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GMBN Tech Essentials Ep.5 | Replacing A Cassette And Chain

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– This is the GMBN Tech Essential series It's our easy to follow guide to setting up your bike and maintaining it yourself at home

In this video we're showing you how to replace your chain and cassette These are consumable parts of your transmission that endure a lot of abuse from pedaling and shifting and, of course, the conditions you actually ride in They wear out and will need replacing Which is actually a pretty simple thing to do So here's how you change them and what you need to do that yourself

To do this job at home you're gonna need a few tools First up you're gonna need a chain wear indicator It's a really useful tool for any mountain biker to have cause you can monitor the wear of your chain which in turn will tell you when you need to replace it and of course that cassette as well You're gonna need a cassette removal tool There's various different types

You're going to need one that's compatible with your particular setup And then, to go with that, you're going to need a chain whip and you're also going to need either an adjustable spanner or a vise in which to hold that cassette tool You might also want to have some protective rubber gloves cause it can be a bit of a greasy job Some chain lube for afterwards, some shop towels, and, of course, a chain splitter Now, first up is the question, when do you actually need to replace your chain and cassette

Now there's no actual fixed rule or fixed mileage especially with mountain bikes when you should be replacing these items cause it totally depends how often you ride, how hard you ride, how hard you smash through those gears, and of course those weather conditions that you ride in and, of course actually how well you maintain or how well you don't maintain your bike Because mud and grime and all the other stuff builds up and it makes this horrible grinding paste which can wear things out quicker Which is why we always tell you to look after your bikes Now having a chain checker is a really good thing to have because it's sometimes possible to get two or three chains worth of use out of one cassette if you make sure that you replace your chain before it's completely worn out

The reason for that is the chain will minutely stretch over it's time on the bike Basically, all that means is, it will be contacting different parts of your sprocket the way it's designed to and, of course, that will make it wear out those sprockets So what you're looking for is using a chain checker such as this there's a few different types on the market, it indicates the amount of stretch on there If it's above 75 you basically got to replace that chain immediately

It's really really worn and, at the same time, you're going to need to replace the cassette as well sadly If you've got 10 or fewer gears on your bike, say seven, eight, nine, or 10 speed transmission, you can go up to 75, that's your roof of where you need to replace it If you've got 11 or more gears it's 5 when you should replace it

The simple way you would measure that is by slotting the tool straight into the chain there and simply adjusting until it's a firm fit and then basically looking at the number, reading what the inside there and that will correlate to if you need to replace your chain, if you need to replace your chain and cassette immediately, or if you've got a bit more wear to go But, remember, you can always get more life out of a cassette if you're quicker to replace the chain Which, of course, will save you money in the long run Now, the reason you want to make sure you replace the chain sooner rather than later is simply because as the chain stretches, even though it's a minute amount, you'll never be able to see the search of your eye Think how precise that initial components are in the whole transmission

Although the transmission of a bike is quite mechanical in the way it operates, it actually needs to be quite precise So any sort of stretch you're gonna get on the chain, the chain's not going to sit correctly on those sprockets and when you put a load through it, it can actually put a load on the wrong part of the actual teeth there, which over time, will actually turn those into little sharp fins and then the chain's never gonna grip on them So as a result of that you can get chain slipping You'll get problems with shifting A whole number of other issues

I have seen people hold onto the same chain and cassette combination for years but they've always been plagued by terrible shifting, snapping chains, all that sort of stuff If you want your drive train to work well and be as efficient as possible keep on top of this stuff So when it comes to replacing your chain and cassette you've got a few options available to you If you're doing a straight swap it's nice and simple You pretty much want to replace like for like

At this point you have the option of upgrading your chain and/or cassette for something slightly higher quality Which might mean you either save weight or you increase durability, or, better still, both So those options are available to you There are two main types of cassette out there There's the SRAM pattern and there's the Shimano pattern which is a bit more classic

So a Shimano pattern involves a hub with splines on just like this one here Now the way the cassette works is the cassette literally slides onto those splines and then the lock ring, like this one in my hand, here slides onto the end and squeezes the threads on the free hub body of the hub itself to secure the cassette in place If you're using the SRAM system it's a slightly different system The cassette still comes off in one piece but the actual carrier system is slightly different So it pushes on and the whole cassette threads onto the actual body itself and the reason for that is the SRAM cassettes tend to have this tiny little ten tooth sprocket

