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I have decided to do a better job of cleaning cassettes when they are dirty. Is it possible to wear out the lockring threads on the freehub with repeated use? This would be monthly on the commuter/gravel bike (biweekly in the winter), and biweekly (after every ride or two, the cassette gets dirty) on the MTB.

What about the lockring itself? Has anyone ever stripped the threads or the splines with repeated use? What about the little serrations on the backside? Removing a stripped, properly torqued lockring does not sound like a fun repair job.

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    Why do you want to take the cassette off to clean it? All you need is degreaser and a brush with long bristles – Argenti Apparatus Nov 4 '20 at 0:45
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    You can absolutely clean the back of the cassette with a good brush. Either go over the top of the big cog, or through the spokes from the other side of the wheel. Personally I plan on buying an ultrasonic cleaner but they're not cheap. – Criggie Nov 4 '20 at 1:12
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    To get the full benefit from the effort of cleaning a cassette this way you also need to properly clean the chain. Refer sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html – mattnz Nov 4 '20 at 1:39
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    I have not tried it personally, modern chains probably need new pins when reassembling. – mattnz Nov 4 '20 at 1:44
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    @MaplePanda the long-brisled brush will clean the back of the cogs from above, along with the "floor" or the top of the spacer. For dirt further down inside the cassette, you'd have to disassemble the whole thing to clean it anyway, so dropping degreaser from above and rinsing will do most of the work. You can over-clean some things. – Criggie Nov 4 '20 at 2:08
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Like any bolt, it can wear down over time, even if it's being installed and removed properly.

But, the biggest issue will be with incorrect installation or removal. Main issues that will damage the lockring are:

  • Not inserting the tool into the lockring correctly
  • Using a tool which is roundered at the teeth
  • The threads are fine, cross-threading when installing
  • Over tightening - check whether the lockring is alu, if it is, it'll be weaker than a steel one
  • Snapping the thin washer - this washer helps protect the teeth on the smallest ring too

From proper removal and installation, it's unlikely that you will wear the lockring quicker than you wear the cassette itself. There are plenty of people who do this monthly in the summer and every 1 or 2 weeks in the winter on their bikes with an ultrasonic cleaner.

The biggest challange is making sure you don't make a mistake and damage the ring during remomal or installation. So invest in a good lockring tool and always start it by hand to avoid cross threading.

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    The safest lock-ring tools are the ones without an attached handle that require a ring spanner for the final tightening. You'll use them with two fingers for the first threads where you'd better notice if you were cross-threading. – Carel Nov 4 '20 at 10:29
  • @Carel I’ve got the classic FR-5.2, so that’s all good. – MaplePanda Nov 4 '20 at 17:08
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    @MaplePanda on a side note, or maybe it should be part of the answer, some people who remove the cassette often make the mistake of undertightening the lockring, to make it easier to remove every time, but these people often end up having issues with the casset sprockets digging into the freehub. Just something to think about. – abdnChap Nov 4 '20 at 20:45
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    @abdnChap I’ve got a luggage scale I use as a high-range torque wrench. Haven’t seen any major gouging yet. – MaplePanda Nov 4 '20 at 20:51
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    @MaplePanda: FR-5.2, it's that kind I meant. Once the threads sit correctly I put on the the QR to keep the tool in place. I always put on the QR when I start removing the lock-ring. Once it's unlocked you can do the remaining part of the operation just by hand. – Carel Nov 5 '20 at 12:34
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It depends on the lockring and freehub body material; if you are looking at Shimano they specify. Aluminium lockrings are 5g lighter or something, and freehub bodies rather more. People have certainly stripped the aluminium lockring threads.

https://www.bikeforums.net/bicycle-mechanics/1169105-stripped-lockring-threads-deore-xt-hub.html

https://www.bikeforums.net/bicycle-mechanics/666778-stripped-splines-shimano-6700-cassette-lockring.html

If you are on SLX/105 or possibly XT/Ultegra you'l likely find aluminium, anything lower is steel. Steel will be more durable. When I've installed an SLX cassette to replace a Deore one, I was left with a choice of which lockring to (re-)use (steel or aluminium).

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    I’ve got the SLX M7000 cassette on my MTB, the lockring is steel. So I guess XT and XTR have the aluminum ones. – MaplePanda Nov 4 '20 at 17:07
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    Shimano change such things around between generations - SLX CS-M7100-12 has an aluminium lockring. – thelawnet Nov 4 '20 at 17:33

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