Incorrect bicycle wheel quick-release use is dangerous because these mechanisms hold the wheels in place. The most common mistake using a quick release is simply turning the lever like a nut until the bike wheel seems tight.
Used this way, due to the bumps and rough roads that vibrate your bicycle, the lever and wheel can loosen as you ride leading to catastrophe. Follow these directions and view the pictures and animation below to learn how to properly use a quick release.
The beauty of the quick release is that it allows tool-free wheel removal and that makes it easy and fast to get the wheels off to put your bicycle in your car or fix a flat on a ride. It also, however, makes it easy for thieves to make off with a wheel or your bicycle if you don’t lock it correctly.
Inspecting your quick release
There are two ways to tell if the lever is open: most levers are marked open (photo) and closed so look for these markings.
Also, levers are usually curved. When the bend protrudes outward like a bump, the lever is closed. When the bend is cupped, the lever is open. Closing and opening the lever requires flipping it 180 degrees, not rotating it.
Even if the lever reads closed and looks right, its a good idea to test how tight it is by trying to open it by pulling on it. If it resists, its tight and safe. If it opens with only a little effort, its not tight enough.
Follow my directions that follow to tighten it.
Read the lever to tell if its safe. If it reads open, the wheel can come off! It should read “closed.”
Adjusting and closing your quick release
With the wheel centered in the fork (or frame), adjust the quick release by opening it, holding both ends and turning one clockwise until, when you close the lever about halfway, you feel some resistance.
this point, try to close the lever. The adjustment is correct when you
can fully close the lever (animation) but with some effort (the
lever should leave its impression in the palm of your hand). If you
can only close the lever part way, open it, unscrew one of the ends
to open the adjustment slightly and try again.
Most modern bicycle forks have wheel-retention tabs on them, which are small protrusions that keep a loose front wheel from falling out of the dropouts. The quick release must be open and adjusted by unscrewing it to clear these tabs when you remove and install the front wheel.
To do it for the front wheel, hold both ends of the quick release and turn one counterclockwise to unscrew it (photo) until there's enough clearance for the wheel to drop out of or fit into the fork (note that this adjustment is unnecessary on most rear wheels because retention tabs arent used).
Quick release use tips
For bikes with rim brakes, the quick-release levers should be on the left side of the bike.
For bikes with disc brakes, it's best to put the quick-release levers on the right side of the bike so that the levers can never open and get inside the disc brake rotor.
Quick releases must be fully closed to ensure safety.
If you close the lever in such a way that it aligns with the fork (see animation) and stays, youll have something to grip while squeezing the lever. Itll also keep the lever tucked away where it cant snag anything, which might happen leaning your bike next to another in a bike rack, for example.
If you ever unscrew the quick release until it comes apart, dont panic! Just try not to lose the little springs. Theyre not crucial and the quick release will work without them. Theyre only there to provide spring pressure to maintain some clearance between the ends of the quick release and the axle locknuts to make it easier to slide the wheel into the frame.
To reinstall the springs, make sure that the narrow ends point inward (see top photo).
Quick release maintenance
About once a month, lube your quick-release levers because dry levers wont work well and can feel tight when theyre not tight.
Aluminum quick-release levers usually press against bushings as you close the lever. Lightly lube where the lever contacts the bushing (photo), to keep the quick release operating properly.
Steel levers usually pivot inside the cap. Apply lube to trickle inside the levers pivot point.
If theres a nut or screw holding the lever (look beneath the cap), snug it with a wrench or screwdriver to make sure its tight.