E bike crank removal. 3 Best Crank Puller To Get The Job Done

Square Taper Crankset: The Ultimate Guide (Includes Removal Install)

But, first of all, what is a crank? And why can’t we say “crank arm“?

Let’s first of all deal with the issue of crank vs crankset.

A “crank” is part of a shaft that translates energy directly from the source into the movement of components in a mechanical system.

To be fussy about definitions, the crank is actually the bent part of the shaft. It forms an angle with the rest of the shaft which for bikes is the bottom bracket spindle.

That means you don’t need to talk about crank “arm”. Crank is enough.

The same can be said about crankset: the crankset is the crank, ie. the arm, the spider on the drive side, and the chainrings which bolt onto the spider.

Crankset is a way to indicate the whole assembly comprised by these components. Spiders are limited; cranks come in more variations; most variety is with chainrings.

Crank arms come in specific lengths. 170mm, 172.5mm, and 175mm are the most common.

You’ll usually find the spec printed somewhere on the crank, often on the inside face opposite to this one.

The Spider allows you to swap your chainrings to achieve different gear ratios, within reason of course.

Let’s say you are running standard 53/39T chainrings on the front and swap them out for a compact, say 36/30T. You’ll need a front derailleur just for that. You’ll also need to take into consideration the rear derailleur cage size—you may need to change the derailleur as well.

You’ll also need to take the BCD (Bolt Circle Diameter) into consideration. Very important you get chainrings that will actually fit your crank.

Having said that, chainrings are available in a huge variety of combinations single, double, or triple configurations.

What’s your poison? Cross-country, gravel, time-trial, fixie chic urban cycling. there’s a selection of chainrings to suit.

  • widening selection of chainrings, plus
  • the increasingly wide variety of cassettes available nowadays

you can achieve a corresponding increasingly wide variety of gear ratios.

How do you Measure Crank Length?

The “arm” is what we are talking about here specifically. And the arm length is measured from “center” to “center”.

Now, you should be about to protest loudly right now.

Didn’t I mention above that there is no need to mention “arm” when talking about cranks since a “crank” is a crank-arm by definition?

Yeah, but the expression is so common that I’ll mention “crank arm” here and there.

Anyway, it’s sort-of necessary here.

So the first “center” is the center of the bottom bracket spindle—which is the imaginary point right in the center of the aperture.

The second point is the center of the pedal spindle.

This one measures 170mm, center-to-center.

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What is the Standard Crank Arm Length?

Standard is 172.5mm. Short begins with 170mm. Although depending on who you talk to, 170mm may be “standard”. Longer begins with 175mm.

The general rule has always been that the taller the rider—and the longer the leg—so too the crank should be longer.

But here’s a scientific study that says crank length doesn’t matter.

Or rather, you need to select the appropriate crank, which includes the appropriate crank length, for the specific riding context.

I won’t go on about it here. You should read it and evaluate the argument for yourself.

What is a Square Taper Crankset?

The crankset gets the square taper name from the type of bottom bracket to which the crank is mounted.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Square Taper Bottom Brackets for more information on these.

The Ultimate Guide to Square Taper Bottom Brackets

The post gives you all you need to know about square taper bottom brackets including how to remove and install them in great detail.

Here are the key points setting the scene for our look into square taper cranksets.

Most square taper bottom brackets come in cartridge form.

The bearings are sealed units that sit permanently inside the bottom bracket’s body. The unit is seated into matching threads inside the bottom bracket shell, then screwed into the shell.

Cartridges are both cheap and durable. When the bearings begin to fail, remove the cartridge and install a new one.

You do find square taper bottom bracket setups where the spindle rotates courtesy of a cup and cone with bearings in a race.

And yes, this is a spindle since it “spins” —an axle, on the other hand, is fixed with the bearings rotating around it.

The “square” relates to the seemingly obvious four faces that make up the square taper spindle’s end.

The end is actually an octagon since the square edges have been bevelled slightly.

Still, practically speaking you have four surfaces generally tapered at a 2° to the spindle’s centerline.

That forms a wedge in relation to the crank’s aperture surfaces which also taper outwards, narrowing towards the outside.

