Parts availability sanity check

I’ve been riding a Wabi for the last couple of years and loving it. I replaced some drivetrain parts to suit my preferences and 'cause I broke some stuff. I’m really happy with the setup I have now but I was surprised that I had to source a chain ring, cranks, chain and freewheel from 4 separate stores (both online and LBS) in order to get a combination that worked for me. In particular 3/32in 144 BCD chain rings seem pretty rare and the few stores that have them don’t advertise their existence with search engines or stock the rest of the drivetrain parts I needed.

Do others have to search so hard to get quality parts (esp. 3/32 parts)?

I’m not criticising the shops I’ve dealt with, they all provided great service and I’d love to buy from them again.

A second question…when there’s so many great 1/8in chains and chainrings, where are the quality 1/8in freewheels? Even White Industries (which I run now, after Dicta & Shimano sadness) only offers 3/32. I see a lot of freewheels advertised as “works with 1/8” but they are actually 3/32. I had a bunch of trouble with a 1/8 + 3/32 mix.

White industries offer 1/8th, I have a number of them.

Also, 144bcd is a track sizing, if you want 3/32 rings, get a 130bcd or under crankset.

Many times in the past I’ve run a combination of 3/32 and 1.8th and never seen nor heard and issue.

You can get 3/32 in 144, but it’s pretty much obsolete. I know a neighbour of mine had 144bcd road cranks, old Zeus ones or somesuch. Not gonna be the sort of thing you’ll find on the shelf of most LBSs.

Sure about that? I haven’t seen them, and can’t find mention of them. (all bar the 16T will work with 1/8" chain IIRC, 16 has a recessed tooth groove on the body so the wider chain fouls the body.)

Two reasons for the difficulty in getting quality parts:

  1. 144 BCD as a road standard is long gone in favour of 130/135/(and now 4 bolt.)
  2. screw on freewheels as a standard for BMX is long gone in favour of cassette sprockets.

Try an ACS freewheel if you need 1/8. Or get a 3/32 144 ring from xxcycle or similar (T.A. still make them)

TA Specialites 3/32 Track Chainrings from Velodrome Shop
TA 144mm PCD old Campagnolo chainring - £43.99

For future ease of procurement, 130BCD cranks will save you a lot of headaches.

Thanks droz for the super-fast and helpful response. Do you happen to remember where you bought the 1/8th WI freewheels? The closest I got to finding a 1/8th one was sites that advertised them as 1/8th but the fine print said, “works with 3/32 and 1/8th” which means they’ve gotta be 3/32…right?

Yeah I eventually came to the conclusion that 144bcd is track-only…but only after I had bought the new cranks (interestingly the bike came with 144bcd 3/32).

Re 1/8 + 3/32…from other posts I see that lots of people run the combo just fine so I was really tearing my hair out. It was fine for me except when climbing above ~12% or spinning over ~140rpm…neither of which is unusual for anyone else I imagine. I tried different chain tensions, re-centred chain ring, changed components in the search for rounder chainweel & freewheel and straighter crank spider, showed it to better mechanics than me etc but the problem persisted until I switched back to all-3/32.

Thanks again!

Thanks avymtal and AL9000 for the tips. I eventually got a Blackspire 3/32 144bcd chainring from who were great but hard to find, and it looks like they don’t stock them any more :-|. When it comes time to replace stuff I will switch cranks or go to 1/8th and try the ACS (I still have the 1/8th chainring).


Very very interesting. My next planned change is down to 16T so I better keep this in mind.

I do stand corrected on the 3/32 WI detail - I just always assumed mine were 1/8.

I’ve never noticed, and I also run a 1/8 chain and front ring. So they should be no issue with that (I bought both second hand I think…)

Another alternative to the front ring would be getting cycle underground to machine a custom 144 3/32 ring for you, they’re located in Sydney, and normally provide for FYXO (though I think he has stopped being their distro now?)

Just run a 1/8th chain, and it won’t matter whether your chainring or sprockets are 3/32 or 1/8 (bar the 16t WI as listed above)

1/8" ring and chain with WI 3/32 freewheel crü represent. works fine for me even SSCX/offroad.

