Removing a crank can turn out to be a pretty difficult task if a person is not familiar with their tools. While most people would opt for a crank puller, sometimes it is not possible to have one right up your alley.
As such, it is rather handy if how to remove a bike crank without a puller is known. It is a skill that becomes useful when you don’t find a puller near you or don’t own one in the first place.
Say you don’t know how to remove it without the puller? We got you covered! In this write up we are going to go over a few methods through which you can easily remove bike cranks even if you don’t have a puller up your sleeve.
What Exactly Is A Crank Puller?
A crank puller happens to be a certain type of tool that can pull out nuts and bolts of a crankset to let you pull out the crank itself. It is a pretty common tool available in any hardware store that sells cycle parts.
Generally, pullers come with several nuts and bolts and are most typically made of aluminum. Why aluminum? Because it is lightweight and far more stable than any other metal.
This tool can pull your bike’s crank off of the axle. It’s a rather handy tool to have and gets the job done pretty easily. However, the usage of a crank puller needs special skills as well as expertise in the task.
You don’t want to damage the crankset while trying to pull it out.
Do I Even Need One?
This is a rather tricky question, which we would rather not provide a direct answer to. That is because some people would suggest that you do need a crank puller, while others would say that it is kind of useless.
In our opinion, a crank puller is indeed a useful tool to have in your toolbox, but certainly not a necessity. Everyone with a bike should own one and should keep it with them in case they need to remove their crank from their bike.
However, calling it a necessity would be an exaggeration. It is nice to have one, but you could as well go without it.
Besides, it isn’t like it is the only tool that can remove cranks from bikes. You can very well remove a crankset from the axle without a puller, and we are here to show you exactly how.
In this article, we are going to cover quite a bunch of methods that would teach you how to remove a bike crank without a puller with ease.
How Do I Remove Bike Crank without a Puller?
Without further ado, we are here to show you the methods by which you can remove a bike crank without the use of a puller. Yes, there are several methods that you can use, and most of them are pretty easy.
But before you do get into all of that, there are some measures you need to take. Some precautions, some preparation, etc., you know the drill.
Fetch a Pair of Gloves
Hey, always remember one thing while working with this kind of stuff – safety first. No matter what, you need to maintain your own safety before getting busy with these rather dangerous tools.
For starters, get a pair of gloves made of any thick material. Something that will protect your hands in case it gets hit by anything, as well as from any kind of scratches.
You don’t want gloves made of thin rubber, though. That thing won’t do anything for you at all in this case.
Get the Right Set of Tools
Whichever method you choose from below, you will certainly need to gather the right tools in order to get the job done right. You don’t want to end up with the wrong tools and not being able to remove the crank properly.
So, pay attention to what instruments and machinery we use in the methods below to follow the steps correctly.
In general, you should keep a bunch of different kinds of screwdrivers, a hammer, a rubber mallet, a metal cutter or a hacksaw, a vise, a bunch of nuts and bolts of different sizes, etc. You get the point, right?
Having the right tools in your arsenal will make your job 10 times easier and will save you the time to go to hardware stores over and over again.
Now, let’s take a look at the few alternatives to using pullers and how to use those methods.
Loosen the Nuts and Go for a Bike Ride
It is what it says. You want to loosen up the bike’s nuts and bolts connected to the crank and crank arms and then take your bike for a ride. To better explain this method, let’s have a step-by-step tutorial.
Step 1: Grab a Wrench
You want to get a wrench and loosen up the nuts or bolts in the crankset. Make sure it feels wobbly enough to seem loose but sturdy enough to be ridden on.
Step 2: Hope onto Your Bike
After you’ve loosened the nuts up, you want to simply get on your bike and take it for a ride. This ride might be a short one, maybe a long one. How long exactly? It might require you to ride it for anything between a mile and 30 miles.
This method is useful because it requires the least amount of effort. Well, maybe you might be a little exhausted after riding the bike for 30 miles, but that’s not too bad, is it?
You don’t need any fancy tools or any high expertise for this method, and we think it is certainly a potential solution.
The only problem, however, is that you might end up damaging the small mating parts in the crank arm a bit. This might slowly cause it to become much looser, and the crank arm won’t stay onto the crankset permanently.
