How To Get Gears Off A Bike Wheel | Life Hack


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Attached to the rear wheel of your bike is a set of concentric gear rings otherwise known as the cassette.

Each one of those rings represents a gear, which is connected by a chain to the pedals you work with your feet, in order to turn the cassette that powers the bike and make it to move.

As you continue to go through this routine, the teeth on the gears begin to wear off, which weakens the entire system in a progressive manner.

At this stage, it may be time to change the gear, but how do you take it off the bike?

This question,  and in fact many related issues, will be discussed here.

The steps below will guide you on how to remove the gears off the bike wheel:

  • Remove the old cassette.
  • Inspect the cassette for any wear or damage.
  • Remove the skewer.
  • Put your lockring removal tool in the middle of the cassette.
  • Wrap the chain whip anti-clockwise around the biggest sprocket.
  • Clamp a wrench around the lock ring removal tool.
  • Turn the wrench anti-clockwise to release the lock ring by holding the chain whip in place.
  • After removing the lock ring, slide the cassette off.
  • Clean the hub of the bike.

1. Remove the old cassette.

In order to change old and worn-out gears, you must first remove the old cassette.

To undertake this removal, you must undo the skewer or the bolts from the axle.

Start by removing the quick release of the brake and after that the wheel of the bike.

The wheel must be taken off and the bike set aside.

The chain, which is in most cases attached to the cassette, may not easily come off.

If this happens, shift the gear in front to the smallest cassette ring and then identify where the chains pass through two small wheels on the derailleur arm, which is the shifting mechanism on your rear wheel, and push it back to slacken the chain.

This should suffice for the chain to come off.

2. Inspect the cassette for any wear or damage.

Having done this, proceed by inspecting the chain to see whether the teeth are worn out or broken, or both.

Worn out gear teeth are round rather than square in shape.

There is no better time to inspect the axle bearing of the bike for signs of wear and lubricate them as well.

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Where the bearing axle moves, then the bearing cones need adjustments, but the bearings in the axle may have to be replaced too.

Certain signs indicate the need to change the cassette of your bike such as skipped or perpetually slipping chain while you ride.

Another obvious sign is when the gear teeth are visibly worn out, cracked, broken, or warped. 

3. Remove the skewer.

With the wheel placed on a flat surface,  for easy access to the cassette, remove the skewer, a long rod that passes through the center of the wheel.

Both the skewer and the mating bolt can usually be taken off with unaided hands.

4. Put your lockring removal tool in the middle of the cassette.

The skewer must be replaced with a lock ring removal tool, which has a grooved ring at the end that locks it into the cassette.

This will be the focal point in order to remove the cassette, but note that older lock rings may not have the skewers.

5. Wrap the chain whip anti-clockwise around the biggest sprocket.

Use the largest sprocket around at this stage, to get the chain around and hold the cassette from turning, while you unscrew it.

The chain whip is a handle with a length of bike chain at one of its ends, which allows it to lock the sprocket in place and stop it from moving.

Wrap as much chain as possible around the largest gear anti-clockwise. In order to loosen the bolt later, you will have to turn the lock ring counter-clockwise, just so that the chain whip will move the cassette clockwise.

In the alternative, you may use a length of chain instead.

6. Clamp a wrench around the lock ring removal tool.

With the wrench holding the chain whip in place, tighten up the adjustable wrench around the lock ring tool to get a lot of power on it.

Ensure that the tool is securely jammed into the cassette.

7. Turn the wrench anti-clockwise to release the lock ring by holding the chain whip in place.

This is done to take off the lock ring, the small silver piece that stops the cassette from shifting.

Thereafter, set the lock ring aside for reference later.

8. After removing the lock ring, slide the cassette off.

The cassette comprises a few sprockets, spacers, and another set of sprockets riveted together.

Maintain everything in the order you took them out, as a sort of guide afterward.

If there is a plastic chain guard between the cassette and the spokes of the wheel, you can either keep or discard it.

The choice is yours to make.

9. Clean the hub of the bike.

Take your time to get every gunk out. An old rag and some alcohol may go a long way here.

How do you get a sprocket off a bike rim?

Like every other machine parts, wear, and rear with use does not spare the sprockets of a bike and consequently, they need to get replaced whenever that happens. 

The smaller teeth of the sprocket wear down much faster than the big ones, expectedly.

When this happens, the entire system may have to be changed or at least those worn out or broken.

To perform the removal, take off the rear brake first by squeezing it with one hand and at the same time disconnecting its cable using the other hand.

Next, you should remove the rear wheel, which may be provided with a quick-release lever for that purpose.

If your bike happens to have the quick release lever, move it into the open position in order to release the wheel.

If it doesn’t, use a crescent wrench to remove the nut that holds the rear wheel in place. 

Then you should place the wheel on a flat surface in such a way that the sprocket is facing upwards.

Proceed to wrap the chain whip tool around the biggest sprocket and secure it.

The chain whip tool keeps the cassette in place, to allow you to remove the loosen the lock ring.

Finally, place the sprocket removal tool around the lock ring and using a crescent wrench, turn the lock ring counterclockwise, to allow you to loosen the lock ring. 

