Differences Between Freewheel Hub and Freehub Cassette

With the release of our new 16-inch Pro kids bike, we have received a few questions about some of the upgrades we put in place for the Pro version. 

We could mention the upgraded Gates belt-drive system or the thicker aluminum frame that adds less than half a pound compared to our original 16-inch sports version, but the most exciting upgrade we made is the switch from a freewheel hub to an integrated freehub cassette. 

Keep reading to learn more about this exciting upgrade! 

What Exactly Are Cassettes and Freewheels? 

On the rear of your bike, there are multiple sprockets that attach to the rear wheel. When you pedal, the chain (or rubber belts on Belsize bikes) rotate and catch the sprockets. Since the sprockets are attached to the rear wheel, this drives your bike forward and moves the bicycle. 

Most adult bikes have multiple gear options, where each gear is attached to a separate sprocket. With our kid’s bike (and most other kid’s bikes on the market)  there is only one gear, as kids usually do not need to switch to multiple gears as an adult bike would.

Although they perform the same function, the cassette and freewheel operate a little bit differently and have some differences that are useful in different riding experiences. 

Cassettes are typically used on off-road or mountain bikes as they are more durable under stress and bumps while freewheel hubs are typically used for road or urban bikes where you are not riding on such rough, shocking terrain. 

But how are they different?

Freewheel Hubs Explained

A freewheel either contains a set of sprockets or a single sprocket with an internal ratcheting system that is mounted on a threaded hub. 

The freewheel screws directly onto the rear wheel of your bike, but it requires a longer axle than a cassette hub. Because of this, freewheel hubs have a tendency to snap or break when riding on extreme terrains with lots of bumps and drops. 

When you are not pedaling with the freewheel hub, the sprockets will stay stationary as the rear wheel rotates. 

Freehub Cassettes Explained

A cassette is similar to a freewheel in that it has a set of sprockets that are attached one after the other, but instead of an internal ratcheting system, there is a series of straight splines that form the connection between the sprockets and the hub. 

When using a cassette, the sprockets will rotate with the wheel whether you are pedaling or not. (For Belsize 16-pro, the cassettes are mounted to a free hub so the freewheeling mechanism is in the hub and it is possible to coast for Belsize 16-pro.)

So Which Is Better?

As with most comparisons in life, it depends. 

A freewheel typically has a lower number of gears, so it is better suited for casual rides (or kids) who don’t require such a large selection of gear options. The freewheel also has the advantage of being able to coast without pedaling, which is great for children who get tired easily. 

A cassette is lightweight and more durable than a freewheel because it is more compact and doesn’t require as long of an axle, so it is better for rides who will be using their bike off-road or on a bumpy train, as it can better handle the shocks and bumps that can come from riding in these conditions. 

A cassette is also more efficient than a freewheel hub, making it a better choice for kids who need an easier pedaling experience to enjoy their ride.

The main advantages of the cassette in our single-speed kid’s bikes are the lower weight and the more efficient riding experience compared to our freewheel model. 

The differences are minor and your kid may not notice the difference, but if you are a bike aficionado who wants more choice over the features of your child’s bike, head over to our bikes page to see all of the differences between the 16-inch Sports model (with freehub) and the 16-inch pro model, which uses the cassette.

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