Shimano Hollowtech II crankset removal and reassembly

There are a few reasons why you’d want to remove the cranks from your bike.

Traditionally, this is the area that receives the least amount of attention when washing the bike down, since the chainrings and crank spider are in the way of the bottom bracket shell junction of the down tube, seat tube, and chainstays. Removing the entire crankset will allow unimpeded access to these areas for cleaning.

Obviously, if you’re changing out chainrings or the entire crankset, you will want to learn how it comes apart, too.

More importantly, crankset removal is required to either maintain or replace your bottom bracket – the bearings its spindle spins on. Sometimes, this manifests as an unwanted creaking or clicking noise while you turn your pedals, and the bottom bracket is the likely cause after you’ve eliminated everything else.

As of 2017, with the release of Claris R2000, all of Shimano’s current road groupsets use the Hollowtech II form factor for their cranks. (The lone exception is Tourney A070, which soldiers on with the square-taper design.) With Hollowtech II, the crankset is made of a drive-side arm with a hollow 24 mm steel spindle bonded to it, and this has splines to accept the non-drive-side arm. The non-drive-side arm has a proprietary plastic cap, which threads in to preload the bottom bracket bearings, and is then held in place with two pinch bolts.

TOOLS

For this job, you can ignore the hammer.

To carry out this procedure, you’re going to need a few tools.

  • A flat-blade screwdriver
  • A rubber mallet
  • A 5 mm hex key
  • A torque wrench
  • Grease
  • Degreaser
  • A Shimano TL-FC16 tool for the preload cap; I’m using the Park Tool BBT-9 bottom bracket wrench as a substitute

The first thing you want to do is to move the chain off the chainrings, and have it rest on the drive-side bottom bracket shell.

Next, take your 5 mm hex wrench and loosen the two pinch bolts, a little at a time.

Once loose, take your preload cap tool and use it to loosen and remove the preload cap. Park Tool’s BBT-9 comes with a driver on the other end for this purpose.

The final thing to do is to use the screwdriver and lift the plastic stop plate that lives in the slot of the non-drive-side crank arm.

After this, you can slide the crank arm off. You can now see the exposed crank spindle and the splines on its end.

Take the rubber mallet and give the spindle a little tap. This will help the crank slide out the other side.

I took out my crank to clean it of its dirty old grease and reapply fresh grease. I was also interested in inspecting my SM-BB71-41B bottom bracket bearings, as I was getting a mild, but infrequent, clicking. Turning the bearings’ inner races with my fingers, they still spun smoothly and didn’t feel gritty, so I decided not to replace them for now.

CLEANING AND REASSEMBLY

24 mm steel spindle side-on. This is the reason why it’s called “Hollowtech II”

After a quick once-over with degreaser and wiping off the old dirty grease, I smeared on some new grease onto the spindle, splines, and threads for the preload cap.

Push the spindle of the drive-side crank arm through the bottom bracket bearings. As the spindle passes the bearings, it will feel a little tight. Use the mallet to tap the crank and ensure it goes all the way through.

Hook the chain over the small chainring.

Now slide the non-drive-side crank arm onto the splined end of the spindle, making sure it is 180 degrees from the drive-side arm. The splines will only allow you to slide it in at two positions – 180 degrees or at 0 degrees.

Now take the crank cap, put it onto your preload cap tool, and thread it into the spindle. This is basically tightened the same way you would a threadless headset. That means this is usually done up finger-tight; no crazy amounts of force required. Test-spin the cranks and rock them from side to side to check your work. You want it tightened as loose as you can, so the crank can still spin freely, while eliminating wobble or play from the non-drive-side arm.

Once the bearing preload is correctly set, push in the stop plate.

Finally, the last thing to do is to tighten the pinch bolts. Snug them up by hand with your 5 mm hex wrench, then break out your torque wrench and tighten each side a little at a time. Shimano’s torque spec is 12-14 Nm. What I like to do alternately tighten the bolts from 6 Nm, then 8 Nm, slowly working my way up to spec.

And with that, you’re done!

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Hooked on: Feedback Sports Velo Hinge review

Previously, I went over the task of moving my bike fleet’s storage outside of our living room, and I came across the Feedback Sports Velo Hinge as a possible solution. Today we’ll be looking at it in greater detail.

By default, the Velo Hinge opens its hook and front wheel plate to the left. Shorn from its cardboard backing, the instructions for mounting and reorienting the hinge direction are revealed.

For my particular installation, I wanted it to swing open to the right. Doing this is a matter of grabbing a 5 mm hex key and unthreading the hinge bolt, making sure none of the plastic spacers are lost.

Once the hinge bolt is removed, just pull out the hook from its retention plate, move it to the top edge, and re-insert.

Reassemble the hinge bolt and tighten to the desired tightness.

Once you deploy the hook and close up the hinge, you should get this.

