How To Remove A Bike Cassette In 6 Steps [With Pictures]

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:

  • When Would I Need To Remove My Bike Cassette?
  • The Tools You Need To Remove A Cassette From A Bike
  • How To Remove A Bike Cassette In 5 Steps

Ready to get into the details of how to remove a cassette from a bike?

Let’s get started!

How To Remove A Bike Cassette: Title Image

When Would I Need To Know How To Remove A Cassette From A Bike?

After your bike has completed about 1,000 miles, you may want to inspect its rear cassette closely. How much it wears will depend on the type of riding you do and how well you look after your drivetrain.

Mountain bike cassettes will wear out quicker than those on road bikes as the dirt grinds away at them. If you clean your bike regularly, your cassette will last much longer before you need to replace it.

You’ll notice that the teeth on the gear you use the most will wear out the quickest.

It may be possible to replace individual gears, but you’ll need to check, as you can’t do this with all bike cassettes. Even if you can, it’s often better just to change the whole cassette.

If you’re changing your cassette, it’s best to replace the chain at the same time. This is because the old chain will be worn in a way that allows it to mesh with the old cassette. By fitting a new chain, it can wear with the new cassette, making it run more smoothly over time.

Check out our Complete Guide to Removing and Replacing a Bike Chain here!

The Tools You Need For Removing 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:

  • A Chain Whip
  • A Bike Cassette Tool

Removing a bike cassette isn’t something that you do very often. So, you don’t have to spend too much money on these specialist tools. However, if you were to work as a bike mechanic, you’ll need quality tools, as budget ones won’t last very long.

The cassette tool may be specific to the brand of your cassette, so make sure to check yours is compatible before you buy.

How To Remove A Bike Cassette in 6 Steps

Unscrewing the cassette lockring with cassette tool and chain whip.

Step 1: Remove The Wheel And Loosen The Lockring

Shift your chain onto the smallest gear on the cassette, loosen the thru-axle or quick-release fastening, and push the rear derailleur out the way so you can remove your rear wheel.

Once your wheel is free from the bike, you need to loosen the lockring. You loosen the lockring with the bike cassette tool.

Your cassette may have an integrated lockring, like the one in these photos. 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 the as freewheel spins. Therefore, you’ll need to counter the spin with a chain whip. You’ll find that loosening the lockring takes a lot of force. This is normal – they’re meant to be very tight, as it would be disastrous if it came undone while you were riding!

Removing the bike cassette

Step 2 – How To Remove A Bike Cassette

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.

The cassette should slide right off the freewheel by pulling it towards you. The gears on the cassette may separate, so you should tie them together. Most people like to store them with a cable tie holding the cassette together so gears don’t go missing.

When you remove a bike cassette, it gives you the opportunity to see how worn the freehub is. Check the freehub for gouges in the body or any other damage, as this is an excellent time to replace it before you put everything back together.

Applying grease to a bike's freehub.

Step 3 – Clean And Lube

As your cassette is not 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 4 – Put The Cassette Back On

Now you can put the cassette back on or fit a new one. This is a simple task, as the cassette will slide back onto the freehub; just make sure that you line up all the splines.

You’ll see that each gear has a wider gap. To make it fit, you must line this gap up with the wider spline on the freewheel.

Step 5 – Fit The Lockring

With the cassette fitted to the freehub, it’s time to fit the lockring. 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 will cause lots of damage when you tighten the lockring up with the bike cassette tool.

Tightening the locknut with cassette tool.

Step 6 – Tighten The Lockring

To tighten the lockring, you don’t need the chain whip, as you tighten it in a clockwise direction. The freewheel 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 locknut 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!

Now you can simply tighten the lockring with the bike cassette tool and put the wheel back on your bike.

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.

You also need to remember that you can’t 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!

Close-up shot of a silver bike cassette on a black mountain bike, with a black backdrop.

Found this article helpful? Learn more from the BikeTips experts in the guides below!

Photo of author
One of BikeTips' regular content creators, Tom lives in the French Alps. When he isn't writing, he can be found charging downhill on a mountain bike or snowboard. Tom's other passion is fitness, which goes a long way to help him make the most of the Alpine lifestyle.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.