Ready For Through Axles

MJ5L9988I’m ready for through axles to be the accepted standard. Bring em’ on. Many argue that they’re not needed on road bikes and other types of bikes where through axles are far and few between today. The popular arguments I hear and read are that through axles add weight and historically, they haven’t been needed. It’s true, bikes don’t have to have them. The vast majority of the bikes I own don’t have them, but I’m ready. Why?

Through axles provide a stiffer and safer ride. They also provide a far more consistent wheel attachment. No more of the wheel being in slightly crooked causing brake rub. Wheel changes in the peloton would be faster than quick releases now that the UCI requires lawyer tabs to be kept intact. I’d gladly trade a few grams of added weight for the benefits of through axles in most cases.

As a guy who rides a variety of bikes (read: gets dropped on road rides and mountain bike friends laugh at my shaved legs), I see different desires for through axles based on which group I’m pedaling with. Mountain bikes as a whole are getting pretty close to through axles being the norm, road bikes seem to be happy with 9 mm quick releases, and cross bikes seem to be in the middle as usual. I think there are valid use cases to be made for quick releases though. Some kinds of bikes such as touring bikes seem to be a great fit for quick releases because emergency wheels are easier to come across if you have a mechanical while traveling long distances and disaster strikes a wheel. Quick releases have a valid place.

Obviously bikes have existed for a long time without through axles and can continue to do so. I love my current bikes, and the majority of them use quick releases, but I think moving forward history should not be an influence on quick releases being spec’d. It wasn’t that long ago that 29″ mountain bikes were looked at weirdly and electronic drivetrains were a crazy thought. It’s an amazing world we live in.

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2 thoughts on “Ready For Through Axles

  1. A correctly mounted wheel, one that isn’t crooked, shouldn’t have any problem with brake rub. I have mounted one incorrectly myself once, but the fact that this benefit is eliminated by a careful mount is a -1 to through axle “advantages.”

    The draw to through-axles on road bikes seems to be quicker tire changes for racing, but even that is tricky; a cyclocross bike with tires wider than the rim won’t drop out unless you release a brake (assuming rim brakes). So, the niche for them on the road shrinks a little more. it’s not eliminated, by any means, but it seems to me that the revolution will not be televised…

    If there was like, one more great reason to convert to through-axles, I can see them catching on outside of mountain biking. As-is, the consumer likes buzz-words like “quick release” and a majority-adopted system is unlikely to do anything but proliferate.

    My uneducated 2¢.

    Great read!

  2. I recently purchased my first CX bike, a Giant TCX advanced. One of the key reasons for choosing that bike was the through-axle on the front. I haven’t ridden a through-axled bike previously but I’ve been impressed with the handling of the TCX, especially when it gets loose. It’s point and shoot. It feels very stable through the front, which I’m putting down in part to the axle. I notice Norco’s 2015 CX bike is TE front and back. I think we’ll see a lot more of this feature in CX as it’s a differentiator. On a side note, I’m surprised how similar my CX bike is to my carbon hardtail MTB in terms of technology. I think MTB tech with disk brakes, Through Axles and some geometry is going to be a big winner for bike companies that take that direction.

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