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GMBN Tech Essentials Ep.1 | Wheel Axles


– This is the GMBN Tech Essentials Series, our easy to follow guide to maintaining and setting up your bike With a bit of basic understanding, just a few tools, you can all be looking after your bikes at home

Which basically means, in the long run it is gonna save you money For this particular video we're looking at the quick release axles out there There's quite a lot and it can be quite confusing However, they're very easy to use And I'm gonna show you how to do it correctly and safely

(techno music) So at first, what exactly is a bolt through axle? So, these days they're often referred to as a quick release through axle So, this is more like a conventional quick release Once upon a time they were everywhere on mountain bikes, but as the technology has developed, they're quite rare these days, although you do still see them Now, the quick release through axle is essentially a very beefed up version of this The reason for this is bikes now have suspension, quite often front and rear on them

And these actually form part of the structure of the frame to keep everything in check, everything nice and stiff And ultimately, they're a lot stronger Now, there are various different sizes and styles of quick release axles, also known as through axles, on the market Now, it does depend on the type of bike you have So just for example, just assuming your bike has suspension forks on there, it's gonna have one of two main standards up front

It'll either be boost or non-boost Boost means it's 110 millimeters space in between them Non-boost is 100 millimeters, nice and simple Typically, front wheel axles tend to be 15 millimeters, although you do still see some 20 millimeter options And these are also common in downhill bikes, just because they're a bit beefier

Outback is a little bit different Axle size tends to be 12 millimeter, and there are a few different widths of the back ends of bikes Once upon a time all mountain bikes were 135 millimeters And whilst you do still see this, it's far more common for them to be 142 millimeters now There's also boost, which is 148 millimeters

And there's a slightly newer size that's been referred to as super boost, and that is 157 millimeters Now, downhill bikes tend to have 150 millimeters and it's quite an exclusive size for them, but it's no stranger to see the odd downhill bike having a 148 boost on there, and sometimes 157 So, they don't kind of fall into the same camp as conventional mountain bikes So, in particular with the rear ones, it can be quite confusing So, why are there all these different sizes? Originally, they were 135 millimeters because that was the width of the standard rear hubs

Now, as cassettes got bigger and you had more gears on a bike, the hub needed to start getting wider to accommodate all of that and still maintain a nice, strong wheel If you think about the rear hub of the wheel, it has to have the cassette on there and it has to have the nice bracing angle for those spokes in order to build a tension and strong wheel Now, with respect to hub sizing and how it's changed over the years, those traditional 135s, like I said, they were superseded by the 142 size And that's still a very common size on mountain bikes But 148 is becoming increasingly popular

And you'll see this on most new mountain bikes In particular, ones running a one by transmission on there Now, the reason for that is to get ultimately a better chain line and also to allow enough tire clearance for the design of the bike And when I'm talkin' about chain line, it's essentially being able to line up the center line with the front chaining with the center of the rear cassette So, that means the chain has to do the least amount of work to get across all of the gears

Obviously to do that, things need to be spaced out slightly at the back end, so you have that 148 millimeter size So now, as you can see here on this particular bike, so this has a boost 148 millimeter rear end It's got a one by 11 transmission on there Now, as you can see, there's loads of tire clearance This is a nice big 2

3 tire on the back I can stick my hand down the sides of here, so you got all the clearance you need for mount Nice amount clearance for the chain link there against the frame, and of course, a really good chain line So, of course, I've just explained the 148 to you, so why is there the need for more axle standards? Well, quite simply, for more stiffness and more strength on the back end of a bike Now, what I'm talkin' about here is like enduro racing focused bikes with gravity styled bikes

Now, the wider you can get the back end of the back, the further the spoke bracing angle can be and the stiffer and stronger the back end of the bike can actually be But of course, for normal mountain bikes, virtually everything you'll see will be 148 And don't worry, that is here to stay Now, there's a lot of different style quick release through axles available on the market But I'm holding here three of the most common ones you'll see on most bikes

So, first up there's the Rockshox Maxle Now, you see this in front and rear orientations to fit on your forks or on the frame There's the Fox QR15 system, which you see mostly on forks but you do see this on frames, as well Very simple system And then there's the DT system, as well, which you see on both forks and frames

