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Why Do Bike Wheels suddenly Feel Heavier (potential causes and their fixes)

Many things are responsible for making the wheel heavier due to which the drivetrain does not rotate smoothly and somewhere within the wheel is the resisting force stopping the smooth rotations of the wheel when you pedal your bike.

the most obvious thing would be when any part of the wheel starts touching the frame of the bike, this will cause rubbing and drag force due to which you will feel that your bike is much heavier than normal.

But there can be a lot of issues but it can also be just due to lower tire pressure or by your imagination as well, make sure that you perform checks that are easier to see first rather than jumping to any conclusion.

Problems that can cause the wheels to feel heavier :

Usually, the most common problem with wheels is due to disc brake pads rubbing on the disc due to some kind of malfunction with the brakes and that can make the wheels feel heavy.

Disc Brake Problem :

Mostly disc brakes come down above the wheel and start dragging with the drive train, you can check the brakes of your bike by watching and inspecting.

Find a place with not much sunlight sit behind the wheel and use a torch from the other side to see if the pads are not stuck with the disc.

If they are then there here are the checks to perform.

  • check if the bike has enough braking fluid in it
  • if you are using mechanical brakes check if the tension in the wires is correct and it’s not too loose

If the brakes seem fine then you may need to open up the brakes and see if the brake pad locks have not come undone or see if something is not broken.

Usually for these kinds of problems you can do it yourself if you don’t think you can manage it yourself then take it to a local bike shop, if pads continue to rub against the brake plate it may destroy the plate, as well as the pads, will not last long either which would cost you more than a simple repair.

Cup And Cone Bearing Problem:

Sometimes the cup and cone bearings of the hub and axle of the wheel stop working properly and these come out from their places and drag in the center of the wheel and making the wheel heavier when it rotates on the trails.

The easier fix for this can be to just buy new bearings and feed them into the hub if it seems too much for you to handle then you can ask the local bike shop to take a quick check on it.

Usually, they wouldn’t charge for this kind of minor repair but even if they do they wouldn’t charge a lot.

Crank Set Problem :

It is common when the crank set or its legs become heavier when you pedal the rear wheel and it is hard to recognize this fault when you are pedaling and the chain is rotating you might think that the problem could be coming from the cassette not working properly or the chain is getting stuck while to some extent that can be true but in most cases, if you are lubing your chain and cassette the problem might be in the crank legs and not the cassette or the chain itself.

I have experienced it many times as well where I thought that the chain wasn’t any good or the cassette is not behaving well or it’s worn out but the problem never really went away and when I lubed the crankset suddenly everything went back to normal.

The best spot to start if you have used the other easy methods already would be to start from the crank arms or crank legs whatever you call them and try lubricating the components before taking it to the mechanic or trying to open up every part of the bike.

Chain Problem :

Chain problems are easy to spot if you are someone like me and do not pay attention to your chain too much then most of your problems would originate from the chain and cassette maybe you are lubricating your chain and cassette but that’s causing the problem here’s how.

  • Lubricating chain with wrong lube or grease
  • never remove old grease and oils before applying new ones

Mostly when you apply grease people just keep on applying more grease over what’s left on the chain and keep washing the bike without properly wiping off the chain grease has a tendency to dry off and when you ride your bike on trails your bike chain is sure to pick up dirt and mud.

What do you think would happen when grease is starting to dry off and it’s accumulating dirt and mud as well? It would get stuck in the chain and on the cassette and you would feel like the bike has suddenly gotten heavier.

the best way to apply lube on the chain is to wipe off the old grease first you can give the chain a good wash and brush it when you are washing your bike but if the amount of grease or oil is really heavy apply some w40 and get rid off old grease.

It will make your bike much easier and your bike parts will last much longer and perform much better.

a quick way to see if the grease is stuck in the chain links then use this method below.

Keep the chain off the crankset and rotate the crankset in an anticlockwise direction to check the smoothness of the crankset rotation and its legs. there are many chain links that are connected with each other and are supporting the whole chain to make the ride smooth and normal but if any of these chain links are old or lost and are not tightly held with the chain, surely it will make your wheels heavier.

