Sometimes it’s necessary to remove a bike wheel to fit the bike into a car, patch a flat, or to prevent theft. Modern bicycles have come with a quick release, which is a device that holds the wheel. With this mechanism, you don’t need to carry any tools to remove the front bike wheel.

However, you may need to think of another option if you’re looking for ways on how to remove front bike wheel without quick release. The good news is that removing the front wheel is simple and will take you minutes to replace the tire.

The Basics of Bicycle Wheels


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You need to take time to understand the cycling wheel anatomy before you start removing the wheels. When assessing the bike, you should notice that the wheel is clamped onto the bike with a lever, or what they call a quick release.

Some old bikes like track bikes have wheels bolted onto the frame. You also need to identify the parts of the bike that the wheel is clamped, which are the dropouts. The dropouts are different slots that the wheel slips into. It’s also what the quick release clamps onto. The front has a two-pronged element, which is a fork with dropouts.

The rear has seat stays and chain stays that join at the rear dropouts. You’ll be glad to know that the back has a drive mechanism that moves the chain and a group of cogs. The result means it’s different to install the rear wheel as it requires a different technique than the front wheel.

You’ll notice that the brakes work together with the rear wheel to slow down the bike. A few bikes have disc brakes which will require a different mechanism. Whether you have a mountain bike or a road bike, you need the right method for opening the brakes; this ensures that the wheel can pass between the brake pads.

What is a Bicycle Quick Release and How Does it Work?

The quick release is part of the skewer on a bike wheel. You’ll find the levers on the non-drive side of the bike on both front and rear wheels. These quick release levers have two springs, a lever attached to the skewer, and an end bit. You’ll notice that the broader ends are facing out and the narrow ends are pointing to each other.

The device is made of a lever, skewer rod, cap, and two springs. The lever tightens the skewer and has the words open and close on either side. The rod goes through the axle and has a thread on one end. When removing or installing your wheel, the two springs facing inwards provide clearance, while the cap threads on the skewer and works like a nut to hold the wheel.

When selecting a quick release, always look out for the cam type, materials, skewer length, and skewer diameter.

Quick releases work like the wheel-chocks truck drivers place behinds the wheels when parking on the hill. The quick release has a cam, which acts like a little chock. You can find the cam into the silver end-cap where the lever attaches. Every time you open or close it, it has to climb over the top of its chock.

A quick release is a long bolt that has a cam lever on end. The cam lever is what gives the quick release the robust clamping force. If you need to remove a wheel, flip the lever open, this will release the wheel. However, if it’s a front wheel, you should unthread the quick release nit on the levers opposite side.

Steps on How to Remove the Front Bike Wheel


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When using freeride and downhill bikes, you should have a through-axle system and not a quick release. The system means the wheel’s axles are closed in and held by the frame for a secure and rigid unit.

Wheel removal differs slightly depending on the design. However, the procedure involves loosening the pinch bolts and removing the axle from the hub, to release the wheel. Some designs allow you to free the axle from the mechanism holding it to remove the wheel.

The axle has threading on a single side, which fits through the dropout and hub. The lever system rotates the threads and axle, putting it in the dropout. Solid axle systems have a hanger that connects to the dropout.

You should see a nut and bolt that grips the hanger to the frame. The wheel goes over the hanger bracket. Also, the hanger bracket displaces the right side. Secure the nuts and center the wheel.

Here is a step by step guide on how to remove the front bike wheel correctly.

Position the Bike Correctly

Ensure that the bike is well-positioned so you can grab the handlebars with one hand. You should also balance the bike when you remove the front wheel.

Understand Your Bicycle Brakes

It’s essential to know which brakes your bike has before removing the wheel. Different brakes have varied methods of opening to release the wheel. Compress the brake arms with a single hand to loosen the brake cables if you have cantilever or V-brakes. Crack the brake cable catch from its housing using the other hand,

Turn the Release Handle

If you have side-pull brakes on both wheels, turn the release handle upwards to open the brakes. The process creates enough space for you to remove the front wheel on your bike.

Avoid Compressing the Brakes

After removing the wheel, avoid compressing the brakes especially if they are disk brakes. Doing so moves the brake pads closer together, which means you won’t get the brake rotor back between the pads. Compressing them will blow out the seals of the brake caliper

You need to find a tool to separate the pads. A pad separator tool works best, but if you don’t have it, you can opt for a flat bladed screwdriver to access the area between the pads. Use a clean tool to avoid contaminating the brake pads. Squeeze the lever and replace the wheel to reset the pads.

Removing Front Bike Wheel without a Quick Release

Here’s what you need to know about how to remove front bike wheel without quick release.

Check if your front wheel hub has a nut on either side. Place a box or a wheel wrench on the bolts. You may notice that the nut size will vary based on the hub brand.

The next step is to rotate the nuts in a counterclockwise direction to slacken them. Note that you don’t need to remove them, but they need to be loose. You can remove the wheel once the nuts are loose.

How to Re-install the Front Wheel

You can place back the front wheel by reversing the above proves. Hold the bike by handlebars in one hand, while the other hand should hold the wheel on the ground. Place the fork dropouts in line with the axle on the front wheel.

Place the axle into the dropouts by pushing the bike down into the axle to ensure that the wheel is in alignment with the dropouts. Turn the nut and judge the pressure you need to close the nuts. Screw in the nuts if it’s too light and vice versa.

The level of tension needs heavy hand pressure to lose the lever. At this point, the cam offers clamping force against the dropouts when you close the lever. You need to close the lever correctly to secure the wheel.

The lever should have an impression on your palm after closing. Note that the lever should be parallel with the forks. Align the lever in a way that it points upwards and matches with the line in the fork as you don’t want the lever popping open or sticking out.

Spin the wheel to ensure it’s centered in the dropouts. The process makes sure that the brake pads do not rub the rotor or rim. A wheel that doesn’t spin could indicate bent fork’s dropouts. Change the bike back over and use the tools to loosen the axle. Tighten the axle and push down on the wheel to tighten the axle. Close the brake, and you’re ready to use your bike.

Final Thoughts

You need to understand the cycling wheel anatomy before you begin yanking the wheels off. At some point, you may need to remove the wheels to put your bike on a car rack, fix a flat tire, or prevent theft.

Although bicycle quick releases make your work simpler, they can also expose you to injury if not installed correctly. The above step by step guide will help you learn how to remove front bike wheel without quick release.

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