How to Remove a Bike Crank without a Puller

We hope you love the products we recommend. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

You don’t have to be a bicycle mechanic to take off bike cranks without a crank puller, but you should understand basic bicycle maintenance and repair procedures to work with a crank. Everyone wants to enjoy a smooth experience on their bike, but mechanical failures with the crank will inevitably happen on occasion. One of the parts that need more servicing than others is the bicycle crank.

Having a guide to walk you through the process of working with a crank will help you handle these situations when they happen. Today we’re going to talk about why you might have to take off a bicycle crank when you don’t have a puller and then explain how the process works. We’ll walk you through every step involving the crank, so you understand how to take off a bicycle crank even when you don’t have special tools like a puller to use.

Once you understand how to work with a crank without a puller, you can easily make adjustments anywhere and get back to the fun part: having a ride on your bicycle. Bike crank removal will be something you understand and can easily handle.

Table of Contents

Understanding What a Crank Puller Tool Does

Having a crank pulling tool is essential for handling maintenance and general repairs right, so any cyclist should have one. This is basically a special crank bike tool that can be used to both assemble and take apart the crankset of your bicycle. It also can be used for all sorts of other maintenance and repair needs during the life of your bicycle unrelated to the cranks.

When you take it down into its components, the tool is a combination of nuts and bolts. Most of the time, this tool is created out of aluminum to be highly stable and lightweight. However, you require some expertise and skill to handle this kind of tool since it is potentially dangerous and can cause damage to yourself or your bicycle.

Related: Best Bike Repair Stand

How to Remove Bike Crank Without Puller

There’s no reason to worry since you can remove a bike crank without having access to a puller. This should only be done in situations where there is nobody around to help, and you are in an emergency situation but need to remove the crank. It’s also important that you adhere to specific operational procedures related to the crank to avoid injury.

Below are the steps you are going to want to follow when you remove a crank with a puller. After you understand that process, we’ll share the adaptations you need to make when a puller is not available for the crank. This process can be done right to remove cranks, with or without a puller. No matter what you have on hand, we’ll share how to remove bike crank.

Step One: Make Sure Your Hands are Protected

While you are in the process of removing a crank from a bike, it’s not uncommon to sustain hand injuries if you aren’t protecting your hands. This most often occurs due to the teeth that are part of the chainring on your bicycle when taking off the crank. Having some kind of protection on your hands is the best way to prevent yourself from this kind of injury and others related to the crank.

To get started, what you should do is shift the chain, so it is using the largest chainring. The easiest way to do this is by using the bike’s gearing mechanism. You can also use another item, like a stick, if you’re in a situation where you need to do so.

If you’re using a stick or another item, place the stick on the chains and then lift gently. Next, place the chain delicately on the largest chainring in a secure manner. After you have the largest chainring on, you can move forward.

Step Two: Remove the Crank Bolts or Nuts

The next step is to remove the crank nut or bolt, which loosens the crankset so you can more easily remove it in a straightforward manner. This process involves turning the crank bolts or nut in a counterclockwise direction. Make sure that you do this steadily and slowly to prevent causing yourself any injuries as you work with the bolts on the crank.

If the bolt is an invisible type, you will first eliminate the dust caps on the bike bolt crank. Prying the threads out after taking out the bolt or removing it altogether is another option when working with the crank. However, there are different kinds of caps that have to be removed in distinct ways from the bolt. In some cases, you simply pry them off, while in other cases, you may need to thread them out.

To prevent any kind of issues, make sure you use the right method to remove the dust caps so you can work with the nut or bolt.

Step Three: Remove Any Washers That Are Present

The next thing you want to do is take off any of the washers that could be on the crankset from under a bolt. Washers are small metal discs with a hole in the middle and are most often found underneath of the bolt or nut on the threads of the crank. While these can vary in terms of size and structure, each of them is going to do the exact same thing.

Washers are placed to aid the wheel movement in a specific direction along with the crank. This is typically done using pointed levers or curves. A bolt or a spanner can be used to take them off of the area where they are in place when you do not have a crank puller.

Step Four: Look at the Crank Bolts to Determine the Ideal Tool

Now it’s time to inspect your crank bolt to decide which tool will best assist you with removing it from the bike. You’re going to need to consider operational procedures while you decide on the right option to take here when working with the crank. However, the largest thing to keep in mind is the actual size of the crankset.

Do you have a bike with M8 cranks bolt? If so, a CCP-22 or a CWP-7 with a small tip is going to be the best option you have. If you have larger cranks bolts like M12 or M14, you will want to use something with a larger tip like a CCP-44 or CWP-7.

Step Five: Turn the Threaded Coupler of the Puller

At this point, you want to turn the threaded coupler of the puller up until it recesses into the hex fitting of your tool. While you are doing this, make sure you do not cross the thread. The idea behind doing this is to engage the thread completely into the crank arm.

In many cases, you are going to use a screwdriver or a spanner to get the job done if you do not have access to a bike crank puller. This can take longer and be more tedious, but it can be done if you take your time to ensure no damage to the cranks.