It’ll slowly become looser and looser until it’s not staying together anymore. This could slightly decrease the lifespan of your crank, so choose this method wisely.
Pickle Fork It
Nope, we haven’t gone completely insane, you can use a pickle fork, otherwise known as a ball joint separation tool. It has a wedge shape and can be used to remove a crank from the bike axle. The way you can use this tool is explained in detail below.
Step 1: Remove the Nut or Bolt Connecting the Crank Arm
First things first, get rid of the nut or bolt that is used to hold the crank arm on. This will make it easier for you to operate with the pickle fork and remove the crankset.
Step 2: Place the Pickle Fork in the Correct Place
You need to grab your pickle fork and place it right between the crank arm and the bottom bracket.
Step 3: Push the Crank Arm Off
Make sure the pickle fork’s wedges are placed evenly and push it forward to remove the crank arm. This seems a fairly easy task, right?
The problem with this method is that when you push it off of the crank, you end up putting uneven force, which results in damage in the bottom bracket. So, be careful while using this method, or you will end up breaking the thing.
Just Beat It!
You need something to beat the crank arm to remove the crankset easily. Use a hammer for this purpose. But if you think a metal hammer would be too much power and might damage the parts, get a rubber mallet.
While this method seems considerably easier than most of our techniques, there are still some things you need to follow.
Step 1: Remove the Nut/Bolt (Again)
Yeah, this one’s a given for most of the steps. You need to first remove these nuts and put them away to use the hammer on the crank arm itself.
Step 2: Get the Right Hammer or Mallet
Our suggestion would be to go for a rubber mallet to avoid any kind of accidents as well as the breaking of the cycle parts. Rubber mallets would provide enough power to get the job done without causing any trouble.
Step 3: Hit the Right Spot
You know what they say, when you hit the right spot, you hit the right spot (yeah, we know that’s not a saying; not the point). It’s important to hit the crank arm in the correct position to properly remove the crank from the axle.
The downside of this method is that you might end up causing the crank arm to tilt outward a little bit. This could potentially damage it forever.
Oh, Screw This!
We meant it literally, in case you didn’t quite get it. However, we don’t necessarily mean screwing the crank in or something, we mean using a screwdriver, and a hammer, actually.
This one is basically a variation of the previous method we discussed, so it will be quite similar to it.
However, this method requires precision and expertise, so you need to be very careful with your tools to avoid any kind of injury to yourself and damage to the crank and other parts.
Step 1: Take a Guess
Yes, you guessed it right, you remove the bolts and nuts. Yeah, we know it’s getting repetitive, please bear with us. You are going to have to follow this step for pretty much every method, so you probably saw this coming anyway.
Step 2: Get a Flat Tip Screwdriver
You are going to be needing this to perform the hammering technique but use a screwdriver along with it. Get a rather large one with a flat tip to get the job done.
Step 3: Grab Your Hammer and Start Pounding
No, not like a hobo. You want to do this with precision, almost like you are performing surgery. Get the screwdriver in a position where it is touching the backside of the arm that is closer to the spindle of your bike. And then start tapping the back of the screwdriver (don’t acknowledge that we said pounding the hammer).
You want to do this hammering in a star pattern. What we mean by this is that you will have to switch positions from one side of the crank to another so that it comes off properly without causing any unevenness.
And similar to the previous method, this one can potentially damage the bottom bracket and the bearings in the process. So, just keep this in mind.
Chopping Off the Crank Arm
If you are someone who has zero regard for their crankset, we have got the best method for you. Since this cycle part doesn’t matter to you, chopping off the arm won’t be an issue at all.
You will still have to follow some steps to properly remove the bike crank safely and securely after cutting said bike part.
Step 1: Get a Dremel Tool or Any Metal Cutter
We would prefer that you use an electric metal cutter as this would make your job far easier. A Dremel tool, in this case, would be the perfect option. However, if that is not available to you, you could always opt for a hacksaw or something of a similar function.
The electric cutters would cut through without much effort, while the hacksaw might require you to put some muscle into it.
Step 2: Cut through the Crank Arm
Grab your Dremel tool and start cutting through the arm. Cut enough parts to be able to remove the nuts and the brackets from the arms.
