How To Remove A Cassette From a Bike In 6 Steps [With Video Guide]

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Knowing how to remove a bike cassette is something every cyclist should be confident in doing.

It’s an easy maintenance task, but is critical for several jobs you may need to do on your bike.

For example, you may need to remove a cassette from a bike to replace it if it’s worn, clean it thoroughly, change your gearing, or fix the wheel.

With a little bit of know-how, you can remove a bike cassette with no problems at all! In this post, we’ll be covering:

  • The Tools You Need To Remove A Cassette From A Bike
  • How To Remove A Cassette From A Bike In 7 Steps
  • Robbie’s Video Guide: How To Remove A Bike Cassette

Let’s get into the details of how to remove a cassette from a bike!

How To Remove A Bike Cassette: Title Image

What Tools Do You Need To Remove A Cassette From A Bike?

Even though removing your cassette is relatively straightforward, you need specific tools for the job. This is not something you can do with an adjustable wrench and an Allen key.

To remove a bike cassette, you’ll need:

  • Chain Whip
  • Bike Cassette Tool

The cassette tool may be specific to the brand of your cassette, so make sure to check yours is compatible before you buy. It’s usually a small piece that fits onto a wrench to enable it to engage with the cassette lockring.

How To Remove A Cassette From A Bike in 7 Steps

Unscrewing the cassette lockring with cassette tool and chain whip.

Step 1: Remove The rear Wheel

To make this task easier, first shift your chain onto the smallest gear on the cassette.

If your bike has rim brakes, you’ll also need to open the quick-release lever (on caliper brakes) or unclip them (on V-brakes) so that the wheel has space to squeeze in between the pads. You may also have to deflate the tire if it still won’t fit through the gap.

If your bike has disc brakes, then you won’t need to do anything with them. Just be extra careful when you come to pull the wheel out to ensure you don’t bend the brake rotor.

Now, loosen the thru-axle or quick-release fastening, and push the hinge of the rear derailleur out of the way so you can remove your rear wheel without obstruction.

Step 2: Loosen the Lockring

Once your wheel is free from the bike, loosen the lockring securing the cassette to the rear wheel, using the bike cassette tool.

Your cassette may have an integrated lockring. In this case, the cassette tool fits into the cassette, so don’t get confused by your bike not having an external lockring.

The lockring unscrews in the same direction as the freehub spins. Therefore, you’ll need to counter the spin with a chain whip.

You’ll likely find that loosening the lockring takes a lot of force. This is normal – it’s meant to be very tight, as it would be disastrous if it came undone while you were riding!

Removing the bike cassette

Step #3: Removing the Cassette from the Bike Wheel

With the lockring loosened, the next step is removing it entirely and putting it somewhere safe. You can lie the wheel on the ground for this part.

Now, the cassette should simply slide right off the freehub body by pulling it towards you.

The gears on the cassette may separate, so you should tie them together so you don’t lose any. Most people like to store them with a cable tie holding the cassette together so gears don’t go missing.

With the cassette removed, this is an ideal opportunity to check how worn the freehub body is. Check for gouges in the freehub body or any other damage, so you can replace it before you put everything back together if necessary.

Applying grease to a bike's freehub.

Step #4: Clean And Lube

As your cassette is no longer attached to your freehub, this is a good time to clean it.

You should also give the freehub body a light coating of grease. The grease can prevent the steel gears from rusting and sticking to the freehub’s alloy body.

Step #5: Refit the bike cassette onto the wheel

Now, you’re ready to put the cassette back on (or fit a new one!).

This is a simple task, as the cassette should simply slide back onto the freehub; just make sure that you line up all the splines on the sprockets to the pattern on the freehub body.

Step #6: Refit The Lockring

With the cassette fitted to the freehub, it’s time to fit the lockring.

First, just screw it on with your fingers to start with until it is tight enough to hold the cassette onto the freehub.

Take your time, as it is super easy to cross the thread, which could cause serious damage when you tighten the lockring up with the cassette tool.

Tightening the locknut with cassette tool.

Step #7: Tighten The Lockring

To tighten the lockring, you don’t need the chain whip, as you tighten it in a clockwise direction. The freehub will provide the resistance you need.

Before tightening the lockring, find out what the manufacturer’s recommended torque setting is.

You should avoid overtightening the lockring as you can damage the threads on the freehub’s body. Also, you’ll probably want to take it off again one day, and you don’t want to make life more difficult for your future self than it needs to be!

Now you can simply tighten the lockring with the bike cassette tool, and put the wheel back on your bike, taking care to ensure the wheel is properly seated back in the dropouts

If you’ve fitted your bike with a larger or smaller cassette, you might need to tweak the “B” tension screw on your rear derailleur to ensure your shifting is still properly adjusted.

Bear in mind that you can’t simply replace a cassette with a different number of gears. For example, if your bike has a 9-speed cassette, you can’t just replace it with a 10-speed!

Robbie’s Video Guide: How To Remove A Cassette From A Bike

Check out the BikeTips YouTube Channel here for walk-through bike maintenance guides and more!

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Tom is an experienced freelance cycling journalist and mountain biking expert who competed nationally in the junior ranks. Now based in the world-famous mountain biking destination of Morzine in the French Alps, Tom spends his summers shredding off-road trails by bike and his winters on the same mountains on a snowboard.

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