​Bike Cranksets – What are They and How Do You Maintain Them?

Bike Cranksets – What are They and How Do You Maintain Them?

I’m going to guess that most people who ride bikes just ride for the sheer enjoyment of doing so. They are not necessarily all that interested in the inner workings of the bike as long as it works. Most of the time bicycles do what they are supposed to, but there are times when some simple maintenance is needed or a minor repair is called for.

Bike Crankset

One area of your bike that probably requires very little attention is the Crankset. The crankset according to REI’s Crankset Care is composed of all parts between your pedals. These are:

  • ​Crank arms (the arms that your pedals attach to)
  • ​Chain Rings (sometimes 2 of them and on some mountain bikes even 3)
  • ​Bearings that allow your crank arms to spin therefore providing power to your chain and rear wheel.

Crank Arms

Crank arms tend to be very durable since they need to be strong enough to accept the spinning force of your legs while pedalling. The main damage that one might see with the crank arms is bending. The REI article gives a really good description of how to diagnose the difference between a bent crank arm and a bent pedal (Read how here).

Chain Rings

The chain rings attach to the crank arms and have many sharp teeth that are designed to propel your bike chain (and rear wheel). Chain rings are quite durable as well but do require a bit more maintenance then the crank arm. The most common type of maintenance required on the chain rings is just a good thorough cleaning.

The rings (teeth) tend to get quite greasy (as a result of the bike chain) and this grease tends to attract quite a bit of dirt and grit. The best way to get your chain rings clean is to spray them down with water to get the bigger chunks of dirt and mud dislodged and then a wipe down with some soapy water to get the rest.


​Your bearings are designed to be maintenance free if kept reasonably clean. The most important tip to remember is to always avoid spraying water directly in the vicinity of the bearings. If the force of the water is great enough, you could potentially have some of it seep into the bearings which will cause them damage.

​The biggest take home message then is that if you keep your crank set relatively clean and do some regular inspections (for cracks and bends), they should last you for the life of your bike.

​Call this more preventative maintenance!

​Have you ever damaged your crankset? How did you do it and how do you go about fixing it? Let us know and share some of your experiences with us. Bye for now.

Robert Flaherty

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