Step 3: Use a Screwdriver to Pry the Slot Open
Once you have already cut the slots open from the arms, pry them out just a little bit so that the arm comes right off easily.
Using a Hacksaw
This one’s not a step of this process, but instead, it is a mini-method; a sub-method if you prefer. You can use a hacksaw to basically cut the spindle behind the arm and then remove it.
You will still have some parts of the spindle inside the brackets. To remove that part, you will need to get a vise and place it in the precise position and hammer the rest of the spindle out.
Long Bolt and Vise Method
This one also happens to be a sort of variation of beating the crankset using a hammer and screwdriver method. The only difference is that we will be using the screwdriver for support instead of it being the tool used to hit the crank.
This one can get pretty tricky, and you might find yourself lost in the steps and methods, so please bear with us while we explain it in detail to you.
Step 1: Do the Obvious
We’re sure you have removed the nuts and bolts several times already, but you’ll have to do it yet again. Remove the nuts and bolts joining the crank with the axle yet again for this method and move on to the next step, please.
Step 2: Remove the Washers
If the crankset comes with washers, you are going to have to remove them too, as you don’t want any damage to occur on them. So, take them out and keep them somewhere else.
Step 3: Get the Correct Bolt Size
You need to acquire the right size of the bolt. As this bolt is going to be supporting the whole thing, you must find the perfect size whose end will fit inside the opening of the bike’s bottom bracket.
This one depends on your bike itself. So, check the bottom bracket’s opening size and get a bolt according to that.
Step 4: Mount It on a Vise
Next up, you have to mount the bolt onto a vise. This vise will be grabbing onto the bolt tightly and pretty much support the crank entirely. You want the vise to hold enough portion of the end of the bolt, with some area being outward to place the crank on it.
Step 5: Lay the Bike Down on the Bolt and the Vise
You’re going to lay the bike down so that the spindle would rest on the bolt and vise conveniently.
Step 6: It’s Clobbering Time!
In case the crank on your bike does not have a flat surface, you are going to have to use a rug over it, so the impact is even. Beat it with a hammer or something of that sort to properly remove the crank.
You want to hit the crank as evenly as possible to avoid damaging the side where it connects to the spindle. And the impact also needs to be as close to the center as possible.
Then, you should have yourself a crankset that has been successfully removed from your bike. Now that wasn’t too hard, was it?
Take It to the Bike Store
If all of the above sounded like rocket science that goes over your head (buddumthshh), you could just ask an expert for help. You don’t always necessarily have to remove the crank or do any kind of tool work with your bike on your own.
Just simply take the bike to your local repair shop or the bike store you bought it from in the first place. They will know exactly what to do and get the removal done fairly easily.
Although they will charge you money for it, it should ease up your job and spare you all the effort you would put into removing the crankset yourself.
Honestly, most of the methods we discussed are pretty tricky and require precision to perform properly. So, if you think you won’t be able to do it, you always have the option to get an expert and pay them to do it for you.
Get a Puller?
In case you already own a puller but need to know alternatives for emergency purposes, then ignore this point. But if you are someone who does not own a crank puller in the first place, we suggest you invest in one.
You need to have this tool in your toolbox if you are a bike owner, as it can make your job of removing and replacing cranks much easier.
Pullers are pretty cheap too, in case you are wondering if they cost a lot. You could easily find some high-quality crank pullers in your local bicycle shop or even online.
Having such tools never hurt anyone, so if you don’t have a crank puller at all, we recommend you buy one.
As we said, it’s not that tough, and there are multiple methods that you can follow to get the job done. The methods we explained should come in handy in case your puller isn’t with you or if you don’t own one in the first place.
While we showed you multiple solutions and taught you how to remove bike cranks without pullers, we still recommend that you invest in a good crank puller if you don’t have one yet.
It will solve half of your problems, and replacing the crank will become far easier and will also save the money that you would otherwise spend on getting it removed professionally.
Hi, this is Ivy Audren Charity. The appliance lover fell in love with baking but had a big problem finding the right bike for him. I understand that in this job I am comfortable buying the right bike. Meanwhile… More