Reasons Your Bike’s Rear Wheel Is Not Spinning Freely | The Fix

In this post, I will talk about the wobbly rear wheel on your bike or the rear wheel not spinning freely, the reasons behind it and what can we do to fix this issue.

Let’s take a look at why your bike’s rear wheel is not spinning freely and how you can fix it.

How Do You Find Out If There Is a Problem With the Rear Wheel?

Before you go around messing with the rear wheel of your bike, let’s make sure it’s the source of the problem. After all, if it ain’t broken, why fix it? right? 

Do you feel it’s getting harder and harder to pedal as if only half of your bike is going along? Try paying close attention to the rotation of the rear wheel. 

Does anything about it seem irregular while pedaling? Try listening to the rhythm of the wheel. Does it sound off-rhythm? 

If you still have some doubts, put your bike up on a center stand and spin the rear wheel. Is it spinning as freely as it should or does it stop after a few seconds? Try spinning both wheels and using the front one’s rotation as a reference. 

If your rear wheel stops spinning before your front wheel, you know you have a problem with your rear wheel.

Bike Chain with Cassette and derailleur with a scooter in the background

What Are the Possible Causes and Their Solution?

A rear wheel problem is usually straightforward and doesn’t warrant a visit to the mechanic immediately. 

There are four main issues you can try and fix to get your rear wheel spinning back to normal.

The Brakes Are Rubbing on the Wheel

This should be the first thing on your list of inspections because it’s the easiest to fix. 

The reason your rear wheel isn’t spinning freely could be because the brakes are rubbing against the wheel. There could be friction between the pads and the rotor

It’s tough to pedal freely when your bike is braking on its own. To fix this issue, start by looking at the brake pads before we take anything apart. 

Brake pads should have groove-like protrusions that work as a literal grip when braking. If the grooves are brushing up against the rim of your bike without you pulling on the brake lever, they’re not centered correctly. 

It might be that one of the pads is pushing the other against the rear wheel, preventing it from spinning freely. It can also be that the braking fluid expanded due to humidity, leaving less free space between the pads. 

Try loosening the caliper and spinning the wheel. If it spins normally without a quicker stop, then the brakes are the problem. Here are a few things you can do to fix this.

Rear wheels with break pads
  • Using a wrench, loosen the bolt next to the brake pad and adjust the pad’s position.
  • Center the pads, ensuring the space above and below the rim is equal. 
  • Keep the brake pads centered as you re-screw the bolt
  • Retest the brakes and the spin of your rear wheel.

If your rear wheel still isn’t spinning freely, move on to the next option. 

The Axel Nuts Are Too Tight, Causing Extensive Pressure on the Bearings 

The next thing you need to do if your rear wheel isn’t spinning freely is to check the bearings. 

There are several kinds of bike bearings, but they all have one thing in common: a weird squeaky sound when you rotate the wheel can indicate the nuts are screwed too tightly. 

Try loosening the Axel nuts and then retightening them until you get the right amount of torque. The squeaky sound is gone, and your rear wheel is spinning freely again. 

The Bearings Are Too Dry

Lubrication is essential when it comes to bike wheel bearings. When there’s not enough, your rear wheel can seize up and stop spinning freely. That’s why lube is one of the must-have bike accessories for bikers

If lubrication is why your rear wheel isn’t spinning freely, you’ll probably hear a strange ticking sound as it rotates. This is the sound of dry ball bearings hitting each other. 

You can also run your finger across the axle and it’ll spin for a long time if there’s a lack of grease.   

There are generally two types of lubricants you can use for bearings: oil and grease

While several factors can affect your choice of lubricant, you’re usually better off using the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Here is how to remove the rear wheel with the rear hub and re-grease the bearings:

  1. Loosen the the Axel nut and then remove the wheel.
  2. When the wheel is out, add the Grease to the Axel opening, making sure to wipe off extra grease.
  3. Refasten the nut and give the rear wheel a spin. Does the rotation feel normal? Perfect.

Bent or Broken Axle 

The last thing you check if your rear wheel isn’t spinning freely is the rear axle. It might be broken. This is common with bikers who like to do tricks or ride through obstacles. or are riding their bike on rough terrain. 

With a bent or broken axle, you’ll probably have trouble making tight turns. Your rear wheel will become wobbly and won’t spin correctly. 

The only solution, in this case, is to replace the broken axle. After you’ve replaced it, make sure to take proper care of your new axle by regularly cleaning and lubricating it along with the adjacent bike components.  

It’s a great idea to have a repair kit handy with a non-residue cleaner, lubricant, and cloth.

Why does my bike back wheel lock up?

Your bearings may be faulty. And unfortunately, they will need replacement. Follow the process mentioned above to remove the rear wheel; remove the axel from the hub and then remove the bearings from the Axel, you might need a hammer to get the bearings out. now replace with new bearings and put everything back together.

Should bike wheels spin freely?

when spun using hands or a crank, the wheels should spin freely. If they are not, check for any rubbing from brakes pads on wheels, broken axel and lubrication on the bearings

Final Thoughts

Feeling a weird wobble or jolt while pedaling on your bike can be a scary experience. It’s hard to ignore it when your rear wheel isn’t spinning as it should be.

It could be due to a problem with the brakes, tight or dry bearings, or even a broken axle. Each is relatively easy to fix and you can get your rear wheel up and running in a matter of minutes. 

Try these fixes and don’t let a rear wheel snag put the brakes on your cycling plans!