How to Remove Bike Crank Without Puller: Everything You Need to Know

There’s nothing wrong with relying on a crank puller when removing your bike crank. However, as a cyclist, it’s important for you to know how to remove the part without the said tool. You’ll never know when you’ll need to take out a bike crank and there’s no puller around.

Why do you need to remove your bike crank?

Removing bike cranks may feel like a daunting task. However, just like with most vehicles, you need to do it as part of your bike’s monthly maintenance.

Apart from that, you may also be forced to remove the part for replacement. This usually happens when you’ve been riding your bike for a long time and pedaling becomes noisy.

Bike cranks may require removal when the chainrings need cleaning, too. Another good reason is servicing the bottom bracket bearings.

The Tools You’ll Need

If you are new to removing bike cranks and there’s no puller around, there are tools you can use to make the process easier. Plus, with these tools, you’ll minimize the risk of damaging your bike, too.

Before you start working on your bike, it’s a good idea to prepare the following:

  • Spindle driver
  • Alley keys
  • CWP-7/CCP-22 (for M8 crank bolt)
  • CWP-7/CCP-44 (for M14 and M12 bolts)

In addition to the tools mentioned above, you may also want to keep the following nearby:

  • A bike cassette remover- This tool generally comes with a range of wrenches. It also has a chain whip.
  • A bottle of WD-40- This works as a lubricant. Applying it to your bike’s chain helps ensure that you get to experience noise-free and smoother rides.
  • A bike stand- This is a huge help when you need your bike erect when removing the bike crank
  • A bike crank extractor- You can use this in removing your bike’s bottom bracket.

Apart from those tools, you’ll also need to have some wipes available. You’ll find them useful in removing any dirt. If you don’t have them, you can use old rags.

How to Remove Bike Crank Without Puller

Wear protective gears

It’s easy to get yourself injured when removing a bike crank, particularly if it’s your first time doing it. With this, it’s always a good idea to make sure that your hands are properly covered before doing any kind of work with your bike.

One of the most common injuries when removing bike cranks involves the teeth that make the bike’s chainring. A good technique to avoid them is to shift the chain to the largest chainring using your bike’s gearing mechanism.

As an alternative, you can get a piece of stick and use it to lift and position the chain on the largest chain ring.

Another thing you can do to make sure you won’t hurt yourself when removing the bike crank is to set the cogs. Remember to shift the gear to the biggest cog. This will allow your chain to stretch fully, reducing the chances of the chain hitting your hands.

Work on removing the crank bolts

This step is important in making sure you won’t have a hard time removing the crankset.

For this part of the process, you’ll need to get a universal wrench. With the tool, turn every nut and bolt counterclockwise. This will help loosen them.

If the bolts aren’t visible, you need to take out the dust caps first. Take note that the way you remove the caps will depend on how they’re made.

There are caps that can be removed by prying them out. Others require threading for removal.

Apart from knowing how to take out the caps, you need to understand that nuts and bolts don’t come in the same size. Identifying their sizes can help you choose the right tools for them.

For example, if you have a smaller crank such as an M8 crank bolt, it would be a good idea to use a CPW-7 or a CCP-22. For larger cranks, like M14 and M12 crank bolts, you can rely on a CCP-44 to get the job done.

With the right tool, turn the part until you’re able to quickly maneuver your hex tool around.

While you’re at this point, try to check for any washers on your crankset as well. These are metal discs with holes in the middle part.

Take out the crank arms

This part of the process won’t be easy. In fact, it will test how strong your arms are.

After removing the bolts and coupler, work on sliding the spindle driver into the part that’s apportioned to it. This will tighten the spindle with your bike’s arm.

Once you are done with that, you can turn it into an anti-clockwise direction. Make sure to do this step slowly and carefully to ensure tautness.

Rotate the spindle in a clockwise direction

After making sure that the spindle driver is completely tight and taut, it’s time to turn it in a clockwise direction. This step will help in disengaging the arm.

To do it properly, do the process slowly. Don’t rush. It will only put you at an increased risk for accidents. Plus, you may also end up damaging the crank.

Unthread the crank puller tool

After the removal of the crankset, you can begin unthreading the crank puller tool. This step requires precision and great care to avoid injuring your knuckles.

Repeat the same steps and work on the opposite crank.

At this point, you have a good idea of how to remove bike crank without a puller. You’ll be able to do the opposite crank with little to no problem.

Alternative Methods in Removing Bike Crank Without A Puller

Although the steps mentioned above work really well in removing a bike crank without a puller, it won’t hurt to know other methods to get the job done.

