How & When To Replace Your Derailleur Jockey Wheels
How & When To Replace Your Derailleur Jockey Wheels

– Jockey wheels, or pulley
wheels, if you prefer, have a couple of very important jobs on your bicycle. First of
all, they help move the derailleur across the cassette, allowing you to choose your gear, as well as keeping the
chain nice and tensioned. Sadly, though, they do get worn out, because, they turn
literally 1000’s and 1000’s of times, and well,
where they’re positioned, they’re right in the way of any gunk which is flying up from
the road as you ride along. So, today, let’s look
at how to replace them and when to replace them.
(instrumental music) How do we know, then, when to replace those little jockey wheels? Well, firstly, have a look at the teeth. Now, if they’re worn away,
then yep, they certainly need replacing, as well as if they are sharp like shark’s teeth, because, that means that they’re
well on their way out, and the chain could risk
not engaging perfectly. Some jockey wheels,
they’re all Circum Fitted with sealed cartridge bearings, and whilst it can be temporarily revamped, in the long run, they are going to need replacing. So,
how are you gonna know, then, if those bearings
are on their way out, or in fact, already gone? Well, the easiest way, certainly, to remove the back wheel and then try and turn those wheels by hand. If you’re meeting a lot of resistance, personally, I’d go out and buy some new pulley wheels.
Some of the pulley wheels actually come with bushings,
instead of bearings, and they can be revamped,
for quite a long time, because you can pop them out and you can re grease them. But, today, let’s look at how we fit the new ones. So, what are we gonna
need for the job, then? Well, you’re gonna need
some new pulley wheels in there, and whilst
there are a huge variety out there, don’t go buying
the wrong ones. Why? Well, the chain needs to engage with them, and still pass through the cage of the rear derailleur. Now, this one, for instance, has 11 teeth on the actual pulley wheels, and if I try to fit 12 teeth, well it’s very unlikely that chain’s gonna work efficiently, if at all. So, don’t go
buying the wrong ones. That’s the first tip.
Second one, now, you can get different ones with
different bearings, for instance, and a sealed bearing is generally gonna spin a little bit smoother than that with a bushing. And you can even get ceramic bearings in there, too, and considering the number of times those pulleys
spin, maybe that’s an option for you, if you’re really looking to set a personal best.
Now, not all pulleys are the same, and in
fact, in most of them, they are even identifiable by the upper or lower or guide or tension or G or T and they are specific to each part of the rear derailleus, that’s important to remember, because, the
guide pulley sometimes has a small amount of lateral float in it, which takes up any differences in tolerances between your indexing and the actual rear cassette spacing, so it’s worth bearing that in mind and do not mix them
up. Now the easiest way of actually replacing the pulley wheels certainly has to be by
removing the rear wheel from the bike and changing
them individually, that way, you’re not gonna have all different bits and pieces laying all over the floor. So, I’m gonna start by removing the upper pulley, or the guide pulley, depending on what is on the side of your
pulley wheel, itself. So, you simply hold the cage
of the rear derailleur and then undo. In most cases, it’s a three millimeter sized alum key bolt. Remove that tiny little bolt, put it somewhere safe, don’t wanna lose that, and then simply remove that pulley wheel. So, before you go fitting your upper or guide pulley, make
sure you’re fitting it in the correct direction. In most cases, the writing will be facing outwards and some cases, even in the
little directional arrows, so pay attention to that, too, because, although it may look to be going in the wrong direction on first look, it’s actually not because of the way that the chain wraps around the pulley and then wraps around the cassette to go forward. Now, before you tighten up
those pulley wheel bolts, make sure that either
you’re using Threadlock if it’s recommended by the Manufacturer, or alternatively, a little dab of grease before torquing them up to the recommended
torque setting. Next up, it’s time to replace that tension pulley, so it’s exactly the same process of the guide pulley. So, you’re just going to want to remove that
three millimeter bolt and then keep it somewhere safe, again, and then drop that pulley out of the MEC cage. So, again, give inside that MEC Cage a good clean up, because it’s amazing how much dirt and grime does get in there. In my case, even a little bit of thread has got in there, somehow. Now, it’s just the case of refitting that tension wheel, so again, pay any attention to any writing on the side, which is
telling you the direction of travel which it should be going in, and then, just place it inside of the MEC Cage. And then,
with your little bolt, place it in, of course, again, sticking to any recommendations about using Threadlock or Sumblime and then torque it up. (Torque tightening) Now, it’s just the case of refitting your rear wheel. Now, if you find that, for some reason, that run-off chain is not how it should be, don’t worry, just simply remove the
offending pulley wheel and refit it with the
chain in the correct place and you’re good to go with those fast, smooth, jockey wheels that you deserve. Now, remember to like and share this video with your friends, give
it a big thumbs up, because now, you’re
gonna be having smoother riding, and also, better
gear changing, too. Remember, as well, to
check out the GCN Shop at where we have a whole
heap of different products for you to choose from,
including, get this, a new multi-tool, too! How cool is that? And, now, for two more great videos, this time, how to revitalize
your jockey wheels, click just down here, and for another great tech
video, click just down here.

