Ask a Mechanic | Installing and Removing a Cassette

Ted asks, “I’m new to biking and would like to know how to remove and install a cassette.”

You got it Ted. Removing and installing cassettes should be a part of every home mechanic’s repertoire, so here’s how you do it.

First, you’ll want to shift your bike’s rear derailleur into the lowest gear and if you ride a mountain bike with a clutch derailleur, turn the clutch to the OFF position. Next, remove the entire rear wheel assembly.

Place your rear wheel on the ground. In order to remove your cassette, you’ll need an appropriate freewheel removal tool, a chain whip, and a large crescent wrench. Place the freewheel removal tool into the cassette lockring as deep as it will go. Next, place the chain whip onto the cassette so that the handle remains on the left side of the wheel. Make sure and place the chain around the middle of your cog of your cassette to ensure maximum chain wrap. Finally, grab your crescent wrench, adjust it to fit your freewheel removal tool, and turn it counter-clockwise to loosen the cassette’s lockring. Once it’s loose, you can simply remove the lockring by hand. After the lockring is off, you can pull your entire cassette off of the freehub body

If you still are unable to remove the cassette from the freehub, you may have a jammed cassette and need to watch our Removing a Jammed Cassette video below.

To install a cassette, you’ll need to make sure that you line up the appropriate splines on your cassette with the appropriate gaps on the freehub body, using the smallest and largest splines as reference points. Make sure you reinstall any cog spacers that may have been part of the cassette prior to its removal.

Once the cassette is on and the cassette’s lockring has been installed hand tight, you’ll need your crescent wrench and your freewheel removal tool. Place the wheel on the ground, insert your freewheel removal tool into the lockring, and tighten it with the crescent wrench. Tighten it using a fair amount of pressure to ensure it doesn’t come loose.

Double-check your work, reinstall your rear wheel back into the bike, and make sure that any clutch derailleurs that were turned OFF upon removal are turned back into the ON position. For all your shopping needs, visit Art’s Cyclery. With questions, concerns, or comments, email and thanks for watching!