The crank is wedged into a tight connection with the tapered spindle through tightening the crank bolts.

Using a torque wrench will ensure you don’t tighten either bolt too much.

Going too far may result in stripping the spindle’s thread ; you’ll be out of for another BB.

Not a great expense but you’ll certainly want to avoid the rigmarole involved in removing the old and installing the new.

How to Remove a Square Taper Crankset

It is crucially important to remove your crankset correctly.

You don’t want to damage either the crank or the bottom bracket if you are looking to reuse either component.

The tools required are as follows.

An 8mm allen wrench from your set of allen wrenches is the first.

How to Install a Square Taper Crankset?

Installing the crank on either side is straightforward.

Practically speaking, this means that the procedure is not the reverse of crank removal

How do You Fit a Square Taper Crankset?

You can start with either side.

I normally begin with the drive side. That’s a habit born of installing many more integrated cranks than square taper over the last decade.

An integrated crank’s spindle forms one piece with the crank. You install this first then finish it off by attaching and tightening the non-drive side arm.

With a square taper crank, you simply need to slot the square aperture in each to the spindle.

The important thing here is to get each square ie. 180 degrees

With a crank such as Hollowtech, for example, you can’t go wrong because the non-drive side arm will only fit on the spindle at 90° to the drive-side crank.

Not so for square taper. You can have them at 90° to each other or even 0°, facing the same way!

A friend once had his bike serviced before a big community ride which included crank removal and bottom bracket servicing.

He arrived at the event absolutely pumped and ready to go only to discover his cranks had not been re-assembled on the same plane but at 90°. No ride for him that day. (I never asked him how he never noticed this when he picked up the bike.)

Grease the Spindle?

I mentioned this earlier. Some do grease it. Many swear off it.

I won’t buy into the debate here. I’ll just say that if you do apply grease, do so sparingly. Just like lube on the chain actually. You don’t need heaps.

A smear on each of the tapered spindle’s four faces is quite enough.

The idea is to slot the crank onto the spindle firmly enough so you don’t have to hold it to prevent it dropping to the floor.

That’s not likely to happen. But just watch anyway. You don’t want even a slightly bent chainring tooth—there goes your new crank.

Make sure the crank bolts are greased. Grease will give a more accurate torque reading and ensure you can remove them when the time comes. And it will.

Remove cranks without tool no damage

Put the bolt in place and tighten a little.

You will not be able to get it really tight because you need to grip the opposite crank when tightening to (torque) tolerance.

Do the same thing with the opposite crank being very careful to make sure that there’s a one hundred and eighty degree angle between both cranks.

What’s the Recommended Torque?

Apply a minimum of 35 nM (Newton Meters). Maxmimum 45 nM.

Even with a long-handled torque wrench, achieving 45 nM will be challenging.

If you don’t have a torque wrench but are using a seat post as a wrench extension, the limit will be around 40 nM. The effort to get there will be intense, so you’ll know when to stop. (Won’t have a choice).

Install each crank on its spindle. Then you’ll have an anchor point for the torque wrench as you ramp up the force.

The procedure for installing a Shimano Octalink crank, is exactly the same. You just have to make sure the crank sits snugly in the splines.

Also ensure the the non-drive side crank is on the same one hundred and eighty degree plane as the drive side.

The model here is Shimano’s Claris groupset which has dustcaps covering the bolts.

These caps are resistant to sitting snugly in position when new. It will take a few goes to get it right. Once they loosen up it will be easier to seat them. They will slot right into place on an older crank

Make sure the dust cap is in exactly the position you want it to be before you press it in. If the cap is not in the right place you won’t be able to turn it.

Essential Tools and Materials Required

Various tools and materials are required to disconnect the crank from your bike. But there are only a few which are essential for the work to be done. Without these tools, it may be impossible to get the job done.

The few necessary tools that you will need to get rid of your bike crank without a puller are listed as follows:

1 ) Old rags to dust off the dirt. ( Buy On Amazon )

Using a dry or damp cloth can help, but wipes are preferable.

The universal keys that are used to open various type of machines

Situated at the heart of the crank, the spindle is a rotating axis of the crank. A spindle driver is a specially designed driver to remove spindles.

