VIDEO: Removing the Rear Wheel from your Bike

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Don't know how to take that rear wheel off of your bike? Is the chain making things difficult? Learn how to remove your rear wheel if you have to change your bike tire or fix a flat.

Hopefully the odds will be with you...that you will be getting most of your flat tires on the front tire-the one that usually catches everything first.  But on some days the odds will be against you.  You may even just decide that you need to replace your old tires. Heck, you may even be upgrading your wheelset to something lighter and more aero. 

Who is this for?
This is a VERY BASIC and non-technical tutorial for the absolute beginner who has never taken their rear-wheel off before. 

Why does this warrant a tutorial? 
It will just make life easier.  Sure, you can muddle through it your first time and curse the chain as to why it's being belligerent into not coming off of the rear cassette.  You can even get real greasy and dirty by messing around with the process in an unreasonable amount of time.  I'm sure you will figure out how to do it efficiently given a few tries.  But why?

Let me be the one getting dirty.  Let me show you how to get this, seemingly simple, task completed.  This tutorial is ~25minutes long.  In practice, it should only take you a minute or two.  In this tutorial, I will first remove the tire off of a triathlon frame with horizontal dropouts and then I will remove a wheel off of a mountain bike frame with vertical dropouts.

I didn't get into this detail during the 'Fixing a Flat' video, it's just something I took for granted.  But from a few responses, it's not something to take for granted, especially for the uninitiated.

Why is this a difficult task?
Well, unlike the front wheel where you just disconnect the brake and release the quick-release lever to the tire axle and out it drops, the rear wheel cassette (the part with all of the sprockets of varying diameters) has the chain attached to it which can be troublesome if you are trying to take the rear wheel off of the bike and you left the chain on a large-diameter sprocket on the rear cassette.


Besides that, the whole derailleur is spring loaded to keep tension on the chain.  So if you have the chain in the large sprockets, depending on the type of drop-out you have, it will be hard having enough free chain to get it out of the drop-outs.

Removing your rear wheel

  1. Shift so that your chain is on the smallest sprocket on the cassette and also on the smallest chainring.
  2. Loosen your brake calipers so that the tire can escape from the brake pads.  This will depend on the type of brakes you have.
  3. Loosen the nuts to the rear axle or use the quick-release levers if your bike has them.  Pull the bike wheel out of the drop-out (this may face forward, down or to the rear depending on your bike).
  4. There should be enough slack in the chain to easily remove it from the sprockets.

Fix your tire if needed.

Putting your wheel back on

  1. Fit the wheel back onto your bike frame and into the brake pads (not in the dropouts yet).  You can usually place the axle about half an inch to an inch off of the dropout to leave plenty of room to get the chain on.
  2. Grab a portion of the chain on top and in-front of the rear-axle.  Pull this part of the chain back onto the small sprocket of your cassette.
  3. Put the axle back into the dropout.  Make sure the axle is firmly seated. 
  4. Tighten the nuts or the quick-release of the axle to secure the wheel to the frame.
  5. Re-engage your brakes.
  6. Spin the wheel, make sure it spins freely.  If it 'catches' or is 'slow', your wheel is not aligned in the dropouts.  Re-adjust if necessary.
  7. REMEMBER to check your brakes.  Make sure they are engaged!
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Removing Your Rear Bike Wheel (930 downloads)


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date: November 6, 2007