47. How to Overhaul a Jockey Wheel

Removal, lubrication and installation of a standard jockey (pulley) wheel.

IMPORTANT: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.
How to Overhaul a Jockey Wheel
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In this tutorial we’ll learn how to overhaul a standard jockey wheel (pulley wheel) on your rear derailleur. In a future tutorial we’ll cover the sealed cartridge bearing style found on higher end derailleurs.

Tools

For this job you’ll typically need a 2.5 or 3mm allen key. Some older models have a nutted bolt requiring a metric wrench. You’ll also need a rag and some waterproof grease.

Pulley Removal

First you’ll want to remove the chain from the front chainring to give it some slack. You don’t need to remove the rear derailleur or cable for this job, but I will for this video so we can see things a bit better.

It is important to note that the upper and lower pulley wheels are different, so they should be overhauled one at a time to avoid a mix-up. The upper wheel will often have a thicker profile.

Remove the jockey wheel’s bolt by unthreading the bolt counter-clockwise. Once the bolt is removed, the jockey wheel will slide out of the derailleur cage. There will be a cupped washer facing inward on either side. Remove these and then pull the bushing sleeve out from the center.

Cleaning

Now wipe all parts clean with a dry rag. You can use a little cleaning solvent if needed. Inspect the teeth on the jockey wheel. These ones are in good shape. If yours are broken or badly worn they will need replacing.

Lubrication & Installation

Before reinstalling, apply some grease to the bolt, bushing sleeve, and inside of the pulley wheel. Then slide the bushing back into the wheel and hold the cupped washers in place on either side while you place the wheel back into the derailleur cage. Then tighten the bolt to the specified torque: usually around 3 Newton Meters or 20 inch pounds.

Repeat the process as needed for the other jockey wheel. If for some reason both wheels are removed and the inner cage plate has come off, remember that the larger end of the cage plate always attaches to the lower pulley wheel.

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