Upgrade Square taper to Hollowtech and upgrade to 56t

Just completed a mini project to upgrade my crankset and bottom bracket from Square taper to Hollowtech.

This is inclusive of crank and bottom bracket, refer YouTube (link).

Disclaimer: I am a newbie and some of the steps might be wrong, please guide me if I am wrong.

The upgrade is not straightforward for a newbie (2 days exercise), but I had fun researching the tools and techniques. Have LEVEL UP my bike maintenance skills too.

Old Square taper chainring 53T

Upgrade: Square Taper to Hollowtech and Chainring from 53T to 56T

1)Why Hollowtech?

I still cannot tell the performance difference between Square taper and Hollowtech.

But I know Hollowtech will be easier to maintain and clean. It is tedious to remove the square taper bottom bracket.

Hollowtech is much lighter than Square Taper, I assume it is more efficient to channel leg power to speed? (Need to quantify)

Shimano is a more established brand, but I chose LitePro for my trials. The same skill and tools would apply should I decide to upgrade to Shimano in the future.

2)chainring sizing? 56T,58T or Oval

(All things similar before and after the upgrade)

The improvement is tangible. You will feel the additional effort needed to pedal, but bike seems faster on straights.

Some will recommend 58T, 60T or even Oval!

-Effort for 56T 7th speed feels like 53T 9th speed. You definitely need to pedal harder to reach 56T 9th speed.

In other words, 58T and 60T are for FITTER cyclists and not leisure PCN riders! With 56T (+), it will be more strenuous to climb hills too. Some claim oval chainring will help with climbs.

56T is a step up from 53T, to train my legs and lungs. Looking forward to improve my average speed too.

Pedals removal, you need 6mm allen key and take note of CW and CCW directions.

Image credit GCN

3) Difference between bike shop assembly and diy

It took me 2 days to assemble the new hollowtech crankset (includes removal of square taper). Professionals would complete it within one hour.

It was an opportunity to know my bike better and understand what might be needed for the next upgrade (poison).

Estimated price difference, the crankset would cost me $60 but a bike shop would charge $90 (excludes tools). I have included the Shopee and Carousell links at end of page for the parts.

Square Taper tools
Bicycle A-Stand

4)Dismantle chainring and square taper

Refer to my YouTube for the sequence.

Steps to remove Square Taper components (* means tricky) :

4a) Remove pedals
4b) *Remove Chainring
4c) #Remove chain (optional)
4d) *Remove Square Taper
4e) Hollowtech Bottom Bracket (use spacers only if necessary)
4f) Mount Drive-side Chainring and Crank
4g) #Mount chain

Do remember to set chain to the smallest cog.
It is recommended to remove the chain too (maybe can clean chain and cassette too).

The challenge for me was remembering the clockwise (CW) and anti-clockwise (CCW). For both driveside and non drive side.

Refer to image above for the Square Taper tools. Ensure ALL tools are available before you start. Including WD40 and minimum A-stand.

After pedals are removed, proceed with chainring dismantle. You need 8mm allen.

Removal of chainring retainer (CW for Drive side). This step is tricky as the tool might not seat in with the groove.
Repeat for non drive side (CCW).
View of Square taper bottom bracket after Chainring removal.

Remove square taper bottom bracket from non drive side first (CCW).
You might need to spray WD40 inside if “ring” or “groove” is dirty. This might help tool to grip onto the groove.

Refer image below.

The tool will keep slipping off. You might need palm to “push” tool in before you turn the wrench CCW.

Ring removed from non drive side.
Repeat on drive side (CW)
The old square taper bottom bracket.
Clean the frame and apply grease for hollowtech bottom bracket insertion.
Tools needed to mount Hollowtech bracket.
The bottom bracket spacers are optional. Use only if chainring is not aligned with cassette (chain line).

Next, assemble chainring (5mm allen) and crank from drive side.
Refer image below, the “screw silver plates” should be behind the chainring.

