Friday, November 4, 2016

Disc brakes - through axles

Uncle Larry took a close look at a disc-braked bicycle today. Nah, he doesn't want to buy one as he sees no real need for the type of riding he does - or the type of riding we do on CycleItalia tours. But....

 ...there's always a BUT, right? In this case, it's not the disc brake that is the problem but the way most of them are being mounted these days. The above photo is of a typical "through-axle" front fork designed for a disc brake.  Rather than Tullio Campagnolo's brilliant invention, the simple, reliable "quick-release" these bikes use a large diameter axle that threads into the fork. Any notion of quick release is gone as you now have to unscrew this thing and remove the entire axle to get the wheel out - whether it's to repair a flat or... put your bike on a automobile roof rack for transport. Ooops! As you can see above our custom-made roof rack holds your bike (and it's front wheel) using Campagnolo's ingenious invention. Neither a through-axle bike nor it's front wheel can be attached this way, sorry.

While we don't want to discourage anyone from BYOB, we must insist that your bike be equipped with quick-release wheels rather than through-axles so it can be transported when necessary. Up on the roof is the ONLY way bikes can be transported, whether it's to get to the start of a ride or simply to transport yours if for any reason you choose not to ride it.

Finally, think about one other issue - suppose you join us and have an issue with your front (or even rear) wheel. Currently there are choices of 140 mm and 160 mm brake rotors with various diameters of through-axles + all kinds of innovative schemes to attach them. Some still need to be unscrewed while some makers have tried to speed things up with 1/2 or 1/4 twist setups. The result is finding any sort of compatible replacement wheel if yours is damaged will be a challenge - one that might find you riding in the van while an exact replacement is sought or your wheel repaired. 

Uncle Larry wonders why anyone would take this risk when the tried-and-true quick-release skewer (and rim brakes) work just fine?

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