The Mini Cassette Remover: A Tiny & Very Useful Bike Touring Tool

The JA Stein Mini Cassette RemoverAfter you’ve been bike touring for a while, sometimes you forget that the tools you take for granted as ‘standard’ aren’t known to everyone else. We were reminded of this when we recently got this email from a reader:

It seems to me that the tools we carry are a lot of weight that we rarely use. I have a very good multi tool but am seeking out ways of saving weight on other tools. Does anyone know of a cassette removal tool that uses the frame as the lever arm, rather than having to carry a chain whip and removal tool?” -Dave

For Dave, and everyone else out there who’s worrying about having to carry a chain whip, don’t worry! There’s a much lighter and better solution out there for bicycle tourists. It’s a tiny tool (about 2 inches long) that will let you take the cassette off the back of your bike, which you might need to do if you break a spoke on the rear wheel, for example.

In fact, there are two of them on the market.

1. The Mini Cassette Lock – This is the one we use. It’s made by J.A. Stein. Here’s the PDF explaining how it works. We haven’t had to use it often but on the couple occasions when we needed it, we were certainly happy to have it in our tool kit! It sells for $35-40 U.S.

2. The NBT2 – This one is made by a Dutch bike builder and mechanic. It weighs 26 grams and costs €22. We have no personal experience with the NBT2 but we know many people who use it, and we know the man who makes them. We have every confidence in this product to perform (to find it on the website, click on ‘hard to finds’ in the left menu).

If you’re going on an extended bicycle tour, or just planning to do many bicycle tours over the coming years, this is one tool you’ll want to have in your kit. You may only have to use it once or twice but when you do need it, it’s very handy indeed, and could be a lifesaver in extremely remote areas.

Comments

  1. David B
    5th August 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Thanks guys, I have purchased and NBT2. Cheers, Dave B

  2. Shane
    11th August 2011 at 10:39 am #

    And for the Rohloff users here’s a creative solution to the chain whip:)

    http://shanecycles.com/videos/other-videos/rohloff-cog-removal

  3. Shaun
    11th August 2011 at 11:28 am #

    I’m ‘lucky’ enough to still have a Pamir Hypercracker. These things work well if used carefully but you can end up with dents in your frame if not. Practice with them in the comfort of your own shed before you have to use it out on the road.

    I found with the Pamir tool that if it doesn’t quite rest on your stays, it slips off and gouges a groove in your paint. On some frames with odd shaped stays it also misses the stay entirely.

    The Jim Stein tool looks well thought through with two plates resting either side. That should be a bit more sturdy with less twist in the tool.

    There’s a nice round up of Hypercracker clones and alternatives at http://pardo.net/bike/pic/fail-029/index.html

    So, any ideas for portable bottom bracket tools?

  4. Tom Allen
    11th August 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Cheaper option – get a standard cassette tool, then wrap the chain around an inanimate object (lamp-post, chair leg, bike frame) and hook the other end round the cassette to stop the freewheel moving. Brace wheel against inanimate object, and remove cassette as normal.

    Maybe I should make a video of it…

    • NickG
      6th May 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Hi Tom,
      Did you ever make a video of this? Sounds like a genius idea. is there a risk of damage the chain?
      Thanks,
      Nick

  5. Eric Hendrickson
    14th August 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    What a great article full of information, here is what I did not knowing about a tool. I took a Shimano Freewheel Remover then ground it down and drilled a hole in it to fit the screw driver. Then I use the chain to remove the ring. The tool would make life so much easier but then again you don’t break spokes that often. The tool is on my want list.

  6. Phillip Bissell
    25th August 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    I,too, have a Pamir Hypercracker. I bless the day when I found it in a bike shop and bought it, for I have never seen another one anywhere in Australia. Would not leave home without it when touring.
    No doubt the two tools above would work just as well with the added benefit of being lighter and more compact. If I ever lose my Pamir….

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