How To Remove And Replace Your Mountain Bike Wheels | MTB Maintenance

How To Remove And Replace Your Mountain Bike Wheels | MTB Maintenance

– Removing a wheel from a bike is something we all need
to do at some point, whether that’s just to fix a puncture, or perhaps if you wanna put your bike in a car and transport it. Now, removing wheels is
a very easy thing to do, but it’s also easy to make a few mistakes. So this is the best and safest way to remove and replace your wheels. Now first up, before
you remove your wheels, you need to understand which type of axle fastenings you have. Now on most mountain bikes these days, you have what’s known as
quick-release thru-axles. They’re basically a bigger version of the classic quick-release. Now for this video, I’m gonna
show you how to use those, gonna show you how to
use the allen key version and also the classic quick-release. (light music) Now none of our presenter
bikes here at GMBN, actually have quick-releases anymore, because you don’t often see them. However, I’ve just borrowed
Dan the cameraman’s bike, just to have a look at this. So he’s got an old Giant here and this has got
quick-release levers on it. Now, a quick-release lever
is a cam-operated lever, it’s very easy to undo,
but there’s a couple of little details you need to know. On the bottom of the fork,
or the rear of the frame, there’ll be little safety tabs. These are to ensure that
if the lever comes loose, the wheel won’t fall out. So, you have to undo the lever enough, in order for the wheel
to pass through that. So quick-release itself
is a very simple thing, so cam-operated lever on a bar, with a thread on the
end, a spring and a nut. All you need to do, is make
sure it’s sufficiently tight and you should be able to close
it no problem and open it. That’s all there is to it. But you don’t tend to see it on mountain bikes that much these days. So I’m gonna show you the two
common versions right now, that you’ll see on most
modern mountain bikes. Now with most modern mountain bikes, you’ll find they either have the quick-release style thru-axle system, like you see on my Scott here, or you’re gonna have
the allen key version, which you’ll see on my Nukeproof here. So to make it super easy for you, I’m just gonna show you one of each, nice and simple, but
the process is exactly the same no matter what axle you have. (light music) Most mountain bikes today have disc brakes on them, even the budget bikes, but occasionally you’re going to get one that has regular v brakes
or cantilever brakes. If that’s the case, then you
need to loosen the cable first, before you can remove the wheel, to enable the tire to pass the brake pads. In this case, it’s a conventional bike, that has a disc brake on it and I’m gonna need a six
millimeter allen key. So you either want a multi-tool for that, or a good old-fashioned allen keys. So, just gonna get my
six millimeter allen key, nice and simple, put it
straight into the end there, into the head and you wanna loosen this anticlockwise or counter-clockwise. Nice and easy. And because it’s a thru-axle, the threads are actually on the fork ends, so you just wanna completely
remove this from the bike. When it comes loose, you
can slide this straight out. Now there we go, there is the axle. Nice and simple now to remove, fork goes up, wheel comes out. Now, something to pay attention to, when you are removing
your wheel from the bike, is if you accidentally
press the brake lever, you can squash the brake pads together. So a little handy tip for you, if you’re putting your
bike in a car perhaps, is to get a bit of
cardboard, fold it in half, wedge it in between your disc
brake pads, just like so. And that basically takes up the same void that the disc would. So if your brake lever
is accidentally pressed, nothing is going to be affected and when you go to put your wheel back in, it’s gonna work perfectly and you won’t have to prize them apart. If unluckily, you do manage
to squeeze the brake lever and your pads are drawn together, a flat-bladed screwdriver will be fine to just prize them apart, just
be careful when you do that. And for putting the wheel back in, you just need to make sure
it’s orientated correctly, so the disc rotor is on the
same side as the caliper. Then you wanna line it up,
use line of sight there, just to make sure it slides
in between the brake pads and then it will sit home nicely. And then it’s a case of sliding that axle back into place and tightening up. Once that wheel is in place, all you need to do is
slide that axle back in and make sure that the threads on the end, bite on the threads in
the end of the fork there. Now sometimes, you might wanna
just stand over the bike, just to make sure it lines up correctly, so you can get a good line of sight. There you go, I can feel
it going into the end there and then simply tighten up
that allen key on the end, to make sure that the wheel
stays nice and secure. Job done, ready to hit the trails. Now the good news is, if you have any sort of quick-release lever on your bike, like on this quick-release 15 here, you don’t need any tools to
remove either of your wheels. However, you do need to pay attention when putting them back in again, so there’s an important safety
