How-to: (Remove the Crank from a Bicycle) — Step-by-Step

Do you want to remove the crank from a bicycle? You’ll be glad to know that the process is fairly simple and easy. The crank is the part of your bicycle drivetrain that you pedal on, and it converts your movements to rotational motion to drive the chain and eventually the wheels.

Whatever the reason, removing the crank from a bicycle is doable as long as you have the right tools.

Here is how to remove the crank from a bicycle:

  1. First, you’ll have to detach the pedals from the crank
  2. Then, you’ll have to unscrew the center bolts of the crank using an Allen key
  3. You can now remove the crank easily and fix a new one if you wish to replace it.

So, let’s delve deeper into it as I tell you all you need to know about removing a crank from a bicycle.

What Tools Do You Need To Remove The Crank From a Bicycle?

The tools required to remove the crank for a bicycle are most probably available in your house or the nearby market. Here are the tools you would need to remove the crank from a bicycle:

  • Old Rags: You should have old rags or a small damp towel for cleaning
  • Gloves: If you don’t want wounds or sticky grease on your fingers, wearing gloves is probably a good idea
  • Allen Key: You will need Allen Key to open the nuts and bolts to remove the crank
  • Screw Driver: A screwdriver can come in handy to open screws placed on the crank
  • Wrench: You will need a 15mm wrench to detach the pedals

Removing the Crank From a Bicycle Without a Puller: Step-by-Step

You might not always have access to a puller; therefore, you should know how to remove the crank from a bicycle without a puller.

Using a puller might make things a little bit easier, but you can easily accomplish the task without its usage. You’re interested to learn how? Stay tuned!

1) Put On Gloves For Protection

Putting on gloves is more important than you might think. Whenever you’re doing hazardous work such as removing the crank from your bicycle, your hands are prone to get injured.

Usually, the reason for damage to a bicycle crank is because of the chainring composition. The chainring can be sharp and, therefore, may wound your unprotected hands.

» This could also be something for you: How Fast Is Possible On a Bicycle?

Gloves would protect your hands and prevent any injury. If you’re looking for an even safer option, use rubber mittens.

Besides protecting you from bleeding wounds, gloves can also protect your hands from sticky grease that you may find in various bicycle parts. 

Thus, it is best to be safe and exercise the usage of gloves when removing the crank from a bicycle.

2) Detach the Pedal 

In a bicycle, you would find the crank connected to the pedal through a crank arm. You must work on the rod connecting the crank arm and pedal. 

You should use a 15mm wrench on the neck of the crank arm and turn the wrench counterclockwise 2-3 times in order to loosen the pedal from the crank arm.

If the pedal is loosened, it should rotate easily on the crank bolt. Continue turning the crank arm clockwise while holding the pedal with your hand.

You should feel the pedal unthreading as you keep rotating it. You should continue with this process until the pedal finally detaches from the crank arm. 

Did it successfully? Repeat for the other side!

3) Remove the Crank Cap and Loosen the Pinch Bolts

Usually, the cranks have a safety metal or plastic cap attached on top of them.

To get rid of this cap, you should fit a screwdriver by the edge of the cap. With one swift upward thrust, you should be able to get rid of this cap. Now, you will be able to see a hexagon-shaped crank bolt.

Besides a central crank bolt, usually, there are some small pinch bolts attached. If that is the case with your bicycle, you would have to use the Allen key to loosen these pinch bolts and remove them.

Ideally, you should be keeping them someplace safe in case you might need them again.

4) Insert the Allen key In the Crank Bolt

Now that you are rid of all the screws and pinch bolts, it is time to loosen the central crank bolt to access the crank. 

You can do this very quickly with the help of the Allen key. Insert the Allen key on the crank bolt and turn its handle counterclockwise to loosen the crank bolt.

Continue with this process until you finally end up unscrewing the crank bolt. 

If your bicycle has bolts on both sides, you should go to the other side and loosen the bolts from there.

