How to Tighten Crank on Bike: A Complete Guide for Different Types of Cranks

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Hey there, fellow cycling enthusiasts! Today, we’re going to dive into one of the most important components of your bikethe crank. A loose crank can cause all sorts of issues, from annoying clicking or creaking noises to a wobbly feeling while you ride. But fear not, because in this guide, I’m going to show you how to tighten crank on bike, regardless of the type of crank you have.

Now, let’s get down to business and tighten that crank!

How to Tighten Self-Extracting Cranks

Self-extracting cranks are designed to simplify the removal of cranks from the bottom bracket spindle. They have a pre-installed crank bolt that threads into the crank arm itself. When you loosen the bolt, it pushes against the spindle, causing the crank arm to “self-extract” from the bottom bracket.

To know if your bike has self-extracting cranks, you can look for some common examples in the market. Shimano Hollowtech II, SRAM GXP, and FSA MegaExo are a few popular self-extracting crank systems. These brands have been widely adopted by manufacturers and are commonly found on many bikes.

To tighten self-extracting cranks, you’ll need a few tools. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

1. Hex wrench: To loosen the pinch bolts on the non-drive side crank arm.

2. Torque wrench: To tighten the crank bolt to the specified torque.

3. Crank puller: To remove the dust cap from the non-drive side crank arm.

Step-by-Step Guide to Tightening Self-Extracting Cranks

Follow these steps to tighten your self-extracting cranks:

1. Loosen the pinch bolts: Start by loosening the pinch bolts on the non-drive side crank arm using a hex wrench. This will allow the crank arm to move freely.

2. Remove the dust cap: Once the pinch bolts are loose, use a crank puller to remove the dust cap from the non-drive side crank arm. The dust cap covers the self-extracting bolt.

3. Tighten the crank bolt: With the dust cap removed, use a torque wrench to tighten the crank bolt to the specified torque. The recommended torque is typically around 40 Nm, but refer to your crank manufacturer’s specifications for the exact value.

4. Reinstall the dust cap: After tightening the crank bolt, reinstall the dust cap using the crank puller. Make sure it is securely in place.

5. Tighten the pinch bolts: Finally, tighten the pinch bolts on the non-drive side crank arm to the specified torque, usually around 12 Nm. This will ensure the crank arm is securely fastened to the bottom bracket spindle.

Here are a few additional tips and warnings to consider when tightening self-extracting cranks:

1. Check bottom bracket bearings: While you have the cranks off, take the opportunity to check the condition of your bottom bracket bearings. If they are worn or damaged, it’s a good time to replace them.

2. Align crank arms: Before tightening the pinch bolts, make sure the crank arms are aligned properly. They should be parallel to each other and perpendicular to the bike frame.

3. Grease the threads: Apply a small amount of grease to the threads of the self-extracting bolt before reinstalling the dust cap. This will help prevent corrosion and ensure smooth operation.

How to Tighten Two Piece Compression Slotted Cranks

Two piece compression slotted cranks consist of two separate components: the drive side crank arm and the non-drive side crank arm. The drive side crank arm is attached to the spindle, which connects to the bottom bracket. The non-drive side crank arm is secured to the spindle using a compression slot system.

To identify if your bike has two piece compression slotted cranks, look for the presence of a compression slot on the non-drive side crank arm. Some well-known examples of bikes with this crankset design include the Race Face Cinch, Rotor Rex, and Easton EC90.

To tighten two piece compression slotted cranks, you’ll need a few tools:

1. Hex wrench: This tool is necessary for removing and reinstalling the crank arms.

2. Torque wrench: Use a torque wrench to ensure you tighten the crank arm bolts to the specified torque.

3. Special tool for the lock ring: The lock ring on the non-drive side crank arm requires a specific tool for loosening and tightening.

Step-by-Step Guide to Tighten Two Piece Compression Slotted Cranks

Now, let’s go through the process of tightening two piece compression slotted cranks:

1. Loosen the lock ring on the non-drive side crank arm using the special tool. Turn the tool counterclockwise to loosen the lock ring.

2. Once the lock ring is loose, pull the non-drive side crank arm off the spindle. Be gentle during this step to avoid damaging any components.

3. Use the torque wrench to tighten the spindle bolt on the drive side crank arm to the specified torque. The recommended torque is typically around 50 Nm, but refer to your bike’s manufacturer guidelines for the exact value.

4. Reinstall the non-drive side crank arm, ensuring that it aligns with the drive side crank arm. Slide it onto the spindle and make sure it fits securely.

5. Finally, tighten the lock ring on the non-drive side crank arm using the special tool. Turn the tool clockwise to tighten the lock ring to the specified torque, usually around 40 Nm.

Here are a few tips and warnings to keep in mind when tightening two piece compression slotted cranks:

1. Before tightening the cranks, check the bottom bracket bearings for any signs of wear or damage. Replace them if necessary to maintain smooth and efficient pedaling.

2. Always use the correct tool for the lock ring to avoid damaging the crank arm or lock ring threads.

3. Apply a small amount of grease to the spindle and the lock ring threads to reduce friction and prevent seizing.

4. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended torque values for tightening the crank arm bolts and lock ring. Using the correct torque ensures proper clamping force without risking damage to the components.

