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I am new to road bikes. I bought a new road bike. I wanted to take the front wheel out, but it was difficult because, despite of having "opened" the brake pads (with the quick release lever found on the braking mechanism), the tire was thicker than the space between the pads. The same happens on my rear wheel.

I don't know if I am making myself clear, so an answer to any of these three questions will help:

  • Is this normal on road bikes?
  • Does this mean the pads should be further apart?
  • How far apart from the wheel should the brake pads (front and rear) be?
  • There are several different brake designs, so perhaps you should describe yours better, or,better still, include a picture. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 26 '15 at 16:35
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    A real simple solution is to just let some air out of the tire. And don't put the air back in until it is re-installed. – paparazzo Jan 26 '15 at 16:37
  • (It's not "normal", but it happens, and is likely more common on "fat tire" bikes. It is unusual on road bikes, however.) – Daniel R Hicks Jan 26 '15 at 16:47
  • At least it doesn't allow thieves to unscrew your wheels and leave. – Victor Yu Jul 20 '19 at 4:29
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To answer your questions first before going into more detail:

  1. Yes, this is quite common on road bikes as there isn't a massive amount of clearance between the wheel, tyre and forks.

  2. I wouldn't say you have to make the brake pads further apart.

  3. Brake pads are generally 2-3mm from the rim on either side. Too close and you'll have extremely sensitive brakes. Too much space and you'll be pulling the levers until they touch the handlebars - not good!

This is all a matter of your bike's configuration. You sound like you have a similar situation to my bike, but the answer is short and simple - you need to let some air out of your tyre to get it past.

The other option is to loosen the brake blocks and manoeuvre them out of the way, but this requires setting them back into position once your wheel is back in place. Although not necessarily a tricky job, it's more hassle than it's worth (providing you simply don't have a pump to hand for the other method).

My bike is of a similar nature in that the front brakes actually hit the inside of my fork when I use their quick-release mechanism. My only option is to let some air out (not much mind) and the tyre squeezes past. Finally, you could even consider narrower tyres which may fit past fully-inflated (this will affect the handling and comfort of the bike though...).

  • You could also buy slightly wider rims. A drastic solution, but should be workable in many cases. – John Zwinck Jan 27 '15 at 9:12
  • How would wider rims solve the problem of limited space? Surely having wider rims would reduce the ability the manoeuvre the wheel out from the brake blocks. He also says that the brakes are hitting the tyre, not the rim. – Michael Jan 27 '15 at 9:15
  • Wider rims will be closer to the width of the tire, assuming the same tire is mounted. Imagine 20mm rims vs. 25mm rims with nominal 28mm tires: the narrower rims will have the tires in a quite "round" shape with a lot of width beyond the brake tracks. The wider rims will have the tire more like a "U", with less rubber outboard of the brake track. With the wider rims your brakes will be set wider as well, and then the little bit of extra width from the QR mechanism will clear the tires. – John Zwinck Jan 27 '15 at 9:23
  • Clever solution. I guess that's also an option as well, not something I would have thought of doing. – Michael Jan 27 '15 at 9:25
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This might sometimes happen. The quick release is usually enough to make the pads wider than the tire, but this doesn't happen in every case. The pads should usually be about 2mm from the rim when everything is set up. If there is not enough room to remove your wheel after the quick release is used, you will have to loosen the cable. You can try doing this by loosening the barrel adjuster to see if that gives you the needed clearance, if not you may have to actually undo the cable, this is the least desirable solution as it makes things take a lot longer to get set up properly again.

In most cases, people only remove their wheel when the tire is flat, and so, there shouldn't be any problem getting the tire past the brakes, as the tire can be squeeze and made narrower. If you have the tire fully inflated, it can be quite firm and hard to squeeze between the brake pads. Depending on the situation, you might want to remove the air from the tire before removing the wheel, or if you are fixing a flat, don't fully inflate the tire before you put it on the bike.

  • Anecdotally, sometimes the tire (esp. if you go up in size) won't clear the pads with the quick release. Also, I've had this problem with some V-brakes when not using the noodle that comes with the V-brake. But in most cases, releasing the cable is more work than just letting some air out and re-inflating, especially when you're at home. – Batman Jan 26 '15 at 17:08

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