How to Remove Rear Bike Wheel

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Knowing how to remove rear bike wheel is an essential skill that will come in handy in various situations. Whether you need to change a flat tire, clean the drivetrain, transport your bike, or perform maintenance, being able to remove the rear wheel is a valuable technique to have in your repertoire.

In this article, we’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions for removing different types of rear bike wheels, along with some tips and tricks to make the process easier.

How to Remove Rear Bike Wheel with Rim Brake and Quick Release

A rim brake is a type of brake that squeezes the rim of the wheel to slow down the bike. It consists of brake pads that press against the rim when the brake lever is activated. Rim brakes are commonly found on road bikes and some hybrid bikes.

A quick release, on the other hand, is a type of axle that allows for quick and easy removal of the wheel. It consists of a lever that can be opened and closed to secure or release the wheel from the frame. Quick releases are commonly used on both front and rear wheels of bikes.

To remove this type of rear bike wheels, you need to gather these tools and materials:

  • A bike stand or a flat surface to place the bike on
  • A tire lever
  • A spare tube or patch kit if changing a flat tire

Now let’s get into the step-by-step process of removing the rear bike wheel with a rim brake and quick release:

Step 1: Shift the chain to the smallest cog on the rear cassette and the smallest chainring on the front crankset. This will make it easier to remove and reinstall the wheel and prevent the chain from falling off.

Step 2: Open the brake caliper by flipping the lever or unhooking the cable. This will create more space for the wheel to come out and prevent the brake pads from rubbing against the rim.

Step 3: Open the quick release lever on the rear axle and loosen the nut on the opposite side if needed. This will release the tension on the axle and allow the wheel to drop out of the frame.

Step 4: Pull the rear derailleur back slightly and lift the wheel out of the frame. This will clear the cassette from the chain and the dropout from the axle.

Step 5: Unhook the chain from the sprocket and set the wheel aside. This will free the chain from the wheel and prevent it from getting tangled.

Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind while removing the rear bike wheel:

  • Use your hand to guide the wheel out and in to avoid scratching the frame or the brake.
  • Make sure the quick release lever is fully closed and tight when reinstalling the wheel.
  • Spin the wheel to check if it is centered and not rubbing against the brake or the frame.

And avoid these common mistakes when removing this type of rear bike wheels:

  • Forgetting to shift the chain to the smallest cog and chainring before removing the wheel. This can make it harder to remove and reinstall the wheel and cause the chain to fall off or get stuck.
  • Forgetting to open the brake caliper before removing the wheel. This can make it impossible to remove the wheel and damage the brake pads or the rim.
  • Forgetting to close the brake caliper after reinstalling the wheel. This can make the brake ineffective and unsafe.

How to Remove Rear Bike Wheel with Disc Brake and Thru Axle

Disc brakes are a type of braking system commonly found on modern bicycles. Unlike traditional rim brakes, which use pads to grip the rim of the wheel, disc brakes squeeze a disc attached to the hub of the wheel to slow down the bike. This design offers several advantages, including increased stopping power and better performance in wet or muddy conditions.

Thru axles, on the other hand, are a type of axle that secures the wheel to the frame of the bike. Unlike quick-release skewers, which are commonly used on bikes with rim brakes, thru axles have a threaded end that screws into the frame, providing a more secure and stable connection between the wheel and the bike.

Before we get started, make sure you have the following tools and materials on hand:

  • Bike stand or a flat surface to place the bike on
  • Tire lever and a spare tube or patch kit if changing a flat tire
  • Hex wrench or a lever that matches the size of the thru axle

Now that you have everything you need, let’s walk through the steps of removing the rear bike wheel with disc brakes and a thru axle:

Step 1: Prepare the bike

Start by shifting the chain to the smallest cog on the rear cassette and the smallest chainring on the front crankset. This will make it easier to remove and reinstall the wheel and prevent the chain from falling off.

Step 2: Loosen the thru axle

Using the hex wrench or lever, loosen and remove the thru axle. Be sure to remember which side the lever should be on for reinstallation. This will release the wheel from the frame and allow it to drop out.

Step 3: Remove the wheel

Pull the rear derailleur back slightly to create some slack in the chain. Lift the wheel out of the frame, making sure to clear the cassette from the chain and the dropout from the axle.

Step 4: Unhook the chain

Before setting the wheel aside, unhook the chain from the sprocket. This will free the chain from the wheel and prevent it from getting tangled.

Here are some tips and tricks for this method:

  • Use your hand to guide the wheel out and in to avoid scratching the frame or the disc brake.
  • Make sure the disc brake rotor is aligned with the brake caliper when reinstalling the wheel.
  • Tighten the thru axle securely and evenly when reinstalling the wheel.
  • Spin the wheel to check if it is centered and not rubbing the brake or the frame.