Thereafter, lift the sprockets and spacers off the wheel hub and put them on the workbench in the exact order you remove them.

At this stage, you are ready to replace the one that is worn out.

How do you remove a cassette from the wheel?

The rear cogs of a bike are attached to its hub in one of two ways.

New model bikes have the ‘cassette hub’, which uses a ‘freehub’ system that is mounted on the body of the hub.

The freehub also has a set of spines on its outer shell, over which cassette sprockets slide.

A lock ring passes through the freehub and holds the sprockets in position, or the cogs too.

On removing the cogs, the ratcheting freehub stays on the body of the hub.

Newer bikes use the freehub system while older ones may have a large external thread inserted into the hub.

The cogs and all other ratcheting assemblies, otherwise called a freewheel, pass into the hub.

The ratcheting freewheel comes off together with the cogs when the freewheel un-winds for removal.

How do you remove a cassette from a wheel?

To successfully remove a cassette from the wheel, first, mount the bike on a repair stand and remove the rear wheel from it.

Then disengage the quick release skewer before inspecting the cassette and select the correct type of remover.

Thereafter, engage the remover into splines or notches.

Proceed to install the quick release skewer and the skewer nut outside the remover.

Next, snug the skewer nut against the remover, which acts as a sort of holding device for the freewheel removal tool.

Hold the cogs in a clockwise position using the sprocket chain whip tool.

Then turn the remover counter-clockwise, with an adjustable wrench, the hex end of another Park Tool sprocket chain whip tool, or the Park Tool freewheel wrench.

It will require force to remove the lock ring.

The instant the locking teeth of the lock ring separates,  a vivid click sound will be heard.

In the event you are using a vise, grab the removal too tightly with the wheel held flat.

Using the sprocket chain whip tool, turn the sprockets counterclockwise.

Never hold the wheel while turning the sprockets, and allow the wheel to rotate before pulling the sprocket chain whip tool.

How do you get a cassette off a bike without a tool?

  • By using a piece of wood.
  • Through the use of a spanner.

1. By using a piece of wood.

There are many ways to remove the cassette off a bike without a tool.

One of these is by using a piece of wood.

Use this piece of wood, if you find one, to remove the bike’s cassette.

First, brace the bike’s wheel between your legs and then put a thick piece of wood on the left side of the bike’s cassette.

Then hit the piece of wood hard using a stone or any hard object.

This will release the cassette.

Though you will still need a lock ring and a wrench.

You may use both the wrench and the lock ring to remove a cassette, even if you don’t have a chain whip at hand.

Thereafter, you can thread in a new spoke or replace the cassette entirely.

2. Through the use of a spanner.

If you have a spanner and a lock ring, you can also use them to remove your bike’s cassette.

To initiate this process, remove the wheel from the frame together with the quick-release skewer.

Then, fit the lock ring and replace the skewer.

You may have to use the skewer to hold the lock ring in position.

Next, lay the bike on the ground with the drive side upwards and move the lower crank arm to point it away from the seat.

After that, push your right foot against it.

Now, push the wheel with the cassette side facing upwards into the corner that your right leg cleared along with the bracket at the bottom and the chain in front of the derailleur.

Use the spanner and twist which will cause the chain to go tight and drive the pedals clockwise, straight into your foot that is strategically placed.

A spanner may be used to remove the pedals, like a lever or even a hammer. 

Other methods of cassette removal without a tool.

Other methods of cassette removal without a tool are also applicable, apart from those discussed above.

These include using an old length of chain together with a vice grip or taking hold of the cassette with the aid of a rag and inserting a cassette tool with a lever arm such as a large wrench, before hitting the lever arm with a hammer in the direction where the bike’s cassette turns.

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Note that, this method may cause some pains since it is obviously tough on the hands.

Another method is by using channel locks to enable you to get a good grip on your bike’s cassette.

However, this method is not recommended should you want to use your cassette again.

There you are on cassette removal without any tool.

How do you take off a freewheel on a bike?

To remove the freewheel from a bike, mount the bike in the repair stand and remove the rear wheel from it, before removing the quick-release skewer.

Thereafter, inspect the freewheel center to decide on the best removal tool to be used.

Next, engage the tool into splines or notches, before you re-install the quick release skewer with the skewer nut on the outside of the remover.

If your bike is the axle type, you are advised to use the axle nut to grip the freewheel tool.

You should then snug the skewer nut against the remover Do not forget that the skewer acts as a gripping device for the remover.

By turning the remover counter anti-clockwise with a big adjustable wrench, the Park Tool freewheel tools will fit the hex end of the Park Tool chain whips, such as the SR-12.2 or the FRW-1 freewheel wrench. However,  some force may be required to accomplish this.

Alternatively, you may choose to mount the remover flats in the hard jaws of a vise and turn the rim anti-clockwise.

Continue to turn the remover anticlockwise until the freewheel is fully unthreaded from the hub.

You can thereafter simply lift the freewheel from the hub.

How to get gears off a bike wheel – Conclusion

We have discussed the ways and means by which you can attend to some of the commonest problems or complaints that every biker faces, one way or another.

Even those that can be undertaken without any tools have been discussed.

It is therefore left for you to make the best use of this knowledge.

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