How To Remove Snap Rings

Everyone who owns a bike needs to look after its maintenance once in a while. And more often than not, people choose to get them serviced by themselves.

Even if you don’t, it’s always good to know the ins and outs of your bike. But there is one thing that many people consider a bugger in their bicycles: The snap ring.

It is also known as a ‘circlip or c-clip’ and sometimes, the ‘Jesus ring’ because of its hard-to-tackle nature.

Once it’s on, without the right instruments, it will be more than hard for you to get it off. But fear not, in this read, I have thoroughly explained how to remove snap rings. So, read on to find out all about removing it, and its alternatives.

Removing Snap Rings

Without the right tools and technique, you might get surprised by the flying power of the ‘Jesus rings’. These are mostly removed by some special pliers.

Some snap rings can easily come off with some alternative tools whereas, others are not so compromising. The type of pliers you will use will depend upon the type of snap ring you are dealing with. Below, I will explain how to remove them-

How to Remove External Snap Rings

  • This job can be covered by snap ring pliers. Simply insert the snap ring pliers on the holes at the end of the snap ring and extend them out
  • This should help extend the ends of the snap ring as well
  • Now, bring the snap rings over the grooves of the wheel and slide them down until they fit over the groove
  • Close the pliers so that the snap ring are removed out.

How to Remove Internal Snap Rings

Internal rings are much smaller than external ones, with pretty much nothing to hold on to, so they can be a headache to get off. You can either use internal snap ring pliers for this purpose or either an AWL or a small blade screwdriver.

  • Insert the screwdriver underneath the end of the snap ring to get a little bit of the tip off the ‘surface’
  • Slowly lift the screw driver and pop that end of the snap ring out and over the groove of the wheel
  • When you’re done with one side of the snap ring, you can proceed with the other side. Repeat the same procedure at that end too.

Also, be careful for the snap ring will probably ‘snap’ back at you. Although, that is pretty much bound to happen once in a while, you should still be careful of any flying ‘rings’.

How to Remove Snap Rings Without Holes

  • Push the tips up by using any pick or a small blade in case the snap ring is small. This will help make the procedure easier and you won’t have to struggle much with the ring.

If the ring is big and heavy, you can still try this if you like. Otherwise, you can proceed with the second step.

  • Insert the tips of the pliers into the snap ring. The tips will have grooves where you can insert the ends of the snap rings
  • Now bring them over the groove of the wheel and roll them out. Once you do, you can close the pliers slowly to prevent the ring to jump off.

Alternatives for Snap Ring Pliers

Sometimes, you might not have your arsenal with you and still have to get in the battle field with these buggers as the enemy.

In such a case, you don’t to carry your bike at your back to carry it home. To save you from such situations, below I have compiled a list of all the alternative methods you can use to get the job done.

Note that these methods will only be helpful in some cases as not all snap rings work with alternative methods. Be sure to check if your snap ring can take it before applying them.

In case you don’t and the snap ring ends up breaking, the situation can get even more messed up. Sometimes, the use of snap ring pliers can become inevitable.

With a Screw Driver

  • This will be quite similar to the one described in removal of the internal snap rings. You will need a pick or another screw driver for this method to work.

Place the pick below the end of the snap ring to make it easier to lift them off. You can skip this if your snap ring is large enough.

  • Then, with the screw driver, lift the end of the snap ring over and out. Apply it to the other side and the snap ring will be off.

With a Dental Pick

  • First slip the tip of the pick under the end of the snap ring and slowly lift it off.
  • Move it over the groove and then completely off the wheel. Repeat on the other side but be careful while taking off both the sides. Try grasping the other end by any tool of choice (don’t use your hands, especially if it’s small)

By Using Needle-Nose Pliers

  • You can also use needle-nose pliers as alternatives for snap ring pliers. But you might have to make some sacrifices.
  • If your pliers fit, you can simply insert like normal snap ring pliers by pushing them in the holes at the end of the snap ring and slowly opening them to extend the ring.
  • After doing that, you simply take the ring out and close the pliers again.
  • If your needle-nose pliers don’t fit, and you’re ready to let go of them to get some snap ring pliers instead, you can always grind down the tip to make it the size of you snap rings and repeat the above process.
  • In case, the snap rings don’t have holes, you can grind a slot instead. Needle-nose pliers (grinded or not) won’t be as handy to use as original snap ring pliers and you might need a little effort to get through with the job.

 How to Install Snap Rings

Now that you know how to remove a snap ring, you need to know how to put it back on! Unlike removing it, installing a snap ring can be quite quick.

But there are always some do’s and don’ts you should keep into consideration while attaching snap rings. These measures will be discussed later. First, let’s go through how to insert snap rings-

How to Install Snap Rings |With Holes

  • Insert the tips of your pliers into the holes at the end of the snap ring and open them. This will open the snap ring as well.
  • Now bring it to the groove of the wheel and release it ever so slightly so that it rests over the groove firmly.

How to Install Snap Rings |Without Holes

  • If you have snap ring pliers (ones with slots) you can easily use them to install the snap ring on. All you need to do is add the ends of the snap rings in the grooves of the pliers.
  • Then open the pliers to widen the loop of the snap ring. Slip it off of the groove slowly.


  • Wear safety glasses. Snap rings can get quite ‘jumpy’ when they are tensed and the flying ring might hit anywhere, including your eyes.
  • Do not remove the pliers hurriedly. Be sure to check if the ring is well-fitted in its place before removal. This will ensure that the ring won’t come flying off straight into you or anywhere else in your place.
  • Be careful that you attach the snap ring perfectly over the groove. If it isn’t attached right, it will probably move or detach while the bike is moving. This will result in tension upon the ring which in turn, will break.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I remove a broken internal snap ring?

If one of the ends is still there, you can use that to pry it out. If not, you can always use a cutting torch. The snap ring will get hot within seconds, and then you can easily propel it out!

How do you replace snap rings?

You can refer to the installation guide above. Just simply take the pliers that fit your snap ring and use them to grab on the holes\pass through the slit. Open them, slide the tip off the groove. Repeat the same procedure on the other end.

What if a broken ring is used?

Do not use a retarded or broken snap ring. While moving, it won’t be able to take the pressure and will probably snap under the pressure.


Snap rings can be quite hefty to remove but as in the above tutorials, you can easily discover which tools you’re going to need and how to remove snap rings without breaking a sweat.

Just make sure you take the right precautionary measures while doing so to prevent any kind of injury. If it’s your first try, the snap rings are probably going to fly all over the place if you’re not careful.

Most important, first check what kind of snap ring is used in your bicycle and choose the pliers accordingly. If you don’t use pliers, that’s fine but the alternative methods are going to take some effort from your part.

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