How to Remove Crank from Bike for Different Crank Systems

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If you’re a cycling enthusiast like me, you know how important the crank is for the performance of your bike. The crank is the component that connects the pedals to the chainrings and ultimately transfers your pedaling power to the bike’s drivetrain.

However, there may come a time when you need to remove the crank, whether it’s for replacing, cleaning, or repairing it. In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of removing the crank from different types of bikes with various crank systems.

Crank systems will be covered in the following are:

  1. Self-extracting cranks
  2. Two piece compression slotted cranks
  3. Campagnolo power-torque cranks
  4. Campagnolo ultra torque cranks
  5. Three piece cranks
  6. One piece cranks

So identify your bike crank system and let’s get started with how to remove crank from bike!

How to Remove Self-Extracting Cranks from Bike

Self-extracting cranks are a type of crank system that does not require a separate crank puller tool to remove the crank arms from the spindle. They have a threaded ring that looks like a dust cap, but it is actually part of the removal mechanism. The ring is screwed over the crank bolt, and when the bolt is loosened, it pushes against the ring, which in turn pushes the crank arm off the spindle. This makes it easier and faster to remove the crank arms without damaging them.

To remove self-extracting cranks, you’ll need a few tools on hand:

1. Hex Wrench: The exact size will depend on your crankset, so check the manufacturer’s specifications to determine the correct size.

2. Torque Wrench: This tool will ensure that you tighten the crank bolt to the proper torque when reinstalling the crank arms.

Now that you have your tools ready, let’s go through the step-by-step process of removing self-extracting cranks:

Step 1: Prepare Your Bike. Start by placing your bike in a stable position, such as on a bike stand or against a wall. This will make it easier to work on the cranks.

Step 2: Loosen the Hex Bolt. Locate the hex bolt on the crank arm that you want to remove. Using the appropriate size hex wrench, turn the bolt counterclockwise to loosen it. You may need to apply some force, especially if the crank has been tightened securely.

Step 3: Use the Torque Wrench. Once the hex bolt is loose, grab your torque wrench and set it to the recommended torque specified by the manufacturer. This information can usually be found in the crankset’s user manual or on the manufacturer’s website.

Step 4: Remove the Crank Arm. With the torque wrench in hand, place it on the hex bolt and tighten it in a clockwise direction. As you increase the torque, you’ll feel the crank arm start to loosen. Continue tightening until the crank arm pops off the spindle. Be careful not to over-tighten the bolt, as this can damage the threads.

Step 5: Repeat for the Other Crank Arm. Follow the same steps for the other crank arm. Loosen the hex bolt, set the torque wrench, and tighten until the crank arm releases from the spindle.

Here are a few tips and warnings to keep in mind when removing self-extracting cranks:

  • Take care not to over-tighten the hex bolt when reinstalling the crank arms. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended torque specifications to avoid damaging the threads.
  • As you remove the crank arms, keep track of any washers or spacers that may be present. These will need to be reinstalled correctly when you put the cranks back on.
  • Before reinstallation, use a rag to wipe off any grease or dirt from the spindle and the crank arms. This will help ensure a smooth and secure fit.

How to Remove Two Piece Compression Slotted Cranks from Bike

Two piece compression slotted cranks consist of a right crank arm with an integrated spindle and a left crank arm with a compression slot that is secured by two pinch bolts. These cranks use external bearing cups that are installed on the bottom bracket shell of the frame. The left crank arm is used to adjust the bottom bracket bearings by tightening an end cap that pulls the arm onto the spindle and against the bearings. The pinch bolts are then tightened to secure the arm and maintain the bearing adjustment.

This system does not require a separate crank puller tool to remove the crank arms from the spindle.

To successfully remove two piece compression slotted cranks, you’ll need a few specific tools. Make sure you have the following on hand before you begin:

1. Hex wrench: This will be used to remove the dust cap from the crank arm.

2. Crank puller: This tool is essential for removing the crank arms from the spindle.

3. Rubber mallet: You’ll need this to gently tap the crank puller and release the crank arms.

Now, let’s get into the step-by-step process of removing two piece compression slotted cranks:

Step 1: Remove the Dust Cap. Start by using a hex wrench to remove the dust cap from the crank arm. This cap covers the access point for the crank puller and needs to be removed before proceeding.

