How to Remove a Rear Wheel with a Thru Axle

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A closeup of a bicycle technician removing the components from the rear wheel of a mountain bike

If you need to fix a flat tire, the first thing to do is remove the wheel. This article teaches you how to remove a rear wheel that is attached by a thru axle. (If you have a quick-release axle, see the how-to details here.)

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Video: Bike Maintenance: How to Remove a Rear Wheel with a Thru Axle


Removing the Wheel

First, put your bike in a repair stand and shift the chain to the smallest cog. If you're in the middle of your ride or you don't have a bike stand, you can flip the bike upside down to work on it. Shifting to the smallest cog will help the wheel slide out more easily.

If your derailleur has a clutch that increases tension on the chain, turn it off.

finding a clutch on your derailleur

Next, loosen the lever on the axle and spin it counterclockwise until all the threads are completely loose. Support the wheel and pull the axle out.

To get the wheel out smoothly, pull down on the tensioning arm and back on the body of the derailleur. The wheel should slide right out.

removal of the rear wheel on a bicycle


Reinstalling the Wheel

When you're done with your work, it's time to reinstall the wheel. Start by adding a thin film of grease to the threads on the axle.

Get the derailleur out of the way by pulling it down and back. It also helps to make sure one of the smallest cogs engages with the upper section of chain.

derailleur movement prior to reinstalling a wheel

Check that the wheel is fully seated in the dropouts before reinstalling the axle.

axle detail on a bike

Now reinstall the axle. If the axle doesn't slide in smoothly on the first try, remove it and check the wheel's alignment before trying again. Screw in the axle and close the lever. Make sure it's tucked out of the way and isn't touching the bike's frame.

If the lever closes too easily and is touching the frame, it's probably not tight enough. Open the lever and tighten the axle. Then check everything again.

reinstalling the axle on a bike

If your derailleur has a clutch, turn it back on.

Finish by spinning the pedals and making sure that the gears shift normally.