Note that while shimano freewheels are not as good as WI in terms of pawls, engagements, sealing of bearings, etc. the actual teeth have the same hardness and will last the same distance. If your doing mega k’s onroad the shimano is a more cost efective option.

I’m using WI as shimano was making klunking noises and i didn’t want t end up in the middle of nowhere with freewheeling in both directions also bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

No worries, thanks anyways.

Oh, cool, I didn’t realise they did customs, and (never needing to look before) I also didn’t realise he is about 15 minutes ride from my house ;). redirects to a 404 on the FYXO site. I will drop in and say hi.

I wish I’d asked you guys about this earlier!

Thanks HLC & DaFROG for the comments about 3/32 + 1/8. I did give it a red hot go and would love to know what the problem was especially because I changed every component involved and it works so perfectly with all-3/32. It worked great except under load and higher RPMs, when it would make a really loud whirring/rattling sound. The tipping point for me was the trouser-soiling moment when the chain walked up the rear sprocket and jammed on top of the teeth while I was sprinting flat out- this even though my preferred chain tension was declared “a bit on the tight side” by a local track-bike mechanic. Thanks for the food for thought.

ha, yeah, similarly the shimano’s klunking was doing my head in. I put up with it until it started slipping under load. I swapped it for the WI so now I too sound like a one man hornet’s nest whenever I stop pedalling. So far the WI has lasted about twice as long as the Shimano and Dicta combined.

^Sounds like your chainline is off or your chain ring (or cranks) is not round if you managed to drop the chain like that (unless it’s frame flex)

Dicta’s are not really bicycle components, they are more suitable as paper weights ;p

I tried with 2 kinds of cranks, 2 kinds of freewheels, and the 1/8 chain ring is rounder and flatter than what I have on there now (though there doesn’t seem to be much in it…both seem pretty good to me). I measured the chainline and it seems OK. That same track-bike mechanic said it was good too. I hadn’t considered frame flex, that’s an interesting idea…I have had to back off the rear brake pads a bit to stop them touching the wheel when I’m really going for it…the frame flex idea certainly fits with what I saw…thanks!

Maybe in the interests of science I need to get myself a really stiff track frame and report back :D. Though in theory at least the Wabi I have should not be a leaf shaking in the wind.

We are in violent agreement :).

Are you putting out the watts like Franky?

I wish (and I’m trying hard with weights and plyo almost every non-riding day) but I doubt it :).

Curiosity got the better of me and I bought an 1/8th inch ACS freewheel (thanks again AL9000 for the tip) and switched the chain & chain ring back to 1/8th. I’ve ridden it about 120km so far and the problems I had with a 1/8 & 3/32 mix are gone. Sadly the ACS is a big step down in quality (and price) from White Industries so I will probably switch back to 3/32 and WI soon. The $9 I spent on the ACS is easily worth it for the learning experience.

I got a quote from a reputable high-def 3d scanning place to mash up a design for a 1/8th inch WI-compatible freewheel body (ie not the whole freewheel, just the part with the teeth) from a 3/32 WI body + a 1/8 track cog. So you could build a quality 1/8 freewheel with a WI freewheel, this frankenstein 1/8 body plus a pin spanner. The quoted design cost is obviously a lot more than it’s worth for just one guy but if a bunch of us are interested maybe it would work out OK. Please reply here or PM me if you’re interested.

What’s the hardness and yield strength of the material they’re printing?

I’m going to guess that the freewheel will last approximately SOTBx0.05

I doubt you’d have much of a market as everyone else seems to be doing fine with their current mixed setups.

Is the noise coming from a wonky chain line? Old chain?

I think that’s an optimistic estimate :). The quote I’ve got is to scan, do the design mashup and print a non-rideable prototype…something that is just strong enough to make sure the threads fit together and everything lines up. Then the design would need to be translated into CNC-compatible instructions…etc…but no point doing that if I am the only muppet who cares :).