To allow this they can't use a traditional locking system because, simply put, the ten tooth is too small So they invented their own carry system and it has it's own separate free hub body known as the XD driver So if, at this point, you're gonna be replacing a SRAM cassette onto a SRAM XD driver it's quite a little simpler than replacing the Shimano style equivalents where you actually have to push on each part of the cassette bit by bit onto those splines With the SRAM style cassette it's a one piece unit so it's a lot more simple, and it's just a case of literally sliding onto the body there In an ideal world you want to make sure this is nice and clean and greased

This is just to demonstrate how the system goes together You then simply insert your cassette tool into the bottom of the cassette there Now using your adjustable spanner, or if you've got one put the whole into a vise, and spin it around When it's getting all fine this way on you can pretty much use it as a ratchet There we go

Now there are various different models of chain available in the market Now SRAM will always recommend using a SRAM chain with a SRAM cassette And the same with Shimano and Shimano cassettes However, there are some other brands available in the market that are compatible with both options So there are no issues there

The most important thing is you choose the correct speed chains to go with your cassette 10 speed chain with a 10 speed cassette, 11 speed chain with an 11 speed cassette, and so on This particular one is a chain made by Box Components Comes in a box, nice and simple and it has it's own joining master link Now most chains these days will come with some kind of joining master link

It simplifies the process of joining your chain You pretty much can't get this wrong It's a very simple process and we're just gonna guide you through how you do that So before we go into taking the chain itself off the bike in order to replace them, let's have a look at a couple of the tools available to do this Now the obvious choice is to use a chain splitting tool

This is a workshop sized option, we still have the super size for easy use, but you can get these on various different multi-tools that we actually use ourselves as well Now on the multi-tools that you tend to get you'll get ones that have single and twin jaw options on there The first set of jaws will sit nearest the outside of the tool That is your classic set for just holding the chain in the correct position to drive the pin out of the tool You then flip the tool around to push the pin back in

But, as a result of that, sometimes you'll actually squash the outer links against the inner links causing a stiff link If that happens you would then put the chain into the secondary set of jaws While being held on the secondary set the outside links can be pushed away fractionally We're talking the tiniest bit and all you need to do is just adjust the tool up against that Of course that isn't a problem we have here

All we need to do is split the chain And that's as simple as sitting the chain on the tool and driving that pin out Use the driver to make sure it sits on their squarely Then you can tighten up, there's usually a click as it unseats the pin from the other side And then you can simply pull the links apart

The other option is you might be lucky enough to have some of these or have access to some of these These are called chain splitting pliers Now, if your bike has got a master link of any kind on there like this one has, you can use these pliers to split that, bang, pops open, and you don't even need to use the chain splitter You can identify the master link by the markings on it and you can see in fact it's got an open section This is so when I split the link it can come apart

The pliers simply go either side of this and you literally pop them together and you'll see that pin move just like so And the chain can literally be pulled apart You can take off those pieces of master link Now just before you split it you want to make sure you're shifted into the smallest sprocket in the back so the chain has the least amount of tension on it It makes the job a bit easier for you

The next one, if you're lucky enough to have a SRAM derailleur on your bike, they have a lock on them so you definitely want to make sure that lock is engaged Again it just takes all of the tension off the chain If you've got a Shimano derailleur on there and it has clutch just make sure you turn that off Now just an additional safety point for later on, as a mountain biker, if you need to split and rejoin a chain at any point if possible rejoin them using a master link Now using a chain tool you can split and rejoin as many times as you fancy but, on many modern chains, the pin shape itself is slightly flanged at one end when it sits onto the outer plate on the other side

When you push it out and push it back in again the fit will never quite be the same again and it creates a weak link within the chain and, of course, if it's gonna snap anywhere that is exactly where it will snap So for that reason you should always try to make sure you keep a relevant master link, 10, 11, 12 speed, whatever it is to suit your chain Keep one of those in your riding bag With the chain removed from the bike your next job is simply to remove your rear wheel Because the chain is already removed this makes it a lot easier

The rear wheel will just slide straight and you've for access to that cassette Now in order to remove your cassette this is where the chain tool and the cassette tool come in Now the reason you need these specific tools is cassette tool slides onto the lock ring here and is used for undoing the lock ring But of course, because the whole system has a freewheel on it, if you were just to undo that cassette tool with it in place it would spin the cassette backwards So the chain whip's job is to hold the cassette still in order for you to undo that lock ring