5) Detach the Washers

Washers play a significant role in a bicycle. Their primary function is to keep the nuts and bolts tight and in position. This eventually leads to coordinated movements of your wheels in one direction. 

Washers may vary in different shapes and sizes, and you may have to use a variety of screwdrivers to untighten them. 

You can find the washers under the nuts on the crankset. Once you’re done untightening them, you should remove them and keep them someplace safe, especially if you plan to fix a new crank and have no other washers.

» I have also written this post, about: How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go?

6) Slide the Crank Off the Spindles

Once you’re done removing the washers, it is time to slide the crank off the spindles. You should find the crank arm and pull it away from the bike. Now repeat the process for the other side.

After the crank arms have been removed, the bike’s crank is no longer fixed, and you can remove it by pulling it from under the bottom bracket. 

If your bike doesn’t have self-extracting cranks, then you’ll need a crank extractor to remove the crank from the bike.

7) Repeat For the Other Side

Hurrah! You’re almost there. You’ve successfully removed the crank from one side of the bicycle. Now is the time to move to the opposite side and work on that. 

Thankfully, there aren’t any specific instructions for the opposite side. Therefore, you can repeat these steps and get rid of the crank.

Beware, though; you must practice extreme caution in this step because you’ll be dissembling many parts.

It is recommended that you should ask for an assisting hand to help you manage the heavy parts and those numerous small screws that tend to get lost very easily.

8) Perform a Final Examination

It wasn’t that difficult, right? You’re finally done removing the crank from your bicycle, so you should pat yourself on the back.

Before moving on, you should examine your bike and see if the crank has been appropriately removed. Additionally, you should check for all the parts and bolts you’ve removed and ensure they are kept safe.

You should double-check all the parts and ensure there aren’t any additional problems. If there are, you should consider solving them before deciding what to do with your bike’s crank.

» Read my blog post: Turn a Bicycle Into a Stationary Bike

Removing the Crank From a Bicycle With a Puller: Step-by-Step

Crank pullers make removing cranks a little bit easier and safer. Crank pullers are generally used to remove basic three-piece crank types; squared type spindle arms and spindled type spindle arms. Let’s find out how you can use a crank puller to remove the crank from a bicycle.

1) Shift to the Largest Chainring and Remove Crank Bolts

The first step is to shift the chain to the largest chainring. This gives your hands protection from the sharp chainring teeth as well as allows them more room to work in.

Now start removing the crank bolt. Ideally, a counterclockwise turn with hands should loosen it, but if that doesn’t happen, you can use Allen’s key or a wrench.

2) Remove the Washers and Inspect the Crank Bolt

Now that you’re done with the first step, you should check if there are any washers below the crank bolt and remove them.

In order to choose the right crank puller, you would have to inspect the crank bolt area closely and determine the best option for yourself.

Generally, cranks with M8 crank bolts CP-22 or CWP-7 with a small tip, while cranks with larger M12 or M15 bolts use CCP-44 or CWP-7 with a larger tip.

3) Turn Threaded Coupler Of Puller

After choosing the right crank puller, now is the time to fix it in the hex of the crank bolt. In order to do that, you should turn the threaded coupler of the puller until it is firmly fixed in the recess. 

This ensures a firm fixture and maximum engagement of 22mm of thread into the arm.

4) Thread Spindle Driver Of Puller Into Arm

The next step is to thread the spindle driver of the puller into the arm until the entire 22mm of the puller is threaded and engaged in the arm. 

In case of pulling an improperly threaded spindle driver in the arm, damage may occur to the nut or the arm itself. 

5) Rotate Spindle Driver Clockwise

Now that the spindle driver has been turned to thread and fixed firmly on the arm, you should start rotating the spindle driver clockwise. 

Continue the process of threading the driver into the puller until the crank is finally removed.

6) Unthread the Crank Puller and Repeat For the Other Side

Getting the puller out is pretty simple now that the crank has been removed. Start unthreading the puller, and you’ll find it to be detached in no time. 

If you’re done with one side, you would have to repeat the entire process for the other side. 

