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How to Change a Bike Cassette? – Bike Maintenance 101

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to change a bike cassette

Even if you are a beginner cyclist or an experienced cyclist, maintaining your bike is a must-have skill. Just as your bike carries you wherever you want, they also need love and care so they can go for miles and miles.

A well-maintained bicycle cassette will last a long time, but if it starts to wear out, it is time for a replacement! Removing the cassette from the bike wheel will be quite difficult for you if you have never done any bike maintenance before, but we are here to help.

Continue reading to learn how to change a bike cassette using the right tools and proper procedures.

Step #1: Getting Started

Before removing the cassette from the bike wheel, ensure you have the correct tool for your cassette before you start working.

  • Lockring Tool: A core bike cassette removal tool that will help loosen the cassette. Make sure you have the correct tool because Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo use different lock rings. You may also need to know the brand of the hub and the needed lockring size in order to remove the cassette effectively.
  • New Cassette: When choosing a new cassette, you must check its compatibility first. Is the size of the freehub body enough? Where will I ride it? And, Can my legs ride it?
  • Chain Whip/ Chain Pliers
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Rag with Degreaser
  • Grease

Step #2: Remove the Rear Wheel Out of the Bike


The rear wheel or the bike wheel with cassette can be easily removed with the following steps:

  • Start by turning your bicycle gear to its hardest gear or the smallest cog. This will help the wheel come off easier since the chain won’t get caught when pulling the wheel out.
  • You may also want to loosen your brakes slightly to allow more room during the removal giving more leverage to work with.
  • Lastly, open your quick release to provide ample room so your wheel could drop out smoothly.
  • Just pull back your rear derailleur and voilà- you are now ready for the actual bike gear replacement.

Step #3: Remove Bike Cassette

  • Pop in the correct lockring tool. Ensure that you have the right one for your cassette. Note: Bike Cassette Shimano and SRAM can use a Shimano-type lockring tool, but Campagnolo uses an entirely different lockring.
  • Placing the rear wheel in front of you with the cassette pointing outwards, attach the chain whip or chain pliers securely to the chain, so it doesn’t spin out of place.
  • Using a big spanner wrench, loosen the lock ring by applying pressure to the left and remove the lockring.

We suggest you hold the chain whip or pliers using your left hand and the wrench with your right. Pushing down with ample force on both hands, the lockring should loosen quite easily.

  • Pick up the bike rear cassette from the bottom up and take it out in one go. When removing cassette from bike wheel, keep in mind that some freehub bodies may come along when pulling the cassette, so you have to be extra careful.

Be sure to hold the cassette together since most have multiple cogs and spacers. If you want to keep them together, you can either tie them with a string or secure the cassette with a zip tie.

Step #4: Clean the Freehub Body

Give your freehub body a thorough cleaning. It is best to wipe away all the dust and gunk in the freehub body using a rag towel soaked with a fair amount of degreaser.

Don’t over-soak the rag because too much degreaser can also remove the grease from the hub which is a big no-no.

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, you can also use diluted dish soap as it can also cut through grease.

Step #5: Grease It Up

Before placing your new cassette, top it off with a very light coating of grease on the freehub body to prevent corrosion from your new cassette and corrosion bonding between your freehub body and the new cassette. This can help guarantee your gear’s life span and help it run longer.


Step #6: Inserting Your New Bike Cassette


Finally, starting with the largest cog, insert the new bike wheel cassette into the freehub body accordingly.

  • The narrow slot in your cassette should be properly aligned with the narrow spline located at the freehub body.
  • If they are aligned perfectly, the cassette should slide in easily otherwise do not force the cassette or you might damage it.
  • After putting the new cassette in order, we suggest you lightly grease the lock ring thread before locking it in place.

Step #7: Install Your Newly Maintained Rear Wheel

You can either replace or reinstall the skewer and then install your rear wheel on your bike. Make sure that everything is secure and tight and the wheel spins freely before giving your new cassette and newly maintained bike for a ride!

Can I Put a Bigger Cassette on My Bike?

If you want to ride with a bigger cassette or add more gears to your cassette, then you might have to upgrade your bike and match the ratio to accommodate what your cassette needs.

With the new range with a bigger cassette, you may need a new rear derailleur with a wide and long cage or a derailleur extender that can fit the cassette.


For most bike enthusiasts, nearly everyone has a budget set for their bike maintenance, but unexpected repairs are not accounted for. It can be due to the harsh weather, challenging terrain, or unlucky accidents. So why not lessen the burden by learning how to change a bike cassette yourself? It’s just one maintenance, but it’s a start!

Once you get a handle on the steps, tool cassette ratios, and tool sizes and types, you’ll be an expert that can replace gears on bike with a flick of your wrist. Let’s see how far you can travel on a well-maintained bike wheel.

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