending rear wheel and associated Free … (lemme double check that now its out of the frame) … wheel.

I found quite a bit of detritus (read as hair and ground up leaves, road debris and the like). I also found a honking great lump of plastic … which it occured to me looked suspiciously like a piece of the cable ties I had used to help secure my paniers earlier in the day.

(Insert more swearing).

Okay. Finished cleaning the Freewheel. Applied more grease. Reinstall the rear wheel. (More swearing)

Reseat the chain. Turn the pedal. Ca-CH-unk – sproing. (swearing)

Reseat the chain. Turn the bike over. Pedal 2 feet. Coast-ca-chunk. ( you get the picture)

So I’ve ascertained that the freewheel ain’t so free anymore. I will have to replace it.

So I need a 6 speed freewheel. And I need a freewheel puller. A whaaaa?

Fun fact: freewheels – dead easy to install – your pedaling ultimately tightens the mechanism into place. Bad news … when it comes time to remove the damned thing – you have to undo all the work all those kilometers of cycling put into screwing it into place.

Fortunately the puller – a fancy word for socket wrench head – is relatively cheap. So I’ll be spending some time tomorrow hunting down my parts.

I’ll follow up with the rest of the repair story as it develops.