Change your rear cassette in five easy steps

Building on what we discussed in ‘When to replace your bike chain’ I thought we should tackle changing a rear cassette. It’s one of the things every cyclist should know and is very easy to do if you have the right tools. In fact, I would go so far as to say every cyclist should change their own cassette at least once. The more you know about your bike and how it works, the better you can maintain it.

With proper maintenance, a cassette should last three chain changes. Your mileage may vary, literally. If the teeth on the cassette look worn or your gears start slipping, check the cassette for wear and change if necessary.

You will need:

Chain whiplike this – Other brands are available…

Lockring toollike this – Shimano and SRAM uses the same type, Campagnolo uses a different one.

New cassette – You should know what one of those is…

Changing a cassette

Changing a cassette on any modern geared bike is simple.

  1. Remove the back wheel from your bike and take out the skewer. Use the correct lockring tool for your cassette and place it into the black lockring. Put the chain whip around the largest cog on the cassette and lock it on the handle of the whip for leverage.
  2. Using a spanner or socket, undo the lockring tool while holding the cassette still with the chain whip. Undo and remove completely. Then carefully remove the cassette. They are usually in several pieces, with the larger three sprockets as a single piece and the others separate. There will also be spacers between certain sprockets. Keep everything together.
  3. Give the freehub a wipe to clean and then grease it.
  4. Insert the new cassette ensuring you don’t drop it. It should only fit in one way as the splines on the freehub will have a single narrow spline which will fit into a single gap in the cassette. This ensures proper orientation.
  5. Carefully screw on the lockring tool until finger tight. Check that there is no lateral movement of the cassette by wiggling it sideways. If everything is secure, tighten with the lockring tool. Don’t overtighten it but make sure it’s secure.

The cassette should spin freely in one direction and hold tight in the other. There should be no lateral (sideways) movement at any time. Once secure, replace the skewer and put the wheel back on the bike. Align the wheels and test.

That’s it. Told you it was easy!


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