How to Tighten Campagnolo Power-Torque Cranks

Campagnolo Power-Torque cranks are a type of crankset that utilizes a two-piece design, with one crank arm attached to the driveside and the other to the non-driveside. This design allows for easy installation and removal of the cranks, making maintenance and upgrades a breeze.

To identify Campagnolo Power-Torque cranks, look for the distinctive “Power-Torque” logo on the crank arms. Additionally, the cranks will typically have the Campagnolo branding and model name, such as Athena, Centaur, or Veloce, engraved on them.

Before you begin tightening your Campagnolo Power-Torque cranks, make sure you have the following tools on hand:

1. Hex wrench: Used to loosen and tighten the crank bolts.

2. Torque wrench: Essential for applying the correct amount of torque to the crank bolts.

3. Crank puller: Necessary for removing the non-driveside crank arm.

4. Bearing puller: Used to remove and reinstall the bottom bracket bearings.

Step-by-Step Guide to Tighten Campagnolo Power-Torque Cranks

Follow these steps to tighten your Campagnolo Power-Torque cranks properly:

1. Loosen the crank bolt on the non-driveside crank arm with a hex wrench. Turn the wrench counterclockwise to loosen the bolt.

2. Remove the non-driveside crank arm using a crank puller. Insert the crank puller into the crank arm and turn it clockwise until the crank arm comes off.

3. With the non-driveside crank arm removed, tighten the crank bolt on the driveside crank arm using a torque wrench. Refer to the manufacturer’s specifications for the recommended torque value (usually around 42 Nm). Apply the torque in a clockwise direction.

4. Reinstall the non-driveside crank arm by aligning the splines with the bottom bracket spindle. Make sure the crank arm is fully seated before proceeding.

5. Tighten the crank bolt on the non-driveside crank arm with a torque wrench to the specified torque (usually around 42 Nm). Again, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct torque value.

6. Use a bearing puller to remove the bearing from the non-driveside crank arm. Apply gentle pressure and carefully remove the bearing from its seat.

7. Grease the bearing and reinstall it on the non-driveside crank arm. Ensure that the bearing is properly aligned and seated in its position.

Here are some additional tips and warnings to keep in mind when tightening Campagnolo Power-Torque cranks:

1. Always check the condition of the bottom bracket bearings before tightening the cranks. Worn or damaged bearings should be replaced to ensure smooth operation.

2. Use the correct crank puller and bearing puller for your specific crankset model. Using the wrong tools can cause damage to the cranks or bottom bracket.

3. Apply a small amount of grease to the bearing and the crank bolt threads before reinstalling them. This will help reduce friction and ensure proper torque application.

4. When tightening the crank bolts, use a torque wrench to apply the recommended torque value. Over-tightening can damage the cranks, while under-tightening may result in loose or noisy cranks.

How to Tighten Campagnolo Ultra Torque Cranks

Campagnolo Ultra Torque cranks are a popular choice among cyclists due to their lightweight design, stiffness, and durability. They feature a two-piece construction, with an integrated spindle and crank arms. This design allows for efficient power transfer and precise shifting.

Campagnolo Ultra Torque cranks are available in various models, including Super Record, Record, Chorus, and more. You can identify these cranks by their distinctive design, with the spindle connecting the two crank arms.

Before diving into the process of tightening Campagnolo Ultra Torque cranks, make sure you have the following tools on hand:

  • Hex wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Special tool for the wave washer

Step-by-Step Guide to Tighten Campagnolo Ultra Torque Cranks

Now, let’s go through the step-by-step process of tightening Campagnolo Ultra Torque cranks:

1. Loosen the crank bolt on the non-drive side crank arm using a hex wrench. This will allow you to remove the crank arm.

2. Carefully pull off the non-drive side crank arm from the spindle.

3. Using a torque wrench, tighten the crank bolt on the drive side crank arm to the specified torque (usually around 42 Nm). Refer to your bike’s manual or Campagnolo’s guidelines for the exact torque value.

4. Reinstall the non-drive side crank arm and align it with the drive side crank arm.

5. To compress the wave washer, use the special tool provided with your Campagnolo Ultra Torque crankset. This tool ensures that the wave washer is properly seated and allows for effective tightening.

6. With the wave washer compressed, tighten the crank bolt on the non-drive side crank arm to the specified torque using a torque wrench (usually around 42 Nm).

Here are some additional tips and warnings to keep in mind when tightening your Campagnolo Ultra Torque cranks:

1. Before tightening the cranks, it’s a good idea to check the condition of your bottom bracket bearings. If you notice any signs of wear or roughness, it’s best to replace them before proceeding.

2. Ensure you have the correct tool for compressing the wave washer. Using the wrong tool can lead to improper installation and potential damage to the crankset.

3. Apply a small amount of grease to the spindle and the crank bolt threads. This will help prevent corrosion and ensure smooth tightening.

