Why Does My Bike Back Wheel Lock Up? (Let’s See)

Bike Back Wheel Lock Up

Have you ever been in a situation where you are riding your bicycle at a very high speed, and the rear wheel locks up suddenly?

Or have you ever experienced climbing a steep hill while your back wheel locks on its own? If you have, then there is no doubt that the question above is not strange.

Please note that in this article, we will deeply identify and discuss why your bike’s back wheel locks up.

In addition, we will also gain insight into what we can do to fix a bike when it refuses to pedal. So, why does my bike’s back wheel lock up?

There are so many reasons why your bike’s rear-wheel locks. It could be that the chain became stuck between the chain ring and the frame or between the rear cassette and the spokes. Other likely causes are that the chain could jump off the sprocket, a loose rear axle, a stretched gear cable, or a damaged set of bearings.

Reasons Why the Back Wheel Locks Up

Bike Back Wheel Lock Up

As already established here, the reasons that can cause this to happen are so many that if I begin to talk about them, there might be no end to it today.

But, we will focus on the most common reasons to simplify it and save time. Below are reasons why your bike’s back wheel locks up:

#1. Stuck Chain

There are two locations where your chain usually ends up getting stuck in. it could end up getting stuck in between the chain-ring and the frame or most likely between the rear cassette and the spokes

And this can result from the force you use. The rear wheel will eventually slip off its mount if the force becomes too much for the QR skewers.

Note that this often results in your back tire rubbing the frame o your bike.

#2. Jumping Off Sprocket

Thre are also other cases where the chain jumps off the sprocket. And although this is common with older bikes, it often results from slightly bent chainrings.

When this is the case, it generally calls to mind a misadjusted derailer.

When the rear derailer becomes damaged, it bends inwards to the spoke’s direction. But if the derailer goes into the wheel while it’s still spinning, then this isn’t good.

But you would be lucky if only the derailer breaks and a bit unlucky if it takes a few spokes with it.

But it will be bad when the spokes pull drags it backward forcefully. And the dropout (the frame that holds the rear axle and derailer) is bent backward or even broken, resulting in frame loss.

#3. Loose Rear Axle

If this is the case, the best thing that could happen to you is that the tire will get stuck to the frame, and the pedal will refuse to move.

But in the worst-case scenario, your wheel will separate from the bike when you are at high speed; there will be chain failure wobbling and a flat tire.

Although the most devastating risk lies with chain failure, and this is because you will end up with a broken chain. It will lead to the transmission case cracking or jamming of the wheel.

Stretched Gear Cable

When the gear changing cables of the hub gears become stretched, there will be a shifting of gears between two speeds and a need for adjustments.

Note also that it will need a lockable bolt near the hub. 

Although when it comes to the 3-speed hubs, particularly on the second gear, the part going into the hub would be the same level as the hole from which you can see it.

Damaged Bearings

If the damaged bearing is the problem, the bike will pedal, but the wheel will not turn.

In this situation, there is no repair, but the bearings must be changed, allowing the wheel to move in synch with the pedal.

Bike Wheel Not Turning When Pedaling

Maybe you should try pedaling forward rather than backward.

But jokes aside, to know why your wheel is not turning when you are pedaling, you need to consider the three options outlined below, which are:

  • You probably have a broken freewheel. And depending on your bike’s type, this freewheel is located in the block of gears or the hub.
  • The chain is out entirely from its position, which would be easy to notice. The chain connects the large cog between the pedals and the sprockets at the center of the back wheel. If the chain becomes broken, the pedal will turn, but the wheel will not.
  • It can also be that the indexing of your hub gear is off. And getting into neutral in-between gears in a 3-speed Sturmey-Archer is easier. Although this usually happens when there is a failure in regular repairs and adjustments. Although this can not be seen with seven and eight-speed hubs because when damaged, they freewheel.
  • It could also be due to stuck pawls of the hub due to accumulated dirt and grease that has become dry. And this inhibits its normal functioning and prevents it from working with the ratchet ring of the hub. With this, the drivetrain fails to supply power, causing the rear wheel to lock and preventing movement.

When you have done all this, I am confident you will be able to tell which option applies to your bike.

Then you can perform DIY tasks for simple problems while taking the more difficult tasks to the professionals.

What Causes Rear Wheels To Lock Up?

Wheel lock-up is typical, especially with all the reasons I have already discussed in the first subheading above.

But here, we will be paying maximum attention to the most common cause, a bad or damaged set of bearings.

If you are faced with the same issue of bad bearings and do not know how to go about it, there is no need to panic.

Below are straightforward steps you can take to handle the situations:

  1. Loosen the axle nut and coastal brake, then remove the rear wheel from your bike.
  2. Next, you should see a retainer clip connected to the groove holding the axle. Once removed, the axle should slide out from the wheel.
  3. The third step involves you cleaning the grease from the hub and then identifying and taking note of the numbers inside of it. The number is significant because you will need it to place an order for the right size and type bearing.
  4. Use a hammer and punch in, pulling out the old bearing. And although you don’t need to be careful about damaging the bearing you are removing, you need to be careful not to damage the inner hub.
  5. Then put in the new bearing. The bearings will fit in with a simple push or a gentle shove with a rubber mallet.
  6. Next, you should reinstall the axle, not forgetting the clip.
  7. Then return the rear wheel to its position on the bike, attach the coaster brake, and ensure chain alignment and that the wheel spins properly.
  8. Finally, it would help if you tightened the axle nut properly.

How Do You Fix A Bike That Won’t Pedal?

Thre are many things or fixes you can do in such a situation. But the first thing will be to check the chain for rust, and if it is rusty, apply a bicycle lube on the chain or replace it.

Then, if you still have issues, you can check the bearing following the steps from the preceding subheading above.

Nevertheless, if the issue remains unresolved after all of these, it is the rear hub assembly. And to fix this one, I will advise you to take it to a professional who knows better.


The bike’s rear-wheel locks up when the chain gets stuck or jumps from the sprocket and when there is a loose rear axle, a stretched gear cable, or a damaged bearing set.

We now know why wheels do not turn when pedaling and how to replace a bearing. And to fix a bike that won’t pedal, we must check the chain, bearing, and hub assembly.

Josh Matthews

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