Step 2: Insert the Crank Puller. Next, insert the crank puller into the crank arm, making sure it is properly aligned with the compression slot. Use the hex wrench to tighten the crank puller securely into place.

Step 3: Tap with a Rubber Mallet. Once the crank puller is securely in place, use a rubber mallet to tap the end of the crank puller. This will create a gentle force that loosens the crank arm from the spindle. Continue tapping until the crank arm slides off the spindle.

Step 4: Repeat for the Other Crank Arm. Repeat the process for the other crank arm, following steps 1 to 3. Be sure to remove the dust cap, insert the crank puller, and tap with a rubber mallet until the crank arm is released from the spindle.

Here are a few tips and warnings to keep in mind as you remove the two piece compression slotted cranks:

  • Make sure the crank puller is compatible with your crank system. Different crank systems may require different types or sizes of pullers, so double-check before proceeding.
  • Avoid using excessive force when tapping with the rubber mallet. Applying too much force can damage the crank arm or the spindle, so be gentle yet firm.
  • Use a rag to wipe off any grease or dirt from the spindle and the crank arms. This will help ensure a smooth removal process and prevent any debris from interfering with future installations.

How to Remove Campagnolo Power-Torque Cranks from Bike

Campagnolo Power-Torque cranks consist of a right crank arm with an integrated spindle and a left crank arm that fits over the spindle and is secured by a single bolt. These cranks use internal bearing cups that are pressed into the bottom bracket shell of the frame.

The right crank arm and the spindle are removed as a unit from the left crank arm and the bottom bracket. The left crank arm is removed by either using a special tool that pulls it off the spindle, or by using an impact technique that drives the spindle out of the arm. Some examples of Campagnolo Power-Torque cranks are Centaur, Athena, and Chorus.

Tools You’ll Need:

1. Hex wrench

2. Crank puller

3. Bearing puller

4. Bearing press

Step 1: Remove the Hex Bolt. Start by removing the hex bolt from the drive-side crank arm using a hex wrench. This bolt secures the crank arm to the bottom bracket spindle. Turn the hex wrench counterclockwise to loosen and remove the bolt. Set it aside as you’ll need it later.

Step 2: Use a Crank Puller. Next, you’ll need a crank puller to remove the drive-side crank arm and the spindle from the bottom bracket. The crank puller is a specialized tool designed to safely separate the crank arm from the spindle. Follow the instructions provided with your crank puller to ensure proper usage.

Step 3: Remove the Bearing. Now, it’s time to remove the bearing from the non-drive-side crank arm. Use a bearing puller to carefully extract the bearing. This tool will help you remove the bearing without causing any damage to the crank arm.

Step 4: Remove the Bottom Bracket Bearing. To remove the bearing from the bottom bracket, use a bearing press. This tool applies even pressure to safely push the bearing out of the bottom bracket shell. Be sure to use the appropriate size bearing press for a secure and efficient removal.

Step 5: Repeat for the Other Crank Arm. Once you have successfully removed the drive-side crank arm, spindle, bearing, and bottom bracket bearing, repeat the process for the other crank arm. Follow the same steps to remove the hex bolt, use the crank puller, bearing puller, and bearing press to remove the components.

Tips and Warnings:

  • Removing Campagnolo Power-Torque cranks can be a complex and delicate procedure. If you’re not confident in your mechanical skills, it’s best to take your bike to a professional bike mechanic.
  • It’s a good idea to inspect the bearings and the bottom bracket for wear or damage while you have the cranks removed. If necessary, replace them to ensure optimal performance.
  • Before reinstalling the cranks, use a rag to wipe off any grease or dirt from the spindle and the crank arms. This will help maintain a smooth and clean interface.

How to Remove Campagnolo Ultra Torque Cranks from Bike

Campagnolo Ultra Torque cranks are a type of crank system that consists of two crank arms with half spindles that are joined by a hirth joint in the middle. These cranks use external bearing cups that are installed on the bottom bracket shell of the frame. The hirth joint is secured by a single bolt that is tightened to a specific torque value. The bolt also acts as a self-extractor, which means that when it is loosened, it pushes the crank arms off the spindles. Some examples of Campagnolo Ultra Torque cranks are Super Record, Record, and Chorus.

