How to take front wheel off bike

Whether you have a puncture to repair or want to transport your bike you might want to remove the front wheel. What looks like a simple task can become a bit tricky especially if you have an electric motor or a dynamo hubs.. But don’t worry, in this article our experts will show you how to take front wheel off bike to avoid any pitfalls.

Tools required

  • Cross head screwdriver. This is to loosen any handlebar accessories.
  • Spanner. To loosen the wheels nuts. Usually 15mm, but some older models are slightly smaller and some BMX and electric bikes come with larger ones.
  • Disc pad spacer. Not essential, but will prevent closing the gap in between the disc brake pads.

How to take front wheel off bike – Preparation

One of the easiest ways to remove the wheels is to turn the bike upside down.

  • First check that there is nothing on the handlebars that will get damaged when the bike is upside down.
  • Turn the reflector, bell and remove lights and other devices if you have them on your handlebars. 
how to take front wheel off bike
  • Most bells and reflectors are held in place with a cross head screw driver. If you are hunting through your collection of screw drivers, make sure you find one that fits snuggly. When you find one, make sure you put this aside,  This is your first tool in your toolkit. It does a specific job so you need to be able to access it easily.  If you need to buy a screwdriver, then the one you want is a Phillips Size 2. Guard it with your life. It’s your mechanic’s screwdriver.  It’s not there for opening paint tins, or gouging out wood. It’s purpose is to move bells and reflector brackets.
  • When you’re happy with the stuff on the handlebars, you can look at protecting your saddle.  Normally it just has to hold you.  Will it get scuffed if you are resting the bike on it?  What state is the surface you’re using? If necessary put a cloth or a paper towel on the floor to protect it.
  • Before turning the bike upside down make sure that the wheels are easy to remove. If you have rim brakes, you will probably need to release them to allow the tyre to move past the pads.

Watch this video tutorial to find out how to undo “V” brakes.

Watch our video HERE if you’re not sure how to undo cantilever and caliper brakes.

For disc brakes you don’t need to release anything

  • If you have a front hub motor or dynamo hub, there will be wires connected to the hub that will have to be released before the wheel can be removed.
  • Now turn the bike over. Stand on the left hand side of the bike to avoid getting too much oil on you. Grasp the bike under the brake calipers and turn it over in one move. 
how to take front wheel off bike

How to take front wheel off bike

Quick release lever

Undo quick release lever, if you’re not sure how to do this you can find instructions in our article here. 

Wheel nuts

If you have nuts holding the wheel, then loosen them. Most front wheels use a 15mm nut, therefore will need a 15mm spanner.  You will find the size written on the spanner.  It may also be a 14mm nut or an AF or Whitworth size if it very old. 

  • Stand in front of the bike to give yourself the mechanical advantage.
  • Fit the spanner on the left hand side so that it is horizontal and pointing away from you.
how to take front wheel off bike
  • Fit the spanner 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 fork and press down on the spanner. Undo the nut, but don’t remove it.
  • If there is a tabbed washer next to the wheel nut, then undo the nut enough to allow the tab to come out of the slot .
What is a bike wheel tab washer?

Tab washer is a type of safety washer with a bend tab at the end that fits in the slot in the forks. Its function is to prevent the wheel from falling off if the nuts loosen.

  • Now undo the second nut.  
how to take front wheel off bike

If you find that it is just turning the whole axle, retighten the first nut (you know that will come undone) and retry the second nut.  if it still won’t come undone you may need to use 2 spanners.

Disc brakes

If you have a disc brake on your fork, you won’t need to release it to remove the wheel.  Just hold the rim and don’t touch the rotor as the grease form your fingers can contaminate it.

How to take front wheel off bike – Final check

  • Have you undid the wheel nuts or quick release sufficiently?
  • Are the rim brakes loose?
  • Are any wires for electric bikes or dynamos released?

Now you are ready to remove the wheel.

  • Hold the rim and lift the wheel clear of the forks.
  • For hydraulic disc brakes, if you have a pad spacer, then fit it in between the pads on the caliper. 
What is a disc brake pad spacer?

  • A pad spacer, also called a pad keeper is usually made out of plastic and comes in different shapes to snuggly fit in between the pads in the caliper. Pad spacers are designed to prevent closing the gap in between the disc brake pads when the wheel is removed. If the brake is accidentally being pulled then without the pad spacer pistons will be pushed too far and close the gap making it really difficult to fit the disc rotor in between.

  • You can also find how to remove front wheel in our video tutorial below:

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