To keep on top of your drive train maintenance or even change your gear ratios, you'll be wanting to remove your cassette. Now, it may seem complicated, but it's actually pretty straight forward with the right tools.
The cassette is held on to the free hub with a lock ring and to remove that, you'll just need a specialist lock ring tool to undo that, and because the cassette can spin, allowing you to free-wheel, that is where the chain whip comes in. Then, finally, you need to grip the lock ring tool using a specials spanner or just an adjustable wrench.
First things first, we need to remove the back wheel from the bike and to make things easier, I normally suggest putting it in the big ring on the front and then the smallest cog on the back. That way, it's far more straight forward when you replace the wheel after. Right, once the wheel is out, we then need to remove the skewer so we can access the lock ring.
Now, it's worth noting that there are two different types of lock rings and therefore, two different types of lock ring removal tools. Slot the lock ring tool into the cassette and I would suggest placing the wheel on the ground with the hub facing away from you, so that you can apply pressure down when we get to the loosening part. Then, with the chain whip, you want to wrap the chain around the cassette on one of the largest cogs. However, not the largest cog because you want to allow yourself a bit of space between your hands and the spokes to save you shaving any skin off your knuckles. And then, finally, just make sure that the chain is holding while on the cassette. Next, you wan to take your spanner or adjustable wrench and attach it to the lock ring. I tend to try and position these at something like a two and ten o'clock position.
Right, now we're ready to loosen the lock ring. So, keep firm hold of the chain whip in your left hand and we want to apply a bit more pressure down on the wrench in our right hand and it can require a bit of force because the cassette does need to be held on pretty tight. Now that the lock ring is free, you can remove the wrench and the chain whip, but leaving the lock ring tool in place and then, just unscrew the rest by hand.
Now that you've removed the lock ring and the lock ring tool, you should be able to slide the cassette off the free hub body pretty easily. The good new is that to replace the cassette is actually pretty hard to do it wrong and that's because the free hub body has a pattern of splines that make it impossible to put the cassette on in the wrong position or the wrong way around. Now, for tightening the lock ring back on. We're actually gonna need the chain whip for this because you're tightening in the direction that you pedal, so you only need the lock ring tool and your spanner or wrench. If you can, simply screw the lock ring on by hand just to hold the cassette in place and then, insert your lock ring tool to then screw on, again, by hand. Then, to finish it, attach the wrench and apply pressure to secure it firmly. So, there we go.
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