Are Cranksets Interchangeable (If Yes, How To Change Them)

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There are only a handful of tools for bikes that are as important as the cranksets. Especially for mountain bikes, cranksets are crucial and should be maintained with care.

If your bike’s crankset has run its course, you might consider interchanging them instead of buying a completely new crankset for yourself.

But are cranksets interchangeable in the first place? Can you even interchange an entire crankset? Yes, but not always, as all cranksets are created for a specific bottom bracket. But some certain factors and requirements must be met before you can interchange cranksets.

Don’t worry, because, in this article, we will go through every detail you need to know about cranksets. So, without any more delay, let’s look at those factors, shall we?

Factors to Consider When Replacing Cranksets

In most cases, you won’t be able to interchange one crankset with another. But if a crankset has a good amount of similarity with another one and certain factors have been met, then you can interchange cranksets without any problems.

are cranksets interchangeable

The factors that you will need to keep in mind when figuring out the cranksets compatibility:

Bike Chainrings

A road bike is nothing without its chainrings. This part of the crankset is incorporated with the arm & has the tests to work with the chain for you to move your bike forward.

Chainrings mostly come in two parts: two-piece chainrings and three-piece chainrings. You can also have one chainring mountain bike where it doesn’t require you to have a front derailleur.

While there have been a few four-piece chainrings for bicycle cranksets, they are not that popular, and you shouldn’t be considering them for interchanging.

Now, finding similar bike chainrings is very difficult, even if you match the chainrings or gear ratio. This is because the bottom bracket bearings & bottom bracket shell width should match at any cost.

You can’t change any bicycle cranksets if the number of chainrings, chainring spacing, and chainring bolts don’t share the same diameter. This is important as bolt circle diameter varies from one chainring crankset to another.

If you don’t maintain the same chain width, you will face a lot of troubles that could’ve been avoided easily. For these types of scenarios interchanging with removable chainrings is a good option.

Bottom Brackets

There are varieties of bottom brackets out there. And if you are changing your entire crankset, then you will have to find one that matches your previous ones perfectly. 

While you can get away with wider bottom bracket shells in some cases, you need to ensure that your gear ratios remain the same.

If you don’t know which model you are looking for, just check behind the pedal spindle, and the model number should be there.

Bike Crank Lengths

An essential factor that you will need to keep in mind is the crank length. It is available in many different sizes. Depending on your choice, you can pick a crank length between 160 mm to 195 mm.

This length is measured by the distance from the bottom bracket axle to the center pedal axle.

While most people don’t pick the highest or lowest crank length, the most common or standard size for bike crank is 170 to 172 mm. And unless you are a professional cyclist, we recommend that you go for the standard ones as they allow the best of both worlds.

But if you are a professional, then you should already know what you are looking for and don’t have to worry about quality.

You can check out this article if you’d like to learn more about crank lengths!

If the crankset size is not equal, then you won’t be able to interchange your bike cranksets no matter how hard you try.

Getting the perfect crank length will significantly improve your pedal stroke and ensure efficient power distribution on the rear wheel.

That being said, the length should always depend on your riding style.

Crankset Type

There are quite a few types of cranksets out there, and in almost every case of crankset interchange, if you don’t have the same interface, it won’t work no matter how hard you try.

The most common crankset types are:

  • Normal or Standard Cranksets
  • Mtb or Compact Cranksets

Standard Cranksets vs MTB Cranksets

Apart from the size of the crank and bolt circle diameters, the crankset type is what decides whether you can interchange your crankset with another.

While for newcomers, we recommend going with standard cranksets. Compact or semi-compact cranksets have become immensely popular and can be a great option if you understand how it functions.

MTB Cranks

MTB or compact cranksets come with a teeth variation of 50 and 34. This means you will have 50 big and 34 small teeth if you go with MTB or road cranks.

But that being said, the number of teeth can go a bit higher or lower depending on the brand and model of crankset you have at your disposal. For example, BMX cranksets offer a low teeth count compared to any other road cranksets in the market.

The advantage of the compact crankset is that they are great for mountain climbing. And that’s why most mountain bikes will come with compact cranksets these days.

Standard Cranks

road bike crankset with multiple front chainrings

On the other hand, standard cranks come with a teeth count of 53 big and 39 small teeth. Due to the increased teeth count, the weight of the cranks is also high. However, some may find that a bit negative, but it does assure you to have better grip control overall.

And at the same time, standard cranks also provide a greater speed compared to their lighter counterparts.

Crank Arms

It is a no-brainer that you will need to match the crank arm length, width, and size of your new cranks. While you should go for the standard two-crank arms setup, some bike brands like ‘Square Taper’ might need the same arms to function properly. 

The Process of Changing Cranksets

Now once you get all the factors right, the process of changing cranksets is fairly simple.

First, you need to take off the cranksets from your bike. Take the chain from the chainrings and put it at the bottom. Then, loosen the bolts on the non-drive side and unscrew the outer cap. 

Lift the retention pin, and the crank should come off easily. Now take out the crank on the driver’s side. For this, you might have to use a bit of force and the help of hammers or mallets. 

Next, just grease the cranks you want to put in and follow the mentioned process backward. And there you have it, that’s how you can change your cranksets without any problems.

If you don’t have a crank puller tool here’s a more in-depth article on how you can remove the crank without the tool.

Start Interchanging Your Cranksets Now!

Interchanging cranksets can be quite difficult at first glance, but if you have come this far in the article, we are confident that you know what factors to consider when considering cranksets.

Hopefully, this answers all your concerns regarding the question– are cranksets interchangeable.

So, go to your local bike shop, find your preferred crankset, and start changing now!