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Thru Axles- A thought while riding!

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Thru Axles- A thought while riding!

Old 07-07-18, 05:34 AM
  #1  
Tandem Tom
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Thru Axles- A thought while riding!

I ofter come up with random thoughts or wuquestio while riding! Yesterday was the above mentioned subject. I see a number of touring bikes with Tru. Axles and it caused me to think about out ride across the country a few summers ago when we both at different times needed a new wheel. How many shops will stock a Tru axle wheel as opposed to a dkewer type??
I guess I really like the KISS principal when touring!
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Old 07-07-18, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
I ofter come up with random thoughts or wuquestio while riding! Yesterday was the above mentioned subject. I see a number of touring bikes with Tru. Axles and it caused me to think about out ride across the country a few summers ago when we both at different times needed a new wheel. How many shops will stock a Tru axle wheel as opposed to a dkewer type??
I guess I really like the KISS principal when touring!
I have never had a wheel fall out of one of my frames, but there are a few people out there that never learned how to properly use a quick release axle. Some manufacturers will start to push it if they think that it could prevent a law suit or two. For that reason, manufacturers are always trying to come up with a new way to make bikes more idiot-proof.

And some people want the latest thing even if it is not much of an improvement. They might not know why it was developed, all they know is that it is new and therefore it obviously must be so much better.

I bought a frame last year that had replaceable dropouts, the frame can be configured for conventional 135mm hubs or through axle, I chose conventional hub configuration. Some people say you need through axle to get your wheel centered right for your disc brake when you put a wheel into the frame, my frame with the conventional 135mm hub has a perfectly centered disc every time I put the wheel in so I am not sure what they are talking about.

Give it time, in a decade it might be hard to find a wheel with a conventional hub, it will be in the back corner in the vintage section with the brake pads for rim brakes, etc.
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Old 07-07-18, 08:44 AM
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Just if you trash the rim in timbuktu, doubt they will have a spare wheel waiting for you..

Out here , it has to be special ordered, MTB sales are big but not high end..

maybe if you are in Portland, half the state population lives there..





....

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-07-18 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 07-07-18, 10:41 AM
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QR converters for TA hubs exist so if TA becomes more common they'll likely just have TA wheels on hand and sell someone a QR converter if they have an older bike... if you can find a shop that has a lot of stock, some places keep very little on hand as it's expensive to have stuff sitting on a shelf.

Personally I wouldn't buy a new disc bike with QR, TA is much nicer for disc brakes, especially on the front.

I run a dynamo hub so I know that there is a rare chance that a wheel-destroying incident will mean I'd have to wait and special-order parts. It's not really a huge deal... get a few days break somewhere nice and get to relax in the middle of the trip...
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Old 07-07-18, 11:19 AM
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Obviously it will depend on what goes wrong with your wheel. Is the hub OK?

If you have standard J-Bend spokes, most bike shops will be able to stock, or make spokes of just about any size/length.

So, in the case of a bent rim, tear down the wheel, and replace the rim and/or spokes.
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Old 07-07-18, 01:17 PM
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Just may take a while , if more than a spoke is needed ...
here the repair queue is a couple days long..

much shorter in the winter ..
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Old 07-07-18, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by tandem tom View Post
i ofter come ...
+1

KISS - T/A is simply a marketing/sales gimmick for most cyclists. I don't bomb down MTB trails anymore, and I go easy on fire/dirt road descents too. Actually I haven't used QR in years, instead I use slow release, which is a bolt-on QR-like skewer, secured with 5mm Allen key.

Last edited by seeker333; 07-07-18 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 07-07-18, 03:12 PM
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Thru axles are awesome if you have disc brakes and ride hard. Also, it holds the axle in place with heavy braking while you are loaded with gear.

I've never had to change my wheels on the road so I really don't care much about availability around the world. I use Etap hydro system with carbon wheels, cockpit, and fork so axle comparability is the least of my worries.

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Old 07-07-18, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
+1

KISS - T/A is simply a marketing/sales gimmick for most cyclists.
I wish my bike that has hydraulics had T/A! Not a gimmick for hydraulics but a small yet important advancement. For rim brakes, completely unnecessary.
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Old 07-07-18, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
...Actually I haven't used QR in years, instead I use slow release, which is a bolt-on QR-like skewer, secured with 5mm Allen key.
Yeah, touring I use the bolt on skewers, any 5mm allen wrench will work. I assume a potential thief is an opportunist and does not carry a 5 mm wrench around, thus on tour I think it is an extra bit of theft prevention if my wheels need a wrench to remove.

But around home I use quick release.

I use the ones that any 5mm wrench will work because if I had a Pitlock or some other one where I needed a special key, I know that I would lose the key.
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Old 07-07-18, 07:15 PM
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Having broke my rear axle on my standard, nothing special 26" bike less than a week before leaving on a tour last year, I can tell you ANY touring preferable wheel is a crapshoot to find in stock at any shop on a moments notice. Around me, you've mostly got the choice between absolute cheap, and some more racey things.
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Old 07-07-18, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Obviously it will depend on what goes wrong with your wheel. Is the hub OK?