And you also see a lot of manufacturers adopt to this exact system under different names Now, there are many other options out there, and they all tend to work on very similar principles There's the sin-tay system Of course, there's the system used by Cane Creek on their own ones I think that's called the D-LOC system

But they all fundamentally work on the same principles as these, both the Rockshox Maxle, and the Fox QR15, also known as the Shimano QR15 because they were developed in conjunction They both work on the similar principle of a cam-operated lever They're slightly different in the way that you can adjust them, which I'll show you later And then this DT system, which simply screws into the frame or into the fork, and then you can adjust the position of the actual lever afterwards to orientate it in a suitable position Now, whilst they're all fairly self-explanatory, and they're all very easy to use, it's also equally easy to not use them correctly

And what I mean by that is a few different things that are quite common to happen, and you might have had one of these happen with you So, you might find you're over-tightening them, which means using all your body weight on those levers to tighten them into the frame or the fork, end up with a red mark on your hand from the lever You never really wanna be over tightening these You simply don't need to do it And all you can end up doing is damaging at the end of the day

The next option is under tightening them So, you're not sufficiently tightening them into the fork or frame Now, you don't need to be a genius to work out this It could be very dangerous If they're not tight, they can work their way loose

And the absolute worse case could happen, the axle could slide out, which would mean you'd lose the wheel off the bike So, it's really important from a safety point of view to make sure they're done up properly onto the bike as they're supposed to be done Now, the final one is actually making sure the lever is orientated in the right position in the first place Now, as I'm going to explain to you with these different axles how they go into the bike, if you tighten this one in, for example, and it's tight here, you'll find you actually want the lever to be in line with the fork really You don't want it to be sticking out the front

So, when it's actually sufficiently tight, you can adjust the end of the actual lever itself to sit in the correct position What you don't wanna be doing is having to over tighten it to get it into that position, or under tighten it and it doesn't go far enough So, it's not actually screwed in enough, even if the lever is in the ideal position I can't emphasize this enough It's a safety orientated product

It's dead simple to use So, this is how you use the main three So, the QR15 system, often known as the Fox QR15 or the Shimano QR15, very simple There's a lever with a cam, the axle, and it's got a threaded bit on the end Then, of course, there is the threaded captive nut that's part of the fork there that this screws into

Now, this does have the facility to allow you to change the orientation of where the lever locks, just to make sure it's in the correct place Nice, simple system to use Simply slide the axle into place, and then when you find it hits those threads at the back, tighten up Now, you don't tighten it all the way So, an easy way to do this is to go all the way until it's tight and then come back a full half turn there

And then you need to be tightening the actual lever there so it sits in front of the fork Now, what you're looking for is a gap of between one and 20 millimeters daylight here between the actual lever itself and the front of the fork What you don't want is for it to be tightened against the fork, for example, in which case the cam will never allow you to tighten it fully, and it could just come undone You don't want that to happen for obvious reasons And if, for example, yours is tightening up in the wrong orientation, you can actually change this on the other side by actually moving a captive nut

Now, that is very easy to do All you need to do is loosen the 2 1/2 millimeter Allen key bolt just here, and that gives you access to that captive nut To actually move it around, you need to loosen off the actual quick release lever itself, and then you can put the nut in the correct orientation so the lever closes against the fork leg like we just showed you So, there you go, nice and simple So, that nut has actually got indents all the way around it and it's got numbers on there so we can get it just right, but you can remember that in case you actually don't remove it in the future

So, just a quick recap on QR15 What you're looking for is the lever to be sufficiently tight There's a resistance when you undo it and a resistance when you tighten it, but nothing too much You don't wanna have a mark in your hand when you're pushing it closed And likewise, you don't want this to be loose so it could come open

The lever itself needs to sit between one and 20 millimeters away from the fork leg when it's in the correct orientation And if it's not tightening at this point, you can actually change the orientation by moving the nut around that's on the other side Nice and simple (light orchestral music) This axle is the Maxle So, this is the Rockshox system

You'll see this on loads of bikes This is the same system on the front and on the rear Exactly the same system applies You slide the axle straight through until it locates with the threads which are on the opposite side You simply tighten up that axle till you get to the end, come back off a turn and then tighten it

Nice and simple As with the QR15 system, there should be a good resistance, but it shouldn't be like crazy tight, and neither should it be loose Common sense dictates how tight it should be Now, for the lever position, it's not quite as crucial as it is with a QR15 The only position you should really not have it in is against the fork leg for the same reason

