person removing bike cassete clean bike cassete

How to Clean Bike Cassette

Your bike is an excellent asset in your movements and fun activities. And when you think about how much an unavoidable repair or part replacement can cost you, proper care is the least you can do.

With this reality, many bikers struggle with how to clean bike cassette. But not anymore because here is the ultimate guide.

Tools You Need To Clean a Bike Cassette

Cleaning your bike’s cassette is a pretty simple affair if you master the basics. Ideally, you require a few tools, the bike, and a few minutes, and you will have done justice to the cassette.

So, get stuck no more on how to clean bike cassette. Or, more specifically, how to clean a road bike cassette. 

      • An adjustable wrench or pair of pliers

    These help you in detaching the wheel. You can get them at your nearest tools store or order them online.

        • Cassette brush

      This unique brush removes dirt from the cassette, and you can purchase one online or from a spare bike shop.

          • Clean shop rags, an old rag or t-shirt

        An old rag and t-shirt is a standard cleaning item for a bike cassette. Getting an old rag is simple as you only need to use a cloth you no longer wear.

            • Pipe cleaners 

          Pipe cleaners are essential as they help you get deeper into the cassette’s sprockets. They also help you remove dirt and grime collected on the little holes in the sprockets. You can get these cleaners in local hardware stores.

            These products help shift oil and grease and remove grime and dirt in the cassette and drivetrain to achieve a thorough cleaning. You can purchase them at local stores or bike shops.

            Can I Use WD-40 to Clean Bike Cassette?

            You can use a WD-40 to clean a bike cassette because it helps you get the dirt and grime out faster and easier. It is one of the must-have bike cassette cleaning products.

            Additionally, you can use a WD-40 bike degreaser, as it is also helpful in removing stubborn stains. Therefore, it offers a ton of benefits when used in a bike cassette cleaning exercise.

            Generally, WD-40 fastens the cleaning process as compared to using water alone. Its composition helps it get deep into the cassette’s sprockets and melt down the grease and grime, which water and soap cannot.

            Step-by-Step of Cleaning a Bike Cassette

            Removing the cassette and cleaning it while attached to the wheel are the two primary ways on how to clean a bicycle cassette. 

            The former method results in a deep clean and is recommended if you have stayed long without cleaning the cassette. The latter is also ideal but not as thorough as the first, even though the objective is achieved.

            The choice of each of the two methods is ideal in different situations. Generally, cleaning a bike cassette without removing it is perfect when you do not ride frequently or probably when in a hurry.

            This method entails removing the wheel and cleaning the cassette while still attached to the wheel.

            Method 1: Cleaning a Bike Cassette Without Removing It

            Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning a bike cassette without removing it.

            A. Step 1: Remove the wheel from the bike

            1. Remove the wheel by first putting the chain on the smaller chainring and sprocket

            2. Unlock the rear brake. You do this by pulling the metal bracket holding the brake cable. In some bikes disengaging the brake is done by twisting the lever found on the brake’s side.

            hand unlocking the rear brake to clean bike cassete how to


            Image Credit: Pure Cycles

            3. Alternatively, use a wrench to loosen the nut on the pad’s top.

            man using tool to fix bike how to clean bike cassete


            Image Credit: Pro bikegear

            4. Turn the release skewer anticlockwise, located on the hub’s center.

            person using tool to fix bike cassete how to clean bike cassete turn the relese skewer anticlockwise


            Image Credit: BikeRadar

            5. Grab and turn it a few times until there is no resistance. 

            6. Hold and lift the frame with one hand. With the other hand, hold the wheel and slide it out.

            B. Step 2: Clean the cassette

            1. Sit comfortably with your legs spread and hold the wheel between your legs. Let the cassette face away from you.

            animated person holding the bike wheels clean bike cassete


            Image Credit: wikiHow

            2. Using an old rag or t-shirt, grab two edges tighten them and insert them between cogs and move them to and fro repeatedly.

            cleaning bike cassete with cloth


            Image credit: Canadian Cycling Magazine

            3. Repeat the process until you finish the entire cassette.

            4. Alternatively, you can start by brushing the dirt with a cassette brush or running it under tap water. This helps you remove the first layer of dirt. You can also use WD-40 to remove stubborn stains.

            person clean bike cassete with brush how to clean bike cassete


            Image Credit: Cyclist

            5. Using pipe cleaners, insert them into the holes and between the sprockets to remove dirt the cloth could not reach.

            6. After cleaning it, wipe it dry, and start attaching it back.

            C. Step 3: Attaching the wheel back

            1. Grab the wheel and reattach it carefully. Do this by holding the bike with one hand and the wheel with the other and ensuring it has rested in the correct position.

