How to change a cassette on a mountain bike

mtb cassette replacement

If you have cycled a lot, the mountain bike cassette can be quite worn. In order to continue cycling comfortably, it is important to replace the MTB cassette in time. This is also important to postpone wear of other parts, including the bicycle chain. On this page I tell you everything you need to know about replacing the MTB cassette.

Why replace an MTB cassette?

A cassette is one of the parts that wears out over time. In particular, the teeth of the chainrings wear out, so that the chain has less grip on the MTB cassette. When an mountain bike cassette is worn out, you should replace it with a new one as soon as possible. If you don’t do this, there is a good chance that other parts will be damaged, such as your bicycle chain.

However, replacement is not only important to extend the life of other mountain bike parts. I list a number of reasons to replace the cassette:

  • To stay comfortable mountain biking
  • So that you can continue to switch smoothly
  • Extend the life of the mountain bike chain and derailleur
  • Upgrade to a better cassette
mtb cassette replacement
This cassette is in great need of replacement! ©

When and how often should you replace the MTB cassette?

A question I often hear is: “How often should I replace the MTB cassette?” This depends entirely on how often you get on your mountain bike and under what weather conditions you usually ride. And of course cleaning your mountain bike also plays an important role here. If you carefully maintain your MTB cassette, you will have to replace it less often. Curious how you do that? Read more information about cleaning the mountain bike cassette.

But when should you replace it? In many cases when you experience the following:

  • If the bicycle chain skips regularly
  • If you notice that the shifting is no longer smooth
  • When the teeth of the gears start to hang over

Which tools do you need?

As I mentioned in the introduction, replacing the mountain bike cassette is not a difficult job. However, you do need to have the right tools at home. See below which tools you need to replace it:

  • Allen key (often an Allen key 5)
  • Cassette remover: to remove the MTB cassette*
  • Chain Whip: Holds the cassette in place when you disassemble it
  • Mounting Paste

* Note: The correct size of the cassette remover depends on the size of the cassette locking ring. For example, you need a different cassette remover for a SRAM and Shimano than for a Campagnolo cassette.

MTB cassette replacement step-by-step plan

When you have all the tools at home, we can start.

Follow the steps below to replace the MTB cassette.

  1. Remove the rear wheel

    Remove the rear wheel first. Use the quick release and lift the rear wheel out of the mountain bike frame.

  2. Lay the chain whip over the cassette

    Make sure the chainwhip is snug over the cassette so you can hold it in place later.

  3. Insert the cassette remover into the center of the cassette

    Now turn it around while holding the cassette in place with the chain whip and loosen the lock ring.

  4. Remove the cassette completely from the wheel

    Remove the entire group of sprockets from the mountain bike wheel at the same time.

  5. Clean the body and apply mounting paste

    Grab a clean, dry cloth and wipe the body. Then put mounting paste on it, so that

  6. Note the sprockets of the new MTB cassette on the body

    Place all gears on the body. Make sure they fit well on the body (this can only be done one way). Is there a smaller cassette? Then you have to use a spacer.

  7. Twist the locking ring onto the cassette

    Also provide the washer with a small amount of mounting paste at the screw thread. Then tighten the cassette with the cassette remover.

  8. Mount the rear wheel on the mountain bike

    Lower the frame back onto the rear wheel.

Frequently asked questions about replacing the MTB cassette

Can I replace the MTB cassette myself?

Replacing the mountain bike cassette is not a difficult job. If you have the necessary tools at home, you do not have to go to the bicycle repair shop.

Which tools do I need?

You need a chain whip and a cassette remover. With the cassette remover, the size depends on the cassette locking ring. SRAM or Shimano cassettes can be removed with the same tool; you need a different tool for a Campagnolo MTB cassette.

Is it smart to use mounting paste when mounting a new MTB cassette

Yes, I recommend that you lubricate the body and the locking ring of the cassette with a little mounting paste. This makes it easier to release the cassette over a longer period of time, if necessary.

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