How to install a Shimano chainring

Written by david ward
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How to install a Shimano chainring
Worn chainrings are dangerous. (fahrradschaltung image by Ewe Degiampietro from

A bicycle's chainrings are the front sprockets over which the chain moves and are directly attached to the pedal crank. Keeping your chainrings functioning smoothly is vital to keeping your bicycle functioning smoothly. In 1996 Shimano created its "thread-on cassette system," which is a different set-up from other chainrings on the market. For this reason, installing a Shimano chainring made after 1996 is a different process than that used on other brands. Most notably, recent Shimano chainrings require the complete removal of the pedal crank.

Things you need

  • Chainring
  • 5 mm (13/64 inch) Allen key
  • Crank puller
  • Bicycle grease
  • Lockring tool
  • 8 mm (5/16 inch) Allen key
  • Crescent key

Show MoreHide


    Pre-1996 chainring

  1. 1

    Unscrew the 5 mm (13/64 inch) Allen bolts holding the outer two chainrings with a wrench, and remove them by hand.

  2. 2

    Pry off the dust cap from the middle of the crankarm assembly. Remove the bolt under the dust cap, using a crank puller. Remove the crank and inner chainring with your hands.

  3. 3

    Remove the 5 mm (13/64 inch) bolts connecting the inner chainring to the crankarm. Separate the crankarm and chainring.

    How to install a Shimano chainring
    Crankarm with exposed crank bolt. (accéssoires 156 image by Jacques Ribieff from
  4. 4

    Lightly coat the bolts with a fresh layer of bicycle grease.

  5. 5

    Attach the new inner chainring to the crankarm by screwing the 5 mm (13/64 inch) Allen bolts directly into the crankarm.

  6. 6

    Reinstall the crankarm by tightening the crankarm bolt with a spanner. Replace the dust cap.

  7. 7

    Install the outer chainrings by screwing the 5 mm (13/64 inch) Allen bolts back into the chainring assembly.

  8. 8

    Tighten the Allen bolts to ensure the chainrings are firmly attached.

    Post-1996 XTR chainring

  1. 1

    Pry off the crank cap that sits in the centre of the chainring.

  2. 2

    Attach a Shimano lockring tool to the crankarm bolt. Hold the lockring tool with a crescent wrench, and turn the bolt in the middle of crank assembly counter-clockwise using an 8 mm (5/16 inch) Allen key. Remove the crankarm from your bicycle.

  3. 3

    Unscrew each chainring you wish to replace, using a 5 mm (13/64 inch) Allen key.

  4. 4

    Lightly lubricate the 5 mm (13/64 inch) Allen bolts with bicycle grease.

  5. 5

    Install the new chainrings by screwing them back into the crank assembly.

  6. 6

    Replace the crank assembly by reversing the process above. Thread the crankarm bolt into the frame with your hand. Tighten the 8 mm (5/16 inch) crank bolt by holding the bracket with the Shimano lockring tool and screwing clockwise with an Allen key.

  7. 7

    Double-check all the Allen bolts to ensure they are properly tightened. Replace the lockring cap.

Tips and warnings

  • Ensure the chainrings to be installed are the correct size and type. If replacing old chainrings, match the new chainrings to those already on the bike. Check with a bike shop regarding sizing if in doubt.
  • Shimano crank bolts are recommended to have a torque between 392 and 479 inch pounds (44 to 54 Newton metres). To ensure proper tightening, use a torque wrench with a gauge.

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