How to Remove Bike Crank Without Puller: Tips to Do it Right

Through time, your bike takes a beating. Dust, mud, and other external elements will affect the components, which might end up compromising performance. You might notice that it is no longer as smooth as it used to be. You have different things to blame for such, but one of the most common culprits is the bike crank.

Once the crank becomes old and rusty, it requires cleaning, and when it can no longer be saved, needs a replacement. Removing bicycle cranks is one of the most important skills you need to learn. It is easy when you have a puller, but without such a handy tool, things can be more complicated. If you want to learn how to remove bike crank without puller, we got you covered in this post. The steps are simple enough that they can be executed even by someone who is not knowledgeable of bikes. By the time you are finished reading, you will master a new skill that will make it easy to complete a DIY task an expert biker can do.

What is a Bike Crank?

What is a Bike Crank

Before talking about how to remove a bicycle crankset without a puller, let’s first talk about what is a crank. You might know that it is a part of the bike, but especially if you are a beginner, you might be confused about where exactly it is located and what it does. If you know its functions and importance, then you will understand why there is a need to remove such and make sure that it maintains its peak condition.

The crank does not refer to a single part of a bike. Instead, it is a collective term. It is the drivetrain of the bike. Some of the parts that it includes are the crank arms, crank spider, gears, and bottom bracket. It converts the motion of your legs to a rotational force that powers the bike. Therefore, when the crank is problematic, the bike suffers from a dismal performance.

There are many instances that will prompt bike owners to remove the crank. For instance, it is important as a part of regular maintenance. When deep cleaning your bike, you must reach the nooks and crannies of every component, and you can only do so when the crank is removed. This will let you easily access the other parts of the bike. Also, there will come a time when the crank will be passed through its functional life, so you will need a replacement. This way, it pays to learn the fundamentals of removing cranks, so you don’t have to pay a pro to do it for you.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Remove Bike Crank Without Puller

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Remove Bike Crank Without Puller

For the uninitiated, bike crankset removal is overwhelming. It becomes even more difficult when you do not have a crank puller. With the right knowledge and a bit of patience, on the other hand, you can do it like a pro.

1.      Protect Your Hands

Before you start, you need hand protection. Like when working with other mechanical parts of a bike, rubber gloves are must-haves. Leaving your hands exposed to the bike’s moving parts will increase the likelihood of an injury. The chains can move, and your hand can get stuck.

If hand protection isn’t available, an easy solution is to set the chain in its outer gear. You can use your gear shifter as well to set the gear in a safer position so you can work with peace of mind. By shifting the gear to the largest cog, your arms and hands are safer.

2.      Remove the Pedals

The cranks won’t reveal themselves unless you take off the pedals first. You will need a 15mm wrench for detaching the pedal from the crank arm. Secure the wrench and turn it counterclockwise. You might need to do it two to three times before you can remove the pedals and access the crank arm of the bike. After loosening the pedals, it will rotate freely, making it easy to remove.

3.      Take Off the Crank Bolt

Once you are ready, the crank nut or bolt is the next component that you need to remove. This is the first step in setting the crankset off the bike. Turning the nut or bolt counterclockwise will do the trick. The bike’s chain can slip and hurt your hand, so you need to be careful, especially if you do not have the appropriate hand protection.

4.      Remove the Washers

After you removed the nuts or bolts, the next step to remove bike cranks is to remove the washers. If you do not know what a washer is, it is a metal disc with a hole in the center. It is located under the nuts or bolts. The main purpose of the washer is to make sure that the wheels will move in a single direction. It also distributes weight at the thread of the nut, which will prevent it from loosening.

5.      Inspect the Crank Bolts

Another important step in removing bike crank is the inspection of the crank bolts once you have already removed the bolts and washers. This is important to find a suitable tool that you will later need to complete bicycle crank arm removal.

If your bike has an M8 crank bolt, you should use a CPW-7 or CCP-22. On the other hand, if the crank bolt is an M14 or M12, you will need CCP-44 or a similar tool with a massive tip.

6.      Rotate the Threaded Coupler

Now that you have identified the type of the bolt that you have, it is time to take out the threaded coupler. Turn the coupler until the nut or bolt has recessed. Do it gently to avoid crossing the thread as this can damage the surface. A spanner or a screwdriver will help you do it properly.