4 ) Suitable crank nuts and bolts for your bike

  • The smaller ones – M8. Use CCP- 22 to loosen this size of the nut.
  • The larger ones – M12 and M14. Use CCP-44 to loosen this size of the nut.

For smoother and noise-free rides, apply this lubricant to your bike’s chain.

This tool comes with various types of wrenches like lock ring remover wrench and auxiliary wrench. Apart from that, it also contains a chain whip.

To keep your bike erect while you’re working on it.

Easy Steps To Remove Bike Crank Without Puller

Before you start with the process, it’s essential to identify what type of crankset it is.

Just in case it’s a self-extracting crankset, scroll down to the part – How to remove self-extracting crankset.

The process of removing the crank from your bike is a cakewalk if you have minimal mechanical skills. It does not require you to be a know-it-all.

With a minimal idea of how things work, it might take up to a few hours to get the job done.

However, it is advised to use this method only if it is an emergency where you cannot reach an expert or a professional to help you. It is recommended to reach out to them for such work as doing it yourself might take a lot of time if you do not own any experience. Now, without any further ado, let’s get started with the process.

The tools and materials required in this process are already mentioned above.

The steps to disconnect your bike’s crank without a puller are as follows:

Protect your hands

This should be your foremost priority when working with any mechanical parts. Use rubber gloves if possible, as they can provide utmost protection to your hands.

Leaving your hands bare can be prone to injuries, not just by the crank but other parts too. The professionals advise it. Ergo, before starting with any kind of work, make sure your hands are covered.

Start with removing the crank bolts.

For this process, you’ll need a universal wrench. Simply turn all the nuts/bolts counterclockwise to loosen them. Once you make sure the nuts are loose, remove the crankset and stick out to the crank of your bike.

Note: Do not hurry during any of these processes. As they say, “Haste makes waste.”

Once done now remove the washers carefully. If you’re a recruit and have no idea what a washer is, a washer is a straight metal disc that helps the nut and the bolt remain tight.

Carefully remove all the washers using a spanner tool and keep them aside.

They’re usually located under the nuts.

Identify And Remove Crank with Coupler

Nuts and Bolts are available in various sizes, and it’s essential to identify the size of the nut and bolt used in your bike and choose proper tools accordingly.

For smaller cranks like an M8 crank bolt, use a CCP-22 or a CPW-7 to get the job done.

For larger cranks like M12 or M14 Crank bolt, use a CCP-44 to get the work done.

Now to take out the Coupler with threading on both ends; it is advised to use a hex tool and a spanner or a screwdriver. Once you have got the right tool, with not much pressure, turn the coupler until you can quickly move the hex around. Try not to remove it wholly as it may damage the surface.

Disengage the arms of the bike’s crank

Mind you; this process will test your arm strength to certain limits. Take out the spindle using the spindle driver.

Once you’re finished with the previous task, it’s time to tighten the spindle with the arm of your bike. The process might look more complicated than it is. You simply slide the driver right into the spot and rotate it in the anti-clockwise direction until it’s tight.

To disengage them, you need to rotate the spindle in a clockwise direction. Do not apply too much pressure as you might end up hurting your hands in this process.

Remove the Crank arm puller tool.

Once you’ve disengaged the crank arm from the body, all that is left is to remove the crank arm of your bike. Again, avoid using a lot of force; you might end up injuring yourself.

Next Do it on the other end as well.

By now, you’ve successfully removed one side of the crank. Use the same method on the other side as well. Make sure to follow each step here with caution. Failing to do so might end you up in a bad situation.

In case you already are in a situation like this, do scroll down and check ‘Time to get help.’

How to remove a Self Extracting Bike Crank

A self-extracting crank in a bike moves even without the help of a puller; that’s the easiest way to understand whether your bike has a self-extracting crank or not.

In a self-extracting crank system, the retaining ring itself acts as a crank bolt and functions as a crank puller once the crank bolt is loosened.

That makes self-extracting cranks preferable as it takes only one tool to remove the crank- Alley Keys. But is that it? No, for sure, that not all you would need.

