How to change bike tube is a question that almost every rider wonders at least once. But before changing the tube, you need to know how to remove the crankset first.
The guide is really easy to follow, but there are more to discover in this article, such as types of bike cranksets and how to choose the right one for your bike.
Read on, and do not miss any line!
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Bike Crankset and The Roles of The Bike Crankset
A crankset, also known as a chainset, consists of crank arms, chainrings, and bottom bracket. It is situated at the center of your bike’s drivetrain.
Crank arms: Take a look at the crankset, and you will see two crank arms connected by an axle. At the two ends of the bicycle crank arms are the left and right pedals.
Crank arms are often made of steel, carbon fiber, and aluminum.
Steel cranksets are more common among old bikes and bicycle motocross (BMX) bikes. Meanwhile, aluminum is often used in making cranks for low to mid-range road bikes. Carbon fiber, on the other hand, is available in high-end cranksets due to its lightweight and durable nature.
The crank length is an important factor that you have to consider when changing bike cranksets, but I will save it for the next part.
Chainrings: As you may know already, chainrings play a vital role in your bike. They allow the bike to move forward as you pedal by going round. The rings are typically made of aluminum alloy or steel.
Bottom Brackets (BB): The bottom brackets consist of an axle and some sets of bearings. The original style is the cartridge BB, which fits the axle and bearings in one tube. The cartridge BB is now largely replaced by the external BB with large bearings located outside the frame.
Now, do you know what a bike crankset does?
Simply put, a crankset is a part that transmits power from the pedal to the chainrings. As you pedal, the chainrings go round and push the bike forward.
Crank Type Identification
In this section, you are going to know how to identify your crank system.
First, which type of bike are you riding – mountain bike (MTB), bicycle motocross, or a simple road bike? Knowing this will help you choose the right crankset for yourself.
For more information about crank type identification, let’s watch a helpful video on:
Road cranksets can be categorized into three bike crankset types, namely single, traditional, and compact.
Single: This is the same technology as single-ring chainsets in MTB, and both of them are developed by STRAM.
Traditional: The traditional crankset consists of two chainrings, most often 39- and 52-tooth chainrings. This crank type can go with 10, 11, or 12-speed cassettes to offer riders several gearing options for climbing.
Compact: Compact chainsets feature two chainrings with 34 and 50-tooth rings, unlike the traditional type. The compact cranks are getting more common due to the strong climbing power and high speed.
The compact chainsets have three sub-groups for more precise gear ratios.
Compact: The traditional compact type comes with 50/34 chainsets. It is a good combination of climbing, speed, and acceleration.
Sub-compact: With this type, the gear spread reduces to 46/30, which is great for leisure rides or big climbs.
Semi-compact: This is a favorite choice of modern cyclists as it offers great speed and more control when climbing up. It comes in a 52/36 format.
Tools Needed for Removing Bike Crankset
Before moving onto the crank removal guide, I will tell you what tools to prepare first.
- Wrench: You need a suitable wrench to remove the crank bolts and nuts.
- Crank puller: It is a must if you do not want to damage your crankset.
- Thread: Prepare some thread beforehand may be of great help.
- Old rags: You need some to wipe off the dirt.
How To Remove Bike Crankset
This must be what you have been waiting for. Scroll down to read my full guide on how to remove a bike crankset.
For more information about crank removal and installation, let’s watch a helpful video on:
Use a 4mm wrench to fully loosen the bolts that attach the left crank arm to the spindle. Warning: be careful not to remove these bolts completely.
Now fit the black ring into the crank cap. You should be able to do this effortlessly as long as the two hex bolts are fully loosened in step 1. But if not, try loosening the bolts a bit more.
Remove the left-hand crank from the spindle, then the right-hand crank from the bottom bracket. If you have trouble budging the right-side crank, try using a rubber mallet to tap the end of the spindle gently. Make sure you have covered the spindle end with a cloth to avoid any damage.
Inspect the bottom bracket and the shell for any gunk and dirt. If there is any, wipe it all away with an old rag. Check the bearings as well. Do they feel notchy or gritty when rolling? If yes, you should replace the bottom bracket.
All done! Now you have completely removed the bike crankset for adjusting or replacing it.
How To Remove A Crank Without Puller?
Removing cranksets without a puller is not recommended as it may do some damage to your bike. But if you insist, there are still ways to do so. You only have to prepare some essentials tools, for example, a spindle driver, alley keys, crank nuts and bolts that fit your bike, and of course, a step-by-step guide as follows.
For more information about remove cranks ưithout a crank puller, let’s watch a helpful video on:
Wear Protective Gears
Protective gears simply mean some random gloves that you have at home. This is to protect your hands from the crank and the moving chain.
No gloves at hand? Do not worry; you can use anything to move the chain or count on a gear shifter.
Remove the Crank Bolts
Use a wrench to turn the crank bolts in a counter-clockwise direction to loosen them up. Be extra careful as the chain might abruptly slip off and injure your hands. And as I have mentioned before, do not remove the bolts completely.
