Cassette removal is one of the basic bike maintenance tasks every cyclist can do at home. This article covers the step-by-step removal of road bike cassettes from Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo, SunRace, and SunTour.
Things to note
- SRAM/Shimano/Sunrace uses the same cassette tool, while Campagnolo has its own.
- SRAM AXS cassette lockring doesn’t come off the cassette when it’s loose.
- For thru-axle hubs, use a lockring removal tool with a 12mm guide pin to stabilize the tool.
- Do not misplace the spacers when you remove the cassette.
- Lockring removal tool (cassette tool)
- Adjustable wrench / 24mm wrench
- Chain whip tool
How to remove a road bike cassette
- Identify the brand of the cassette and use the correct lockring removal tool. Shimano, SRAM, SunRace, and SunTour cassettes use the same lockring removal tool, while Campanologo uses a different one due to their proprietary lockring design.
- Place the chain whip over the cassette to prevent the cassette from turning when you unscrew the lockring. Place the handle at 2 or 10 o’clock position depending on your preference.
- Insert the lockring removal tool into the cassette spline.
- For QR hubs, re-insert the quick release skewer and secure it with the nut. There are some tools such as the Park Tool FR-5.2G which has a guide pin. In this case, you don’t need to re-insert the quick-release skewer.
- For thru axle hubs, use a lockring removal tool that has a 12mm guide pin such as the Park Tool FT-5.2GT.
- Place the wrench handle opposite of the chain whip tool at 2 or 10 o’clock position depending on your preference.
- With one hand firmly on the chain whip tool, turn the lockring removal tool anti-clockwise. An easy way to do this is to push both hands downwards.
- Continue to turn anti-clockwise until the lockring is removed. For SRAM AXS cassettes, the lockring stays on the cassette when it’s loose.
- Slowly slide the cassette off the freehub body.
- Make sure to store the spacers in a secure place as you’ll need them when reinstalling. For 9/10 speed cassettes, there is an additional spacer between the cassette and the hub.
Why remove the cassette?
The most common reason to remove the cassette is it makes cleaning easier. With the cassette removed, you can soak it with a degreaser to thoroughly remove all the dirty lube and grime.
Besides cleaning, you can replace the cassette by yourself when it’s worn out. This saves you precious time going to your local bike shop for a simple task.
For those who are more hands-on, removing the cassette gives them access to the rear hub for deep cleaning or replacing the worn-out bearings.