With a hammer

This method requires you to use brute force to remove the crank. Because of that, there’s a good chance that you’ll cause the arm to tilt a bit. It may also cause uneven impact when you hit the part with a rubber mallet, leaving marks on your bike.

With a 3-jaw puller

A 3-jaw puller is generally used when completing automotive work for gears and pulleys. Because of that, some cyclists are perfectly fine with using it when pulling a crank.

One issue with this is the price. A 3-jaw puller isn’t cheap. In fact, you’ll find it more expensive than buying a crank puller.

With a screwdriver

This method requires using a flat tip screwdriver to remove the bolt. With a hammer, tap the arm’s backside and the area close to the spindle. Follow a star pattern in doing this.

The good thing about this method is that it’s cheap. You probably already have a screwdriver at home.

Unfortunately, you might damage the inside of the arm during the process. It may also harm the bearings and bracket.

With a pickle fork

This method is done right after you remove the bolt or nut holding the crank arm. At that point, place the fork section between the crank arm and the bottom bracket. With a hammer, you gently hit the part until the crank arm goes off.

One issue with this method is the damage you may end up doing to the bearings and bottom bracket. It may also cause the crank arm to be pushed unevenly.

Removing the parts

Only do this method if you don’t worry about the arms and you’re perfectly fine with losing them.

Here’s how you can do this method:

  • Begin by removing the nut from the arm.
  • With a cutting tool, cut the part into sections. A Dremel tool is a good choice.
  • With a screwdriver, pry the part open.

With this method, you’ll be able to keep the bottom bracket. However, if you prefer to keep the arm but not the bottom bracket, consider using a hacksaw.

For this, you’ll need to follow the steps outlined below:

  • Work on cutting the spindle back right behind the arm until the part is off.
  • Take out the nut of the bol and take a vise.
  • Use it to open the jaw. Continue prying it open until it’s big enough to allow the spindle remnant to pass through.
  • With a hammer, knock the remnant of your spindle right out of the arm.

How to Reinstall the Bike Crank

Don’t settle on just knowing how to remove a bike crank. It’s equally important that you know how to reinstall the part.

To do that, you’ll need to do the following steps:

  • Begin on the drive side and also each spindle. Slot the square aperture up to around 180 degrees.
  • Apply grease to your crank bolts and spindle. Make sure not to overdo this part. You don’t need to apply too much grease.
  • Get the bol and replace it. Don’t forget to tighten the part.
  • Perform the same steps to work on the other side.
  • In case your crankset comes with dust caps, make sure to put them back properly. When placed incorrectly, you won’t be able to return it to its proper place.

Common Problems That Come with Removing a Bike Crank

The process of taking off a bike crank isn’t always seamless. Expect to experience problems when doing it, particularly if you’re not experienced.

Here are some of the most common problems you may encounter when removing a bike crank:

The cranks become a bit too noisy

If this is the case, consider cleaning the arms of the cranks first. Although the problem isn’t that detrimental to your bike, it can make your biking experience a bit unpleasant.

While cleaning the part, try to tighten it as well. This is usually the most common solution to the problem.

The chain got stuck

To solve this issue, the first thing you need to do is check for signs of wear and tear. If you see any worn-out links, consider it a sign to replace the part.

If you notice that the chain has become stiff and rusty, get a lube to fix the problem. Just remember not to use too much since too much lubricant can cause dust to build up.

If you are hearing sounds of chain scrunching, it’s probably pedaling jerks. This is something you need to fix at the soonest possible time since a hard pedal can make you lose focus on the road.

Remember, a worn-out chain needs to be replaced right away. It makes riding your bike extremely dangerous.

The crank arm is bent

Replace the part right away. You can use a 5mm wrench to fix the bolts of your chainring. Take a good look at ts teeth to make sure that they aren’t bent or worn out.

The entire crankset is moving

In case you are using a cup-and-cone bracket type, try taking it off. If possible, remove the lock ring, too. You can find it on the left side.

To remove it, you can turn it following an anticlockwise direction. A locking-spanner tool can help you with this.

While you’re at it, take the bearing, axle, and dust sleeve off. Apply grease the parts before reinstalling them.

When to get help

Removing your bike crank isn’t easy and there’s no need to feel ashamed if you find yourself struggling to do it.

If you feel like you can’t do it or you’re stuck in a certain step, don’t force yourself. The more you force it, the more damage you’re likely to do to your bike.

With this in mind, don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need to. Look for a bike mechanic or a repair shop with people who can help solve your problem. They may even teach you a thing or two about repairing your bike.