There are always specific miscellaneous tools and equipment that are required in such processes- A pin spanner or a hex wrench for the retaining cap and bolt, a mallet to push your crankset to the other side of your bike, and a wipe/rag to keep the area and your hands clean.

Note: Not every crankset is the same. Sometimes it is not necessary to remove the retaining ring. Ergo, it is advised to identify the type of crankset you’re working with.

  • Remove the retaining cap using a pin spanner.
  • Then remove the arm using a Hex wrench. Turn counter-clockwise until the arm falls off away from the spindle.
  • Once that is done, you will be left with the other side of the arm. Pull it out slowly or use a mallet to do so.
  • Here you go, you’ve successfully removed your elf extracting bike crank.

These four steps will help you extract your bike crank without any inconvenience.

Time to get help

Understand when you’ve gone too far with the process and, in such times, dive for help.

When you’re unable to do anything or get stuck in a circle, neither should you panic, nor should you continue applying force in any case.

Doing so might lead to a bigger problem might even lead to permanent damage to your bike. If we had to put this in a sentence- “Better safe than sorry.”

In such desperate times, seek help from professionals. Look for a nearby Bike repair or a Bike mechanic to help you with this problem.

The problem can range from merely fitting your threaded bolt in your crank to getting your crank stuck in your bike. If you find yourself under a similar circumstance like this, then seek experts’ advice, as it’s no use crying over spilt milk.

bike, crank, removal, best

How to Remove or Install Bike Crank without Puller

Before you pull a bike crank, you should know the type of crank you have as different types may have a different procedure. Nonetheless, the reason why they need to be taken apart and installed is quite similar – for services such as replacement or cleaning.

You may also want to know your crank length, which is typically indicated and printed on the crank. You will find 170 mm a common size and the chainrings are usually 53/39T for standard and 36/30T for smaller, more compact types.

How to remove bike crank without a puller

You may wonder how to remove a vintage crankset like a square taper without using a puller tool. There are many suggestions on how to do it but most of those aren’t that good ideas. With that said, let’s break down some of these methods and debunk whether they work or not:

Method 1: Loosen or remove the bolt or nuts

The idea is to loosen or remove your nuts holding the crank arms on and then take the bike out for a ride. As you ride, the arms will slowly loosen up and it might take half a mile or 30 but solely, the arms will loosen up.

With this method, it will ruin the crank arm when you slowly loosen it up. Eventually, this will result in damage to the little mating faces so when you remount them and tighten, they will slowly loosen up over again, as they will never stay on.

If you aren’t that meticulous with crank arms or if you don’t intend to keep them, this is an okay suggestion for you. However, if you want to reuse your crank arms, don’t do this technique.

Method 2: Using a pickle fork

  • After removing the nut or the bolt holding the crank arm on, you put the fork section in between the bottom bracket and the crank arm.
  • Then, you use a hammer to hammer it down.

With this method, the wedge will go in there and force the crank arm off. The problem is the pounding force and action might do damage to the bottom bracket to the bearings and the recess inside the bottom bracket.

The wedge will push the crank arm off unevenly and it will do some damage to the mating faces inside the crank arm. Even if you get the crank arm off, the bottom bracket and the crank arm can get damaged.

bike, crank, removal, best

Method 3: Using a hammer to force the crank off

This technique uses brute force to get the crank off. A rubber mallet is used to bang on the backside of the arm. You can also use a block of wood, put it on the back of the arm, and hammer it on that area.

The problem with this method is that the impact will damage the bottom bracket, the bearings, and the recess. Hammering on the arm will cause it to tilt and you also have to deal with the uneven impact, which could ding your parts.

It will cause damage to the faces on the inside of the arm and it might affect the tightness of the components in the future.

Method 4: Use a screwdriver

  • Get a flat tip screwdriver and remove the bolt.
  • Tap the backside of the arm and close to the spindle using a hammer that was used in the previous method. It would be done in a star pattern a few times on each side.

The problem is that when you hit the center, you might get the twisting motion and it can mar the inside of the faces and the arm. It will also impact the bracket and the bearings and the like.

