Have you ever been miles from home on a ride when suddenly your pedal starts to wobble? That sinking feeling hits as you realize your crank is coming loose. But don’t worry – with a few basic tools and some mechanical know-how, you can remove and repair your bike’s crank right on the trail.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through the entire process of detaching your crankset so you can get back to smooth pedaling in no time. We’ll go over all the steps, from loosening those stubborn bolts to safely reinstalling the crank arm. I’ll also share some tips on choosing the right tools, troubleshooting problems, and understanding when it’s time to replace parts.
So grab a wrench and let’s get cranking!
Why Should You Remove Your Bike’s Crank?
Before we dig into the nitty gritty, you might be wondering why you’d even need to remove your crankset in the first place. There are a few key reasons:
Improving Pedaling Efficiency
Over time, accumulated dirt and grime can cause your bottom bracket bearings to bind. This makes pedaling feel gritty or uneven. Removing the cranks provides access to fully clean and re-lubricate the bottom bracket.
If your crank bolts start to loosen, the arms can wobble while pedaling. This imbalance can lead to knee pain or cause you to lose control and crash. Taking off the cranks allows you to securely re-tighten everything.
Replacing Worn Parts
The constant pressure of pedaling eventually wears down parts like chainrings and bottom brackets. Removing the crankset gives you the ability to swap in new components.
Avoiding Further Damage
A loose crank can damage the delicate bottom bracket threads. Taking off the cranks before things get worse saves you from needing expensive repairs.
Now that you see why it’s useful to remove your cranks, let’s go over some important safety steps.
Play It Safe: Precautions When Removing Your Crankset
Detaching bike cranks takes some mechanical know-how, so safety should be your top concern. Here are some key precautions to take:
Protect Your Paws
Sharp chainrings and greasy bolts can scrape up your fingers. Wear mechanics gloves or wrap a rag around your hand to keep everything intact.
Use The Proper Tools
Trying to force off crank arms with the wrong tool can damage the bolts. Use quality Allen wrenches and spanners that fit precisely.
Take It Slow
Don’t rush through removing the crankset. Forcing things can cause the threads to strip. Work methodically and carefully.
Ask An Expert If Needed
If any part of the process has you stumped, consult a professional bike mechanic. Don’t guess – it could cost you.
Okay, your hands are covered and your tools are ready. Let’s get this crank off!
Removing a Bike Crank In 10 Steps (No Puller Needed)
Removing a sealed bottom bracket crankset is totally doable with some mechanical elbow grease – no fancy puller tool required. Follow these steps to get the job done:
Step 1: Lube The Bolts
Before trying to loosen anything, spray some penetrating oil on the crank bolts and let it soak in for a few minutes. This helps break the seal and prevent rusting.
Step 2: Shift The Chain Out Of The Way
Change your bike’s gears so the chain moves to the smallest cog in the back. This prevents it from interfering while you work.
Step 3: Secure The Bike
Put your bicycle in a bike stand or clamp it in a work stand to keep it stable. You’ll need both hands free.
Step 4: Remove The Crank Bolts
Use an Allen wrench to loosen the crank bolts in a counter-clockwise direction. Unthread them slowly and patiently.
Step 5: Detach The Washers
Once the bolts are out, use a narrow spanner to detach any washers still on the crank arm or spindle.
Step 6: Wiggle The Arm Off
Here’s the fun part! Take a wide flathead screwdriver and gently pry between the crank arm and bottom bracket. Twist back and forth until the crank pops off.
Step 7: Add A Spindle Driver
Thread the correct spindle driver in a clockwise direction into the crank’s interior spline. Make sure it’s snug.
Step 8: Unthread The Spindle
Grip the handle of the driver and turn it counter-clockwise to unthread the crank’s spindle from the bottom bracket.
Step 9: Remove The Last Crank Arm
Follow steps 4-8 to detach the second crank arm. Soon you’ll be crank-free!
Step 10: Clean And Inspect
With both arms removed, wipe down the parts and check for any worn components or damaged threads.
Pat yourself on the back – you just removed a bike crank sans puller! Now let’s talk about choosing the right tools for the job.
Picking The Right Tools To Remove A Crank
Having quality tools makes removing your crankset much easier. Here are the key items you’ll need:
A good set of hex wrenches lets you easily loosen the crank bolts. Make sure you have the precise size your bike requires.
This thin open-ended wrench helps detach the lock washers without damaging them. Spanners come in different sizes.
This splined tool fits into the crank arm’s interior and unscrews the spindle when turned. Get the right diameter driver for your cranks.
Bottom Bracket Wrench
A specialty wrench that fits around the bottom bracket shell lets you remove it once the cranks are off.
Investing in a quality bike tool kit pays off over time. Avoid cheap or dull tools that can strip bolts.
Now let’s go over reinstalling your crankset once any repairs are complete.
Reattaching Your Crankset Snugly
Once you’ve cleaned, greased, and replaced any worn parts, it’s time to put the finishing touches on the job. Follow this process:
- Apply bike grease to the bottom bracket spindle and crankset interior. This prevents seizing.
- Hand thread the crank arm onto the spindle to avoid cross-threading.
- Use a torque wrench to tighten the crank bolts to your bike’s spec. This prevents loosening.
- Check that the cranks can spin smoothly without rubbing. Adjust as needed.
- Consider using threadlocker on the bolts for added security.
Taking the time to reassemble things properly ensures your crankset stays solid for many miles to come.
FAQs: Removing A Bike Crank Without A Puller
Before you get rolling, here are answers to some common questions about detaching your crankset:
What if the crank arm won’t budge when trying to remove it?
Penetrating oil and gentle prying with a flathead screwdriver can help loosen a stubborn crank. Don’t force anything or you may damage the bottom bracket.
How often should you remove bike cranks?
Most riders only need to remove cranks occasionally to service the bottom bracket, swap chainrings, or replace worn parts. Annually is sufficient unless you experience problems.
Is it safe to ride without crank arms?
No, attempting to ride a bike with the cranks removed is extremely dangerous and can cause accidents or injuries. The pedals need cranks to transmit power to the drivetrain.
Alright my fellow riders, you now have all the knowledge you need to successfully remove those cranks and keep your bike pedaling smoothly for years to come. With some mechanical practice and the right tools, this is a DIY bike repair you can totally own. Just remember to put safety first, take your time, and ask for help if you need it. Happy crank removal and happy trails!
Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.