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Crankset & Chainring Maintenance

You should check the tightness of your crankarms regularly by grasping them down near the pedal and pulling, away from the frame, to see if they’re loose.

If you notice any movement, it will either be the crankarm or the bottom bracket. Bottom bracket adjustments and overhaul will be covered in a future article – so, on to tightening the crankarm.

If your crank is held on with a cotter pin (such as on older cruiser bikes) then give the head a sharp tap with a hammer and then tighten the nut. If the crank is held on with a nut or bolt then tighten it up firmly using a wrench or a socket. Bottom bracket tools are available and will fit into the tight space better than a wrench or socket.

For chainrings, the majority of the maintenance required is to clean them on a regular basis, as covered in earlier articles. When you’re cleaning, check for bent teeth and for bent rings. If any of the rings or teeth are bent they should be straightened – a chainring bending tool is available but, if you’re stuck, a pair of pliers with a wider surface can be used.

If you notice cuts on the sides of your chainring teeth this is probably an indication that you’re riding your bike in a “cross-chain” position. REMEMBER: if you’re in the large ring in front, stay out of the large gear in the back and if you’re in the small ring in the front stay out of the small gear in the back.

If your chainrings are beyond repair, you can easily replace them. The chain rings are bolted to “spider” arms which are part of the crankarm. Simply remove the bolts and slip the rings off and replace them with new rings. The exception is on lower priced bikes, where the chain rings are riveted to the crankarm spider and are not replaceable separately. See your local shop for advice on which chainrings are best suited for your particular crankset.

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