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How To Properly Care For A Bike Crankset

Chaparral Motorsports
July 14, 2014
Bicycle on the street

A machine is a device that transmits or modifies energy to help you perform a task. Therefore, a bike is the machine of machines. It helps you uniquely explore the world, getting you from point A to point B in what is the most efficient way possible by your own means. However, like any machine, a bike is system of moving parts, and in order for it to work to the best of its ability, these parts need to be properly maintained.

A bicycle is not a cheap item, therefore, it's critical to make sure you are taking proper care of it. From storing it in the garage to keeping up with regular maintenance intervals, there are a wide array of things you should do to ensure your ride is always running properly.

While you can always rely on your local bike shop to fix and maintain your bicycle, sometimes you just want to make the repairs on your own. Even though some components on a bike might be foreign objects to you as far as how they work and how they should be properly maintained, that doesn't mean you can't take some tasks on by yourself. Not having to pay a mechanic for labor might be worth the extra effort to do repairs on your own. One part of the bike you can definitely maintain yourself is the bike's crankset.

The crankset includes all the parts between the bike's two pedals. It's the mechanism that you power to go forward, the chain, the wheels, and the pedals. As these are some of the most essential parts of the bike, you'll want to make sure they are functioning properly, and if any issues do arise, that you are properly caring for them.

Assessing The Crankset

Kid and Dad fixing bike

First you'll want to check your crankset for damage or looseness. Look for any dents, cracks or bending of this system. Simply grabbing it and giving it a shake will help you determine if anything is out of place. If it's loose, you'll need to make some adjustments. A bike's axle should always spin effortlessly. Lifting the bike off the ground and giving the pedals a spin will also help you determine whether this system is working properly. If anything is rubbing or you hear grinding, the crankset is likely loose and it's time to get the tools out.

More serious issues with a crankset would include cracking or bending. It's likely you'll be able to see this damage. However, just to be safe, spin the pedals and see if the crankset moves back and forth on its own. If there's even the slightest motion or a pedal doesn't easily spin, the crankset is probably bent. The only solution here will be replacing your cranket, unless you are extremely good with fabricating metal. It's probably a good idea to have a bike serviced before replacing the crankset, in case a professional could work their magic. You'll also want to look at the teeth of your gears and chain. If any of these are worn or bent, it might be time to replace them.

Even if you are not handy, you are capable of properly caring for your crankset. If you noticed that this system is loose, fixing it could be as easy as tightening crank bolts with an Allen wrench. Over time, bolts can become loose, causing a crankset to wiggle. This could lead to a number of issues, so it's important to make sure everything is tight before heading out on a ride.

Fixing a crankset could be as easy as tightening a bolt. However, more glaring problems might be present, like if any of the metal is bent. This could mean parts need to be replaced before a bike will function again. However, if the crankset spins smoothly and nothing appears to be wobbling, it's likely undamaged and safe for riding.

What To Look For And How To Clean


First, you'll want to inspect a crankset to ensure it's not broken. The best way to do this is to wiggle the system and see if anything falls off or is loose. Some simple tightening could be just the remedy for making sure everything is working properly.

It's also important to check for rust. The crankset is low to the ground and is therefore susceptible to dirt and grime. The tires kick up mud that gets all over your crankset, and before you know it, you have rust and other gunk clogging up your gears.

This could forever change your outlook on soda, but soaking metal in cola can be the best way to getting rust off. A crankset could look brand new after a Coke bath. However, other cleaning products are available to help you deal with rust, although they might be more expensive than a six pack of Pepsi.

First, you'll need to take apart the crankset, before soaking it in cleaning solution. For this step, it's critical to remember what parts go where. Be sure to remember how you got each piece off, so you can put it back on. From there, you'll have individual pieces that can easily be cleaned. One of the best cleaning utensils for a crankset is a toothbrush, so for a couple dollars, you can properly maintain this part of your bike.

Preventative Maintenance Is Key

Bicycle in field

The best way to care for anything - a vehicle, house or bike - is to do it regularly. Practicing preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid any issues down the road.

That means when you see dirt or grime caught in your crankset, you should clean it up. Over time, any debris can damage a crankset, causing it to rust or rub with other parts of the bike. Cleaning a crankset is as easy as wiping it with a cloth after a ride. However, a toothbrush is another great tool for really getting in there and cleaning this system.

The best bet to caring for a bike's crankset is to make sure it's always dry and clean. Taking care of any issues after a ride will save you plenty of hassle later on. Wiping a chain down is much easier and cheaper than having to go out and buy a new crankset.

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