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Learn How To Remove a Bike Crankset Before It Gets Crankier

Conrad Kühn
June 30, 2021

If you’re a cycling enthusiast like me, it is always recommended that you learn a few essential skills that might be useful. Replacing or tightening a bike chain, changing a tire, or removing a crankset are a few basic skills you could learn which can help you save cash when it comes to bike repair or maintenance.

No one born ready for any profession they choose. A doctor has to spend years studying before he can treat a patient. Fortunately, removing a bike crankset isn’t as complex as the human body and can be quickly and easily mastered.

Our guide on how to remove bike crankset will ensure you’re equipped with everything there is to know and ready to go at any time.

road bike crankset

Crankset Removal Tools

• Screwdriver
• Crank puller ( If you don’t have one, read on to find out how to remove bike crank without puller)
• Socket wrench
• Hex key (Allen key)
• Grease or lubricant
• Gloves

Bike Anatomy 101

The crankset is where all the magic happens. Without a crankset, your bike isn’t going anywhere. The power of your strokes is converted to speed right at the heart of the crankset.

Fun Fact: fast pedaling burns fat. Slow pedaling with increased resistance develops muscle, like when you’re going uphill.

The pedals and the bottom bracket are connected by the cranks. The chain is driven by chainrings. Some of the most common reasons we remove cranks are to replace them, service the crank area, or to clean. There are few types of crank systems out there and I’m going to list down the steps for each type. The first step would be to identify the type of crankset your bike has. Some common crank types are:

• Self-extracting cranks systems
• 1-piece crank systems
• 2-piece crank systems
• 3-piece crank systems

How To Remove A Self-Extracting Crank

Self-extracting cranks are available in both 2-piece and 3-piece models. Self-extracting means that you don’t need a crank puller because the tool is built into the system.

These systems use rings that are threaded over the bolt that connects it to the spindle. When you loosen the bolt, it also loosens the crank arm from the spindle.

STEP 1: Make sure the retaining ring is in place and tightly fastened.

STEP 2: Unthread the crank bolt using a hex key until the arm comes off

STEP 3: Remove the crank arm on the other side. If it is a 2-piece model, gently pulling away would do. A 3-piece model would require you to repeat Step 1 and Step 2.

How To Remove A 1-Piece Crankset

You will commonly find this system in older bicycles like BMX bikes and some chain store bikes. It is called a 1-piece crankset because both pedals are connected by one piece of steel through the bottom bracket.

STEP 1: Remove the locknut carefully without removing the washer.

STEP 2: Using a small screwdriver pull the caged bearing seal out on both sides

STEP 3: Turn the crank arm and slide it out from the bottom bracket.

How To Remove A 2-Piece Crankset

Many bikes today use Shimano components and the 2-piece system is quite popular with the Japanese manufacturer. In the general 2-piece set up, the compression slot on the left arm uses 2 pinch bolts to secure it in place and a right arm with an incorporated axle.

STEP 1: Use a hex key to loosen the pinch bolts on the left arm.

STEP 2: Remove the crank cap using a suitable hex key.

STEP 3: Gently tug the left crank arm off the axle using your hand.

STEP 4: Tap the spindle from the left side while pulling the right crank arm away from you. 

How To Remove A 3-Piece Crankset

Crank pullers are usually used to remove a 3-piece crankset system. The cranks usually connect the crank arms to the bottom bracket axle and are held securely by crank bolts.

Crank pullers can be used to remove square types of arms or splined-type arms, but you don’t necessarily need one.

Using a Crank Puller

STEP 1: Loosen and remove the crank nut using a socket wrench and remove the washers too. You might have to remove the dust cap if your crankset has one.

STEP 2: Insert the threaded crank puller and tighten it fully

STEP 3: Turn the bolt into the crank puller and you will feel the resistance. This will loosen the crank.

STEP 4: Unscrew the crank puller and repeat it for the other crank arm.

Without A Crank Puller

STEP 1: Remove the crank bolt using a socket wrench along with the washer. Remove the safety cap if you can’t see the bolt.

STEP 2: Using a screwdriver and a spanner, loosen the crank arm. Turn the arm anticlockwise using the screwdriver while using the spanner to strengthen the movement.

STEP 3: Rotate until it’s tightened and pull it out. Repeat for the other arm as well.

As mentioned, removing a crankset isn’t too difficult and it usually only takes a couple of minutes. Make sure to always clean your bike and the other components so that dirt and grime don’t build up. Also, remember to hose down your bike after each ride. Do not use a spray gun and never directly aim the water at the bearings.

Using a toothbrush with soapy water is recommended to get into the insides.

Conrad Kühn
About the Author
Cycling Enthusiast / Mechanical Engineer | Hailing from Germany, where the first bike was invented is no coincidence. The cycling bug hit Conrad when he was really young, and he has been sick for quite some time now. Germany is a leading cycling nation. His first cycling experience began with him commuting to school with his friends. Racing to school was the best feeling ever. As Conrad grew up so did his passion for cycling. He used to race in local competitions but never made it to the professional level because of his other love: Engineering. As a mechanical engineer by profession, Conrad loves to understand the mechanisms behind machines and how they work. This intensified his passion for bicycles. Engineer by day and blogger by night, Conrad wants to share his knowledge with the global cycling community.
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