How to remove and install Shimano cranks

Our guide for fitting and removing Shimano road cranks

Clock09:00, Monday 30th October 2023

These steps apply to all Shimano road bike cranksets, including Claris, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, Dura Ace. If you need to replace your cranks, or if you need to remove your crankset to access your bottom bracket, these steps will show you how. Finally, if you want to replace your chainrings or swap them to a different size, this is an essential part of the process.

In the video above, Ollie Bridgewood shows the process both for Shimano and SRAM GXP cranks, but the steps below focus on the process for Shimano cranks.

Read more: Guide to road groupsets

Tools Needed

Loosen the bolts on the crank arm

Step 1

Loosen the crank arm bolts

Modern Shimano cranks have a two-part system. This means that the chainring crank arm is attached to the spindle or axle, and the other arm is separate.

To take the system apart, undo the non-drive side crank arm, loosening the bolts a little bit at a time.

Remove the pre-load cap

Step 2

Remove the plastic cap

Use a pre-load tool to remove the plastic cap from the centre of the spindle.

Push the safety clip out of the way before removing the crank arm

Step 3

Lift the safety clip and remove the crank arm

Shimano cranks have a little safety clip between the clamp bolts on the non-drive side. Push it up and out of the way with a flathead screwdriver, then slide the crank arm from the spindle.

Carefully rest the chain on the bottom bracket shell

Step 4

Rest the chain on the bottom bracket

Before you remove the chainset, click the derailleur into the small ring and take the chain off the chainrings. Let it rest on the bottom bracket shell.

You might need to give the spindle a few gentle taps with a rubber mallet

Step 5

Remove the chainset

Remove the chainset from the bottom bracket by sliding the spindle and chainset out of the bottom bracket. It will be pretty snug, but try not to wiggle it from side to side. If you’re struggling, you can use a nylon hammer to gently persuade it through.

Push the chainset in. You might need the mallet again

Step 6

Grease the spindle and push it into place

For reassembly, apply some grease to the drive side of the spindle, near the chainset, then rest your chain on the bottom bracket shell out of the way. Insert the spindle back through the bottom bracket – it might need a few gentle taps with your nylon hammer to go through.

Slide on the crank arm then secure it in place, first with the pre-load cap

Step 7

Attach the non-drive side crank arm

Put some grease on the splined part of the spindle then attach the non-drive side crank arm. Use the pre-load tool to tighten up the plastic cap, doing it up as tight as you can just with your fingers. Re-insert the retention spring using a small screwdriver and tighten up the 5mm bolts to the correct torque.

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