There’s a sense of satisfaction with being able to do some of your own bike mechanic work. Changing out your bike wheel cassette falls into that category and is an easy task once you have two specialized tools at your disposal.
Another benefit of being able to do minor repairs at home is that it saves you from the inconvenience of having to take your wheel down to the shop, waiting for it to be done,…and then the ultimate inconvenience of having to dig into your wallet to pay for the service.
But why would you want to change a cassette in the first place?
Maybe you’ve let the cassette wear out. One time I spent a few weeks trying to fine tune my rear derailleur because the chain was skipping in two of the gears. Ride after ride, it was doing the same thing. But it seemed that no matter how much I tweaked the derailleur, the chain would still ‘skip’.
I felt like a real meat-head when I finally discovered that two of the sprockets were missing a tooth or two. No more fine tuning the derailleur for me. It was time to master the chain whip tool and replace the cassette.
Another reason I found to change out the cassette was for rides with special conditions (like epic climbs or fast descents).
For races I was positive that I needed the potential speed of an eleven tooth (how’s that for wishful thinking?)…but because I live in a mountainous area, a 25 tooth is needed at times in order to keep a decent cadence going on the climbs. It was hard to find a 11-25 cassette, especially since I was using Campy components. So I bought only one expensive cassette and shuffled it about.
Sidebar: If you want to spend too much money on all of your components, ride Campy.
Special circumstances left me switching the cassette from bike to bike depending if I was doing a training ride, a race, or even if I thought I needed it on my time trial bike.
All of the gory details don’t matter much. Suffice it to say that I got pretty proficient at changing the cassette.
If you’re dealing with a cassette that has separate sprockets and spacers (not one machined from a single piece of cromoly steel like a SRAM Red cassette), you’d better be extremely careful to remove the whole mess of small parts as a ‘whole unit’.
I used to slide the exploding cassette off the spindle with the care of a Neurosurgeon and place it down more carefully than I would if I was handling TNT. If the pieces got mixed up too much, I was afraid I’d have to call in my cousin Albert (who’s a whiz at jigsaw puzzles) to put the cassette back together again.
All in all, removing and replacing a cassette isn’t too much of a problem…and certainly a skill every dabbling, home-bike-mechanic should be comfortable with.
Check out this video. The mechanic has one of those accents that make us Americans think he’s brilliant.
Like his Mum once told him, ‘Mikey, you’re so brilliant, you could work anywhere in the world you’d like to…why don’t you shoot for the bike shop down the lane?’
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