How to Replace the Back Wheel of a Bicycle

How to Replace the Back Wheel of a Bicycle
Compared with the front wheel, the rear wheel of a bicycle can appear impossibly complex. Unlike the front wheel, the rear wheel is partly obscured by a derailleur, multiple cogs, and a portion of the drive chain. Fortunately in this instance, appearances are deceiving, and the rear wheel can be removed from the bike and replaced with a fair degree of ease. Almost any wheel repair, including replacing a punctured inner tube, will require knowing how to properly carry out this action.


Difficulty: Easy


Things You’ll Need:
  • 5mm Allen wrench
Step 1
Shift the chain into the smallest rear cog. The wheel is partly held in place by the chain. The smallest cog is furthest from the inside of the wheel. Shifting the chain to this position will increase slack in the chain, facilitating removal of the wheel.
Step 2
Open the quick release on the axle skewer. The skewer is at the center of the wheel and passes through its axle. The quick release resembles a lever and is found on the left, non-drive side end of the skewer.
Step 3
Hold the open quick release with one hand while loosening the locknut on the other end of the skewer. It isn't necessary to fully remove the locknut. So long as the locknut and quick release clear the frame, the wheel can be removed.
Step 4
Open the quick release on the rear brake. The quick release lever most likely be found on the brake itself. If there is not a quick release, loosen the brake cable anchor bolt with a 5mm Allen wrench. Either step will release tension upon the brake, giving the wheel enough room to clear the brake pads.
Step 5
Elevate the rear end of the bicycle and push down on the wheel. Pull it free of the chain.


Step 1
Insert the new wheel into the bicycle. The axle should rest firmly in the dropouts, which are the slots in the frame designed to hold the axle. The chain should be looped over the smallest cog.
Step 2
Hold the axle skewer quick release with one hand while tightening the skewer locknut with the other. Do not overtighten the locknut, or you won't be able to close the quick release.
Step 3
Close the quick release on the brake. If there is no quick release, and the brake cable anchor bolt has been loosened, press each arm of the brake in toward the wheel and retighten the anchor bolt over the brake cable. The adjusting barrel, located where the cable enters the body of the brake, will allow you to fine-tune the tension upon the brake.

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

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