feature I’m gonna show you. To remove the wheel, sometimes
you’ll find some brands, the lever will be on the
non-drive side of the bike, other brands will be on the other side. The principal is identical
and you need to undo them in a counterclockwise or
anticlockwise movement. Same as before, with the quick-release, literally undo the lever,
it’s a cam-based lever and then simply unwind until the threads aren’t unwinding anymore And then slide the axle straight out and then the wheel is ready to remove. Nice and simple. Same thing applies to
put the wheel back in. Make sure it’s orientated correctly and then using line of sight, line up the disc rotor
in between the brake pads and then sit it home. And you simply wanna replace that axle, make sure the threads grip at the end and then wind it back into the bike. Now the idea is that you tighten this up and the lever needs to be
facing in a safe orientation. In this case, it’s completely
upright with the fork. And the reason for that is, if you tighten it against the fork, the cam can’t actually
tighten sufficiently and it could come undone. If you wanna know a bit more detail about all the different
types of axle out there, there’s a link below this very video, in our new Essentials series on GMBN Tech and that will detail the very
specific things about them. But the fundamentals are the same, just use your common sense, make sure it’s in a safe position. Make sure the lever is closed properly and make sure it’s not in a position like for example, facing
forwards like this. If it’s facing forwards and you ride along a trail with lots of
brambles, that could unflip it and of course, with
the rattling over time, the lever could undo and
that axle could fall out. So make sure that you do it nice and safe. Get it done right. (light music) Okay, now it’s time to look at removing and replacing the rear wheel. Now regardless of the
type of axle you have, it’s the same principle. So if you just take note of
what I said earlier in the video with the allen keys or the levers and you apply that to
this, it’s no problem. Now all bikes will have gears on the rear. Now you wanna make sure
that your gear is shifted, so the chain is in the smallest sprocket. And the reason for that is
if it’s in a bigger sprocket, there’ll be a lot of chain tension and you’ll be fighting that when you remove and replace the wheel. So make it easier for
yourself to start with, put it in a small sprocket. So this particular bike has
a Sram derailleur on it, so you wanna swing that
lower cage all the way round and engage the button
which locks the cage. This basically makes the
chain nice and slack, so it makes it very easy
to remove that wheel. If your bike has a
Shimano derailleur on it, chances are it might
be a clutch derailleur, in which case you need to
just move this little lever. So now it’s time to
literally undo the axle and let the wheel slip out the bike. So depending on your axle type, you need to loosen that axle
and unwind it from your bike. So mine has unwound now, so I’m just gonna slide it all the way
out, just remove that. Now lift your bike up, now carefully, you need to just move the rear
derailleur backwards slightly to allow the chain to
release the rear wheel and you’re done, nice and simple. So unlike replacing the front wheel, on the rear wheel you have to line up both the disc rotor in the
pads and also the chain. So my advice is to line up the chain first because it’s further away. Just get it onto that small sprocket, then line up the rear disc
rotor in between the pads and put the wheel in place. Then it’s a case of running that axle straight back in again,
tightening sufficiently and also making sure that the lever itself is in a safe position, just
like with the front wheel. Something to take into
account with the rear, is make sure that your ankle or your foot can’t accidentally strike that lever, with the position it is on your bike. Get that tight and safe. Then it’s simply a case, on this bike, of pushing the cage forwards and that will disengage that lock. There we go and let it back. If your bike has a Shimano derailleur and it has a clutch on it, this is when you just reengage that
clutch and you’re good to go. So there you go, that’s the basics of removing and replacing
your wheels from your bike. Don’t forget those little safety tips, with the lever accidentally opening. And the little handy tip with the cardboard between the brake pads, that’s saved me on many an occasion. If you wanna know a bit
more about different types of wheel axle and how they actually work and all the features, click over here for the first in our GMBN
Tech Essentials series. There’s a whole series of stuff, teaching everyone everything
about fixing your own bike. As always, click on the round globe to subscribe to GMBN,
tell everyone about us and if you like fixing your
bike, give us a thumbs up.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Do you guys have tutorials on how to build bicycles. I am buying a 2019 Cube analog but early next year I'll be buying a full suspension frame. I want to swap most of the parts that I can swap over to the new frame and buy whatever I can't swap over.