Upgraded Square taper to Hollowtech

Image below.
Grease axle and insert chainRing. Ensure flush with bottom bracket (no gap).
Grease non drive side before inserting the crank. Ensure both cranks position is “straightened”.

Tighten non drive side crank, there should be a “dust plug”.
Done. If gear changing is not smooth, you might need to tune the rear derailleur.

I will share the chain maintenance in another blog post.

Meanwhile, you can try “Fast Orange” to get rid of the stain and grease effectively.

Shopping list:

-$60+ Litepro Hollowtech set (includes chainring, cranks and bottom bracket)

-$10.90 Square taper tool set (+ cassette removal)
(Just borrow from friends if you are not going to go back to square taper)

– $5.90 Hollowtech bottom bracket tool (many more variants online)

-I am still looking for a good torque wrench (any recommendations?)

Additional Square taper to Hollowtech tips and tools recommendations:

1)Ensure tools (including grease) are available before start (torque wrench and bike stand are nice to have). Chain Quick Link plier is recommended.

2)Just borrow Square Taper tools, since we are unlikely to reuse them once you go Hollowtech

3) First timers will find the clockwise and anti-clockwise confusing. Follow YouTube experts.

4) If you need someone to fixup the bike, I would recommend a friendly mechanic (Tampines). Ace is a home-based mechanic, friendly and helpful. His Litepro Hollowtech parts are priced competitively and no hard-sell  (Carousell @eaBikes).

5) Cool videos: Very helpful to understand more about Foldies
*Mount Hollowtech Drivetrain (https://youtu.be/yorKtxwbxYY)
*Build a Crius Velocity! (https://youtu.be/AOVcbuYfcSI)

It is harder to find maintenance videos on Foldable bikes. YouTube mostly covers road bikes and mountain bikes. And bulk of Foldable bikes videos are from non-English sources, like Indonesia and Philippines.

5) Have added reference videos for your homework:
-Free to Cycle ( https://youtu.be/9che9-kfW0Y)
-GCN (Pedals) (https://youtu.be/YmPkYMPVqQU)
-GCN (Bicycle chains) (https://youtu.be/rWchudX-Tqs)
-Bike Sauce (https://youtu.be/ditD5cZ8dP8)
-Park Tool (Bottom Bracket) (https://youtu.be/xUtOeFJJycg)

My own YouTube – Removal of Square Taper, installation of Hollowtech

As I have indicated at the start. I am still learning, and I would appreciate more sharing from the experts out there.

Will be trying to remove my cassette for the next project.

Happy cycling!

Do follow my cycling journeys too.

* MTB\RoadBike\Foldie selection, & Foldable bike shortlisting
-Cycling around Singapore (YouTube)
* Follow my family’s cycling experience here .
-Instagram SengkangBabies #skbCycles or #skbHiking




Tips for foldies selection (2/2)

This is part 2 of my foldies (foldable bikes) selection experience. I will be sharing some Tips for foldies selection. Bear with me, as this post is written from a newbie’s perspective.

I have only tested Crius Master, Java Neo2 and Tern C8/D8.

Please share your knowledge and tips with me too.
You may read post 1 here where I shared the benefits of foldies.

*updated 2021Jun – Round island 140km completed

Just roll to your nearest MRT and explore SG!

With Covid19 and circuit measures. Everyone felt confined and wanted to explore more of Singapore! Be it Jog, Cycle, Hike, you should see the Meetup groups bookings. So many folks are queuing to walk the 36km Coast to Coast walk :p  (photos here)

I guess these sudden active lifestyles are good for individuals and families. Besides the health and sporty aspects, Singaporeans get to appreciate our freedom, nature and PCN (Park Connectors) more! We are busy exploring all corners of the island!

But tough luck if you are buying foldies :p
Supply is struggling to meet demand.