            2. Also, lift the chain and ensure the wheel rotates freely.

            3. Reconnect the brakes if you had detached them. You reconnect the brakes by pressing the calipers and sliding the brakes into place. Furthermore, press these brakes to ensure they are well-tightened on the wheel.

            2. Method 2: Removing a Bike Cassette and Cleaning It Thoroughly

            Most novice bikers don’t realize the recommended steps to clean bicycle cassettes. 

            And this is especially true for city and mountain bikes, which are subjected to more road dirt and grime than other bikes.

            The bike cassette is the drivetrain that connects the chainrings to the rear wheel hub. It is easily removable and clean if you know how to do it properly.

            Furthermore, this is the best way to clean it because it helps you reach and clean every groove and individual cog. 

            Removing a bike cassette is easy and requires only a few tools. All you need is a cassette removal tool, even though it is unnecessary. If you don’t have one, you can use an old quick-release skewer to remove the lock ring by turning it counterclockwise. 

            You can also use a pair of pliers, but this takes more time and effort.

            The cleaning process is similar to the prior method, with the difference being the cassette removal.

            For a perfect job, follow these steps.

            1. Step 1:

            Remove the wheel from your bike, then remove the quick-release skewer from your bike’s frame by flipping up the lever on one side of your wheel and pulling it out of place.

            2. Step 2:

            Find out what kind of cassette you have and where it connects to the hub. If it’s an older bike, chances are there will be nuts or bolts holding the two parts together.

            If you have newer parts, a quick-release mechanism may allow you to push down on the lever and release it from the hub with no tools required.

            3. Step 3:

            Use an Allen wrench to loosen the lock ring on top of your rear hub (this is where your cassette goes). 

            This can be done by turning it counterclockwise until it stops turning, then flipping it back into place so there is no gap between the lock ring and the hub shell. If done correctly, there should be no movement in any direction when you try to rotate or slide away from each other.

            person using wrench tool to fix bike cassete how toImage Credit: iFixit

            4. Step 4:

            Take off your cassette by inserting another Allen key into one of five holes on either side of your wheel hub.

            person removing bike cassete clean bike cassete
            Image Credit: The Family Handyman

            5. Step5:

            Using a degreaser and rag, clean each cog.

            person spaying degreaser on bike cassete clean bike cassete
            Image Credit: WD-40

            6. Step6:

            Start by brushing off the dirt with a cassette brush and remove as much of the dirt as possible. Later on, use soap and water.

            7. Step7:

            If necessary, we highly recommend using a WD-40 to help you remove the grime and dirt easily.

            8. Step 8:

            Using a rag and pipe cleaners, and brush, clean each cog. If your bike doesn’t allow the cog separation, soak each in a degreaser and scrub the dirt while installed on the hub.

            person using tools to fix bike cassete how to clean a bike cassete


            Image Credit: YouTube

            9. Step 9:

            Put the cogs back into the hub and then return the wheel. Ensure to put all spacers between the gears.

            Additionally, while reinstalling the cassette and wheel, ensure you install gears from the largest to the smallest. Finally, ensure you do not overtighten or leave it too loose.

            How Often Should You Clean Bike Cassette?

            Cleaning a bike cassette should be done every week, especially if you ride a couple of times per week. This is because the cassette and the entire drivetrain need proper maintenance if you want to improve their longevity and performance.

            Furthermore, we recommend a deep clean once in a while, which involves removing the cassette from the hub and cleaning each cog individually. However, you can go for the typical cassette cleaning and switch to deep cleaning after some time.

            Generally, your riding frequency will determine how often you clean the bike cassette, but you should not stay too long before cleaning it.


            Now you have a guide on how to clean bike cassette. It is not hectic, needs a few tools, and is a simple DIY activity that even a new biker can do.

            And each of the two cleaning methods yields excellent results. However, aim for a deep clean to keep the cassette and your bike performing excellently.

            Learn how to clean a bike chain properly.

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