Step Six: Thread the Puller Spindle Drive into the Bike Crank Arms

Once you have completed turning the threaded coupler in the puller, it’s time to move forward and thread the spindle driver of the puller into the crank arms. You can simply use the bear crank arm to handle threading the spindle on the crank. This is as simple as inserting a spindle driver into the slot that is made to accommodate it.

The next step is to turn the driver in a counterclockwise direction being slow and meticulous until the items are sufficiently taut on the cranks for the spindle drive. You should test the spindle and other items when you are done since a loose driver can lead to damage when you ride the bike in the future.

Step Seven: Unthread the Crank Puller from the Crank

At this point, your crankset will be removed so you can unthread the crank puller tool from the crank itself. While you are doing so, be cautious to prevent skinning your knuckles while you remove the tools. This is part of the process that can be dangerous, so go slow and be wary as you go through the process. Be careful, so you do not damage the bolts, square taper crankset, or threads.

Step Eight: Repeat the Same Steps on the Other Side

Once you’ve handled one side of your back, you can do the same on the other side. The procedures above will work the same way on either side of the bike. Just walk yourself back through them to prevent any issues that might make the process more complicated.

After you are done, it’s best to test to make sure that the parts are disengaged as you wish. If you come across any issues, inspect the parts that might be involved to make changes. Assuming everything goes the way it should, you are done.

How to Remove Crankset on a Mountain Bike

If you are using a mountain bike, there are a few things that you will want to do differently to get the job done. Follow the steps below to ensure you get things done right the first time.

  • Unlock the Left Hand Crank – The first thing you want to do is unlike the crank on the left-hand side. How? All you need to do is pinch the bolts that are clamping the left-hand cracks to the wheel axle.


  • Undo the Pre-Load Cap – Next, move forward to take off the pre-load caps on the end of the crankset. You can use the spanner to handle this process.


  • Lift the Safety Tab – Take a small screwdriver and lift the safety tab, which will give you access to the inside of the crankset. Since plastic is delicate and can be easily damager, be slow, and take your time to get the job done in a precise way.


  • Remove the Left Hand Crank – After the safety tab is lifted, it’s time to pull off the crank on the left-hand side. You can just hold onto it and slowly move it steadily to do so.


  • Tap the Axle Out – You’re almost done now. Tap the axle out to finish, while making sure you don’t do anything to injure yourself.

Special Steps When Removing a Road Bike Crank

Road bikes are not all that much different than mountain bikes when it comes to the cranks. However, they tend to be a bit more delicate, so you need to use caution when doing maintenance and making repairs.

  • Remove the Crank Bolt – A 10mm hex can be used to remove the crank bolt, which is the item that attaches the wheel axle to the crankset itself. Since you want to avoid damaging any of the components, go slow while handling this step.
  • Use the Wrench in a Counterclockwise Manner – Most bikes have bolts that are fastened so tight that they cannot be grabbed onto when the bike isn’t being used. Use your wrench in a counterclockwise manner to spin until it does not spin anymore.
  • Remove the Foot Pedal from the Bike – Now, you should take the pedal off of the bike. A cranks remover can be used to handle this process when used on the threaded areas of the wheel. This will give you the strength required to pull the pedal off.
  • Take Off the Cranks – This is the point where you can remove the crank. This is done by firmly grasping it with your hands and then using a slight force to pull it steadily and slowly away from the bicycle.
  • Repeat the Process Again – Now, you can use the same method on the other pedal to remove it and move on because you are done.

The Way to Remove Bike Crank Arms

The bicycle crank arm is the arm that attaches to both the chainring and the pedals. It’s quite bulky and large, which can make it dangerous to work with if you don’t have experience. If the crank arm needs to be removed, the steps below will help you do so:

  • Take Out the Safety Tab – Popping out the tab can be done using a screwdriver as most of them are created of plastic. Because of the fragile material, make sure to be gentle and go slow, so you do not damage the component unnecessarily when removing bicycle crank arms.
  • Unscrew and Remove the Crank Arm Bolt – Unscrew the nut or bolt on the bicycle that is attached to the crank arm and the spindle. This will be found on the left and right of the spindle. In most cases, a 14mm socket is going to do well to handle this process.
  • Loosen the Crank Arm – The next step is to loosen up the crank arm of the bicycle. You can use a crank arm puller to do this or work with another tool you have available. Slot it into the component and tighten it using a wrenched crank arm.
  • Screw the Part in a Counterclockwise Manner – Once you have the crank puller tool inserted, you can begin screwing it in using a counterclockwise manner. Those who have a crank without the tool can try a screwdriver or other tool on the crank arms to crew the bolt out. Make sure whichever tool you use is in contact with the spindle and rotate until it reaches the end of the spindle.
  • Take Off the Crank Arm Remover – After the crank arm is fairly loose, you can then release it from the bicycle. Just take hold of the cranks arms and safely pull it out. Next, you can repeat the above steps on the other arm of your bicycle.

Wrapping Up

Sometimes it takes a bit of work, repairs, and maintenance to ensure you can ride your bicycle wherever you like. Understanding parts like the cranks and spindle is one way to get yourself ready for any situation you might end up. Being able to take off cranks with a special tool is a great option to have in your toolbox, and the information above will ensure you’re ready for whatever comes at you.