How to remove rear bike wheel

Fitting a new tube? Changing your tyre? Putting on a new cassette? All of these jobs involve taking off your back wheel.  If you want to know how to remove rear bike wheel, this article will take you through the process.

Tools required for bicycle rear wheel removal

  • Cross head screwdriver. This is to loosen any handlebar accessories and bolts.
  • Spanner. To loosen the wheels nuts. Usually 15mm, but some BMX and electric bikes come with larger ones.
  • Disc pad spacer. Not essential, but will prevent closing the gap in between the hydraulic disc brake pads if you accidently knock the brake lever.

How to remove rear bike wheel – Preparation

Putting the bike upside down will make removing the back wheel easier. Before you do this however turn any accessories and remove any devices that are fitted on the handlebars.

how to remove rear bike wheel

It is a good idea to change gear and put the chain onto the smallest cog at the back, so you always know where to put your wheel when you replace it.

how to remove rear bike wheel

If you have multiple cogs at the front then move the chain to the largest cogs. This counteracts the lack of tension in the rear and holds the chain in position.

Protect your saddle by putting a cloth or a paper towel on the floor.  

Because the rim brake pads sit close to the rim the brake have to be released before the wheel can be removed . Our article here will guide you through the process of releasing V-brakes.

Read this article if your bike has cantilever or caliper brakes. 

For disc brakes you don’t need to release anything.

Now turn the bike upside down by grasping the bike under the brake calipers and turn it over in one move.

If the wheel is connected to any wires (such as DI2 system or e-bike rear hub motor) then undo them now. 

how to remove rear bike wheel

How to remove rear bike wheel on a derailleur geared bike

Your wheel is attached to the forks either by wheel nuts, quick release skewer or thru axle. 

Click on this video to find out how to undo a quick release mechanism.

Watch this video if you have a thru axle.

Now that you have released the brake, changed gear, moved the bell etc and turned the bike upside down we can begin removing the rear wheel.

Undoing the rear quick release skewer and wheel nuts is the same as for the front wheel, except there are no lawyers lips.  This is because a loose back wheel may cause the bike to skid or brake at the back, but won’t throw you off into a life-threatening situation. 

For wheel nuts. 

  • Stand behind the bike. 
  • Fit the spanner on the left hand side, so that it is horizontal and pointing away from you. 
how to remove rear bike wheel
  • Make sure that the spanner is fitted the correct way around. Many spanners are offset so by having the angle of the handle outwards, you won’t hit your knuckles on any part of the bike. 
  • Both the nuts unscrew anti-clockwise. Hold onto the stay and press down on the spanner. Undo the nut, but don’t remove it. 
  • Now undo the second nut. 
  • If you find that it is just turning the whole axle, retighten the first nut (you know that one will come undone) and retry the second nut.  if it still won’t come undone you may need to use 2 spanners. 

For quick release.

  • Stand behind the bike. 
  • Grasp the lever part of the quick release skewer.
  • Pull the lever to the open position. The wheel should now be loose enough to be removed. 
  • When the wheel is loose, with your left hand pull the body of the rear derailleur towards  you.  If it feels too stiff, use your right hand as well.
  • Make sure your right hand is free and your left hand is holding the derailleur. Grasp the rim with your right hand and lift the wheel away from the frame. Now you are ready to remove the wheel.
how to remove rear bike wheel
  • You can now let go of the derailleur. The derailleur stays on the frame and the sprockets stay on the wheel.

Hydraulic disc brakes

If you have a pad spacer, then fit it in between the pads on the caliper. This will stop the brake closing if you accidently press the brake lever. If you have cable disc brakes then a spacer is unnecessary. 

How to remove rear bike wheel on a bike with track ends

What is the difference between vertical dropouts, horizontal dropouts and track ends?

The slots where your wheels fit into the frame are called “dropouts”. If the open ends point towards the floor when the bike is the right way up then these are called “vertical dropouts”. The wheel will drop down to come out.
If the open end points towards the front of the bike then these are called “horizontal dropouts” and you push your wheel forward to remove it.
If the open ends point towards the back of the bike, they are called “track ends”. These dropouts were originally on track bikes, and are now sometimes found on hub geared bikes, single speeders or fixed wheel bikes.  They make the chain very easy to adjust.

  • Undo the nuts or open the lever on the quick release skewer.
  • After undoing the wheel nuts or quick release skewer, push the front wheel towards the front of the bike. This loosens the chain and allows you to unhook it from the rear sprocket.
how to remove rear bike wheel
  • Now rest the chain onto the frame. Steady the bike by holding the chain stay with one hand. Use your other hand to slide out the wheel.
how to remove rear bike wheel

You can also watch our video tutorial on how to remove rear bike wheel here:

Enjoyed reading the article? Help us to create more cycle maintenance content by becoming our Patron here.

Leave a Comment