Afraid to take off your rear wheel to fit the bike in a trunk or fix a flat, because you think you'll mess up the chain or shifting? Relax. Anyone can remove a rear wheel and it won't affect shifting or the chain. Here's how:
1. Shift onto the small cog and small chainring
This creates slack in the chain, which makes wheel removal much easier. If you're riding, shift as you slow to a stop so that the chain is on the smallest rear cog and the smallest chainring in front. If you're not riding, shift the levers (one at a time), lift the bike by the seat and pedal by hand to shift the chain.
WHEEL REMOVAL 1, 2, 3!
2. Open the brake
On most bikes with rim brakes (not disc brakes), when you try to remove the wheel, the tire bumps into the brake pads. To prevent this, open sidepull brakes by fully rotating the little lever on the brake upwards (photo a). For linear-pulls (also called "V-brakes") lift the end of the "noodle" out of its holder (photo b).
Some sidepulls are opened by pressing a button on the lever. Look for this if there's no lever on the brake.
Open cantilever brakes (these feature a cable that runs over the top of the tire) by lifting the cable end on one side out of its holder. And, again, if you have disc brakes, you can skip this step!
3. Pull the derailleur back and remove the wheel
Lastly: Pull back the derailleur with your hand to get it, and the chain, out of the way so the wheel won't hang up on anything when you open the quick release and remove the wheel. This is the secret to easy wheel removal. Good job!
Note: To clearly show the desired derailleur position, we locked it in place and didn't show the hand. You must pull it back by hand when removing wheels because it won't stay in place on its own.