How to Tighten a Loose Freewheel


The rapid clicking that your bicycle makes as you coast down a hill comes from the freewheel mechanism attached to the hub of your rear wheel. Unlike a fixed-gear drivetrain, which requires a cyclist's legs to be moving at all times, a freewheel drivetrain lets you relax and enjoy the ride. If you often traverse rough terrain, the excessive vibration may cause the freewheel to loosen from the hub.

Things You'll Need

  • Chain whip
  • Shift your bicycle to its highest gear. This places the chain on the smallest cog to allow for easier removal of the wheel.

  • Lift the lever of the quick-release skewer that secures the bicycle's rear wheel in the frame's dropouts. Rotate the lever counterclockwise to loosen the skewer's hold.

  • Pull the wheel gently out of the dropouts while lifting the chain away from the cogs. It may help to pull back the derailleur's arm at this point. Slide the tire out from between the brake pads.

  • Place the chain whip around the centermost cog. The chain whip should wrap around the top portion of the cog, and the handle should rest on the right, or clockwise, side of the cog.

  • Crank the handle of the chain whip clockwise forcefully. The leverage from the chain whip will move the freewheel further onto the threads of the hub, producing a tighter fit.

  • Pull back the derailleur's arm and replace the wheel in the frame's dropouts, ensuring that the rim aligns with the rear brake arms. Guide the chain over the smallest cog.

  • Rotate the lever of the quick-release skewer clockwise to tighten. Push down the lever to lock the wheel in place.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your freewheel keeps loosening, its threads may be stripped. Take the bicycle to a bicycle repair shop.
  • Refer to your bicycle's owner's manual for more detailed instructions on rear wheel removal.
  • Always wear proper safety equipment, such as a helmet and wrist guards, while bicycling.
  • Test drive the bicycle after tightening the freewheel.

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  • Photo Credit Stewart Cohen/Lifesize/Getty Images
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