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Just curious...
I'm saddled with a dilemma and I wonder if anyone's got some input to keep me from scrapping a 20+- year old bike in favor of something I can actually find parts for.

A bit of background, I'm riding a Costco/SamsClub bike from the late 80's or early 90's. It's been a great beast and it's now what we would probably call a hybrid: 1.25" tires on 27.25" (basically 700mm) wheels with mountain bike style handles; it hadn't been given much notice until I started trying to get away from fossil fuels. And the caveat is that it has 21 speeds...3 in front...

Anyway, the question is this: I've had two or three spokes break in the last three months and have debated on replacing the wheel to get some more use out of it--I've replaced the spokes as they broke, but that always means a couple of days off the bike. Since it seems almost impossible to find a seven-speed cassette (no spacers used) wheel in this size, would I be better off if I converted to a freewheel design (where 27" wheels aren't so hard to find but it would mean a new hub), had the wheel re-laced by a reputable local shop ($100), or kept hunting for someone who specializes in the obscurities of transitional bike forms.

Thanks for putting up with a long post.
Aaron, I would get a decent wheel builder to respoke and true your wheel. If the spoke tensions are not all correct it will go out of true or break spokes. I saw a 7 speed screw on when I was looking at ebay a while back.
Hi Aaron;

The wheel should probably be further tensioned and trued - $30- at a bike shop in San Jose, should be less elsewhere.

Or rebuild your present wheel - use all new spokes - I like Wheelsmith.
I'll add my thoughts...

If you want to keep the wheel: true and tension (as Nigel suggested). However, as the build itself was probably not all that great to start with, better get new spokes (I guess it's the drive side ones that break?). Spoke breakage is a sign of a poorly built wheel, as Sapim (spoke company) writes 2nd half of the page.

Respoking a wheel makes only sense for high end hubs when trying to restore a classic. I guess that the hub would be shot anyway (check bearings!). Unless you do it yourself, cost is in the order of a halfway decent entry level wheel.

New wheel: Hm. Can be an expensive solution, but probably best in the long run. You have several possibilities there, all depending on hat you have and how much you want to spend. The most expensive one would be upgrading the whole drive train, but I'd not recommend that. The least expensive would be getting a decent used wheel, having it trued and tensioned (see above). The rest... depends.

Measure the over locknut distance of your current hub. Try to get a wheel that has the same OLD. I guess you currently have 130mm, which is compatible to current road bikes. However, it might be difficult finding a cheap wheel with a rim suitable for your tyres + you need some spacers (10 speed freehub body).

If you currently have a rear wheel with a Shimano hub you could get a current (last year or so) Shimano MTB rear wheel (135mm OLD) and replace the freehub body with yours. Then the axle needs to be adapted to your bike (hopefully it's not too long, experiment with spacers on both sides) and the wheel needs to be redished, and maybe the frame is slightly too narrow, but I guess you could get down to 2mm (one on each side) which should not be too bad. Or just stick with that wheel and widen your frame slightly (but only if it is steel! And even then: be careful! No guarantee from my side. It works for two of my bikes, but I did it, I ride them, if I crash it's my own fault!).

You could get the LBS to custom build a wheel for you. Thy might have to fiddle around with axles, freehub bodies, etc. but it could be done. If it was for one of my bikes I guess I'd try building one, but I like the "learning experience" (aka pain). I opted for respacing the frame instead, see above, they both are steel.

I'd stay away from 7 speed freewheels, they are not a good idea, axles are bent too easily because there is no support for much of it (drive side bearing sits too far inside).

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