Bike Cassette Not Freewheeling? [3 Reasons And Fixes!]

Every bicycle rider loves to freewheel. If you stop pedaling the cycle, the cycle will still go forward with the speed. This is the process of freewheeling.

However, sometimes some parts of the cycle are unable to freewheel, especially the cassette. It can be a very confusing situation.

So, why is your bike cassette not freewheeling?

To start off, a broken or damaged cassette can cause this issue. Also, the chain of the cycle might be rusty or dirty. This results in causing the cassette not to freewheel. Another reason is a faulty freewheel mechanism. You can inspect your cycle thoroughly to find out the problems.

That’s all about the reasons of cassettes not freewheeling. I’ve explained all the ways to fix these issues here as well.

Start reading to fix your cycle!

3 Potential Reasons Behind Your Cassette Failing to Freewheel

Freewheeling while cycling is one of the best feeling while riding. Freewheeling can be done in every cycle except a unicycle. It can be a drag when the bike cassette doesn’t freewheel. While it can be a devastating situation, it is fixable!

There could be multiple reasons for the cassette to not freewheel. I’ve included 3 common reasons for a cassette not freewheeling! Look down here-

Reason 1: Damaged or Broken Cassette

A cassette is the main thing that keeps the bike going. If a cassette is damaged anyhow, the bike won’t function properly. Here functioning means running. The bike can’t run with a damaged or broken cassette.

Bike Cassette Not Freewheeling? [3 Reasons And Fixes!]

Source: Reddit

You can see some broken teeth here in the red markings. You can check for these or some other signs to find out if your cassette is damaged or broken.

For instance, if you observe a bike rear cassette slipping, the cassette may be damaged.

The teeth of the sprockets may be blunt and not hold the chain. If the chain is not rotating the sprocket, it’s impossible for the bike to move. If you somehow notice the bike wheel not turning when pedaling, it’s an issue with the cassette.

Sometimes the freewheel is alright, but the cassette causes the halt in freewheeling. Moreover, the faulty cassette causes many Shimano shifters to stop returning.

These can be a huge weight on your shoulders. But, worry not. For you, I’ve included the solution to this below. Check it out!


First of all, you have to make sure the cassette is tight. With time, the cassette may become loose which causes the whole mechanism to fall apart. 

It affects shifting, braking, and overall rotations of the wheels. The chain also falls multiple times during a ride.

You can easily solve this by tightening it. To tighten the cassette, you need-

First, remove the old lockring from the cycle. It should be on the side of the cassette. You may need to detach the back wheel in order to do this. 

After that, replace it with a new cassette lockring. The hollow side of the lockring should face the cycle. 

Finally, using an adjustable wrench, tighten it. Keep rotating it clockwise; don’t stop until the lockring feels sturdy. 

If you’re confused about the wrench, here is a list to help you out-

These wrenches can go a long way. Additionally, you can use these wrenches universally; they are not only for cycles!

Regarding cassette damages, you have to inspect the damage first. If the cassette is a little bit bent, rusty, or dirty; you can handle it. Simply cleaning it and applying force to bend it back into shape should be enough.

Cleaning your cassette is really easy with some degreasers. If you want some good quality degreasers used by professionals, check out these.

However, more serious damages need replacing. For instance, if the cassette is missing 2 or more teeth, replace it. It clashes with the function of the cassette freewheel. On top of that, it’s not safe for your cycle rides.

You can go to the nearest cycle shop to replace the cassette! It’s not very expensive and takes very less time; so don’t worry.

Reason 2: Bad or Rusty Chain

This is one of the most common reasons for the bike cassette not freewheeling. The chain can rust and decrease its quality with time.

Bike Cassette Not Freewheeling? [3 Reasons And Fixes!]

Source: Thrill Hunters

The rust then decreases the grip of the chain onto the cassette. Because of this, the cassette might slip at times. Bike freewheel slipping is a common symptom of that!

Don’t be worried. Please see the fix for this below.


Pro cyclists always recommend replacing any damaged chain. Although there are methods to clean rusty chains, you should just replace them.

A corroded chain might cause problems in the future. Buying a cycle chain is inexpensive as well. You can set up the new cycle chain yourself, at home!

Worried you might make a blunder while replacing the chain? Follow this video to keep everything in track.

I personally use the Shimano Ultegra cassette so I normally prefer Shimano Ultegra/XT CN-HG701 11-Speed Chain.

Some revered replacement chains are-

Additionally, you should switch chains once every few years. Chains might sag over time and also deteriorate their quality. So, check your chain regularly. It’s good for your cycle and also reduces the risk for you. 

Remember to lube your chain after you set it up. Otherwise, the chain might slip sometimes.

But again if you are short on budget then you can try fixing the chain. Again it’s not recommended.

Reason 3: Faulty Freewheel Mechanism

For the freewheel to work properly, the freewheel mechanism must be alright. Usually, a rider can stop pedaling and the bike will freewheel. It’ll make a clicking noise and go forward. 

If a bike doesn’t freewheel, you’ll see the pedals turn when freewheeling. If the mechanism has faults, the freewheel won’t work. You’ll see the pedals going along with the chain, not staying in one place. It is as simple as that!

There are some simple symptoms of the faulty freewheel. You may see your freewheel spinning both ways. The bearing inside may be faulty. Sometimes the housing also can be broken like this one-

Faulty freewheel also initiates engaging problems with cassettes on a bike. It can be dangerous and you will not find comfort.


To solve this, you have to clean the freewheel. Disassemble the freehub first. You can use wrenches and hex keys to complete this step.

As a rider I have a secret obsession with hex keys. I have used my fair shares of hex keys in my life. So, here are some of the best ones I’ve used.

Then, thoroughly clean the pawls and the spring. You can use a degreaser to clean it.

Spray the degreaser (multiple coats) to get rid of all the grease inside.

After that, lube the freewheel properly. Try not to slack on lube, apply a sufficient amount! Finally, reassemble the hub. If the freewheel is still not improved, consider replacing it. 

You can replace the freewheel or you can replace the rear wheel. The rear wheel contains the freewheel itself.

You can cross-check these symptoms for your bike. If you manage to match any reasons, apply the corresponding solution!


Why does my rear cassette slip?

Rear cassettes may slip because of several reasons. Chains are the biggest enemy of cassettes; whether it is a front cassette or rear cassette. A chain can get rusty over time and lack care. That will eventually cause the rear cassette to get damaged. A damaged cassette can slip very often.

Should I attach attachments around bike cassettes?

Yes, you can definitely attach attachments around bike cassettes. Although, you have to keep a few things in mind while doing that. The first one is, do not to attach attachments that are too heavy. It can degrade the performance of the cycle. The second one is to attach compatible attachments only.

How do bike cassettes work?

The bike cassette is the joint of the sprocket. It has many levels, up to 13 sprocket levels. The chain of the bike can rest on the sprocket. The higher the chain goes, the more force you’ll need. This is very useful when riding incline and decline grounds. You can adjust the gears according to your needs.

The Final Words

By now, you should know the causes and solutions behind your bike cassette not engaging. You can get great help from the information above!

Feel free to take the aid of a cycle mechanic whenever you are confused or stuck!

Best wishes for fixing your cassette!

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