7.      Thread the Spindle Driver

After turning the threaded coupler, thread the spindle driver of the crank. Before doing this, take note that it will require considerable strength, so it is best to use your dominant arm. To do this, slide the driver into the slot, rotate counterclockwise, check the tension, and tighten accordingly. If the driver is loose, you are risking damage to the crank arm and the other components can also loosen.

8.      Take the Crank Arm Off

The next step for the crank removal is to unthread the crank arm. Make sure to apply enough force but the extra cautious. This is one of the most dangerous steps in removing bike cranks. If you are not vigilant, there is a high risk of an injury.

9.      Repeat on the Other Side

The last step on how to remove bike cranks is to repeat the steps above on the other side. Follow the same steps above to do this.

Care and Maintenance of Bike Cranks

Care and Maintenance of Bike Cranks

Prevention is better than cure. So, it is not enough that you know how to remove cranks from bike. You should also know how to take care of such, which will eliminate the need for frequent removal and replacement. With a well-maintained crank, you will not have to remove them often.

Inspect the Crankset Regularly

Give the cranks a close look as often as you could. A good practice is to do it every ride to be sure that everything will be going smoothly. It is through thorough inspection that you can identify potential problems early, including dents and cracks. This way, you can execute the necessary solution before the problem becomes more serious. Some people might try to save money and still use the crank components despite the apparent damage. However, you must avoid such as this can only end up compromising the performance of the bike. Not to mention, it can also make you unsafe.

Clean the Crankset

We are not just talking about the crank here. Instead, we are talking of the entire crankset. It sits low on the ground, making it prone to external factors that can speed up wear. From mud to rain, different things can cause it to break down. Rust, for instance, is a common problem that can damage the bike’s peak performance when not addressed as soon as possible. One of the easiest solutions is to soak the crank in soda. It results in a chemical reaction that will oxidize rust and restore the appearance of the crank. Lubricating the moving parts is also a must, making sure that they will operate smoothly and efficiently.

Wash the Bike After Every Ride

This is the simplest thing that you can do to take care of the crank and prevent serious damage. It might seem like a lot of work but washing your bike regularly will help get rid of dirt and debris, even on the tight corners. Especially when there is mud, dirt can harden overtime, making them more difficult to remove while also contributing to the bike’s dismal performance. The more often you clean the bike, the lesser is the likelihood that the crank and the other parts will suffer from damage. Washing the bike regularly is also a good thing because it allows you to see any potential problem before it worsens.

Removing a Self-Extracting Crank

Removing a Self-Extracting Crank

In case your bike comes with a self-extracting crank, the removal will be a lot easier, even if you do not have a puller. As the name implies, the crank extracts itself, so you do not have to use any tool in its removal.

Also called a one-key release system, a self-extracting crank has a built-in puller. It comes with threaded rings that are similar to what you will find in a dust cap. These rings thread to the crank bolt, and as a result, the shoulder presses against the ring when you loosen the crank bolt.

In a self-extracting crank, the crank bolt has a right-hand thread. This means that you will need to move it clockwise to tighten and counterclockwise to loosen. The retaining rings, on the other hand, can have either a right or left threading. You will find an arrow in the cap, which will dictate the direction of the thread. To remove a self-extracting crank, follow the simple steps below.

  1. Before you start with the removal, see to it that you do not remove the retaining ring. Make sure that it is securely attached to the crank arm.
  2. With a hex wrench, start to unthread the crank bolt. Loosen the crank arm until you can smoothly slide it off the spindle.
  3. Remove the crank arm. Before you remove the spacers and washers, take note of their exact position on the crank, making it easy to return them once you are done. Apply gentle force to pull the crank out of the bike.

Should You Buy a Puller?

Bike crankshaft removal is a lot easier when you have a puller. You will find lots of affordable options available, so it makes sense to buy one. We believe that this is a great investment as it can make crank cleaning and maintenance a lot easier. If your bike has a three-piece crank, this handy tool can be a lifesaver. It will spare you from the headache of having to manually pull the crank out of the bike, making the work more precise.


After reading this short guide, we hope that you learned a thing or two about how to remove bicycle cranks. As noted above, it is not as straightforward as it seems. Be careful as you might suffer from an injury. Your hand can end up being stuck. If you are looking for an easy way to remove cranks, why not invest in a puller tool instead? It is affordable and can save you from headaches. Nonetheless, if you do not have such a tool, the steps mentioned above will do the trick. You don’t need to be an expert in bikes to do the things listed above.