Method 5: Using a 3-jaw puller

This type of tool is used for automotive work for pulling gears and pulleys. Pulling a crank will be okay with this tool if the threads in the crank arm are stripped out and you can’t use a puller tool.

  • Use a socket to go in there to push against it directly.
  • Take a nut and just screw it on a little bit loosely to hold the little part push against the spindle.
  • Get the little hooks underneath the crank arm and keep them in there while you are doing the pulling.
  • Start tightening the top part down and it will pull the crank arm off the spindle.

With this technique, a minor con is that the 3-jaw puller is a little bit pricey. You will find that it is more expensive than the crank puller. Nonetheless, it works great if the threads in the crank are stripped out and you cannot use a puller.

Method 6: Cutting the parts off

  • Remove the nut from the arm.
  • Use a cutting tool such as a Dremel tool that is motorized and cut sections of the arm. You can also use a screwdriver to pry it off open.

With this technique, you can save the bottom bracket.

  • Cut the spindle back behind the arm until it is off. You will see that the arm will have the remnant of the spindle.
  • Remove the nut of the bolt.
  • Take a vise, such as a bench vise.
  • Open the jaw wide enough for the spindle remnant to stick down through.
  • Use a hammer to punch and knock the remnant of the spindle out of the arm.
bike, crank, removal, best

HOW TO REMOVE STRIPPED/ DAMAGED CRANK ARMS USING A GEAR-BEARINGS PULLER

With this technique, you have to replace the bottom bracket.

Method 7: A gentler hammer technique

This method is a little more detailed and is a variation of the hammer and screwdriver method but with support at the bottom bracket to avoid impact damage.

  • Remove the nut or the bolt using your wrench. Pull the washer out, if any.
  • Use a bolt that will fit into the square opening of the crank and rest directly at the end of the spindle. This will act as the protection for impact. Usually, you can find a 7/16-inch bolt for most bikes.

Best bike crank puller

If you simply don’t want your other components to suffer, the easiest way is always to use a crank puller. Here are our suggested picks for you (most of which are inexpensive):

Park Tool CWP-7 Compact Universal Bicycle Crank Puller

A fan favorite is the Park Tool CWP-7 Compact Universal Bicycle Crank Puller, which will work on the square taper and splined 3-piece cranksets. It has a strong rotating system and it is widely compatible with various systems, such as Shimano Octalink, SRAM PowerSpline, Bosch BNI e-bikes, and ISIS Drive.

It has two rotating tips and it also has a floating-style hardened tip for durability. Aside from standard bikes, it will also work in a fitness bike. However, to make good use of it, make sure that the hole is well-cleaned with WD-40 to avoid stripping.

BIKE HAND Bicycle Crank Puller

Yet another budget-friendly tool is the BIKE HAND Bicycle Crank Puller, which is compatible with ISIS Drive and square-taper bottom brackets, including that of road and mountain bikes. It has a strong and precise thread plus heat-treated quality steel for its construction.

Aside from that, it has an adapter for both the ISIS Drive and Octalink type (Shimano splined V1 and V2) cranks. Keep in mind that you do need to buy a spanner separately for it to work.

Oumers Bike Crank Extractor and Bottom Bracket Remover

If you need a tool that already comes with a 16mm spanner wrench, the Oumers Bike Crank Extractor/Bottom Bracket Remover is for you. It will work on square-type crank arms, as well as star-tapered types.

Durable alloy steel is used to make this bike crank puller, which is easy to store in a toolbox or bag for emergencies while outdoor biking. The only con is that it will not work with splined cranksets.

Squeaks and Creaks:

These super common sounds are usually due to DIRTY or DRY bearings. You’ll often find that after riding your bike for a while or in harsh conditions these noises start to creep in. Areas to check if you’re hearing these noises would be:

  • Crankset/ Bottom Bracket
  • Headset
  • Pivots (MTB)
  • Derailleur jockey wheels or chain guide pulleys
  • Chain
  • Derailleur “clutch” or lockout area
  • Saddle rail clamp bolt
  • Clipless pedals

Clunks and Clatters:

Another common noise that sounds a bit scarier (with good reason) is a clunk or clatter. This noise should scare you because it generally means something on your bike is loose! Here are some important bolts to check if you hear this noise:

  • Headset
  • Front/Rear wheel axles
  • Pivots (MTB)
  • Derailleur bolt
  • Water bottle cage (ok, this one’s not that scary… but super common!)