Covid19 has disrupted supply chains. Be prepared for Parts shortage, long waiting time for your “ideal” bikes. Bike prices have easily appreciated by 20 30% over the last few months.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Andy Lee (@sengkangbabies)

1.My foldies selection criteria

Everyone will have their priority. Shall we start with Budget?

a. Afterall, a foldie can start from $150 all the way up to $5,000. I set $1,000 for my bike, which is considered mid-level. (But I told the Mrs bike is under $500)

You should always ask for test ride opportunity. Only you know which bike feels right for yourself.

b. The second most important criteria is your riding style and behaviour? PCN or road? Or you prefer off-road and gravel? Maybe you are going for RI (round-island) 140km rides?

(RI 140km completed 2021May, read here)

c.Wheel size? 16″ or 20″ (20″ more cushioning on road, perhaps more comfort for longer distance)

d.Weight -Anything around 10kg should be ok. Too heavy (12+ kg) and you might struggle on public transport

e.Brands (Zoom in on a few brands. At the point of writing, FnHon, Crius and Java is popular)

f.Models and parts. Even same model might have different parts, resulting in price difference! (super confusing for newbies during shortlisting)

g.Warranty and servicing (Buy online or real bike shop?)
Most online shops would not provide maintenance or servicing.

h.You might need to take your height and weight into consideration too. Not all foldies are suitable for those 1.9m or weighs above 100kg.

2.Brands and Models

After shortlisting, I can guarantee you will have more questions.

When I first started, I did not even know about established brands like Dahon, Birdy etc. I only know Decathon and Aleoca (SG brand but recently out-of-business)

Then you will hear about brands like Dahon, Tern, FnHon and many others. Where can I touch and test ride?
As you do more research, suddenly more Brands pop up!
Vert, Crius, Rifle, Mint etc. Some of the bikes are actually OEM and replicas, that explains why some frames look identical.

Is Dahon, Tern, FnHon, YnHon related? Is Travelo, Crius, Litepro related?

Surely Java and Sava must be from the same factory? Yes/no
Then there is Police brand too haha.

It might be harder to buy a bike than a car :p
Brompton and Birdy is out of my budget as these rides cost $3k plus easily!

3.Initially, I shortlisted either travelo or tern

Then the list quickly expanded!
Price listed below is 2020 Sep to Oct estimation, and price went up again  in November.

1)Crius Velocity (9 speed) $800+ or Crius Master V or D $650+
(Why got V and D?)

Fyi, Crius is a sub-brand under LitePro. Yes, the same brand which sells popular light accessories and parts. LitePro also label their bikes with their own brand.

2)Tern link c8 $750+ (8 speed)
I tried C8 and D8 ($1000), but prefer C8.

3)Travelo FS-S $900+ (9 speed)
Heard Travelo came from the same family as Crius. Travelo is not the cheapest but their parts are good. Sold out! (OEM, but sold as SG brand)

4)Java Aria $1200+ or Fit $700 (Some Java models got 18 speeds?), Xelo $400 or Neo2 $800+

Not related to Sava Z $1200+ :p

5)FnHon got different models like Gust $800+ and Blast $700+

Once you have shortlisted a few models, go for test rides. Head to distributors, or borrow from friends. You can then compare apple to apple, bikes parts, ride feel and gut instinct.

The experience gained will help you to prioritise your wishlist.
But, testing might be hard to arrange, due to shortages or Covid19 measures.

4.more research, more questions!

There are tons of information on Facebook, YouTube and WWW.
I would recommend you to shortlist a few models first, then dive deeper.
(Otherwise, you will be overwhelmed by all the brands and replicas)

IG Crius Hashtag

It is a chicken and egg thing.
How do I shortlist, when I am not sure of my requirements :p

More information can sometimes lead to more confusion, especially for newbies. If your budget is similar to mine, do try to research more about these brands Crius, FnHon and Java. They are quite popular for their price points.