67 thoughts on “How & When To Replace Your Derailleur Jockey Wheels”

  1. GCN Tech says:

    Have you replaced or upgraded your jockey wheels before? Let us know. 👇

  2. Anders Sandholm says:

    I was just watching your cleaning jockey wheel video… which I keep clean, I promis, really clean ! 😭🙈

  3. Jeff White says:

    Is the torque setting based on the manufacturer specs on the pulley wheel itself or the RD? Thanks!

  4. lee guankiat says:

    More importantly, how to replace my worn out knee?

  5. Max Roth says:

    why does my bike shop tell me cermaic speed pullys wont work 100% with my Etap setup, is this true?

  6. SAF1981 says:

    Jockey wheels are where you should start when cleaning your chain. They clog grease and dirt and will just keep transferring it on to your chain links when cleaning

  7. Mark Evison says:

    Good timing.. Was thinking of new jockey wheels today!

  8. Emploice Muswashghans says:

    I always find strands of hair hooked around the jockey wheels but I don't remember running over any animals or people🤔

  9. HJ Shoon says:

    That's a good and simple way of changing jockey wheels. Never thought of this method. When I changed mine, I took the chain out, then the rear derailleur before I changed it. Tedious and time consuming I must say but I did manage to clean the derailleur and cage really well

  10. A. Random says:

    If I've learned anything thus far I know I can spray it with coca-cola and pressure wash it and they'll be good as new

  11. MRGRUMPY53 says:

    My jockey wheels (7800) have over 100,000 km on them, and they are just fine.

  12. GNX157 says:

    I have a DA7900 rear derailleur. I cannot get the Allen head bolts to loosen. All the wrenches I have got rounded off trying, and won't break it loose. I have tried spraying the backside where the threads are with penetrating oil. Nothing has helped. Any ideas?

  13. Martin Ludewig says:

    "It's worth bearing that in mind". I see what you did there 😀

  14. Norm Smith says:

    The back plate of Campagnolo rear deraileurs is made of very soft metal (something close to cheese). So you have to be VERY careful when doing up the screw that forms the axle. If you strip the thread (I have), then you have to replace the entire cage.

  15. Robban Buz says:

    Great video, I've changed my pulleys once. I inspect them every time I clean my bike. Any chance on a maintenance video on SADDLES. I have a just worn down a saddle which I think has either a leather or somekind of leather like mesh. Feels like it worn down quickly since I started using my bike on a trainer and sweating like a pig. Have been on Selle San Marcos site but no info on care for my high tech racing aspide saddle.

  16. Andrew Livingstone says:

    Can I upgrade my JW’s from 105 to JW’s with bearings?

  17. Eric haskell says:

    Can you replace/upgrade wheel Bearings?

  18. lee a dorney says:

    150 big ones + for ceramicspeed CHRIST = just get on alixpress order a job lot of cheapo jobs as they're pretty much all the same – if youre reading this and youre american dont buy from china – its getting expensive for you #trump

  19. Mr. Luigi says:

    If only replacing the jockey wheels on my vintage SunTour derailleur was as easy as loosening a couple allen bolts ! Sigh.

  20. Steven Van Impe says:

    So to replace my jockey wheels, I first remove the old ones, then insert the new? Mind-blowing stuff this!

