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How to Remove Bike Crank Without Puller – Step By Step

Black crankset of a bicycle

We all want to have a smooth and enjoyable experience when cycling.

However, problems and mechanical failures on your bicycle are inevitable.  With bike cranks being one of the most common parts that need servicing.

Fortunately, you’ve found this article as I’m going to show you how to remove bicycle cranks and install them back on your road or mountain bike.

We’ll also be discussing important concepts about bike cranks and answer some of the most common questions about them.

What is a crank puller?

A crank puller tool is a tool people use to remove a bicycle crank. It comprises a series of nuts and bolts and function by pulling the crank from the engaged axle.

These cranks and bolts are usually made out of aluminum because of its lighter and more stable performance. (1)

Yes, you can remove a bike crank without using a crank puller. I will learn how.

Step-by-step Guide – How to Remove Crankset Without Puller

Step #1
The first thing you need to do to remove a bicycle crank without a puller is to have protection on your hands. You want to avoid hand injuries.

One right way of doing this is by wearing a pair of work gloves.

Shift your bicycle gear to the largest cog so that it won’t get caught on your hands or arms. Make sure that your surrounding area is free from unnecessary objects, such as a liquid that can spill or fall on you.

Step #2
Remove the crank bolt or nut.

When you do this, it loosens the crankset and bolt and lets you remove it with ease. Do this by turning the bolt or nut in a counter-clockwise direction.

You want to do this slowly, knowing that your chain can jump off and possibly hit your hands if it’s not properly tuned.

You can remove the dust caps if the bolt is underneath it. You can also pry the threads out or remove them by slowly threading the bolt, depending on the crank arm type of your bicycle.

Step #3
Get rid of the washers of your cranks. You find them on your crankset. Washers are metal discs with holes in the center.

They usually are located under the threads bolt and nuts.

The washers support the wheels’ movements in a single direction with the help of its levers’ pointed curved. Use a bolt or a spanner tool to remove and loosen them.

Step #4
Do a thorough inspection of your crank bolts.

Use the best tool for removing the crank arm and crank bolts. Use a CWP-7 or CCP-22, which has a small and thin tip if you’re going to remove an M8 crank bolt. It would be best if you use a CWP-7 or CCP-44 for bigger M14 and M12 bolts.

Step #5
Turn the puller’s threaded coupler gently, until you feel the hex fitting tool and bolt already recessed out of it. Make sure it doesn’t cross the thread so it won’t damage its surface.

You need to engage it’s 22 mm fully. Thread directly into the arms. Use a screwdriver tool or a spanner tool to do this effectively.

Step #6
Thread the puller’s spindle driver directly into the crank arms after you have turned the threaded coupler completely. Be very careful in doing this, because you’ll only be using your arm’s raw power.

Insert the spindle driver directly into the slot that’s made for it. Slowly turn the driver into a counter-clockwise direction until the cranks have been fully taut.

Test the cranks’ tautness numerous times to make sure it isn’t loose. A loose driver can damage the crank arms and loosen the other components.

Step #7
Turn the spindle clockwise after you have fully tightened it. You want to make sure that the crank arms are completely disengaged. Don’t rush this step!

You need to do this slowly and carefully to avoid damage to your square taper crankset, threads, and bolt or possibly injuring yourself.

Step #8
Unthread the crank arm puller tool from the cranks. Gently unthread it out from the crank. This step is the riskiest as your knuckles can hit the crank’s sides.

Step #9
Do the same process on the other crank. Test your bike if all of its components are working correctly, especially the crank arm.

How to install a bike crank?

Step #1
Pop in the right crank directly into the spindle. You can also place the washers around the spindle before installing it.

Then push the crank set’s right side into the right spindle and wrap the chain around its chainring. Make sure that it’s nicely tucked onto the crankset.

Step #2
Slowly slide the left crank directly through the spindle. Push the left crank arm into the spindle and then use a rubber mallet to tap it and push it into its place gently.

Step #3
Screw the crank tightly into the socket using an Allen key tool. Put back the crank bolts into their respective sockets. Screw back the crank bolt afterward.

Allen key tool
Allen key tool

Step #4
Double-check the compression cap and make sure that the pinch bolts are tightened.

Tighten the cap and bolt along with its recommended torque using a torque wrench. Usually around 5 Newton meters. After this, tighten your crank and bolt to around 15 Newton meters.

Step #5
Screw the pedals on the crank arms. Place a pedal on each socket and turn it counter-clockwise. Repeat the process on the other side. Double-check all the nuts and bolts afterward.

* Frequently Asked Questions *


What is the difference between 172.5 and 175 cranks?

The difference between a 172.5 an a 175 crank is their length. A 175 crank has a length measurement of 175mm, while a 172.5 crank has a 172.5mm length. (2)

Does bike crank length matter?

Yes, the crank length of a bike does matter. A longer crank means better pedaling efficiency as energy is efficiently transferred throughout the crank.

However, there’s a bigger chance of pedal-strikes. Pedal strikes are a bicycle terminology where the tip of your cranks accidentally hit rocks or the ground, resulting in damages such as scratches or dents. (3)

How long should my cranks be?

How long your crank should be, depends based on your biking discipline. If you’re riding downhill, then you should go for shorter crank arms.

The standard crank arm length for downhill bikes are 165mm, such as with the case of Shimano Saint.

If you’re riding enduro, then you can go for 170mm cranks as these aren’t too long nor too short. You can pedal efficiently and, at the same time, not get pedal strikes.

Cross-country and road bikes have crank lengths of 170mm to 175mm for efficient pedaling and knowing that they don’t regularly ride on rough and rugged terrain.

What does a crank puller do?

A crank puller is a bicycle crank removal tool designed to remove cranks from bicycles. People use them on the most common types of cranks: the square-type spindles and splined-type spindles.

A hand holding a bicycle crack puller
Bike crank removal tool

You can use crank pullers if the spindle’s end isn’t recessed properly anymore properly in the crank hole.

This is very important, especially when the crank bolt isn’t applying much pressure to support the arm inside the spindle.

In other words, it’s already a worn crank and you need to remove it using a crank puller.

What are the best ways to protect your hands when removing a bike crank?

1) Use proper gear!

Wear work gloves when working on your bike crank.

By this you protect your hands from accidentally hitting the chain or cogs which have sharp pointed edges. Though you might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, you’ll get used to it in the long run.

The suggested gloves are the ones that look like surgical gloves as these are durable, thin, and provide proper security and function.

2) Set the cogs.

Shift the gear to the biggest cog to stretch the chain fully. When you di this, it also reduces the chances of the chain accidentally hitting your hand.

3) Ask the help of an expert.

If it’s your first time removing a bike crank without a puller, then you should seek the help of an expert or professional bike mechanic. These people know the best and safest way of doing it.


1.Google Patents – Bicycle crank retrieved from
2. Bikerader Forum – 175 to 172.5 crank retrieved from
3. Mat Steinmetz – The Benefits of Reducing Your Crank Length retrieved from



Erik loves everything about cycling and he rides with a passion. He is an experienced cyclist who competes in races and also likes to do group-rides from time to time. He also enjoys going on long bike rides in the mountains by himself.