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Important quick-release wheel skills

First developed in 1927 to help racers remove the rear wheel to change gears faster–because that’s how they did it back then–the quick-release cam has become a standard component in multiple places on all bikes that don’t come from a discount store. You see these on seats and both wheels.

QR skewer

Usage of the quick-release cam on a seat post is self-explanatory–just aim the seat forward and flip the lever. But with wheels, the usage technique is a bit more sophisticated, and an important skill for anyone using a CHANGE bike, which requires front wheel removal whenever you fold your bike. This 90-second video from BicyclesOnline in Australia gives an excellent overview:

It’s simple…once you understand three basic concepts.

1. Both ends of the quick-release axle tighten it.

The nut and the quick-release lever on the other end of the axle work as a team. Spin the nut to get close to the right tightness, then flip the lever over to exert mechanical advantage and tighten your wheel into place.

2. This is when you straighten your wheel.

If you have rim brakes, like on a CHANGE 702, this isn’t much of a concern, as you have up to 1/8″ leeway between the wheel and the brake pads.

But with disc brakes, the margins of error are much smaller. You might have only 1/16″ between the disc and the brake pads, so the slightest variation might cause the disc to rub at times. It will take a few tries to get the procedure down pat.

brake disc clearance

To get the disc centered, put one eye above it and close the other eye, so you can see both gaps.

To help with this, we perform a rear wheel alignment check and axle lockdown on every CHANGE bike before we ship it. We set it, so you can forget it.

And on the front, we loosen the brake calipers, ever so slightly, both to give you more margin for error and so that your front wheel doesn’t lock up as easily in a hard stop.

3. Do only the work that you need to.

Finally, every CHANGE frame includes a hook where you can temporarily attach your front wheel when folded, for one-handed carrying as a single unit. Do you need to?

Rear triangle

If you need it, it’s there. but if not, you’re adjusting your front axle for one size attachment, then redoing it again for your fork. Instead, if you just remove the front wheel and place it in your car separately with the bike, rather than attaching it temporarily, you save yourself the time of adjusting and readjusting it.

One final note…

When your new bike arrives, your front wheel will be protected by plastic hub protector pieces, while the quick-release axle (also called a skewer) will be attached to one of the spokes. We’ve tried more assembly than this, but this is the tried-and-true method. You’ll just need to put the skewer in the wheel, follow the three concepts above, and you’re on your way.

And that’s it. A little practice, and you’ll be popping your front wheel off and on like a pro!

Bob Forgrave's Signature

Bob Forgrave is president of Flatbike, an
ecommerce company offering full-size folding bikes
and kits to make any bike take up half the space.




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