You will definitely adjust your criteria as you learn more.

Some Facebook groups for your research (tons of friendly folks):
Generic groups: SG PCN Cyclist, Love Cycling SG, Singapore Foldies, Foldies@SG, SG Folding Bikes

Brands specific groups in Facebook (There are many more) :
Crius, FnHon, Java, Tern, Travelo (BikeActually),Brompton, Birdy

Tips for foldies selection
Tips for foldies selection

If Brompton is too expensive, you can try replicas like 3Sixty and pikes too!

I did warn you about the tons of groups online haha!

5.Where to buy?

The whole research process took me one month plus.
I could only test ride at three outlets/shops.  Most shops no stock or do not allow test rides due to Covid19 measures.

In the first blog post, I shared where you could test or buy your bikes.

-Traditional bike shops
-Online Taobao (eg, without local “presence”)
-* Online Carousell bike shops (with local warehouse)
-Second hand

I would not be comfortable buying a bike which I cannot see, touch and test. But we know traditional shop fronts might not have the brand and model which you need. During Covid19 period, our choices (bike and parts) would be limited.

Would highly recommend you to head down to test ride the bike. This investment is not cheap and you must feel comfortable. With touch, you can prioritise and understand your requirements better.

For the same reason, I would hesitate to buy from 100% online distributor. If part is delivered faulty, it is hard to fight for recourse and warranty.
A $500 bike is not exactly small change 🙂

The next best option might be Carousell, identify reputable outlets (research again). Once confirmed, you can pop by their warehouse or shop-front.

Carousell outlets (At least 20 shops all over SG! Headache):
-BZ Sport Cycles (Gavin)
-Cyclogic (not on Carousell)
-Bike Republic
BikeWarehouse (I got my Crius Master here)
-Bike companion (Or OutdoorFollows)

I only visited one “real traditional” bike shop. MyBikeShop (Yishun Branch). Tested Tern C8 and D8, and encounter friendly chap Anthony.

If you have a few brands in mind,  it would be easier to identify the distributors and find out the reputable outlets. Link up with them, and go for test rides, clear your questions. (some would not bother to reply via Facebook messenger). This is where online peer to peer resources prove invaluable.

Lastly, I might not recommend second hand bikes for first timers.
You need to be aware what to look out for, and the quoted prices can be on the high side too. This option could be ideal for seasoned bikers.  So grab a guru to go “second-hand shopping” with you.

Cycling Jurong -> City- > Sengkang (50km)

6.Warranty, servicing, tuning and accessories

Given a choice, I would feel “safer” if bike shop offers servicing and warranty coverage, ie I can “see” the shop, and know the owner’s reviews.

But it is hard to find a shop which sells your ideal bike (ex Stock) and also provide maintenance.

95% of those under Carousell will only provide limited warranty. And no servicing. Better test and ask all the questions before you cycle off from shop :p

I am still new to accessories and servicing, so my recommendations are limited. But these few outlets have received good reviews.

Alliance bike shop (friendly boss and Mrs). Knowledgeable and reasonable pricing.

UCIG (Yishun) – No hard sell, friendly boss and mechanic. Would go back again for accessories.

Lew Bikescooter (Popular in Sengkang Hougang, need to queue)
(Updated 2022, service has drop, grumpy Uncle)

308 Cycology (Punggol, by appointment only)- Tuning and servicing, and they seem to be popular in Facebook groups. Will bring my upgrades over for them to fix and tune (soon)

Jet Cycle (Changi Road) – Like a bike minimart, with plenty of accessories

Minimotors (Woodlands, parts and accessories)
New Era Cycle (Macpherson)
* Cyclogic (Friendly mechanic and boss, no hard sell. They entertains your queries!)

More accessories shops are listed online portals like Carousell/Shopee/Lazada/Taobao. Do buy with caution, not all parts are genuine!

