Replacing jockey wheels

We next come up to a source of squeakiness that I’ve decided to squash! My jockey wheels often result in my friends pointing and laughing at me as I squeak up a hill.

They are nearly 5 years old so it’s time for a replacement. If your jockey wheels are looking worn out by rust or their teeth have worn away then a replacement is easy. Most jockey wheels can be simply taken off, cleaned, greased and then put back on the bike.

Jockey wheel in pieces

  1. If the old jockey wheels are looking worn out then get yourself a pair of new jockey wheels. Note that the upper and lower jockey wheels are normally slightly different in size. You can use your existing pair of jockey wheels to work out which new ones you need. As my drivetrain is a Shimano and it’s a hybrid bike, I needed Shimano mountain bike jockey wheels.
  2. Grab some grease and an Allen Key.
  3. Get the chain off the bike using a quick release link or a chain tool if your chain doesn’t have a quick link.
  4. Choose which one of the two jockey wheels you will service first. It’s best to do them one at a time so as not to be confused as to which one goes where.
  5. Undo the bolt using an Allen key and clean the jockey wheel.
  6. Apply grease to the bolt, bushing sleeve and inside the pulley wheel.
  7. Put the jockey wheel back together and re-attach it to your bike. Making sure to firmly tighten it.
  8. Repeat with the other jockey wheel
  9. Re-attach the chain making sure to thread it over the top jockey wheel (it will currently be at the bottom height wise), under the top jockey wheel and finally up and over the lower jockey wheel.
  10. Re-attach the quick release link or push the chain pin back in using a chain tool.

For a video of how to do this I recommend Bicycle Tutor.

Also in this overhauling your bike series:

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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5 Responses to Replacing jockey wheels

  1. Jon 16/02/2011 at 11:20 am #

    If the derailleur is not anything special then it may well be more cost effective to buy a whole new derailleur. If a pair of jockey wheels costs £12 ish and a suitable derailleur costs only £15 then it may well be worth getting a new derailleur mechanism. It goes against the grain of making-do and mend etc though I’ll acknowledge. Also consider getting an upgraded mechanism. I had something pretty basic on my bike and decided to pay a little more for a Shimano 105 mechanism (seems currently available from £35) and I couldn’t believe what a fantastic difference it made to shifting. Take advice from a shop -or better still an expert – on what will be compatible.

  2. alistair 17/02/2011 at 1:50 pm #

    whilst a new derailer is better, they can be a fiddle for the un-initiated to set up and adjust.

    Having said that I just set mine new one without too much swearing.

    top tip: get on ebay and get the cast offs from the weight obsesed who are upgrading to dura ace. I got a 105 detailer in nearly new condition for £15. and an ultegra cassete for less than £10

  3. Ceasuri rusesti 20/02/2011 at 4:23 pm #

    How do I know when my jockey wheels need changing?
    I’m runing an 2008 deore shifter.

    I thought the jockey wheels can last a lifetime, I mean there isn’t any stress on them, they just tension the chain.

    • Jon fray 22/02/2011 at 10:34 am #

      Hi Ceasuri
      I’d say that if you’re not having probelms with your chain slipping you probably don’t need to change the jockey wheels. Perhaps if you are replacing your chain and maybe the cassette as well to overcome slipping then you probably should also check the jockeys for wear. This photo illustrates the difference between extremely worn jockey and a new one:

  4. Filippo Negroni 22/02/2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Quick look on Wikipedia:
    The jokey wheels you refer to in your article are supposedly called pulleys: the jokey pulley is the top pulley; the bottom pulley is called tension pulley.
    Just wanted to mention this because one thing it is important is to ensure we all refer to some standard nomenclature, otherwise it can be difficult to visualise the components.

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