To remove your cassette hold the tools like this.

How to change your cassette

Sebastian 05. June 2017

It doesn’t take much to change your cassette. All you need are a few tools and 30 min of free time. Read on to learn how to do it yourself.

With the right tools, changing your cassette can be pretty easy. All you need is a chain whip, cassette remove tool and a half hour of free time. Scroll down for our step-by-step instructions and start shifting up new sprockets!

Note:

In this how-to, the cassette we are changing is mounted to a Shimano freehub body. Of course, there are different standards for Road and MTB, but the removal process of the old cassette and the installation of the new one is the same. You can even use this post to change a cassette on a SRAM (e.g. XD) or Campagnolo freehub body.

Tools needed

Brand Product bc Item Nr.
Knipex CoBolt® compact bolt cutters 30381
Birzman chain whip 48758
Proxxon 1/4" + 1/2" 56-piece socket wrench set 30947
Pedros cassette removal tool 2869
Cyclus Tools digital torque wrench 38829

Removing the chain

Most of the time, you are changing a cassette because it is worn out. Usually, the chain is also just as worn and needs to be replaced as well. Because you are throwing the chain away after removing it, you can use bolt cutters to take it off. However, be careful because the chain is under tension.

Tip: Use a section of an old spoke bent at both ends to hold the chain together while cutting.

Remove the chain.

Remove the chain.

Remove the rear wheel

To properly work on the cassette, you need to remove the rear wheel. Just loosen the axle take it off the bike.

Some manufacturers use end caps to adjust the hub’s over locknut dimension. Most of the time, the end caps are just pressed into the hub. Before moving on to the next step, the caps need to be removed by pulling them out.

Loosen the axle and take out the rear wheel.

Loosen the axle and take out the rear wheel.

Removing the old cassette

To remove the old cassette you need the chain whip, chain removal tool and the socket wrench. Where to place the tools on the cassette can be seen in the picture below. The cassette removal tool is attached to the drive of the socket wrench.

To remove your cassette hold the tools like this.

To remove your cassette hold the tools like this.

Push the socket wrench in the direction shown above to loosen and then remove the cassette lockring. Now you can pull the cassette off the freehub body. If it has been on the freehub body for a while, it may be stuck due to dirt and general use. In this case, you may need a little muscle to remove it. The cassette might also be stuck because the freehub body is damaged. This can happen with a steel cassette and an aluminum freehub body. If the freehub body is damaged enough, you might need to replace it.

Take the cassette off the freehub.

Take the cassette off the freehub.

Clean and grease the freehub body

Before installing the new cassette, you should clean the freehub body. The areas that are difficult to reach with a rag, can usually be cleaned with an old toothbrush.

Clean the freehub.

Clean the freehub.

To prevent the cassette from sticking as mentioned above, apply a small amount of grease to the freehub body.

Grease the freehub.

Grease the freehub.

Installing the new cassette

The cassette only fits on the freehub body in one position, which, depending on the manufacturer, is determined by the width of the splines. There is one spline on the freehub body that is narrower than the rest. You will find the corresponding cut out on the back of the cassette.

Note: if there is a plastic cylinder in the cassette, as pictured below, do not remove it just yet.

Note the narrow cut out on the cassette, which should be aligned with the freehubs narrow spline.

Note the narrow cut out on the cassette, which should be aligned with the freehubs narrow spline.

If you have an XD freehub body, see below, all you need to do is line up the splines before moving on.

An XD freehub.

An XD freehub.

Now, it is time to install the new cassette. If there is a plastic cylinder use it as a guide when sliding the cassette of the freehub body. This way the individual sprocket remain aligned.

Leaving the plastic cylinder in the cassette makes it easier to slide onto the freehub body.

Leaving the plastic cylinder in the cassette makes it easier to slide onto the freehub body.

Once the cassette is on the freehub body, use a torque wrench to tighten down the lockring. Make sure to note the required torque. Most cassettes require 40 Nm.

In the case of XD compatible cassettes, there is no lockring. Just use the cassette removal tool to screw on the entire cassette.

Use a torque wrench to retighten the cassette.

Use a toprque wrench to retighten the cassette.

Re-installing the rear wheel

To finish up you need to put the rear wheel back on the bike. Before doing this, it is always a good idea to degrease and the re-grease the axle.

Clean and re-grease the axle.

Clean and re-grease the axle.

Keep the axle close while re-installing the wheel and if you had to remove end caps, don’t forget to push them back onto the hub.

Re-mount the rear wheel.

Re-mount the rear wheel.

You're Done!

We hope this step-by-step guide on how to change your cassette was helpful. Now, all your bike needs is a chain and you are ready to head out on your next ride.