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?

  • 5
    If the springs get mangled that means the skewer is assembled incorrectly. Mar 1, 2016 at 2:54
  • I had this problem with anti theft skewers with pentagonal nuts. They supply them with a tiny key that is completely insufficient to tighten them adequately. Reverted to quick release and the problem was solved.
    – Jan M.
    Mar 16, 2017 at 19:10

10 Answers 10


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.

  • I heard the same thing from several bike shops - the lever should leave a nice imprint in your palm once you force it shut. Aug 25, 2010 at 20:46
  • I had the same problem, and the same solution worked for me. Aug 25, 2010 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. Aug 26, 2010 at 19:01
  • If this is your frame then just by looking at it, it is obvious you will lose your rear wheel if you have disc brakes. The rear dropouts are at the wrong angle to handle disc brake torque. This is a bad design.
    – bobflux
    Dec 17, 2018 at 22:27

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.

  • As the link provides everything needed to solve the problem this is the correct answer.
    – mattnz
    Jul 23, 2012 at 0:37

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?


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


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.

  • I'd rather have paint chipping than my wheel coming off when sprinting all out. Jan 29, 2018 at 4:17

Thanks for the great information on this thread. I'm having the same exact problem with my bike that has horizontal dropouts. I've been frustrated by the shifting rear wheel which usually happens on uphills and other inopportune moment. Even wrenching my QR super tight doesn't prevent the slipping. It's been an ongoing problem that has only been getting worse over time. After reading this thread I inspected my QR and sure enough, the cheap aluminum grips are totally worn down (see my pic below). Sheldon Brown recommends using QR with steel teeth on horizontal dropouts. I believe they also have steel inserts you can use along with aluminum QR. I'll let you know how it works out, but I'm feeling pretty confident about this fix.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/skewers.html (scroll down to "Acorn-nut design" to see steel inserts)

worn out quick release with aluminum grips

  • I think other replies may have missed the fact that the Cross Check had (still has?) horizontal dropouts, not the more common vertical ones. I think this would have allowed riders to convert it to single speed easily. However, as you observed, you need ‘older’ style QRs with horizontal dropouts.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Jul 8, 2022 at 21:17

In my case, it turned out I had a broken axle. This only became apparent after a shop offered to do a Gold Service (full strip down). The only symptom that the axle was broken was the rear wheel slipping out of the frame. I actually rode on a broken axle for several years!


PROBLEM SOLVED! I got a 3/8 inch stainless lock washer (Everbilt Part #597 618 package of 2 for 60 cents) at Home Depot. I put one lock washer on the drive side of the rear wheel skewer. I positioned the lock washer on the skewer between the outside clamp/nut and the spring so that when the wheel is mounted the lock washer is between the frame and the outside clamp/nut on the outside of the frame.

Apparently, the slipping can result when the ridges in the dropout get worn off or clogged with something like paint when you do a rattlecan paint job.

UPDATE: OR NOT. I though that the lock washer had solved the problem. Well, it worked for about a week, but now the wheel is back to rubbing again. I have purchased an Ultegra internal cam type QR skewer to replace the weaker external cam QR skewer that came with the wheel. Hopefully this will have enough pressure to keep the wheel in the dropout.

  • 1
    So is this a split washer or a crinkle washer? I've had to use a mini triangular file on the ridges in the underside of a QR nut before.
    – Criggie
    Dec 3, 2018 at 18:44

Make sure your dropout faces, inside and out, are flat with no paint, burrs, or distortions, file if necessary. Then use the tool to adjust for parralel dropouts. Then tighten firmly. Start out in lower gear to reduce torque.


I had this problem too, I sanded down the dropouts because I saw that the someone painted them over, I actually took a nasty crash going 37mph in full sprint because my wheel came out.

I think it was the paint that shouldn’t have been there.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site - after removing the paint from the dropout faces, did wheel retention improve in your experience? Just trying to show if it helped or if this is an idea that wasn't tried and tested. This is a useful answer - keep it up. You can use the edit link to add more detail
    – Criggie
    Jul 6, 2022 at 10:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.