7.First tip. Do not think about Upgrades first

Poison is never ending, 没完没了.
Some well-meaning folks will tell you to buy the best bike you can afford.

The best bike is the one you are riding with today

For newbies, take the time to understand your bike, the parts and mechanics. You will then know what is your wish-list and upgrade accordingly. No rush.

One good example is the lack of Shimano groupset now. Mid-level bikes might only have China-made Sensah groupset.

But my SenSah is good enough for newbies. Yes, the gear transition might be less smooth than Shimano, and there is no resale value.

But my 9 speed Sensah brings me to places effortlessly!
If I do upgrade to Shimano eventually, I would better appreciate the differences. (even Shimano has different grades from Sora, 105 to Ultegra!)

Another example would be wheels profile.  Some will start with 20″ 406, then upgrade to 451 (thinner profile) for speed.

Upgrading (aka poisoning) is very subjective, and expensive.

Some hardcore folks will only buy the frame, and everything else piecemeal!
Some will upgrade all parts to titanium, to shaved an extra kilo off the bike.
Other folks will mod until their foldies cannot fold (my neighbour haha :p )

In short, get the bike which has options to upgrade in the future. (eg from 9 to 10 speed), and within your budget.

First priority for me is to use my bike for exploration, enjoy your ride.

8.Best Tip. Wait for supply to stabilise

If you can wait, please wait a few more months. Supply (bikes and parts) will slowly catchup, offering more variety and price points.

But to wait, means I would lose months of Cycling joy. I convinced myself that the upgrades can come later (dilemma haha).

9.Gears and Speed

7, 9 10 or 11 Speed?
How much speed is enough for me?
With low speed, can I climb hills easily?

Eg my Btwin foldie (6 speed) struggled with Sentosa’s hilly terrain, and I had to push. But my Crius Master (9 speed) scales the slopes much more effortlessly.

This is the part where the gurus will come in and urge you to train your legs and stamina first :p

I believe 8 and 9 speed is more than enough for newbies and PCN rides, 50 km rides and slopes. Foldies generally do not have as many gear\speed selection as Road bikes.

Train your legs and stamina, then upgrade the bike. Some would say bike is only 40% of the equation, and human power 60% !

10.Tyres and Brakes

Then you might also think about tyre profile differences between 406 and 451.

For travel and sand or mud, a 20″ bike (406 with minimum width 1.5) would be easier to ride than a 451 profile! 451 will keep slipping in the sand.

V Brakes are those traditional brakes. Easy to maintain,  cheap and effective. Disc Brake provides better braking, but might require more maintenance.

Last Tip:
If two bikes feel the same, choose the cheaper one.

11.What is next?

I will continue to explore more of SG on bike and MRT. This mode allows me to ride beyond my physical and time limitation! MRT and Grab cabs can ferry me home in the event of thunderstorm.

I hope to roll my foldie oversea too (in a 29″ suitcase). Would be super contented if the Mrs joins more of my wheels journey.


Do pop by our other related hiking and cycling posts too:

Upper Seletar climb up the Rocket with Yee
Trail running 12km MacRitchie Reservoir
-Macritchie Tree top walk!

-Cycle 70 km East, TMCR (link)
-Cycle 80 km West, Lim Chu Kang(link)
-Cycle to Woodlands and back for 50km (link)
-Cycle 50km to explore 3 Reservoirs and 3 parks
-Completed Round Island 140km!

* MTB\RoadBike\Foldie selection, & Foldable bike shortlisting
* Follow my family’s cycling experience here .
-Instagram SengkangBabies #skbCycles or #skbHiking

~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Do pop by my Round Island cycling adventure too

Disclaimer : I am sharing my bike shopping experience as a newbie. I hope the Tips for foldies selection would be useful for your own research too.

What is your Tips for foldies selection? Please share.

Do follow my family’s cycling experience here . The best trip was 4D3N Hualien to Taitung . Choosing between Mountain, road or foldable bikes, read here.