Using your Quick Release                 

If your rear wheel comes loose, it can slide against the frame and slow you down or bring you to a stop. If your front wheel comes loose, it could cause you to lose some control of your steering or worse, it could come off causing you to perform some major gymnastics you probably weren't planning on.

So, please read the information below for your own peace of mind.

  
   

The Adjusting nut is used for minor adjustments prior to using the quick release lever or in taking the skewer apart.
The Springs provide tension to hold the Adjusting nut and Quick release lever away from the hub when installing the wheel.
The Shaft is the portion of the skewer that slides inside the wheel hub's axle.
The Quick release lever is a cam-driven device used to apply the tension needed to lock the hub to the fork or frame.

                  Quick release skewer

And remember ... practice makes perfect. Try what you learn here a few times. You'll be an expert in no time.

 

    Releasing your wheel

 

Front Wheel

Brake release -
In most cases, to remove your wheel you first have to release the front brake so the tire will slide out through the space between the brake shoes.

  

Sidepull brakes

Old style mountain brakes

V brake

 

Wheel release -
Pivot the quick release lever 180 degrees so the skewer floats freely.
   

 

Wheel removal -
Slowly pull the wheel from between the fork blades making sure that the tire moves freely between the brake shoes.

Exceptions -
Some forks have indentations on the outside of the dropouts (fork ends) as a safety feature to make it harder for the wheel to come off should the skewer accidentally become loose. If you have that feature, simple hold the quick release lever in one hand while you rotate the adjusting nut of the skewer in a counterclockwise direction a few times until both ends of the skewer are free from the indentations. Then you can proceed with removing the wheel.

If there is no release feature on your brakes and the tire won't easily slide out between the brake shoes, you will have to let most of the air out of the tire so it will compress enough to squeeze between the shoes. But make sure you have your air pump with you or there is a source of air nearby so you can refill your tire when you go to replace the wheel.

 

Rear Wheel

Brake release -
In most cases, to remove your wheel you first have to release the rear brake so the tire will slide out through the space between the brake shoes.

Chain position - If you can, put the chain in the smallest sprocket on the rear wheel by holding the bike up and turning the crank as you move the shift lever. Since you probably don't have 3 hands, move the shift lever a couple of clicks, turn the crank, then repeat until the chain is on the smallest sprocket. Or you can make a note of which sprocket the chain is in so you can put the chain on that sprocket when you re-fasten the wheel. This way is a little more awkward, but it will work.

Wheel release -
Pivot the quick release lever 180 degrees so the skewer floats freely.

Wheel removal -
When you remove your rear wheel, the freewheel/cog/cassette (the thingie with all the sprockets) comes off with the wheel while the chain and rear deraileur remain on the bike. Grab the body of the deraileur and pivot it towards the back of the bike. This will move the chain and deraileur out of the way so you can easily slide the wheel out. Make sure the tire doesn't catch on the brake shoes.

Exceptions -
If there is no release feature on your brakes and the tire won't easily slide out between the brake shoes, you will have to let most of the air out of the tire so it will compress enough to squeeze between the shoes. But make sure you have your air pump with you or there is a source of air nearby so you can refill your tire when you go to replace the wheel.

Working with the real wheel can be a little complicated, so if you have any problems, don't be afraid to ask for help.

 

 

 

    Fastening your wheel

 

Beginning in the Open position, pivot the quick release lever in the direction of the arrow 180 degrees to the Closed position. Notice that the curve of the lever faces the hub.
(step by step below)

 

The pressure point is the point during the closing operation where you should begin to feel a significant build up of pressure as the quick release skewer begins to tighten up.

 

Front Wheel

Place the front wheel in the fork with the quick release lever on the right. If you released the brake to remove your wheel, put it back in the normal operating position.

Skewer adjustment -
While holding the quick release lever in the open position (with the curve of the lever facing away from the hub), slowly tighten the adjusting nut in a clockwise direction stopping now and then to check to see if you have reached the pressure point. This is the point where pivoting the lever towards the locked position leads to the need for significant pressure to move the lever any further. Once you have reached this point, wrap your fingers around the fork blade and use the palm of your hand to pivot the lever to the fully closed position. You will know the skewer is tight enough if you can barely force the lever to the locked position. You may have to do this a few times to get the pressure just right. Once this is is done, check to make sure the Adjusting nut and the base of the Quick release lever are pressed flat against the dropout and not hung up on anything. This can occur if the hub is not aligned properly with the safety indentations on the dropouts or if one of the skewer springs is distorted.

Centering the wheel -
Pivot the lever again to loosen the wheel. Wrap one hand around the fork blade as close to the rim as possible and grab one of the spokes in your fingers. Use your fingers to move the wheel back and forth sideways until the rim is centered between the brake shoes. Make sure the hub is as high in the dropouts (the notches in the fork) as it can go, and while holding the wheel in this position, use your other hand to Pivot the lever to the closed position making sure it is as tight as you can make it. Also make sure the lever is in a perfectly vertical position. This way the lever will be positioned in the curve of the fork blade and just far enough away from the blade that it will be easy to grab when you want to remove the wheel.