  21. Max Yin says:

    I love how your hands are still clean after the whole video! lol

  22. Matthew Langston says:

    Jon, a naked bolt will generate less clamping force than one covered with a foreign material (grease, oil, thread lock). Is this accounted for by the manufacturer? Should I be worried about yielding a bolt when using grease and thread locker?

  23. JAF OPTION says:

    Hi sir my name is Javad. My ambition a road cycle racer.How prepaid my life race please help sir.

  24. D.Eldon says:

    Nice upgrade! It looks like you replaced factory jockey wheels with after-market low-friction ones with ceramic bearings.

    Some considerations when upgrading to low-friction jockey wheels…
    1 – Expect your drivetrain to be a little noisier. Why? Because factory jockey wheels usually have non-metal teeth which are fairly quiet. Low-friction jockey wheels often have metal teeth (aluminium or titanium) that are noisier as they engage the chain.
    2 – Expect more frequent maintenance. Why? Because the bearings cannot be sealed as well (weatherproof seals add friction). For example, some manufacturers recommend that you clean and regrease the jockey wheels after every ride through rain.
    3 – Expect a shorter lifespan compared to factory jockey wheels. Why? Because low-friction bearings often combine ceramic balls with metal races. The metal is softer than ceramic and, if any dirt gets into them, the harder ceramic balls can score the metal races. However, the lifespan can be extended simply by keeping the bearings clean and freshly greased.
    4 – For best friction reduction, expect to upgrade the cage, too. Why? Because the best low-friction jockey wheels are much larger (more teeth) in order to smooth the path of the chain. This also reduces friction. These larger low-friction jockey wheels will not fit your factory cage.

    Lastly, some high-end rear derailleurs include ceramic bearings in the jockey wheels from the factory. SRAM Red (both mechanical and eTap) are one example. Cyclists who don't know this may be unaware that their jockey wheels require more frequent service in order to keep the friction low.

  25. Lee Jefferson says:

    Hi John
    I’m looking to change my old aluminium road bike into a gravel bike. Could you tell me is it possible to put a 11-34 to my sora 9 speed cassette without changing rear derailleur.
    Thank you
    Lee from South Wales

  26. protocol23 says:

    #TORQUEBACK – Hi Jon, I wanted to upgrade the Tiagra groupset of my old 2006 Specialized Allez to Shimano Ultegra R8000 or to a Shimano105. Currently, my bike is only having a BB-7420. Will the upgrade work? Need better suggestions. Budget is limited but I hope you can help. Thanks, Jon.

  27. ROBinJVILLE says:

    i like to swap jockey wheels so they match the frame color

  28. Darren Horrocks says:

    Coincidentally, i just ordered a new set of jockey wheels, not because mine need replacing, but, because i want the bearing covers to be colour coded with my rear hub 😀 (also, the new ones have ceramic bearings, not that it matters :D)

  29. cameron j skeith says:

    Where's the matching jumper this time jon? Ps love the show as always

  30. Gran Darf says:

    How 'spinny' should the jockey wheels be when you spin them in free space? Mine spin 'smoothly', but they just stop right away, they really won't spin at all. They're from some 10+ year old ~$800 bike, Shimano SRAM. Replacement time? How expensive should you go for the replacements?

  31. LaughingSaint says:

    Oh boy I remember the one time I took off both pulleys at once and took me awhile to figure out how to put them back in right 😱🤷🏼‍♂️😂

  32. Evan V says:

    Thanks Jon

  33. Stuart Dryer says:

    How do u find the recommended torque settings for the jockey wheels?

  34. Ted Wolff says:

    Excellent video Jon. I learn a lot from your clear, easy to understand tutorials.

  35. Bondi says:

    Not yet Jon but will do at the next major service👍🇦🇺

  36. trbeyond says:

    I replace to Ceramic Speed on my TT bike and I got faster. Probably because I also got lighter. Probably because there was less $$ in my wallet. In all seriousness I am still glad I swapped – helps intimidate my competition lol

  37. hb8dinwa says:

    The price tag on Cermispeed jockey wheels is insane. Are they really worth it?

  38. Rixter says:

    That actually looked like a bit of Matt Steven’s hair in the derailleur cage

  39. Alejandro Mallea says:

    GCN t-shirt. Trendy, but doesn't hide the tan line.