Also included in the Velo Hinge hardware are a rear wheel bumper and five wood screws.

The rear wheel bumper is basically a glorified drawer pull handle. Its main function is to serve as an anchor point for the rear wheel to lean against when the suspended bike is pivoted, and prevent uncontrolled swinging.

The Velo Hinge is meant to be mounted on a wall stud (i.e. a vertical wooden beam). For mounting on a concrete wall, plastic screw anchors are needed. These are readily available from any hardware store, and are sunk into holes that are drilled into the concrete.

After drilling and mounting, here’s the result.

Looks neat, but how is it in action?

Here’s Hyro suspended on the wall in the standard perpendicular orientation.

As the Velo Hinge is mounted very close to the corner, its pivoting action becomes very useful. Here it is leaned over as far as Hyro’s 400-mm-wide handlebars will allow. Note how the rear wheel bumper helps keep the bike in place, and that I had to reposition the cranks so that they don’t interfere with the pivoting.

So far, this solution has worked really well. The Velo Hinge is very sturdy, with smooth action from the plastic spacers and adjustable tension on the hinge via the bolt. With solid hardware and non-gimmicky operation, longevity shouldn’t really be an issue, and I feel PhP1,100 is a very fair price to pay for it.

From the above photo, this short section of wall has enough space for another Velo Hinge to store yet another bike. Unfortunately, the alcove roof sheltering Hyro from the rain is too short to protect another bike from rain water. I will have to figure out some other place to hang Bino.

Hinging my head around bike storage

Ever since I moved out, I’ve been keeping my two-bike fleet, Hyro and Bino, inside the living room of my house. While it’s a very safe location for the fleet, it’s also eaten into some interior space, no matter how narrow they are. It’s space my wife feels could be put to better use.

The house has a pretty secure service area where I wash laundry and hang it out to air-dry. It has high walls all around, but save for a couple of alcoves, most of it has no roof. I’ve tried storing my bikes there, with rain covers in case of downpours.

This has been, quite literally, a mixed bag.

While the rain covers do protect the bikes from the rain from above, they don’t do anything for moisture coming from below that pitter-patters upward as the raindrops hit the concrete floor. On Bino, especially, this has resulted in the development of some surface rust on the chain, as the drivetrain sits much lower on a small-wheeled bike. This rust is easily removed, but my point is the rain cover route isn’t as great a storage idea as it first sounds, as the bikes are still pretty exposed to the elements this way. The rain covers have since developed rips and tears, too, rendering them useless.

After adding a few new clotheslines, the service area seemed like viable bike storage again. Initially, my wife thought of hanging the bikes on something like the Minoura Bike Tower 10 that Steve of the Hands On Bike blog uses.

Steve’s Minoura Bike Tower 10 with two of his bikes hung from its cradles. Photo from handsonbike.blogspot.com.

As nifty as this is, it’s not quite going to work for our house. As a road/cross bike, Hyro is a bit too long; when hung like this, his length will partially impede the doorway when swung open.

This display of kids’ bikes at Gran Trail Cycles in Makati has the Velo Hinge set perpendicular to the wall, like a normal wall hook.

I thought – why not hang the bikes vertically from the wall, by their wheels? That seemed to make more sense. Hyro’s length is less of a problem when applied vertically.

Then I remembered that I’ve already seen a bike hook that could help maximize wall space: Feedback Sports’ Velo Hinge.

The premise of the Velo Hinge is instead of hanging bikes vertically along a wall so that they’re permanently perpendicular, the entire hook assembly can pivot, so it’s possible to lean the hung bikes over closer to the wall and flatten their profile. Ingenious.

Surprisingly enough, it’s locally available – and it’s not too bad at PhP1,100 apiece. I got mine from Gran Trail Cycles’ new location at 830 Arnaiz Avenue in Makati.

Velo Hinge all closed up.

Velo Hinge opened; it actually takes a bit of effort to do so. You can see the wheel bumper and hook inside.

You can test the mechanism for yourself on the shop floor. Feedback Sports used very minimal packaging and left the hook and hinge mechanisms for all to see and play with. In my hands, the hook is fairly free-moving, resting on the hinged front wheel panel for stability when deployed. The hinge assembly is reassuringly solid and takes a fair bit of effort to open and close. It does feel up to the job of supporting and swinging a bike hanging from it.

Each Velo Hinge is rated to carry one bike weighing up to 22.7 kg (50 lb), and Feedback Sports says it can be reconfigured to swing in either direction. My guess is this requires changing the position of the hook itself. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out in practice, although so far it’s been well-reviewed.

As of this writing, I haven’t mounted the Velo Hinge to my wall just yet. It comes with wood screws; if you plan on mounting it on a concrete wall, you’ll need masonry screws. I’m also taking my sweet time in finalizing just where I want it affixed, and how I want its pivoting action to work for my house. Once mounted, and after a few weeks of use, I’ll revisit this.