How to Properly Replace Your Bicycle Crank

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How to Properly Replace Your Bicycle Crank

The bicycle crank is one of the most important parts of your bicycle. If the crank is not functioning properly then the bicycle is not going to function properly too. There are quite a few other parts that can malfunction while the bicycle runs smoothly, but the bicycle crank is not included on that list. Therefore, it is imperative that bike owners know exactly what needs to be done in order to properly replace the bicycle crank whenever necessary.

This may seem to be a very complicated procedure. However, in most cases, professional assistance is not necessary as long as one knows what they are doing and has the tools needed to do the job right the first time around. Fortunately, all of the tools that are needed are currently available on eBay, and this guide has been developed to walk you through the entire process step by step.

Use a Crank Puller

Many people have complained about needing to use a crank puller in order to replace their bicycle crank. There have even been articles and blogs published and posted online that walk bicycle owners and repair persons through the process of being able to replace a bicycle crank successfully without using a crank puller.

Crank pullers are specifically designed to be the most efficient and effective tools that can be used when removing any type or size of bicycle crank. Even though there may be a few additional steps that need to be followed when using this particular tool, it is still the safest and most efficient method to use.

In most cases, there are two types of people that will be working on their bicycles and completing this necessary replacement. The chart below reflects these two types along with whether or not using a crank puller is necessary based on those types.




Beginner / Amateur

Limited or no previous experience with working on bicycle repair projects

First-timer when it comes to replacing bicycle cranks and other major repair work on bicycles

Using a crank puller should be a requirement for beginners and amateurs based solely on their lack of experience

Expert / Professional

Extensive experience with working on bicycle repair projects

Professional expert at bicycle repairs that is knowledgeable and able to successfully complete work with very few errors

Using a crank puller is still the recommended choice, regardless of the level of experience. However, professional experts are the only ones that should have the choice as to whether or not one will be used.

Preparing the Bicycle for Crank Replacement

The first big step of replacing a bicycle crank, after having all of the necessary tools readily available, is to prepare the bicycle for this particular project. Most people and professionals choose to start with the crank arm on the right side. Therefore, as this guide explains, each stage of the replacement process, the scenario that will be used to explain each step will be based on this same exact starting point.

  • Remove the chain from off of the chain ring
  • Place it on the shell of the bottom bracket
  • Use the proper tool to take off the crank bolt cover (also known as the dust cover.)

There are a variety of different tools that can be used to remove this cap. If an Allen wrench or screwdriver is available, then feel free to use either of those tools. However, in most cases, a nice-sized coin will do the trick as well.

Working on the Crank Arm

The next stage of bicycle crank replacement requires you to work specifically on the crank arm of the bicycle. The nut (or bolt) will need to be removed carefully and efficiently from the crank arm. Most people forget to complete this step until much later on when they are trying to wrench the crank puller and cannot figure out why it is not working properly. The crank bolt has to be completely removed before doing anything further.

There are different types of bolts that are used, in most cases, including:  

  • 14mm
  • 15mm
  • 16mm
  • Allen head

Make sure that the proper tool is readily available to remove the bolt carefully without stripping it. Do not forget to check for a washer, which is normally found inside of the crank, because that will need to be removed as well (if one is present).

Analyse the Pieces of the Puzzle

The next stage of this replacement project is many times compared to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You need to make sure that all of the pieces go together properly instead of becoming mismatched and damaged accordingly. Several of the steps that need to be taken at this point include:

  • Check the crank puller for the proper sizing
  • Examine whether the crank arms are secured by nuts or bolts
  • Test it to make sure that everything lines up properly
  • Lube the mating area and spindle sufficiently, but not excessively

Do not forget to check for either nuts or bolts on the crank arms, because this will be the determining factor of what type of crank puller you will need to use. Having the right crank puller for the wrong nuts or bolts (or vice versa) will not end very well in any scenario.

The next steps will primarily be focused on the centre part of the actual tool.

  • Unscrew it as far out as it can possibly go
  • Thread the outer part of the tool into the arm of the crank
  • Make sure that it is threaded completely
  • Tighten it by using a wrench to ensure that it is secured

Many people think that they can skip the step of tightening their threading with a wrench, but this is essential in order to prevent any future trip hazards or bicycle accidents that are caused by the threads being ripped out.

Finishing Up the Replacement

If you have made it to this stage, then you should feel excited because the end is almost near. Check all of the work that has been completed up to this point to make sure that no step has been missed all together or done incorrectly.

  • Tighten the inner portion of the tool into the part that was screwed into the crank
  • Do not stop tightening until the point when the crank will eventually pop of

Many people seem to be thoroughly confused about this particular step, because of not being able to crank it hard and efficiently enough to get to this point. If you are having difficulty, position the wrench arm along with the crank so that they can be squeezed together for additional leverage. Another great idea would be to place a pipe over the wrench's end for even more leverage. Most people do not just happen to have a pipe lying around, so the squeezing option may be the best route to take.

  • Pull off the crank arm
  • Remove the tool completely from the bicycle
  • Take a deep breath and start with the first step on the left side now


Even though replacing a bicycle crank may seem to be a very difficult process, it can easily be accomplished with the right tools, the right time and the right person. Do not forget to use a crank puller whenever this type of replacement becomes necessary. Follow the steps that are provided within this guide very closely, because each step outlines everything that you need to know in order to get the job done right the first time around and without any further complications.

There are many other traditional stores and websites that you can explore for competitive prices, but do not forget that eBay is a great place to purchase the various tools and other types of equipment that you need to continue enjoying your beautiful bicycle for many years to come.

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