To remove Campagnolo Ultra Torque cranks, you’ll need a few essential tools. Make sure you have these on hand before you begin:

1. Hex wrench: You’ll need a hex wrench to remove the hex bolts that secure the crank arms to the spindle.

2. Crank puller: A crank puller is necessary to safely remove the non-drive-side crank arm from the spindle.

3. Rubber mallet: A rubber mallet will come in handy to gently tap the end of the spindle and help slide off the drive-side crank arm.

Now that you have your tools ready, let’s go through the step-by-step process of removing Campagnolo Ultra Torque cranks:

Step 1: Remove the hex bolts. Using a hex wrench, carefully remove the hex bolts from both crank arms. These bolts secure the crank arms to the spindle. Set the bolts aside in a safe place, as you’ll need them when reinstalling the cranks.

Step 2: Remove the non-drive-side crank arm. With the hex bolts removed, it’s time to use a crank puller. Make sure the crank puller is compatible with your crank system. Insert the crank puller into the non-drive-side crank arm and tighten it until it engages with the spindle. Then, use a wrench to turn the crank puller counterclockwise. As you turn the wrench, the crank arm will gradually loosen and eventually come off the spindle.

Step 3: Remove the drive-side crank arm. Once the non-drive-side crank arm is removed, you can move on to the drive-side. Take your rubber mallet and gently tap the end of the spindle. The force from the mallet will help loosen the drive-side crank arm from the bottom bracket. Continue tapping until the crank arm slides off the spindle.

Step 4: Repeat for the other crank arm. Follow the same process to remove the other crank arm. Remember to use the crank puller on the non-drive-side and gently tap the drive-side with the rubber mallet until it comes off.

Here are a few tips and warnings to keep in mind while removing your Campagnolo Ultra Torque cranks:

  • Make sure the crank puller you use is compatible with your specific crank system. Using an incompatible crank puller can cause damage to the cranks or bottom bracket.
  • Avoid using excessive force when removing the crank arms. If you encounter resistance, double-check that you’ve removed all the necessary bolts and are using the crank puller correctly.
  • Before reinstalling your cranks, take a moment to wipe off any grease or dirt from the spindle and the crank arms. This will help ensure a smooth and secure fit when you put everything back together.

How to Remove Three Piece Cranks from Bike

Three piece cranks are a type of crank system that consists of two separate crank arms and a spindle that connects them. The crank arms attach to the spindle via different types of interfaces, such as square taper, cotter, or splined. The spindle and the crank arms rotate on bearings that are either inside or outside the bottom bracket shell of the frame. Three piece cranks are generally stronger and more durable than one piece cranks, and they allow for more compatibility and customization options.

ISIS Drive, Octalink, and Power Spline are examples of splined interfaces for three piece cranks. They differ in the shape, size, and number of splines on the spindle and the crank arms. Splined interfaces provide a more secure and precise connection between the crank arms and the spindle, and they require less force to install and remove. However, they are not compatible with each other, and they need specific tools and bottom brackets to match.

ISIS Drive is a non-proprietary splined interface that was created by King Cycle Group, Truvativ, and Race Face. It uses 10 splines of 16.1 mm diameter and 9 mm depth on the spindle and the crank arms. It is compatible with any bottom bracket that has an ISIS Drive logo on it.

Octalink is a proprietary splined interface that was developed by Shimano. It uses 8 splines of different shapes and sizes on the spindle and the crank arms. It has two versions: Octalink v1 and Octalink v2, which are not interchangeable. Octalink v1 has 5 mm long splines of 19.5 mm diameter, and it is mostly used for road cranks. Octalink v2 has 9 mm long splines of 15 mm diameter, and it is mostly used for mountain bike cranks. Octalink cranks and bottom brackets are marked with either v1 or v2 to indicate compatibility.

Power Spline is another proprietary splined interface that was designed by Truvativ. It uses 12 splines of 12.7 mm diameter and 6.35 mm depth on the spindle and the crank arms. It is compatible with any bottom bracket that has a Power Spline logo on it.


To remove three piece cranks, you’ll need a few tools:

1. Hex wrench: To remove the hex bolt or nut from the crank arm.

2. Crank puller: Used to remove the crank arm from the spindle.

3. Bottom bracket tool: Required to remove the spindle and the bottom bracket from the frame.

Now that you have your tools ready, let’s go through the step-by-step process of removing three piece cranks:

1. Start with the non-drive side crank arm (usually the left side). Locate the hex bolt or nut on the crank arm and use a hex wrench to remove it. Turn the wrench counterclockwise to loosen and remove the bolt or nut.