Why Should You Remove the Crank?

You need to remove the crank to fit a new bottom bracket and to replace worn-out chainrings. The crank is an essential part of any bicycle that helps the pedal rotate and keep the bicycle moving forward.

There can be many reasons you might want to remove the crank. Let me tell you a few of them.

1) To Fit a New Bottom Bracket

Bottom brackets are bearings that allow the crank to turn smoothly. The bottom brackets connect your bike to the cranks, enabling them to rotate powerfully and swiftly.

One reason to remove the crank could be to install a new bottom bracket. 

Bottom brackets generally work fine but fail to perform when their function is compromised due to water or grit damage, causing them to loosen and disintegrate. 

When the bottom brackets fail, their rhythmic creaking, side-to-side wobble, or feeling of grittiness indicate that they need replacing.

2) Replace Worn-out Chainrings

Chainrings is the word generally used for front gears of the cycle. A bicycle generally uses different powers provided by these gears to increase in speed.

You’d be surprised to know that the chainrings are essentially the part responsible for transforming your energy to actual rotational energy that cause the cycle to move forward. 

Chainrings have a long lifespan, and it takes running thousands of kilometers for them to get damaged. A rough creaking sound and sharpening of its teeth are ways to tell if the chainrings have worn out.

Therefore, another reason to remove the crank from a bicycle could be to replace worn-out chainrings. 

» Read my blog post about: How To Remove Rust from Bike Chain

How to Install New Cranks On the Bicycle?

To install new cranks on a bicycle, follow these steps:

  1. Insert the Right Crank Onto the Spindle at the 6 o’clock position
  2. Insert the Left Crank Onto the Spindle at the 12 o’clock position
  3. Screw In the New Crank With Allen’s Key
  4. Tighten the Pinch Bolts
  5. Screw the Pedals Back On the Crank Arms

Of course, the most usual or sensible reason to remove a crank could be to install a new one because the earlier one got damaged or wasn’t functioning right. Installing a new crank on the bicycle is not a big deal, and you can perform it efficiently if you do it with focus.

1) Insert the Right Crank Onto the Spindle at the 6 o’clock position

Firstly, before inserting the crank, you must ensure that you install the washers you took out earlier. Once done with that, you need to insert the right crank onto the spindle at the 6 o’clock position. Fix the crank appropriately so that it doesn’t come off when you attach the pedals to it.

2) Insert the Left Crank Onto the Spindle at the 12 o’clock position

After fixing the right spindle, try setting the left spindle the same way; however, you need to ensure that you’re fixing it in a 12 o’clock position. If the crank is not properly fixed into the spindle, use a rubber mallet on it to push it in place.

3) Screw In the New Crank With Allen’s Key

The crank bolt should be screwed in its socket to fix the new crank firmly. You can use Allen’s key to install the crank bolt. Keep turning the key’s handle until you can turn it no more. That indicates that the bolt is fixed right.

4) Tighten the Pinch Bolts

If the crank bolt has a metal or a rubber cap, you should fix that with proper compression pressure. After that, you should tighten the minor pinch bolts around the crank bolt. These pinch bolts hold the crank bolt in its position.

5) Screw the Pedals Back On the Crank Arms

To screw the pedals back on the crank arms, you should fix the pedal on the socket and start rotating the entire crank counterclockwise. Keep doing that until you find the pedal to be firmly attached. Repeat the process for the other side. Your bike is as good as new now!

» You can also read my post: How To Change a Bike Inner Tube?

Final Thoughts

Every regular biker should know how to remove a crank because it can be helpful in unusual circumstances where you may not have access to a mechanic.

Though there can be various reasons to remove the crank from a bicycle, such as replacing bike chains or fitting a new bottom bracket, the most common is to replace the crank itself. 

Removing the crank from a bicycle is not a complicated process; you can surely accomplish it with the right tools and a tad bit of focus.

Now that I’ve told you how to remove the crank from a bicycle, you better get to it and learn something new!

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