Check The Rotations Of Both Wheels :

Rotate both wheels in an anticlockwise direction to check both of them and inspect the problem where anything is rubbing with them, you can easily inspect both whether it’s a chain problem, bearings problem, or crankset problem.

by just observing them usually, the problem is not deeper than you might think it is and the best place to start diving deeper into the root cause of the problem.

What is the Cause Of Drivetrain Heaviness :

The drivetrain is not immune to wear and tear and with time it loses its efficiency, loses its tolerance rate, and will not perform well even on smooth surfaces, after every ride it starts decreasing its smoothness and its performance level, and you will feel like the wheel is heavier it could be just because of the old and junky drivetrain, if the problem is not visible as I have covered in this article than do check your drivetrains condition.

Wobbling Rim :

A wobbling rim can cause the bike to feel heavier as well as wobbling occurs due to an untrued wheel, wheels can become untrued for many reasons, and when the wheel wobbles it creates more resistance if it’s wobbling a lot it might be touching the frame itself and even if the wobbling is minor it would still make the wheel feel heavier and affect the bike handling.

A small flat spot or dent would also create a barrier to the rotation of the wheels , or if the QR skewer is not tightened smoothly to adjust the hub axle and the other internal parts of the wheel.

Loose, Broken, Or Bent Spokes And Spoke Nipples :

Many times it happens when a single spoke breaks on the trails, which affects all the tensioning of the wheel and the wheel needs to be re-adjusted properly in case you broke a spoke make sure you loosen the tension on the spokes surrounding that broken spokes it would help you at least get home without breaking more spokes along the way.

i also did an article on What makes a wheel stronger More & thicker spokes or better material

loosened spokes meaning if you don’t tension the tension of the spokes just right might cause the wheel to go untrue wobble and break the spokes in which case the weight and tension will not be distributed equally along the wheel which can cause it to feel heavier.

I did a complete article on Causes of bike spokes breaking & how to prevent them from breaking

Lower Tire Pressure Also Make Wheels Heavier :

If both front and rear wheels are not inflated on their recommended internal pressures then these would create a resistance force with the ground surface, and you will notice that your pedal strokes become much heavier than the normal situations on the trails, and lower tire pressure is also responsible in making both wheels heavier.

Bottom Bracket :

In many cases when the bottom bracket is stuck inside within the frame and does not allow it to rotate off the wheels and it is an invisible fault that cannot be easily felt, every time you will blame your wheels regarding heaviness.

but this bracket is loosely mounted and many times it breaks and does not rotates well and good, its threads are fully damaged and do not allow the crank legs to move and spin normally, it contains small round spacers, and sometimes these spaces become stuck inside the legs, you have to replace these spacers.

Sometimes bottom, the bracket is loosely attached to the frame, you have to tighten it with the tools. you can wash or clean the bottom, and bracket inserts, and lube or oil them accurately after that insert the bracket smoothly. old and thick grease would affect the spindles of the bottom bracket and it resists the rolling of the bracket.

Fault Of Pawl Hubs :

These are the small teeth of the freehub and after rotating and using these on the same hub for a long time, this axle and hub will start eating the upper edges of these pawls and these do not properly hold the drivetrain and hub, as a result, these become junky and loses their performance, these need to be changed properly or sometimes the good and better pawls are stuck and they do not rotate with the wheel and drivetrain because they corroded and they at least need cleaning and lubrication.

At least try lubricating or washing them with wd40 once in a while.

Problems in Small Jockey Wheels Of Derailer :

There are small tiny wheels which are the chain track when you push the pedals and these wheels rotate with the rear wheel, if these are old and junky these will affect the rotation of the rear wheel

picture shows jockey wheel of the deraileur

and if these wheels are not lubed properly, then these will also be stuck because their region is below the cassette and the chain, any mud, and dirt on the trails would easily stick within them even small bushes and long-grown roots would also be stuck and make them immovable. wash them and lube them accurately without this tighten the nut and bolts of the wheels so that these would not rub with the left and right of their sides.

Check The Tire Spacing From Bike Frame :

After riding on aggressive hard trails and steep downhills, both front and rear tires would relocate from their position and they come near the frame tubes on their sides and start rubbing with frame tubes, after every ride check everything and take an inspection of your bike thoroughly to avoid small silly problems.

When tires will move from their actual position, this will also affect braking both disc brakes and rim brakes and both front and rear tires would rub with the disc pads, as a result, tires become heavier.