2. Once the bolt or nut is removed, it’s time to use the crank puller. Insert the crank puller into the threaded hole on the crank arm. Turn the handle of the crank puller clockwise to separate the crank arm from the spindle. Keep turning until the crank arm pops off.

3. Repeat the process for the drive side crank arm (usually the right side). Remove the hex bolt or nut and use the crank puller to remove the crank arm from the spindle.

4. With both crank arms removed, it’s time to tackle the bottom bracket. Use the appropriate bottom bracket tool to unscrew the bottom bracket from the bike frame. Turn the tool counterclockwise to loosen and remove the bottom bracket.

5. Once the bottom bracket is removed, take a moment to clean the spindle and the crank arms. Use a rag to wipe off any grease or dirt before installing new cranks or components.

Here are some additional tips and warnings to keep in mind:

  • Different types of bottom brackets, such as square taper, octalink, or ISIS, require specific tools for removal. Make sure you have the appropriate tool for your bottom bracket type.
  • When using the bottom bracket tool, be careful not to cross-thread it. Cross-threading can damage the threads and make it difficult to remove or install the bottom bracket.
  • Take your time and be patient during the removal process. Rushing or applying excessive force can lead to damage or injury.
  • Always wear protective gloves and eyewear when working on your bike to ensure your safety.

How to Remove One Piece Cranks from Bike

One piece cranks are a type of crank system that is made of a single piece of steel that forms the crank arms and goes from the pedal, through the bottom bracket, to the other pedal. This crank also acts as the bottom bracket bearing axle, which means that the bearings rotate on the crank itself. One piece cranks are usually found on low-end or old-school bikes, such as BMX or kids bikes. They are simple and cheap, but they are also heavy and weak compared to other crank systems. To remove and install one piece cranks, you need a wrench, a hammer, and a punch.

Tools You’ll Need:

  1. Wrench
  2. Hammer
  3. Punch
  4. Rag (to wipe off any grease or dirt)

Step 1: Prepare Your Bike. Before you start removing the cranks, it’s important to prepare your bike. If necessary, remove the pedals and the chain from the bike. This will make it easier to work with the cranks.

Step 2: Remove the Lock Nut and Cone Nut. Using a wrench, loosen and remove the lock nut and the cone nut from the non-drive-side of the crank. These nuts are typically located on the left side of the bike. Set them aside in a safe place.

Step 3: Drive Out the Bearing Cup and Bearing. Next, you’ll need to use a hammer and a punch to drive out the bearing cup and the bearing from the frame. Position the punch against the bearing cup and gently tap it with the hammer until it starts to move. Continue tapping until the bearing cup is fully removed. Repeat this process for the other side of the crank.

Step 4: Pull Out the Crank and Chainring. Once the bearing cup is removed, you can now pull out the crank and the chainring from the frame. Gently wiggle the crank back and forth while pulling it out of the frame. Be careful not to force it, as this could damage the crank or the frame.

Step 5: Repeat for the Other Side. To completely remove the cranks from your bike, you’ll need to repeat the above steps for the other side of the crank. Make sure to loosen and remove the lock nut and cone nut, drive out the bearing cup and bearing, and pull out the crank and chainring.

Tips and Warnings:

  • One piece cranks are a simple system, but it’s always a good idea to consult a professional if you’re unsure or inexperienced.
  • Use a rag to wipe off any grease or dirt from the crank and the bearings before reinstalling or replacing them.
  • Keep track of all the nuts, bolts, and washers you remove during the process to ensure they are properly reinstalled.

Conclusion

Removing the crank from your bike may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and a little know-how, it can be easily accomplished. Whether you have a square taper, Hollowtech II, or press-fit crank system, following the steps outlined in this article will ensure a successful removal process. Remember to take your time, be gentle with your bike, and always consult the manufacturer’s instructions if you encounter any difficulties. Happy cycling! 

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AUTHOR

Randy Joycelyn

Randy is the founder and editor of Cycling Soigneur. He has been passionate about cycling since he was a kid. He has been riding bikes for over 10 years. Cycling has just become a part of life.

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