In this article I’m going to show you how to permanently fix the play in a Mavic freehub in a couple of easy steps.
I bought a second-hand set of Mavic Crossmax SLR wheels for my Cannondale Scalpel. Even with a new original chain and cassette the chain kept slipping on the biggest sprocket.
As it turned out the rear wheel was dealing with a very common issue caused by one of the biggest design flaws in bicycle components; play caused by the worn nylon bushing in Mavic freehub bodies. I could visibly move the cassette about 2mm on the Mavic freehub.
The body being used on the older-style Mavic wheels is the Mavic FTS-L Body. They retail for around 40 euros, which is a considerable amount of money. Especially considering the fact that it will not solve the issue, because the new body is just as poorly designed as the old one, and it’s only a matter of time and some hard riding to let the issue rear its ugly head again.
To remedy this issue I’m going to remove the Mavic freehub and replace the nylon bushing with a aluminum adapter holding a ceramic sealed bearing. Not only will this remove the play, but it’ll also ensure the play will never again return.
Step 1. Removing the freehub
You’ll obviously need to remove the cassette before you’re able to access the freehub.
The freehub body is kept onto the hub with a long bolt. To be able to access the nut that’s inside the hub you’ll first need to remove the skewer nut by simply pulling it out with your fingers.
In my case I can now use a large 10mm hex tool and a smaller one on the bolt to unthread it and remove it.
After removing the bolt that keeps the Mavic freehub body in place you should be able to remove it by gently pulling it off.
There’s a seal located on the inside of the freehub body to protect it from the outside elements. It’s going to be replaced with the bearing adapter so you don’t need it anymore. Press in the pawls located on the inside of the hub to make sure it doesn’t get stuck.
Step 2. Replacing the nylon bushing with a sealed bearing
With a flat-headed screwdriver gently pry the nylon bushing from the freehub shell.
With the help of a vice you’ll be able to press the adapter with the sealed bearing into place. This might take some going back and forth to correctly align the adapter with the sleeve of the freehub.
The adapter sticks out about 5mm at the end of the freehub sleeve. This is supposed to be the case.
Step 3. Reassembling the Mavic freehub
Now it’s time to reassemble the freehub. Put a little dab of ball bearing grease at the back of the inside of the freehub sleeve. Don’t put any grease on the ratcheted area. You don’t want the pawls to gum up and no longer engage the ratchet.
I also clean the freehub body with the pawls and put a single drop of sewing machine oil on them before reattaching the sleeve. Press down on the two pawls or else you will not be able to move the sleeve into place.
I didn’t have a press which was thin enough to fit into the axle. That’s why I used the skewer with a large washer and a couple of smaller ones with a tiny nut to gently tighten the freehub shell onto the freehub inner.
If the sleeve isn’t pushed far enough inwards the pawls will not engage the ratchet mechanism and you will not be able to spin the wheel when pedaling. You’ll know this is the case when you’re able to spin the freehub clockwise
When the pawls correctly engage you should hardly be able to see the bearing adapter, which should fit snugly inside the recessed area of the Mavic hub.
You can reinstall the cassette and check for play. There shouldn’t be any. And that’s how you permanently remove play from a Mavic freehub.
Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His cycling career has seen him at the starting line of classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege. Realizing his racing capacity would fall short of what was needed he obtained a MS from the University of Amsterdam in engineering. His love for cycling changed into riding in an amateur capacity with his local cycling club TFC Weesp as a roadie and supporting MTB Noordwest as a mountain biker. He repairs, restores, and builds bicycles and shares his knowledge on YouTube, Facebook and this website.
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