How to change the cassette on your bike

Merlin Cycles walk you through the cassette replacement process in six easy-to-follow steps.

With regular maintenance, your road bike will be able to withstand a lot of use. But even if you clean and lubricate often, eventually you’re going to want to replace your cassette.

If you’ve kept your bike in tip-top shape it will maximise chain and cassette life but after long periods of riding (every 1,000 miles or so) the sprockets are going to become worn and the entire gear set will need replacing. The purchase of a chain wear gauge will enable to check your chain and replace it before it has caused premature wear to the sprockets.

If you do this you may get several chains usage out of one cassette, but eventually your cassette will wear out and when it’s time to replace your chain it will slip on your worn cassette.

The below guide will walk you through the cassette replacement process in six easy-to-follow steps, and will work with any bike that has Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo derailleurs.

When installing a new cassette it’s advisable to also replace the chain. If the chain is already worn then it will end up slipping much more often than it should, making the entire process redundant.

What You’ll Need

Gloves – This is going to be messy work, so it’s worth protecting your hands.

Spanner – Used as leverage when turning the cassette removal tool.

Cassette Removal Tool – Otherwise known as a locking ring remover, this is a tool end which fits over the locking ring and helps release the cogs. The tool will be shaped specifically depending on the locking ring used.

Cassette Removal ToolChain Whip – This tool connects with the cogs and prevents movement while the locking ring is being unscrewed.

Chain Whip

New Cassette – Obviously you’ll need a brand new cassette to replace the old one. It should be exactly the same gear ratio as your previous cassette. If you haven’t got one already then why not visit our store and check out the selection available there, then head back here and we can proceed.

If you’ve already got all of the tools mentioned above then read on to find out how you can quickly and easily replace your cassette.

Step 1 – Remove the Rear Wheel

To remove the rear wheel you’ll first need to release the rear brake by disconnecting the cable. Most bikes should have a simple mechanism which allows you to do this without using any tools.

Next you’ll need to adjust the chain until it rests on the smallest sprocket, by switching through your gears. Finally, loosen the quick release lever and the wheel should come away from your frame easily.

Step 2 – Undo the Locking Ring

Place the wheel down on a flat surface with the cassette facing upwards.

Wrap the chain tool clockwise around the largest sprocket in order to stop the gears moving and fix the cassette removal tool onto the locking ring at the very tip of the sprockets.

Use the spanner to rotate the nut in an anticlockwise direction. Don’t be afraid to use considerable force. A grinding noise is perfectly natural, it’s just the teeth unlocking.

Step 3 – Remove the Cassette

Once the locking ring is loosened and undone the cassette should simply slide off, sometimes the cassettes may be in one piece, others may come off as individual sprockets.

Step 4 – Replace the Cassette

You’re now free to slide your brand new cassette into place.

You should always ensure that your new cassette has the same gear ratio as its predecessor.

The gear ratio should be clearly marked on each cassette, but if you’re unsure how to find the ratio then simply count the teeth on the top sprocket and compare that number to the teeth on the bottom sprocket.

Step 5 – Replace the Locking Ring

Carefully fasten the locking ring back into place. Be wary of over-tightening the nut, as its locking teeth will hold it in place and it shouldn’t take much force to secure.

Step 6 – Put the Wheel back on the Bike

Replace the remaining components by repeating step one in reverse.

All that’s left to do now is ride away with a knowing smile on your face and a well-earned sense of pride. Congratulations on changing your first cassette. If you found this information useful then don’t forget to share it with friends and fellow cyclists; and if you have any tips you’d like to share, then let us know in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you.

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