Final check -
Squeeze the brake lever a couple of times to make sure it's in it's normal operating position and check again to make sure the rim is centered between the brake shoes. If it isn't, repeat the previous step. Check to see if the rim is also roughly centered between the blades of the fork. If it isn't, bring it to a bike shop at your earliest convenience so they can adjust the brake centering.

Your front wheel is now properly tightened and you're ready to go.

 


 

Rear Wheel

 

The part of the frame that holds the rear wheel is called the dropout. There are 2 types of dropouts, vertical and horizontal.
  
With the vertical dropout, the rear wheel is inserted almost vertically much like the front wheel is in the fork. With the horizontal dropout, the rear wheel is inserted almost horizontally

 

Rear Wheel - Vertical dropout

While holding the deraileur out of the way as you did when you removed the wheel, slide the wheel into the dropouts with the quick release lever on the left (the side opposite the deraileur) making sure the top of the chain sits on the same sprocket it did when you removed the wheel. Then let go of the deraileur so it swings back into it's normal position.

Skewer adjustment -
While holding the quick release lever in the open position (with the curve of the lever facing away from the hub), slowly tighten the adjusting nut in a clockwise direction stopping now and then to check to see if you have reached the pressure point. This is the point where pivoting the lever towards the locked position leads to the need for significant pressure to move the lever any further. Once you have reached this point, wrap your fingers around the part of the frame that is closest to where you are working and use the palm of your hand to pivot the lever to the fully closed position to make sure the skewer is tight enough.  You know the skewer is tight enough when you can barely force the lever to the locked position. You may have to do this a few times to get the pressure just right. Once this is is done, check to make sure the Adjusting nut and the base of the Quick release lever are pressed flat against the dropout and not hung up on anything. This can occur if one of the skewer springs is distorted. If you released the brake to remove your wheel, put it back in the normal operating position at this time.

Centering the wheel -
Pivot the lever again to loosen the wheel. Wrap one hand around the part of the frame that's as close to the rim as possible (up near the seat) and grab one of the spokes in your fingers. Use your fingers to move the wheel back and forth sideways until the rim is centered between the brake shoes. Make sure the hub is as high in the dropouts as possible, and while holding the wheel in this position, use your other hand to Pivot the lever to the closed position making sure it is as tight as you can make it. Also make sure the lever is in a perfectly vertical position. This way the lever will be just far enough away from the frame tubing that it will be ease to grab.

Final check -
Squeeze the brake lever a couple of times to make sure it's in it's normal operating position and check again to make sure the rim is centered between the brake shoes. If it isn't, repeat the previous step.

Your rear wheel is now properly tightened and you're ready to go.
 

  
Rear Wheel - Horizontal dropout

While holding the deraileur out of the way as you did when you removed the wheel, slide the wheel into the dropouts with the quick release lever on the left (the side opposite the deraileur) making sure the top of the chain sits on the same sprocket it did when you removed the wheel. Then let go of the deraileur so it swings back into it's normal position.

Skewer adjustment -
While holding the quick release lever in the open position (with the curve of the lever facing away from the hub), slowly tighten the adjusting nut in a clockwise direction stopping now and then to check to see if you have reached the pressure point. This is the point where pivoting the lever towards the locked position leads to the need for significant pressure to move the lever any further. Once you have reached this point, wrap your fingers around the part of the frame that is closest to where you are working and use the palm of your hand to pivot the lever to the fully closed position to make sure the skewer is tight enough.  You know the skewer is tight enough when you can barely force the lever to the locked position. You may have to do this a few times to get the pressure just right. Once this is is done, check to make sure the Adjusting nut and the base of the Quick release lever are pressed flat against the dropout and not hung up on anything. This can occur if one of the skewer springs is distorted. If you released the brake to remove your wheel, put it back in the normal operating position at this time.

Centering the wheel -
Rotate the lever again to loosen the wheel. Wrap one hand around the part of the frame that's as close to the rim as possible (near the crank) and grab one of the spokes in your fingers. Use your fingers to move the wheel back and forth sideways until the rim is centered between the frame tubes. Make sure the side of the hub closest to the deraileur is as far back as possible, and while holding the wheel in this position, use your other hand to pivot the lever to the closed position making sure it is as tight as you can make it. Also make sure the lever is in a perfectly vertical position. This way the lever will be just far enough away from the frame tubing that it will be ease to grab.

Final check -
Squeeze the brake lever a couple of times to make sure it's in it's normal operating position and check to make sure the rim is centered between the brake shoes, which it normally will be. If it isn't, the brake needs to be adjusted so it's centered on the rim. In this case, you can usually wrestle with the wheel so it's centered between the frame tubes and between the brake shoes enough to be able to get to a bike shop to have your rear brake adjusted.

Your rear wheel is now properly tightened and you're ready to go.

 


 

One last thing ...
   
This is the correct locked position for a quick release hub. The lever is pointing upwards and the curve of the lever faces the hub.
This is an incorrect locked position. Although the lever is pointing upwards, the curve is pointed away from the hub. This position occurs when the adjusting nut is held and the lever is rotated clockwise like a wrench to tighten the quick release instead of pivoted vertically.
This is also an incorrect locked position. The lever has not been pivoted far enough and in this position can vibrate loose while you're riding. The lever is also in the wrong vertical position and could catch on something and loosen up.
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