Please avoid some common mistakes for this method:

  • Forgetting to shift the chain to the smallest cog and chainring before removing the wheel. This can make it harder to remove and reinstall the wheel and cause the chain to fall off or get stuck.
  • Forgetting to loosen and remove the thru axle before removing the wheel. This can make it impossible to remove the wheel and damage the axle or the frame.
  • Forgetting to tighten the thru axle after reinstalling the wheel. This can make the wheel loose and unstable.

How to Remove Rear Bike Wheel with Bolt-On Axle

A bolt-on axle is a type of axle that has two nuts that screw onto the ends of the axle to secure the wheel to the frame. Unlike quick-release axles, which can be removed by simply flipping a lever, bolt-on axles require the use of a wrench to loosen and remove the nuts.

To remove a rear bike wheel with a bolt-on axle, you’ll need a few tools and materials:

  • Bike stand or a flat surface to place the bike on
  • Tire lever and a spare tube or patch kit if changing a flat tire
  • Wrench that matches the size of the nuts on the axle

Now that we have our tools ready, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of removing the rear bike wheel.

Step 1: Shift the Chain to the Smallest Cog and Chainring

Before removing the wheel, it’s important to shift the chain to the smallest cog on the rear cassette and the smallest chainring on the front crankset. This will make it easier to remove and reinstall the wheel and prevent the chain from falling off.

Step 2: Loosen and Remove the Nuts on Both Sides of the Axle

Using the wrench, loosen and remove the nuts on both sides of the axle. It’s important to loosen both nuts to release the wheel from the frame. Once the nuts are removed, the wheel should be free to drop out.

Step 3: Pull the Rear Derailleur Back and Lift the Wheel Out

To remove the wheel from the frame, pull the rear derailleur back slightly to create enough clearance for the cassette to pass through the chain. With the derailleur pulled back, lift the wheel out of the frame by grabbing onto the rim or the tire. Be sure to keep the wheel straight as you lift it out to avoid any damage.

Step 4: Unhook the Chain from the Sprocket and Set the Wheel Aside

Once the wheel is out of the frame, unhook the chain from the sprocket to free it from the wheel. Set the wheel aside in a safe place to prevent any damage or tangling of the chain.

Here are a few tips and tricks to make the process of removing a rear bike wheel with a bolt-on axle even smoother:

  • Use your hand to guide the wheel out and in to avoid scratching the frame or the brake.
  • Make sure the nuts are tightened securely and evenly when reinstalling the wheel.
  • Spin the wheel to check if it is centered and not rubbing against the brake or the frame.

To ensure a successful wheel removal, avoid these common mistakes:

  • Forgetting to shift the chain to the smallest cog and chainring before removing the wheel. This can make it harder to remove and reinstall the wheel and cause the chain to fall off or get stuck.
  • Forgetting to loosen and remove the nuts before removing the wheel. This can make it impossible to remove the wheel and damage the axle or the frame.
  • Forgetting to tighten the nuts after reinstalling the wheel. This can make the wheel loose and unstable.

How to Remove Rear Bike Wheel with Coaster Brake or Internal Gear Hub

A coaster brake is a type of brake that is activated by pedaling backward. It’s commonly found on cruiser, BMX, and kids’ bikes. When you pedal backward, it engages a clutch inside the hub that presses brake shoes against the inside of the hub shell, causing the bike to slow down or stop.

On the other hand, an internal gear hub is a type of gear system that is enclosed in the hub of the rear wheel. It’s commonly found on city, touring, and cargo bikes. The internal gear hub works by using a planetary gear mechanism that changes the gear ratio by shifting the sun, planet, and ring gears inside the hub.

Now that we know what a coaster brake and an internal gear hub are, let’s move on to the steps for removing the rear bike wheel.

Before we start, gather the following tools and materials:

  • A bike stand or a flat surface to place the bike on
  • A tire lever and a spare tube or patch kit if you’re changing a flat tire
  • A wrench that matches the size of the nuts on the axle
  • A screwdriver or pliers if you need to disconnect the brake or shifter cable

Removing a rear bike wheel with a coaster brake or an internal gear hub is similar to the bolt-on axle method, but with a few differences. Here’s how you do it:

1. Prepare your bike: If you’re changing a flat tire, use a tire lever to remove the tire from the rim and replace the tube or patch it as needed. If not, skip to the next step.

2. Loosen and remove the nuts: Use the wrench to loosen and remove the nuts on both sides of the axle. This will release the wheel from the frame and allow it to slide forward or backward.

3. Disconnect the brake or shifter cable: If your bike has a coaster brake, the cable may be attached to a reaction arm that is bolted to the frame. Use a screwdriver or pliers to disconnect the cable from the arm. For an internal gear hub, the cable may be attached to a chain tensioner or a shifter that is screwed into the hub. Disconnect the cable using the appropriate tool.

