Looking for the best
So, you’ve decided to take the next step towards cyclo-service self sufficiency.
You need to take your cassette off the bike, either to clean it or to replace it.
It is one of your core principles that you like to avoid shredding your fingers whilst undertaking bike maintenance.
You therefore need a
And in this post we’re going to find out what they are, who sells them and which is the best (or rather, which will do the job with the minimum fuss).
Selected Products Mentioned In This Post
- Park Tool Chain Whip
- Lezyne Classic Chain Whip
- Park Tool Cassette Pliers (a chain whip alternative)
- Park Tool Lockring Tool (with handle)
(Note that these links, and those in the rest of the post, are affiliate links. If you click one and buy something, I get a commission. You pay the same price.)
Now, back to the post.
What Is A
You use it prevent the bike cassette turning (those pesky free-wheeling bike hubs…) whilst you untighten the lockring.
Essentially it’s like a long spanner (or wrench, Americanos) with two bits of bike chain attached to the end of the handle that you don’t hold:
- The smaller bit of chain is fixed to the handle at both ends (of the chain…).
- The longer bit of chain is fixed only at one end and, er, dangles off it, ready to be wrapped around an unsuspecting
victim’s neckcassette (ahem).
Maybe it’s easier to show you a picture – this is my own personal Park Tool chain whip:
Okay. But What’s A Cassette Lockring?
I knew you were going to ask that.
Well, you know how the individual cogs of the cassette slide onto the freehub body? The cassette lockring is the final ‘bit’ (Wikipedia describes it as a threaded washer) that goes on after the smallest sprocket in the cassette, in order to hold it all in place.
Here is an example of a (somewhat bling) lockring:
The point is that in order to untighten the lockring, you need to hold the cassette in place and prevent it turning. That’s where the
Half Job, Half Biscuit
Like many a young person (yes, I said young), I have been accused by elder mechno-statesmen (generally related to me) of only doing half a job.
Well, I’m here to tell you that the
The cassette doesn’t rotate in that direction without the wheel doing the same (and I’m assuming you can hold the wheel steady without the need for a specialist tool*).
(* Unless you are the specialist tool.)
Tsk, you spend all that money (well, a modest amount of money) on a
Cassette lockring tools come in two flavours:
- with a handle; and
- without a handle.
Important note: there are other lockrings on bikes, for instance at the bottom bracket and on the headset.
If you’re a-Googling, or a-shopping, make sure you’re looking for a ‘cassette lockring’, and don’t accidentally buy a bottom bracket lockring tool, like this one:
A cassette lockring tool tends to be a full circle and sort of looks like a tool for tightening the nuts on your car wheel. Like this one (which is mine) – this has the tool built into a handle:
You can also buy just the end bit and have it slot into an existing handle you might already have:
How To Look Like A Legend With Bike Tools
Chain Whip And Lockring Tools?
Bike tool manufacturers. Next!
Okay… well, the classic go-to response for any question about bike tools is to go straight to the true blue of Park Tools. Or it certainly used to be.
Until fairly recently, Park Tool seemed to have things very easy. They had the quality bike tool market almost to themselves. The distinctive blue handles could be seen in almost every tour of a pro-team mechanic’s workshop.
There are now other quality bike tools available.
Other manufacturers that I’d be investigating in addition to Park Tool:
- Shimano and Campagnolo themselves
Indeed, I will investigate them, as they’re all about to feature in a table of the different chain whips and lockring tools available, at the bottom of this post.
Are There Alternatives To A
I suppose you could put on some heavy duty gloves, perhaps wrap a rag around the cassette, and try to hold the cassette in place with your hand.
Not sure I’d recommend that though.
Notwithstanding the blood poisoning that you’ll endure after lacerating your fingers with oily cassette teeth, the attraction of a
The effort required to exert force on the cassette (i.e. to hold it in place) is less because, er, physicky physics (distance from the fulcrum, phsst).
A more viable alternative would be a set of
Given what you know about how chain whips work (i.e. the ‘whip’ grips the cassette teeth, allowing you to hold it in place without it turning), I think you can probably work out how
There are no alternatives to begging, buying or borrowing (or pilfering) a lockring tool if you want to remove a lockring…
Chain Whip And Chain Pliers Buying Options
The main thing to be aware of when buying a
Park Tool SR-12
The ‘SR12’ is suitable for 5- to 12- speed cassettes. The hexagonal hole (technical term) means that you can use the SR12 as a wrench, with tool fittings. You could therefore use it with a lock ring tool (see below), which is fine for when you’re tightening the lock ring, but of no use at all when you’re loosening it (unless I’m missing something, you can’t be using it as both a
Watch out for the SR1, which is stated as being suitable for 5- to 10-speed cassettes. Probably safest to get the SR11 if you’re in any doubt, since it covers the full range of cassette sizes. Also, beware of the SR18 (red label on the handle) – this is for fixed gear sprockets (track bikes dinna have cassettes, see…).
The BBB Turntable
Lezyne Classic Chain Rod
If you like your tools with a tactile wooden handle, then Lezyne has just the
That ‘nobbly bit’ on the metal end (on the side where the chain isn’t) is a lockring tool. I’ll be honest though, I’m not sure what sort of lockring it is used for – unless I’m missing something, it won’t work on your standard Shimano or Campag cassette lockring.
Lezyne CNC Chain Rod
Similar to your Classic Lezyne, but designed for the cyclist that likes to feel cold steel in the palm of their hand (or aluminium, which is what the handle is actually made of).
Park Tool Chain Pliers
You can probably work out how these do essentially the same job as a
Rather than have a longer bit of chain that gets wrapped around the cassette to secure it in place, you have two fixed pieces of chain attached to the end of a set of pliers. You hold the cassette in place by using them like a set of… pliers…
Lockring Tools Buying Options
The obvious (from the photos) consideration is whether you go for a tool with a handle or one without. It you already have a suitable wrench, then the handleless version will save you space in the tool box.
The less obvious consideration is that you’ll need a lockring tool that fits your lockring. The splines on a Shimano cassette hub are different from those on a Campagnolo version. You just need to spend a few moments checking the specifications to make sure the tool in question is compatible with your gears…
Park Tool Lockring Tool With Handle
Suitable for Shimano and SRAM 12-spline cassette hubs. The handle is replaceable in case you wear out the lockring tool itself (!)…
Park Tool FR-5.2 Cassette Lockring Tool
And here is just the tool bit. You’ll need to find your own handle (i.e. use a big wrench). If you lack a handle/big wrench, and you need a
BBB Lockring Tool
I have this one (hence my driveway featuring as the backdrop to the foto…).
It’s always done the job when asked (and I do talk to my tools…).
Make sure you select the right one for your cassette (i.e. Shimano or Campagnolo).
(Also, it looks like the newer version has a slightly different handle design – perhaps easier on the hand).
Lezyne Cassette & Bottom Bracket Tool
Similar to the Campag tool above (it works on bottom brackets as well), other than here there are two tools attached back to back (one tool for cassette; one for BB). Useful for saving space and reducing the number of tools you have knocking around.
The bottom bracket tool fits “most external style BBs”, including Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo and FSA, so quite a flexible option.
Despite using my own
If you’re in the market for one or both tools (or anything bike related), I hope you have found this post useful.
Until next time, safe cycling.