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My commuting/cyclocross bike (a Surly Crosscheck) has a problem.

If I tighten the quick release skewer to a normal level, sort of firm to close it, then if I step on the pedals hard at some point, the rear wheel basically comes right out of the dropouts.

To keep the wheel actually in the frame, I have to cinch the quick release down hard enough that I get a bit concerned about ever opening it again. The springs get mangled.

This is a somewhat recent development and appears to be getting worse. Any ideas?

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If the springs get mangled that means the skewer is assembled incorrectly. – Daniel R Hicks Mar 1 at 2:54

I had a similar problem on my Pugsley, though it was under braking (discs) that I was kicking the wheel around in the dropouts.

After talking with the guys at my LBS, I learned that I wasn't putting enough force into the quick release. They said that a good, tight, clamp should leave an imprint of the lever on your palm when you close it. It will be difficult to open, but not horrible. This measure of tightness has served me well so far.

I would also check to ensure that your clamping surfaces are clean (get rid of any excess lube which may have seeped in there). You can also look at the skewer itself to ensure it is a high quality skewer. The type of clamp (I don't know if the older style even exists anymore, but I do run into them from time to time) can make a difference as well as the roughness of the clamping surface. For a while I was using a pair of Surly Tuggnuts which have a smooth surface facing the frame which made my problem even worse.

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I heard the same thing from several bike shops - the lever should leave a nice imprint in your palm once you force it shut. – Jared Harley Aug 25 '10 at 20:46
I had the same problem, and the same solution worked for me. – Neil Fein Aug 25 '10 at 21:18
I know the lever is shut hard enough, it's already the tightest of my bikes when I can still torque the rear wheel out. The surfaces are clean but look a bit polished. I will rough them up this weekend and see if that solves the problem. – bikesandcode Aug 26 '10 at 19:01

I have seen this a few times where the axle is just a tad too long. No matter how tight you clamp your QR, it won't be snug enough. Did you buy the frame and build it up yourself? If it is the axle, you can pop the wheel out, remove the QR and take a file to one end or the other. Another possibility is the the wheel was built incorrectly and the axle actually needs to be moved back to center. Are the axle lengths on either side of the lock nuts (these are the nuts that hold the cones in place on the hub) equal?

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Are the skewers internal-cam or external-cam?

Internal-cam QR skewers have more mechanical advantage and allow for more clamping force. They're also less affected by dirt and crud. If you don't have internal-cam skewers, get some.

All you ever wanted to know about skewers, courtesy of Sheldon Brown.

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As the link provides everything needed to solve the problem this is the correct answer. – mattnz Jul 23 '12 at 0:37

I had this same problem but i went to a bike shop and explained the situation, the bike mechanic gave me a serrated washer to be placed between the skewer and the bike frame on the cassette side. This solved the issue

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I have this problem myself. Take it as a compliment from your bike--it means you're capable of putting a lot of torque/power through the rear wheel!

For me, the solution was to do what you've been doing--clamp down and take your wheel off sparingly. A better solution would be to purchase a quick release skewer with a rougher interface with the dropout. It might chew up the surface and your paint a little bit, but it will help prevent slippage.

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