What is the difference between a cassette and a ratchet on a bicycle

Not only the beginner, but also the experienced cyclist needs to know what a bicycle consists of, and which mechanisms are responsible for a particular process. The ratchet is a rather mysterious design element, the removal of which requires a certain amount of skill. Many people confuse it with the cassette, as a result, when repairing or replacing the node, there are certain difficulties with the choice of a suitable part.

What is the difference between a ratchet and a cassette? The subtleties of repair and replacement of the mechanism. Which is better: ratchet or cassette? Today we will learn the answers to these and other questions.

How to determine what’s installed on your bike

There are two ways:

  1. By counting the stars. Ratchets usually have a maximum of seven stars. If there are three to six stars, it’s 100% ratchet. If seven, it could be a cassette (then another method of determination is helpful).
  2. Visually. Here it is enough to look at the central part of the star block – a little later we will tell you what can be interesting in it.

It must be said that outwardly they are similar. Unknowingly, it is easy to confuse them with each other.

How to distinguish a cassette from a ratchet

the difference between a cassette and a ratchet

Let’s say at once that the pioneer is the ratchet. It was she appeared first in the design of multi-speed bicycles. Later in the life of cyclists included and cassette. To understand how the ratchet differs from the cassette, it is necessary to define both mechanisms. So:

  • A ratchet is a set of sprockets that have a built-in ratchet mechanism. It is screwed onto the rear hub on the threads.
  • A cassette is also a set of sprockets, but they are riveted or assembled into one unit.

The principal difference: the cassette is put on the drum of a special cassette hub for the rear wheel. It is attached by a slotted connection with a nut. Cassettes are more common on expensive models of bicycles, as they are a more reliable and durable mechanism compared to the ratchet. The latter, by the way, differs in the difficulty of repair – if one or several stars broke, it is easier to replace the entire unit.

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Determining a bicycle’s build

If your bike is new, you could say it probably has a cassette on it. However, there are different situations, for example, there are times when it is impossible to determine how many sprockets are in a set. In such a situation, you should pay attention to whether there is a thread on the bottom of the hub. It is present only on ratchets, and on the cassettes are installed drums with a slotted connection, having barely noticeable protrusions.

Removing the ratchet and cassette

removing the ratchet from the bike

This process cannot be considered a simple repair. Certain knowledge and skills are required here. In addition, do not do without the appropriate tools.

Necessary tools

A special puller and adjustable wrench – without this, the disassembly can not be performed. In addition, you will need an old and clean rag – in this work, you can not do without dirt. It is desirable to have on hand a small container for ball bearings. If the mechanism is very old – only replace. If the parts are stuck – you will need a special liquid WD-40.

Dismantling: instructions

For the process to go smoothly and without surprises, it is desirable to adhere to a certain algorithm of actions:

  1. Remove the rear wheel and lean it on some surface.
  2. Unscrew all the fasteners that hold the mechanism at the wheel axle.
  3. Put a puller on the hub nut and tap lightly with a hammer if it doesn’t fit snugly enough.
  4. Put a crescent wrench or wrench on the puller and move counterclockwise to unscrew the ratchet with frequent and short jerks. If it does not move from the dead point, it is worth lengthening the lever.
  5. Remove the tools at hand and remove the ratchet stars, then unscrew the smallest one counterclockwise.
  6. Be careful: during the removal of the sleeve may sprinkle bearings (it is highly undesirable to lose them).

After disassembly, each element should be thoroughly cleaned and lubricated with bicycle oil. Bearings with dark spots or deformed surfaces should preferably be replaced with new ones.

Read also How to ride a bicycle in the roadway correctly

Which is better to choose: the cassette or ratchet

Cassettes are predominantly installed on modern models. The ratchet is a rather obsolete mechanism. It is still used in the manufacture of bikes, but mostly for the assembly of budget models.

Multispeed bicycle with a ratchet is suitable for those who occasionally ride quietly around town and do not load the rear axle.

Accordingly, bikes with cassettes are the exact opposite. The mechanism is not afraid of aggressive riding, easily overcomes bumps and off-road, as well as more endurance and wear resistance.


Cassettes offer a wider range of speeds. In addition, the modern mechanism is the most convenient and practical solution for cyclists who like to overcome difficult sections of roads and uneven pavement.

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Comments: 1
  1. Tracey Baker

    This is an interesting topic and it’s great that you have taken the time to explain the difference between a cassette and a ratchet on a bicycle. It’s important for cyclists to understand this distinction so they can make informed decisions when choosing what type of gear system to use. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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