  2. I have shimano slx brakes and compressing the brake when the wheel isn’t in just makes the brake a little more powerful, I do it on purpose every now and then.

  3. Please forward this to Joland Neff's mechanic. It took him 55 seconds to change her rear wheel. Maybe Doddie should replace him.

  4. Right I ride a gt idrive 1.0 quite retro I no but when changing a puncture the other I took the back wheel out and now my brake pads have closed there is also no pressure when I press my lever I can not get my back wheel in I have bled my brakes to check if I had an air bubble etc but my brake pads wont open any help

  5. Is this a ""how-to" for Jolanda Neff's mechanic? Very timely with the World Champs in a few days! Nearly a minute to change a rear wheel – come on, lad! Even Blake could change one faster….

  6. I've got a 2015 Giant Trance and the rear wheel is a real pain in the ass. The axle won't catch the other side of the frame and it always takes me about 5 minutes of fideling with the wheel, asle and frame to get it on, any advise?

  7. Neat.
    Something annoying with the axis that require an hellen hey is that sometimes the key hole gets with mud and it is easy to get it damaged if you don't clean it before opening.
    Greetings from the Galilee.

  8. Take picnic blanket or carpet mat .. flip bike so the blanket or mat protects the cockpit then you are not left with one wheel in trying to undo it and dropping forks or rear mech in a car park. More importantly…put the through axle back in… you don’t want to get to the trails with no axle or the other way. (If you have a traditional QR however remove and stick in a 9mm. ) and if you are watching this.. then yes, the clutch only gets turned off for removing a wheel and axle threads take grease…

  9. Ruined my hexlock thru axle at the LBS parking. Expensive joke at €75 for a simple axle. Fortunately got a new one right away but lesson learned.

  10. I hate to take off my wheel, because the rotor always rubs the pads slightly after re-installation. Through-axle, so it should go back to the same place, but it obviously doesn't. No, the brake lever isn't pulled while the wheel is off. It always involves tweaking the calipers as well.

  11. Just been practising taking the front wheel off on my bike and now I have put it back on the brakes are rubbing and making a noise. How can I stop this as it wasn't rubbing before I tried changing the wheel I'm new to mountain bikes so that's first time I've tried it.they are disc brakes and My bike is a voodoo bantu Help is appreciated thanks.

  12. This video is screaming out for the use of a scorpion bike stand, watching Doddy have to balance and hold up the bike is just painful

  13. I love how loads of people are getting triggered as if they never had to learn how to change a wheel and just instantly knew

  14. i dont know in what bikes you ride on guys.. but on sub 1200 dls hardtail mtb´s, they all have quick releases (or at least almost all of them). I have a specialized rockhopper pro with quick realeases, and almost all my "riding friends" have them too… You start to see the most complex systems on 1500dls + bikes.

  15. #gmbntech is it ok to fit a 27.5 wheelset on a 26 frame, provided the tires give enough mud clearance on the frame and fork? What are the disadvantages of doing so? Advantages as well? (aside from having 27.5 tires easily available everywhere) cheers!

  16. Can't believe the amount of negative comments. Some people are brand new to the sport and need to learn these things.
    If the video isn't useful to you don't watch it and leave the comments section to people who have genuine questions/comments.

