Quick-release wheels were a mystery to me when I started cycling. I understood the concept and wanted it but wondered, do all bikes have quick-release wheels?
No, not all bikes have quick-release wheels. Some still require you to use tools to remove the wheels.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at how you can tell the difference between the axles, how to convert your wheels to a quick-release set-up, and plenty of other factors.
So, let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
Most bikes these days come with a quick-release axle, but not all.
The easiest way to tell is if you are able to remove your wheel and replace it without any tools.
There will be a lever that you can open and twist. This will undo the metal skewer.
When you look at a quick-release system, you will see an acorn nut on one side and the lever on the other side. There will be a spring on both sides of the hub.
No, they do not.
There are two factors that will show whether a bike has a quick-release or a thru-axle skewer:
If your bike is a mountain bike, it will likely have a thru-axle. For mountain bikes, this has pretty much become the standard.
As with anything, there are exceptions. And in this case, it’s usually found with the very entry-level bikes as it is a way to cut costs.
If you have a road bike, then the type of skewer installed is often linked to what braking system you use.
Bikes that use rim brakes tend to get a quick-release skewer.
Disc brake bikes tend to use thru-axle skewers. This isn’t a hard and fast rule. Bicycles that are older than those from 2019 with disc brakes may use a quick-release skewer. After that, it’s more common to find thru-axle skewers.
If you’re looking for a gravel bike, you can expect to find thru-axles. The difference is that if you’re looking at an older model, you may find the odd quick-release skewer in the mix.
You absolutely can.
I would recommend that you take your bike down to the local bike shop. This is something they will be able to do with 15 - 20 minutes.
Get yourself a quick-release conversion kit. Something like this will do the job:
However, make sure to get the correct size and a kit that is compatible with your wheel.
This is something you need to get right. If you don’t, it can result in a crash or getting stuck with a wheel you can’t get off.
Not good, right?
So, get your wheel on the bike. You want your quick-release lever on the side without the drivetrain.
In theory, it can work on the other side. However, the issue is that it can get in the way of the rear derailleur, so that’s not ideal.
Always try to fit it to the same side so you know where it is.
You should tighten the acorn nut on the other side until it’s touching the frame.
Then open the quick-release lever. While you’re doing that, tighten the acorn nut more.
Try to close the quick-release lever again. You should find that it’s sufficiently tight and will require you to use some force to close it. It shouldn’t be so difficult that it feels like an arm wrestle, though.
Some people apply a 90-degree rule as to where the closed quick-release lever should be positioned.
By that, I mean that it should be sticking straight out at 90 degrees from the frame and the wheel should be properly centered. The acorn nut should be tightened well and the quick-release lever closed.
If you’re a rider who wants an aerodynamic approach, aim to have the front quick-release lever pointing towards the back and parallel to the ground.
Whatever you do, never have it pointing towards the front!
This opens up the possibility of it getting caught on something and the lever coming open while you’re riding.
You should also prevent the lever from being angled straight back as this can lead to the rider behind you getting their wheel caught in your lever and frame. The result? You’re both going to hit the deck.
What you want to ensure is that your wheel is correctly centered in the frame/fork. If you’re happy that it is, then you can close up your quick-release and ride your bike.
If not, you can release the lever and give the wheel a pull-up. You should find that the wheel sits firmly at the top of the dropouts. This means your quick-releases are now set correctly.
When you remove your rear wheel in the future, you won’t need to make any adjustments to the quick-release. This is because the rear hub will be able to slide straight up and out of the dropouts.
For the front wheel, it’s a little different. You need to loosen the acorn nut slightly to get the space you need to get the wheel off.
Looking for more information? Here’s a guide from Global Cycling Network:
Firstly, there are a few key differences between a quick-release skewer and a thru-axle.
Thru-axles have been present on mountain bikes since around 2010 and are now fairly common on road bikes as well.
The quick-release wheel was invented in the 1920s by Tullio Campagnolo.
This technology was so impressive that it quickly replaced the old screwed bolts on axles systems.
It wasn’t long before quick-release became the industry standard for road bikes. I should point out that this standard doesn’t stretch to single-speeds, fixies, or track bikes.
Quick-release technology is still being used today, though not as frequently. Thru-axles are now in favor.
A thru-axle setup results in a stiffer ride. This can be useful if you’re riding a mountain bike, as it gives you more torque and reduces the amount of flex on your bike.
If your rod is 5mm, then you have a skewer. However, if you have a 12mm that is threaded, it’s a thru-axle.
When thru-axles first came about, some manufacturers made 10mm ones. These are fairly rare today but you can find the occasional part.
Want to know what the future is like for road bikes? Global Cycling Network has you covered.
Not all bikes have quick-release wheels but the majority do. There are easy ways to identify quick-release wheels.
You can change your bike setup so that you can have a quick-release system.
Overall, quick-release wheels are simple to use. They are something you should look for when buying a bike.