4. Always follow the recommended torque values provided by Campagnolo or your bike’s manufacturer. Over-tightening can damage the crankset, while under-tightening can lead to creaking and loosening over time.

How to Tighten Three Piece Cranks

Three piece cranks consist of three main components: two crank arms and a spindle. The crank arms are attached to the spindle, which runs through the bottom bracket of the bike frame. The crank arms are responsible for transferring the power from your legs to the bike’s drivetrain, allowing you to pedal and propel the bike forward.

To tighten three piece cranks, you need to first identify if your bike has them. Three piece cranks are commonly found on BMX bikes, single speed bikes, and fixed gear bikes. They are characterized by having two separate crank arms that attach to the spindle using a bolt or nut.

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

1. Hex wrench or socket wrench: Used to loosen and tighten the crank bolts.

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

3. Bottom bracket tool: Used to tighten the bottom bracket cups.

4. Grease: Used to lubricate the spindle and crank bolts.

Step-by-Step Guide to Tighten Three Piece Cranks

Now that you have the necessary tools, let’s get started on tightening your three piece cranks:

1. Loosen the crank bolts: Use a hex wrench or socket wrench to loosen the crank bolt on both crank arms. Make sure to loosen them enough to remove the crank arms later.

2. Remove the crank arms: Once the crank bolts are loosened, use a crank puller to remove both crank arms from the spindle. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific crank puller.

3. Tighten the bottom bracket cups: Use a bottom bracket tool to tighten the bottom bracket cups to the specified torque. The torque specification may vary depending on your bottom bracket, but it is typically around 40 Nm. Refer to your bike’s owner’s manual or consult a professional if you’re unsure.

4. Grease the spindle and crank bolts: Apply a thin layer of grease to the spindle and the threads of the crank bolts. This will help prevent corrosion and ensure smooth rotation.

5. Reinstall the crank arms: Carefully align the crank arms with the spindle and slide them back into place. Use a hex wrench or socket wrench to tighten the crank bolts to the specified torque, usually around 35 Nm.

Here are a few tips and warnings to keep in mind when tightening three piece cranks:

1. Check the bottom bracket bearings: While you have the crank arms removed, take the opportunity to check the condition of the bottom bracket bearings. If they are worn or damaged, it’s best to replace them before tightening the cranks.

2. Use the correct crank puller and bottom bracket tool: Make sure you have the right tools for the job. Using the wrong tools can damage your crank arms or bottom bracket.

3. Grease the spindle and crank bolts: Applying grease to the spindle and crank bolts not only prevents corrosion but also helps create a secure connection between the crank arms and the spindle.

How to Tighten One Piece Cranks

One piece cranks are a simple and durable design that have been used for decades. They consist of a single crank arm attached directly to the bottom bracket spindle.

One piece cranks are typically found on bikes that don’t require high-performance components. They are often seen on kids bikes, cruisers, and some older bikes. One piece cranks can be recognized by their solid, one-piece construction, with the crank arm and spindle as a single unit.

To tighten one piece cranks, you’ll need a few tools:

  1. Wrench
  2. Hammer
  3. Punch
  4. Bottom bracket tool

Step-by-Step Guide to Tighten One Piece Cranks

Now that you have the necessary tools, let’s go through the process of tightening one piece cranks:

1. Loosen the lock nut on the non-drive side of the crank using a wrench. Turn it counterclockwise to loosen it.

2. Once the lock nut is loose, remove it along with the cone washer.

3. Take a hammer and a punch, and gently tap the end of the crank to loosen the bearing race.

4. Once the bearing race is loose, remove it along with the bearings.

5. Now, it’s time to tighten the bearing race on the drive side of the crank. Use a bottom bracket tool to tighten it to the specified torque, which is usually around 30 Nm. This ensures that the bearing race is securely in place.

6. Before reinstalling the bearings, make sure to grease them to ensure smooth operation. Apply grease to both sides of the crank where the bearings will sit.

7. Reinstall the bearings on both sides of the crank.

8. Place the bearing race back onto the non-drive side of the crank.

9. Next, put the cone washer and the lock nut back in place on the non-drive side of the crank.

10. Finally, tighten the lock nut with a wrench to the specified torque, which is typically around 25 Nm. This ensures that the crank is securely tightened.

Here are a few tips and warnings to keep in mind when tightening one piece cranks:

1. Check the condition of the bottom bracket bearings before tightening the cranks. If the bearings are worn or damaged, it’s best to replace them before proceeding.

2. Make sure you have the correct bottom bracket tool for your specific bike. Using the wrong tool can cause damage to the crank or bottom bracket.

3. Applying grease to the bearings and the bearing race helps reduce friction and prolongs their lifespan.

4. Always follow the manufacturer’s specifications for torque when tightening the lock nut and bearing race. Over-tightening can cause damage, while under-tightening can result in loose cranks.

Conclusion

And there you have it – a complete guide on how to tighten the crank on your bike, no matter what type of crank you have. Remember, a loose crank can cause all sorts of issues, so it’s important to keep it properly tightened to ensure a smooth and enjoyable ride.

I hope you found this guide helpful, and as always, 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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