So at this point you can decide if you want to mount your tool into a vise and then you can use the chain whip and then turn it in the direction to undo it or, like I'm gonna show you, using an adjustable spanner So there are various different patterns of chain tool on the market This is the pretty standard one but it's actually got a new feature on it just to slide on the inside of though axles You don't actually need this one You can happily do it with one of the original star ones as well

It's a case of literally sliding this into the end so that it mates with those splines nice and secure Next up, you put the chain whip around the cassette The higher up you go the more leverage you've got Now remember this is just to hold it steady You're actually doing the undoing motion with this

Don't get drawn into trying to undo it with the chain whip, like I've seen many people do, and then the chain whip actually slips The obvious way to do this is having the wheel between your legs using your weight advantage to push it down and loosen that lock ring Once it comes loose you can remove the spanner and chain link from it and just using the tool with your fingers just undo it and then remove the cassette in pieces I first need to note before installing your new cassette is the orientation of the splines Now on the classic Shimano pattern you'll see that one of these splines, this one here at the middle of the top here, is slightly bigger than the rest of them

So you're gonna make sure, obviously, that that correlates with the biggest spline on the hub itself before you can slide them on successfully Now when you're installing these you pretty much have to do them one by one, so again, make sure they go on the spaces in between them and you've got them in the correct orientation so the number, this one's a 19 tooth, make sure it's facing out towards you otherwise you're going to be sitting there trying to get the thing on You're not gonna get it on Okay so literally just take the time make sure they're lined up correctly and it will slide on nicely Make sure you send them home

Again, next one up, slides on Next one is a spacer so, again, make sure the orientation is correct on there I've got the big slot facing me just so I can see that Nice and easy (down tempo music) And then when you've got all of them on and you check that it's all pushed down and is seated correctly, then it's time to get your lock ring and slide that on the end

Now this particular hub has already got a bit of grease on it but it's well worth putting just a smidge of grease just on your threads there to make sure it can go in nice and tight You should be tightening the lock rings to 40 nutometers as it specifies on the outside there If you haven't got the torque wrench at hand you can just tighten these up fairly tight There we go And you're good to go

Now just before going any further I'm just gonna give the derailleur itself a bit of a wipe down, make sure those guide wheels are nice and clean because I'm putting a nice new chain on there so I want to make sure it stays shifting As clean as possible for as long as possible And of course with that dirt and grime, it can get in the way of that stuff So just before you install the new chain you're just gonna make sure it's the correct length Now this is the easy bit because you've actually removed the chain from your bike so pretty much hold them up and like for like you want to match the lengths and then split the chain at the relevant part

Now with some 12 speed chains there is an orientation to where the chain has to sit against the extra sprockets but with this 11 speed one it doesn't actually matter So I'm just gonna run the chain over the drive train itself, get this in place, ready for rejoining Make sure that you correctly route the chain around those guide wheels, it goes over the top one under the bottom one there Then you'll be in a position to get those links together Now this is the fun bit

You've got your two bits of the master link so pass one through one end of the chain, the other through the other end And, of course, you just want to simply join them up by sitting them on each other So there you go they're sat in place I'm just gonna try to pull them tight, there we go Now just want to make sure that these are snapped in place And the best way to check this is cycle this power link or master link all the way until it's in the top end here and in that way put your back brake on, put some pressure on the cranes and it will pull against it

They actually find with any new chain it's got a very sticky sort of residue on it and that's factory grease that's part of the chain manufacturing process Now there's two schools of thought with this residue Some people like to degrease the chain before they even get it onto the bike and make sure they're starting fresh But I actually think that that factory grease is pretty good stuff However, it is very sticky, so I like to just put a bit of WD-40 on a rag, not applying directly to the chain, and just use it to wipe the outside links clean

The reason for that is that sticky residue does attract a lot of dust, grit, and all that So horrible stuff that does wear your chain out I'll then do my first few rides, depending on weather conditions, then when I next clean my bike, then I will apply a decent chain lube And of course the last thing you want to do is just cycle the bike through the gears, make sure everything is lined up nicely, and it's working and you're ready to hit the trails It's that simple

But, of course, don't forget to get yourself a chain checker tool They're really, really worth the money cause it does mean for every cassette you're likely to get a couple of chains out of it For a couple more useful videos click down here on how to change all the gear cable housing, the inner cable, the outer cable, the whole lot And click down here if you want to know everything about the derailleur, how it works and how to index your gears As always, if you like GMBN Tech give us a thumbs up and don't forget to subscribe to the channel

Source: Youtube

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