Scrapping and Popping:

Likely the most common of all the annoying bike noises, scraping and popping usually occurs when there is an issue with your derailleur or shifting. Before adjusting your limit screws and cable tension (Learn how with our guide on how to adjust your rear derailleur) check these issues first:

  • Clean and Re-grease your Bottom Bracket Bearings. Here’s the deal: your cranks are under a ton of load and the bearing which help them spin easily to propel you forward on the road or trail are kind of a big deal. Being close to the road or trail surface, debris flings itself into the space between your chain ring and the frame and eventually, dirt and grime are going to find its way into the bearings and create all sorts of nasty noises while you ride. Periodically, and especially if you ride in wet or muddy conditions, removing your cranks, cleaning and re-greasing your bottom bracket bearings is necessary.
  • First thing’s first, check to make sure your cranks are tightened to the proper torque specifications. If your cranks are loose, sometimes they will make popping or creaking noises. If your cranks feel tight, follow the steps below.
  • Remove your chain from the chain ring by loosening the tension on the derailleur.
  • With the chainring/ cranks free and no chain tension, remove the cranks. Depending on the make/model of your cranks you may require a specific “crank puller” tool. Make sure you have the correct tools before you begin this project, or feel free to take your bike in to your local shop to have this process done.
  • Once you have removed the cranks, be sure to keep any washers or spacers in the proper order and remove them from the crank spindle.
  • Wipe the crank spindle free from dirt and grime. Also, remove dirt and grime from the bearings and seals.
  • Re-grease the crank spindle as well as the bearings before replacing the seal.
  • Replace the washers and spacers in the correct order and reinsert the crank into the bottom bracket.
  • Align the other crank with the spindle and tighten to proper torque spec.
  • Replace your chain.
  • All done!
  • Clean and Re-grease your Headset Bearings. Another common source for creaks, clanks, and rattles is the headset. If you are experiencing noise in the front of the bike as you go over obstacles in the trail or over rough road, it could be a sign that you need to either tighten your headset or clean and re-grease the bearings that often get contaminated with dirt.
  • First thing’s first, check to make sure your headset is tight. The easiest way to check if your headset is loose is to turn your handlebars to the side so that your wheel is pointing to the left or right. Then squeeze the front brake with your left hand and place your right hand on the bottom of the head tube where the fork meets the frame. Push forward. Does your bike move back and forth? Can you feel your fork moving inside the frame? If so, loosen your stem bolts (equally and evenly, one at a time). Then, tighten your headset bolt (the top bolt on the cap). Lift the front of the bike and move let the front wheel swing one way and then the other. If this motion isn’t smooth, then the headset is too tight. Make sure your handlebars are straight, then tighten the stem bolts again, equally and evenly until you reach proper torque spec. If your headset is tight and you’re still experiencing creaking or clunking, follow the instructions below:
  • Loosen stem bolts, equally and evenly until loose.
  • Remove headset bolt, headset top cap, and stack spacers in the order in which you take them off your bike.
  • Pull stem up and off of the steer tube of the fork.
  • Stack any remaining spacers separately from the spacers on top of your stem.
  • Pull the fork’s steer tube out of the head tube of the bike, holding one hand on the bottom of the head tube to ensure the bottom headset bearings do not fall on the floor.
  • Place the fork aside and wipe the headset bearings free of any dirt and grime, using a clean rag. Also, wipe the inside of the head tube and any spacers and seals.
  • Wipe the fork’s steer tube and crown race free from dirt.
  • Re-grease the headset bearings where the bearings rotate on the crown race and top seals, as well as where the headset bearing fits into the headset itself.
  • Re-insert the fork into the head tube and replace the seal, spacers, stem, top spacers, and headset cap.
  • Tighten the headset until there is no play in the steer tube and the handlebars turn freely with no binding or grittiness.
  • Straighten the handlebars and tighten the stem bolts equally and evenly until tightened to the proper torque specifications.

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