Can't seem to find something similar so I am going to ask a question.

I recently bought a vintage(mid or late 80s) steel road bike and the back wheel seems to be moving off center and towards the left side of the rear triangle bottom part. The wheel is a tiny bit untrue but nothing out of the ordinary so I don't think that this is the issue. If I take the wheel off and put it back on again correctly it just moves a little bit to the left side after 10-20km. Any ideas on why this might be happening? First time I noticed it was because the tyre started rubbing on the frame and I don't want this to happen anymore.

Cheers, Ivan

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    Force on the chain is pulling the drive side of the axle forward. There are a few questions on this site that deal with solutions to this. There are devices that hold the axle and allow alignment. See bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/55421/24228. Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 14:40
  • Thanks, I will try those, might need to change the qr or add that stopping washer people are suggesting. :) Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 14:43
  • It sounds like you're not tightening the QR or fixing nuts tight enough. Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 19:22
  • @IvanIvanov can you add a photo of the serrations on the underside of the acorn nuts on the QR? I expect they'll be rounded over with wear and age.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 23:30

3 Answers 3


Thanks a lot for the comments, they did help a little at the time but did not solve the issue fully. At the end I found there were a few issues with the rear of that bike.

The freewheel was wobbling a bit and had to be changed. The bearings of the hub had to be changed and the axle was bent so that was changed, too. Finally, the dropout was a bit bent, too on one side. After changing/correcting all of these the issue did disappear. But it was costlier than I had hoped 😅 Unfortunately I cannot be sure which of these was the main issue.

  • Great work resolving the problem. Sounds like your bike as a freewheel, which means there's a longer unsupported length of axle, so avoid jumps and smashing the back wheel into kerbs or potholes.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 8:29

This almost always happens because of issues with the rear quick-release skewer. On a horizontal dropout frame, it needs to be holding the wheel in nice and tight.

Three things can cause it. One, you may have some axle protruding past the dropout that keeps the QR from being able to clamp securely. Two, the cam surfaces of the QR need some lubrication for proper clamping force to be reached. Three, a modern open cam QR may have found its way on despite being essentially incompatible with horizontal dropouts because they don't develop as much clamping force as internal cam ones.

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    Another possibility is bent dropout which reduces the contact area for the QR and locknut on the dropout. This can happen if a modern wheel with wider spacing is used on a vintage 126 mm frame. Spreading makes the dropouts no longer parallel
    – Andrew
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 23:46

This happens mostly when the left wheel cup gets a lot of tension from movement and pressure from pedalling hence creating friction that wears out the left wheel cup creating this lean to the left.

This is mostly first indicated by a wobbling wheel, as later on results to this. The other issue is worn out ball bearings. Worn out ball bearings create a difference in holding of the wheel axle hence can lead to the leaning if some of the ball bearings are worn out or missing.

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