How to Replace a Rear Bike Wheel

Written by matthew ferguson
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How to Replace a Rear Bike Wheel
The rear wheel is held fast by its axle and chain. (elements image by Sergey Goruppa from

For most cyclists, the time comes when the rear wheel requires some sort of repair. The tire may be flat or the rim may be bent and require truing. For most repairs, you will have to remove the wheel from the bicycle and then reinstall it. The task can seem intimidating to the less mechanically inclined. The wheel is attached to the bicycle not only by its axle but also by the chain, which passes around the cluster of sprockets at the side of the wheel. Learning the steps for replacing the wheel can save frustration and help you avoid damaging parts of the drivetrain.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Shift gears until the chain sits on the outermost rear sprocket and innermost front chain ring, giving the chain maximum slack.

  2. 2

    Note the lever on the side of the brake, above the rear wheel. Operating the lever allows the brake to be opened and closed, giving the wheel increased clearance during removal. If no lever is present, open the brake by pinching the sides of the brake and lifting the cable away.

  3. 3

    Locate the lever at the centre of the left side of the rear wheel. The lever is part of a device called a "quick release," which holds the wheel in place and facilitates removal of the wheel without tools.

  4. 4

    Pull the lever out and into the open position. Loosen the nut on the other side of the axle, directly opposite the lever. Loosen the nut until it is clear of the bicycle frame.

  5. 5

    Lift the rear of the bike. With your other hand, push the wheel forward to dislodge its axle from the fork. Pull the wheel free from the bottom of the bicycle frame.

  1. 1

    Turn the wheel so that the quick-release lever at the side of the wheel is on the left side of the bicycle.

  2. 2

    Raise the rear of the bicycle. Fit the wheel through the triangle at the rear of the bicycle frame.

  3. 3

    Position the wheel so that the axle tips are directly in front of the notches at the ends of the fork. The fork is the part of the frame that holds the wheel. The fork contains notches to accommodate the tips of the axle.

  4. 4

    Check that the right axle tip is positioned between both runs of the chain.

  5. 5

    Pull the wheel up until the axle tips are snug inside the notches at the ends of the fork.

  6. 6

    Tighten the nut on the side of the axle. Close the lever on the other side of the axle, securing the wheel.

  7. 7

    Close the lever on the brake. For brakes without a lever, pinch the sides of the brake. Fit the cable into its slot at the top of the brake.

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