  17. I´d rather like to see how to adjust the this bolt that gets through the wheel. In the case that it faces forward and upwards is too tight.

  18. What a great mentality a lot of you are having, mocking any beginners who might not yet know how to do this. Someone probably had to teach this to most of you too, so dont come in riding on your high horse.

  19. Totally prefer non-quick release thru axles. They're simple and work, and you can them torqued consistently. You have to keep the cam mechanism fairly clean on the QRs and then they're always fiddly trying to get them oriented in a safe direction. Generally, one should bring a multitool along for any ride, so, no real disadvantages for me.

  20. You coukd have included example with Shimano (or Sram without using the lock). It is more fiddly as you need to use one hand for holding the bike, opening the derailleur and the cage.(actually looks like it didnt go so smooth for you either as in the detail view your left hand is at the end of the seatstay but one moment later – fitting disc between the pads, you hold the bike by the top of the seatstay)

  21. I am a beginner and I had watched this video after taking off my tire. I pretty much did everything they said not to do

  22. Thank God for GMBN!!! I didn’t realise until watching this video that I had a button to pin back my derailuer. It has made replacing my wheel so much easier. Dooooooh!

  23. Don't forget to put the through axles back in place when transporting your bike in a car. Leaving it accidentally at the car park and finding out after a 200+ miles drive is a major pain in the a.. 😀

  24. I have shimano shadow+ derailleur & its a lot harder to get the wheel on/off. It seems so effortless on this video to lift of the frame & the wheel just glides free. With mine it involves 20 mins of cursing getting it back on. Its like a Japanese puzzle box.

    I do appreciate your video though, it came just at the right time for me.

  25. My gravel bike must have a bit of play on it, because the brake disk rubs on the pads. Is there a trick for lining it up. I put the front wheel back on in the dark at home after getting it out of the car.

  26. Hey guys! I have a shimano saint shifter wich is very stiff. Have you ever worked with it? Because I'm always struggling with taking the rear wheel off and then putting it back on. Do you have any tips for me?

  27. I have a problem in my bike when i remove the wheel and put it back they don't come back smoothly they begin to slow me down when i ride it

  28. I love how easy guys make it look. I ended up breaking my deralieur hanger in half trying to put my wheel back on.

  29. Just bought my first mountain bike yesterday. Went for a nearly two hour ride to check the bike out. Rode only on sealed roads and a smooth gravel bike/walking track. Got home and ten minutes later both front and rear were dead flat. Checked the tyre pressures just before l left home for my ride. Bugger.

  30. This is so helpful. I just bought a Giant Fathom 29 1 and I didn't know which way to put the tires. I'm a horrible human being. I know. Just absolutely terrible! But thank you for the Video! Life saver!

  31. Hi guys, can I change my allen key through axle into a quick release one? I have the 2019 Norco Fluid fs3. Many thanks

  32. Thank you, starting cycling again after open heart surgery , rescued a bike that needs a back tyre replace, i have a shimano tourmay gear and this video helped a lot although it doesn't seem to have a lever like you mention, wish me luck

  33. can you help me i want buy new tire but i dont know can mine bike suport 2.4 tires now i am using 2.2, i am buying online cause i live in small city and there is no bike shop here :(. bike i ride is this 22 inc size

  34. This is a great Video.

    Question: One time I removed my Rear wheel and the chain got off the cogs in the rear derailer and got confused on how to realign it with the Cogs. Is there a trick to this? I'm running Shimano XT, by the way.


  35. Great video very useful. I just bought a mtb, it has a quick release system like the first type you showed, I was always worried about removing it just in case I am not able to put it back.

    Now after watching your video that's not a problem, you made it very simple

  36. The advantage of quick release is no thread in fork, no stuck up and no loosed thread. and no headache in terms of troubleshooting.

  37. Front wheels are pretty simple.
    On rear wheels
    -make sure your wheel is centered in the frame
    -it's tightened properly
    Under load, that rear wheel can come out of some frame types if not secured properly.

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