It's not gonna tighten properly because of the cam, and of course, if you do crash or something, it could well cause some damage to the fork, and the quick release, or both What I would say is for common sense reasons, you don't wanna have your Maxle when it's tightened facing forwards If you hit some shrubberies, some overgrown bushes and stuff on your travels, that could flip it open, which of course, you might not notice, and it might rattle its way out in actual riding Of course, that's not gonna end well So, common sense dictates where you tighten it up

Like the QR15, you can change the orientation of the lever when it's actually tight But unlike the QR15, where you simply loosen it and you would adjust it, the threaded nut that sits into the fork On this system, the adjustment is on the actual axle itself So, you have to remove the axle When you got the axle in hand, you can see there's some markings here, where the whole line gets correlated to them

And to actually change the position of the lever in relation to the axle, you push it in and locate that As you can see here, I'm just gonna change position by moving that in And that changes the orientation of the axle, and you tighten it up Okay, so now we're gonna take a look at the DT style system So, this is a front one which is a 50 millimeters and this is a rear one which is a 12

So, I'm gonna show you how to install that They're both exactly the same in the way that they operate, very simple system So, you simply line up the wheel into the frame as you would with any bike And you simply slide the axle through until it grips into the threads on the drive side and tighten the lever It's as simple as that

You'll get to a point where it feels nice and tight Then you'll find that the lever is not in a good orientation Now, on this system you can literally pull the lever up and you can adjust it to get it out of harm's way in a nice position Now, some people do like to put them up against the frame Some people like to put them in different positions

What you don't want to do is have it in a position like this where you could accidentally hit this with your ankle and undo it Of course, the whole point of these is that they stay tight on the bike And you also just get conventional bolt through axles that use a single Allen key to tighten them in You get Rockshox Maxle Stealth is one of the options which looks like this one here, but all fairly similar What you will find on all of them, though, is a torque setting on there

Now, that's the recommended tightness that you should tighten these to Now, I'm fully aware that not everyone has access to a torque wrench, so you need to use a bit of common sense here to see how tight you need it to be I would say like this is loose at the moment and that's where it catches A good bit of tightness and that will be sufficient But it is something you should definitely monitor, because they don't have the cam system that you get with the levers to make sure that you can visibly see that they're tight

These ones could come loose, so it is worth checkin' them from time to time Now, if you do have access to a torque wrench, this particular one says between nine and 13 UTImeters So, I would set the UTImeter setting on the actual torque wrench there So, this one offset at 11 as you can see on the scale there And now, you don't really wanna be tightening up everything with a torque wrench

It's basically just to check it to the correct torque So, you would still tighten it by hand until you think it's about right Remove your Allen key Put the correct size bit in In this case, it's a six millimeter in there, and then tighten it

There you go And that's the point where it's tellin' me I've tightened it sufficiently Now, one important thing just to say about torque settings are they are recommended It's not essential, you can tighten it without having to have a torque wrench It's just an advisory

And because it's a safety item, I have to recommend that you do use one of these, but it's not an absolute necessity As long as you monitor it and you make sure it's sufficiently tight, you will be safe So, there we go, we've taken a look at the most common ones out there, the DT, the QR15, and the two offerings from Rockshox Now, there are many other ones on the market, but they all fundamentally rely on the same principles So, you don't want to be over tightening them

You don't want to under tighten them for any risk of them coming loose You don't want the lever to be fouling on the frame or the fork, 'cause it could damage those in the event of a collision or accident And of course, it will never tightened sufficiently in the first place The final thing to check is the orientation of the lever, so it can't accidentally be opened by shrubbery or anything else when you're riding, or in the rear axle case, you can't accidentally loosen this with your foot, nice and simple Now, there's gonna be a whole bunch more Essentials Videos following this very one, so I hope you've enjoyed it

And if there are any Essential Videos you wanna see in a series, let us know in those comments below In the meantime, if you wanna understand a bit about bike setup in regards to how it affects your riding, the climbing, your saddle discomfort, hand pain, any of that sort of stuff, check that video out It's a good one and it'll explain a lot of the basic bike setup for you As always, click on the round globe to subscribe to GMBN Tech And if there's anyone out there that you know that needs some help with their bikes, make sure you share it around a bit

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