I just got brand new wheels for my road bike. All was looking great until I tightened the quick release on the front wheel (not too tight, I can close it with just my thumb and one finger) and now the wheel doesn't spin freely. Seems to happen a little bit on the rear wheel too.

Is it normal for this to happen a little, like on the rear wheel?

Is there something I can do to fix the front wheel or should I return it as faulty?

Edit - The wheel uses cartridge bearings and the end cap is just a push fit; there is no cone or locking nut

  • 1
    Are you sure the wheel is straight, not getting pushed into brakes or frame as the QR tightens ?
    – Criggie
    Jun 24, 2020 at 0:07
  • 1
    @Criggie yep, sure. It's a wider rim so I adjusted the brakes. Nothing's rubbing, not the pads, not the tyre on the underside of the brake arms.
    – Mr_Thyroid
    Jun 24, 2020 at 12:44
  • So you got a wheelset - a front and rear. Does the rear wheel run poorly when installed, like the front one? Second idea - do you have access to any other bike to temporarily try your new front wheel in a different frame ?
    – Criggie
    Jun 25, 2020 at 2:40

2 Answers 2


Before working on the adjustment of the hub, first make sure that the axle spins freely when the wheel is out of the fork and you have the QR removed. See if you can spin it between thumb and index. It should not bind or grind. If this is the case there's a problem with the bearings.

Then make sure that the wheel is sitting correctly in the drop-outs. The best way to seat a front wheel properly is to sit it on the tyre and to lower the fork from above so that you hear and feel when the axle is all the way in the drop-outs. After closing the QR, it may well be a bit tight, make sure that the brake pads don't touch the braking tracks. Since your wheel is new and not all rims are the same width, it could well be that the brakes need adjusting by turning the barrel adjuster on the calliper.

  • Yep, spins very nicely out of the forks (it gets really boring waiting for it to stop). I had to adjust the brakes because it's a wider rim but it also spins freely in the forks with the QR undone. Only with QR closed it's like spinning in treacle, barely does one revolution.
    – Mr_Thyroid
    Jun 24, 2020 at 12:33
  • 2
    It is not unheard of that with new wheels the bearings take some breaking-in, about 100-150km according to an article I've recently read in a cycling magazine.
    – Carel
    Jun 24, 2020 at 14:16
  • @Mr_Thyroid Treacle sounds pretty bad - if you do nothing else at least email the supplier and maker now, so there's a dated record of when you first reported the issue. Will help with replacement later, if you didn't just put up with it for months before reporting.
    – Criggie
    Jun 25, 2020 at 2:39
  • @Carel - I added your comment about breaking in the bearing to the answer and accepted it as an answer - it seems to be turning ok after a bit of riding.
    – Mr_Thyroid
    Jul 3, 2020 at 20:08
  • @Carel I've pressed approve on that suggested edit as it seems to be in good faith and OP considers it a major part of the accepted answer. Obvs you can edit/rollback if needed
    – Swifty
    Jul 4, 2020 at 13:45

As you correctly observed, quick release tension affects hub preload.

To fix this, adjust the bearings of the hubs so that they are correctly adjusted with the desired quick release skewer tension. You need cone wrenches for this adjustment.

From the bible:

Although small, axle compression on QR hubs is large enough to alter bearing clearance and should be considered when adjusting bearings. Bearings should be adjusted just loose enough so that closing the QR leaves the bearing with a slight preload. Excessive preload from QR closure is the cause of most wheel-bearing failures not caused by water intrusion. Clearance, in contrast, can be felt as disconcerting rattle when encountering road roughness.

If the wheels are new and are supposed to be working fine, you could consider sending them back and demanding a correctly adjusted hub.

  • It happens rarely with new wheels, though!
    – Carel
    Jun 24, 2020 at 11:47
  • Thanks @juhist - as per the edit on my question, the bearings in question are cartridge type and the end cap is just a push fit so I don't see anything I can adjust - looks like I'll have to send it back
    – Mr_Thyroid
    Jun 24, 2020 at 12:27
  • @Mr_Thyroid If you have the option, consider selecting traditional bearing replacements instead of cartridge bearing ones. Cartridge bearings are not for your benefit -- they are for the manufacturer's benefit, to cut costs using cheap readily-available parts. Often times, the manufacturer advertises this as an improvement, in an attempt to raise the price of products made cheaply. I fear traditional bearings are dying, like 36-spoke holed hubs are.
    – juhist
    Jun 24, 2020 at 13:29

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