Separate the Washers
The washers are metal discs with a hole in the center. For your information, the washer is situated under the crank nuts, and you can take it out with ease using a spanner tool.
Turn the Coupler
Turn the threaded coupler with a spanner tool or a screwdriver as gently as you can until the bolt and the hex tool recesses. Make sure you do not let it cross the thread.
Now you need to thread the spindle driver of the puller into the provided slot in the crank arms by turning it in an anti-clockwise direction. Apply more force, and again, be extra careful.
Turn the Spindle
Turn the spindle now, but the direction is clockwise to remove the crank arms completely.
Unthread the Crank Arm
At this step, you need to unthread the crank arms until the crank is fully removed.
Got it? Without a puller, you can still remove the bike crankset, but you need to be more careful and put in more effort. A crank puller costs about ten bucks only, so I recommend you get one if possible.
How To Choose The Right Crankset Size
Take the following factors into consideration if you want to choose the right crankset for your bike.
Length is one of the most important factors when choosing a bike crank. You should pick the arms that suit your inner legs so that you can pedal comfortably.
For more information about how to choose the correct crank length, let’s watch a helpful video on:
Axle: The cranksets are attached to the axles, so these two must be compatible with each other. Likewise, the crank arm you are going to buy should fit the chainrings as well as the bottom brackets of your current bike.
Look for high-quality cranksets that can offer long-term service. I recommend aluminum and carbon fiber as the ideal materials since these two are really sturdy. Carbon fiber is more expensive, but it saves some extra weight. Check your budget and make a wise decision.
MTB and BMX Cranksets In-Depth
Jump right in if you want to discover more facts about MTB and BMX cranksets.
Crank length: Most MTB chainsets come with aluminum cranks. Like road bicycles, carbon fiber cranksets are available in top-end models.
MTBs cranksets often measure 175mm long, but there are other options too. As said above, you should choose the one that matches your inside leg measurements.
Bottom brackets: Bottom brackets can be either cartridge or external setup.
The external BB is more lightweight and durable, but it needs to be perfectly aligned. Otherwise, the bearings can break quickly. Also, ceramic bearings are sturdier and run more smoothly compared to those made of steel.
Chainrings: There are single ring, double ring, and triple ring types, as I have mentioned in the crank type identification section. MTB chains often have fewer teeth than road bike chains. The largest MTB chainsets are the 38/28 teeth format, while the smallest are 34/24 for big gradients.
MTB cranksets are divided based on the number of rings.
Single ring: This is a really common crank type found in MTBs. Back then, it was only the favorite choice of gravity riders who did not need wide gearing. But when STRAM introduced 11 and 12-speed cassettes that use a single front ring to widen the gear ratio, the single ring crankset became more and more popular.
Double ring: Double ring chainsets gradually lost their popularity since huge cassettes were introduced. But some riders still choose this crank type to save some bucks despite the extra weight.
Triple ring: Triple ring cranksets are a thing of the past now. You can only find it on cheap entry-level bikes.
Axle: BMX axle diameters are commonly found in 19mm and 22mm. Regarding the patterns, there are 8-spline, 16-spline, and 48-spline versions. Check the pattern and the axle diameter to make sure the axle fits your new crankset.
Crank length: Most BMXs have cranks that are 170 or 175mm long, but of course, there are different versions. Some cranks can be as short as 140mm, while some can reach up to 190mm.
Now I will tell you about BMX cranksets, which consist of three main types.
One-piece: One-piece cranksets feature the axle and crank arms in a single piece of steel. It is mostly available in entry-level bikes.
Two-piece: With two-piece sets, the axle is joined in one of the crank arms.
Three-piece: In this type of chainset, two separate crank arms are attached to the axle. Three-piece cranksets are the most common type in BMX bikes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I know which type of crankset is suitable for my bike after crank removal?
A: The most important thing to consider when upgrading or changing cranksets is the crank length. Crank arms are available in a wide range of sizes, from 165mm to 190mm. Your ideal crank length depends on three factors, including your height, your riding style, and your personal preferences. So take your time to consider carefully.
Q: Is there any alternative to a crank puller?
A: Depending on the type of crank arm equipped in your bike, you can remove the crankset by threading the bolt slowly or prying the threads out. With the washers, a spanner tool or a bolt will help.
Q: What are the steps to remove the Shimano crankset?
A: The steps are basically the same as removing a normal crankset, so it should not make you confused. Follow the detailed guide I have written for removing the bike crankset above, and you are good to go.
Q: Does the crank length affect gearing?
A: Not really. To be specific, changing the crank length will change the overall feel of the drivetrain regardless of the gear ratio. Short crank arms do not offer the same feel as low gearing and vice versa.
Q: Are long crank arms suitable for climbing?
A: Absolutely yes. A longer crankset allows you to pedal a big gear ratio with more leverage. This is really helpful in riding up a hill as the riders have to push slower revolutions.
The Bottom Line
I hope you have known how to remove a bike crankset now. It is easy and does not take much time. But if you find anything confusing in my instructions, do not hesitate to comment down. I am always willing to help you out.
Do you want more posts about this topic? Follow my site and stay tuned. Thank you for reading!