4. Lift the wheel out of the frame: Once the nuts are removed and the cable is disconnected, lift the wheel out of the frame. Make sure to unhook the chain from the cog to free it from the wheel and prevent it from getting tangled. If the chain has a master link, open it to release the chain from the cog.

5. Adjust the chain tension if needed: Set the wheel aside and check the chain tension. Use a chain tensioner or a chain whip to move the wheel forward or backward to adjust the tension. This will ensure that the chain is not too loose or too tight when you reinstall the wheel.

Here are some tips and tricks to make the process easier:

  • Use your hand to guide the wheel out and in to avoid scratching the frame or the brake.
  • Make sure the wheel is aligned with the chain and the frame when reinstalling it.
  • Tighten the nuts securely and evenly to ensure a stable connection.
  • Reconnect the brake or shifter cable to the hub and adjust the tension if needed.
  • Spin the wheel to check if it is centered and not rubbing against the brake or the frame.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when removing a rear bike wheel:

  • Forgetting to loosen and remove the nuts before removing the wheel: Always remember to loosen and remove the nuts before attempting to remove the wheel. Failure to do so can make it impossible to remove the wheel and may damage the axle or the frame.
  • Forgetting to disconnect the brake or shifter cable before removing the wheel: It’s important to disconnect the brake or shifter cable before removing the wheel. Forgetting to do so can make it hard to remove the wheel and may cause the cable to get tangled or damaged.
  • Forgetting to unhook the chain from the cog before removing the wheel: Before removing the wheel, make sure to unhook the chain from the cog. Forgetting to do so can make it hard to remove the wheel and may cause the chain to get tangled or damaged.
  • Forgetting to adjust the chain tension before reinstalling the wheel: Always check and adjust the chain tension before reinstalling the wheel. Failure to do so can result in a chain that is too loose or too tight, affecting the performance and safety of the bike.

How to Remove Rear Bike Wheel with Single Speed or Fixed Gear

A single speed bike, as the name suggests, has only one gear. It doesn’t have a derailleur or cassette, which means you can’t change gears on the fly. On the other hand, a fixed gear bike, also known as a fixie, has a fixed cog that directly connects the wheel and the pedals. This means that when the wheel turns, the pedals turn as well. Unlike a single speed bike, a fixed gear bike doesn’t have a freewheel, so you can’t coast without pedaling.

Before we get started, make sure you have the following tools and materials on hand:

  • A bike stand or a flat surface to place the bike on
  • A tire lever and a spare tube or patch kit if changing a flat tire
  • A wrench that matches the size of the nuts on the axle
  • A chain tensioner or a chain whip if adjusting the chain tension

Now let’s walk through the process of removing the rear wheel on a single speed or fixed gear bike:

1. Loosen and remove the nuts on both sides of the axle using the wrench. These nuts keep the wheel in place within the bike frame.

2. Once the nuts are loosened, slide the wheel forward or backward to release it from the frame. This will depend on the direction of the chain tension. If you’re unsure, consult your bike’s manual or seek guidance from a professional.

3. Lift the wheel out of the frame, being careful not to scratch the frame or the brake. This is also a good time to inspect the wheel for any damage or wear.

4. Before removing the wheel, unhook the chain from the cog. This will free the chain from the wheel and prevent it from getting tangled.

5. Set the wheel aside and adjust the chain tension if needed. This step ensures that the chain is not too loose or too tight when you reinstall the wheel. You can use a chain tensioner or a chain whip to move the wheel forward or backward to achieve the desired tension.

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when removing the rear wheel on a single speed or fixed gear bike:

  • Use your hand to guide the wheel out and in to avoid scratching the frame or the brake.
  • When reinstalling the wheel, make sure it is aligned with the chain and the frame for a smooth ride.
  • Tighten the nuts securely and evenly to ensure that the wheel stays in place.
  • After reinstalling the wheel, spin it to check if it is centered and not rubbing against the brake or the frame. Make any necessary adjustments if needed.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when removing the rear wheel on a single speed or fixed gear bike:

  • Forgetting to loosen and remove the nuts before attempting to remove the wheel. This can make it impossible to remove the wheel and may damage the axle or the frame.
  • Forgetting to unhook the chain from the cog before removing the wheel. This can make it difficult to remove the wheel and may cause the chain to get tangled or damaged.
  • Forgetting to adjust the chain tension before reinstalling the wheel. This can result in a chain that is too loose or too tight, affecting the performance and safety of your bike.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You’ve successfully covered all methods for removing any type of  rear bike wheels. Now you’re ready to perform any necessary maintenance or repairs, or simply enjoy a ride with friends.

Thank you for reading this article on how to remove the rear bike wheel. I hope you found it helpful and informative. If you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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AUTHOR

Randy Joycelyn

Randy is the founder and editor of Cycling Soigneur. He has been passionate about cycling since he was a kid. He has been riding bikes for over 10 years. Cycling has just become a part of life.

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