  40. Shannon Showalter says:

    Can I use the big jockey wheels on a ultegra medium cage rd and a 32 or larger sprocket? I’m thinking there may not be enough room for the larger wheels.

  41. Muhammed Javad says:

    not road cycle my hand

  42. FreakShowScitchy says:

    Bought a new pair of pulley wheels. They are the same, no difference or any arrows for direction. Have I missed something or is there a correct way to mount them?

  43. SonofAShepherd says:

    How long should the original ones last?

  44. Sunny Hu says:

    Thank you for sharing. Awesome video. Very structure. Well explained.

  45. samuel ljungqvist says:

    #tourqeback Hi! How do you keep your chain clean? When I have cleaned my chain and put lube on it, it straight away gets black and sticky, and then I see all these people riding with a beautiful clean metal looking chain, what am I doing wrong?!

  46. fredadhbit says:

    Looks like you stood a little too far away from the razor this morning Jon…

  47. Ian Canuckistan says:

    If you get the ones with ceramic bearings you will go faster because your wallet will be substantially lighter.

  48. Mike Henry says:

    Are the alloy jockey wheels any better than the plastic ones

  49. Big Lampar says:

    hmmmm so all 11 teeth jockeys are the same? why are some deemed to be compatible and others not compatible with 11 speed. No one has been able to clarify.

  50. Paul S. says:

    How are your hands so clean?? I just look at my drivetrain and I have grease all over my hands. Good video though!

  51. charles mercer says:

    I got some after market jockey wheels and not sure if they are the correct ones? The ones I got have 10 teeth but my factory have more is this a problem?

  52. lazurm says:

    Shimano recommends torquing the bolts to 20 inch pounds. Reference at:

  53. Bill Hackley says:

    upgrading my dura ace several years ago I noticed the lateral play in the guide pulley when I removed it. my "upgrade" pulley didn't have the lateral movement, but I put it on anyway. it was noisy from the start. to my eye the alignment was correct . it got worse, I contacted the company owner who told me my dura ace was worn out it shouldn't have any play. hmmmm! it was a brand new 7900 that was replacing my 7800. thank you for confirming the lateral play.

  54. Bryan Kennedy says:

    A must part of bicycle maintenance 🙂

  55. cirvis240 says:

    Should i grease the bushings though?

  56. J Y says:

    Coming up next, how to chew gum

  57. Arfaj Jaman says:

    Reply soon

  58. Shane Gannon says:

    I'm considering changing my jockey wheels but not for the reasons mentioned. I've replaced my rear cassette and chain. This worked fine at first. But now the bike is making a whining sound when pedaling. Listening to the components it's coming from the rear derailleur where the chain is sliding against the side of the derailleur bracket. Is this something new jockey wheels can fix?

  59. WhoAteMaCookie says:

    So the derailleur it self doesn't get changed? Just the wheels?

  60. Sergi Medina says:

    Then what should I considerate when purchasing new jockey wheels, just the number of theeth, the size of them…?

  61. Adam Putu Jose says:

    How to replace from mtb? Its same process?

  62. loveisforever says:

    Argh! Be careful when you tighten this bolt. I just stripped mine -.-

  63. Anmol Choudhary says:

    Jockey wheels are made by mattel ?

  64. Phil Gordon says:

    Hello, just a quick question? I've fitted a new set of pulley wheels tacx (10 tooth) appropriate for my cassette make (shimano claris 8 speed). Now the pulleys that have come off are 11 tooth shimano. I seem to have noises coming from the rear cassette on gears 14 – 16, would removing a chain link remedy this as the chain runs smooth in all other gears? Or buy the 11 tooth tacx version for speeds 9 upwards? Some advise would be much appreciate, many thanks Phil

  65. Motoring Mikey says:

    These should be replace with ceramic bearing pulley wheels as soon as you buy the bike.

  66. Danfuerth Gillis says:

    You do not need to remove the back wheel, just have the bike on a back wheel stand. Set the bike to the inner chain ring and manually move the chain off to the inside. This now allows full access to the jockey wheels. The upper guide jockey bolt is accessed through the back wheel spokes ( left side). The lower tension jockey wheel bolt faces you on the right side. You also can do this without derailment of the chain but you will have to be careful fighting the RD tension.

  67. John Lindsey says:

    Thanks. O am about to replace them

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