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No more forward motion
#1
So, I'll admit I pedal hard from the start. I've pedaled hard enough, that it causes me to have to readjust my chain every few sessions, cause it'll get loose, and loose means it comes off if.... well... something happens, lol. I take pretty good care of my bike, in the same way as those recent Subaru commercials, if there's a good amount of dirt on it, it means I had a good day. After replacing a good portion of the bike, I thought everything would be set for eternity.
This of course, as we all know, can never be true.
When I pedal now, there's no resistance. It ratchets. You know how you petal backwards, and it ratchets so that nothing happens, it doesn't break or anything? Well, my bike does that while pedaling forward and backwards, now. I've read through lots of help on this site, and due to how decent it seems, I've actually registered for the forum (I never do that), and decided not to look elsewhere (I don't usually do that, either) After reading through all this, I've decided my bike probably has freewheel, and that's in some form broken. This is coming from absolutely no knowledge of how these gear to wheel systems work, which I've never thought about until I had this problem, because I made sure I know most everything about how everything else works. I'm thinking my freewheel is a sort of ratchet system, and that I, through years of wear and rust have obliterated whatever form of pins, or notches, or gearface is in my tire. So... disregard whatever I say and think, does anyone have any actual knowledge on how something like this could occur, and if I could fix it? (as an American, we're naturally inclined to throw things away to replace them, and this also creates a culture of the opposite nature, to fix, fix, fix things, til you get to the point you're fixing things that aren't broke, until you make 'em that way. that would be me.)

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#2
Compare these videos - it should help you to see what you have (you really need to be certain to proceed):
http://bicycletutor.com/replace-freewheel/
http://bicycletutor.com/replace-cassette-cluster/
http://bicycletutor.com/freehub-body/
The "ratcheting" action you speak of is a component on the freewheel/cassette. Usually that part holds, but as with anything it wears out with time.
If you indeed have a freewheel, it will need replaced, since it works as all one unit. From looking at the tutor link, you will see you will need a freewheel removal tool. However, there are a number of them corresponding to different patterns that the manufacturers have used. Look at this page about midway down to see what pattern your freewheel has so you can order the right tool (of course you'll see this better if you remove the wheel - http://bicycletutor.com/remove-install-wheels/ ) .
http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=48
Hope that helps. And if you replace your freewheel, you might think about replacing your chain (if you haven't done it recently) since they both wear at the same time.

Why is it that they make adult bikes that'll generally work for 5'9" or above, yet when you pedal these same bikes they only work for someone who is 5'4" or so?
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#3
I'd have to agree with what Skyguy says about replacing the chain. I remember a little rule about chain and casette wear someone taught me:
When you replace one chain, your casette/freewheel should be fine, but when you wear out chain number two the casette/freewheel is probably badly worn and ought to be replaced to preserve your new chain (and you). If your freewheel is practically dead (which it probably is, I don't think there's a lot you can do with that but I could be wrong; though it would probably be cheaper to replace than repair) then the chain almost certainly isn't very well (try Alex's tutorial on checking for chain wear) and probably ought to go.

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