If you have standard J-Bend spokes, most bike shops will be able to stock, or make spokes of just about any size/length.

So, in the case of a bent rim, tear down the wheel, and replace the rim and/or spokes.
That's what I was thinking.
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Old 07-07-18, 10:29 PM
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Probably most shops aren't going to carry a wheel you would want for touring and certainly if you are out in the middle of nowhere you probably would need to phone a friend and have them ship you something type of deal.

I think thru axles are actually quite nice and really make flat fixes easy and give a slightly better ride and are excellent for disc brakes. It is less so about wheel falling out but certainly it does offer better security on that front but really the fact your wheel is always in the same place which is nice as I hate rubbing.

If you worry about a wheel failure make sure you use quality components to your wheel and have someone who knows what they are doing build it. There are plenty of great wheel builders out there who do excellent work and have done excellent work for a while. Using 32-36 J-bend spokes and brass nipples with a sealed bearing hub on good stout touring rims that are hand built will likely end up with a very strong wheel that won't have a lot of failures if any. Also not overloading your bike will help out as well.
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Old 07-08-18, 01:29 PM
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Well, if one were going with the kiss principle (not a bad idea when away from services) I put a vote in for the ubiquitous 26" mtb - qr skewer.
If I had a wheel failure I could probably use any rim off any old mtb laying around all over the world. Freewheel/cassettes in the 5-8 speed range can be jimmied into service on most frames and the older aluminum 32-36h rims were tough. In a pinch you don't need perfect , you need workable. Pop the tire off one, put it on the other and slap it in. Probably only needing a canti brake adjustment. Good luck finding a 26"disc rim in the countryside.

What I have seen in shops, especially outside metro areas where road cycling is more popular, are qr skewers. Through axle for anything other than a dh suspension mtb would be special order.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 07-08-18 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 07-08-18, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
.... Using 32-36 J-bend spokes and brass nipples with a sealed bearing hub on good stout touring rims that are hand built will likely end up with a very strong wheel that won't have a lot of failures if any. Also not overloading your bike will help out as well.
Everybody's experience is different, but I just thought I would point out that a year ago when I was building up another touring bike, a bike mechanic told me that based on his experience a cup and cone hub with quarter inch steel ball bearings would be more reliable than a sealed bearing hub. Since I have never had a hub failure and I had a lot of experience on the steel axle cup and cone hubs, I chose to go with a new XT M756A steel axle cup and cone hub that uses quarter inch steel balls instead of a sealed bearing hub.

Maybe someone that never adds any grease to a hub might be better off with sealed bearings, if a hub starts to have any play in it I check the bearings and add some grease.
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Old 07-08-18, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Everybody's experience is different, but I just thought I would point out that a year ago when I was building up another touring bike, a bike mechanic told me that based on his experience a cup and cone hub with quarter inch steel ball bearings would be more reliable than a sealed bearing hub. Since I have never had a hub failure and I had a lot of experience on the steel axle cup and cone hubs, I chose to go with a new XT M756A steel axle cup and cone hub that uses quarter inch steel balls instead of a sealed bearing hub.

Maybe someone that never adds any grease to a hub might be better off with sealed bearings, if a hub starts to have any play in it I check the bearings and add some grease.
Quite possibly. I mean with good maintenance a cup and cone will be great for a long time and but on both you can replace bearings easily enough (though maybe on sealed stuff more easily due to not having to deal with individual bearing balls?) Me personally I don't want to have to adjust hubs or regrease bearings though maybe if I had the money and space for a good solid home shop as well as a ton more experience wrenching it and also maybe fewer bikes (which wouldn't happen) I could see it being more possible.
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Old 07-08-18, 09:48 PM
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Simplicity and ubiquity are not the same thing, but in one or both seem like they could be desirable on a touring bike. I don't see anything inherently less simple about a thru-axle, but, as you say, it might be harder to come by. Likewise a single speed is simpler than a geared bike, but several gear options are common enough, and gears are useful enough that there aren't a majority of people using the KISS principle to advocate for single-speed touring. It's all a balancing act between likelihood of failure, ease of service/replacement, and utility. I don't have a lot of concern that a hub is going to fail. It could, I'm sure. My experience with bike shops is that you can increase the odds that they'll have your part in stock by using the most generic components, but you can't guarantee anything. I just had a friend trash his 26", v-brake wheel, and found that the LBS didn't have one in stock, and he was off the bike for several days as a result. So that's how I look at it: There are some show-stopping part failures, but, in the U.S. at least, most items are only a couple of days away by mail. Use what you want, but know the risks. I usually have a spare wheelset at home. If I were on a long enough trip, I could have a spare wheel sent out. A shorter trip could likely meet an early end for any repair that required a bike shop. I don't use thru-axles, but I wouldn't shy away from a bike because they did, especially if I felt they held any advantage for the terrain in which I was riding.
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Old 07-08-18, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by onyerleft View Post
I wish my bike that has hydraulics had T/A! Not a gimmick for hydraulics but a small yet important advancement. For rim brakes, completely unnecessary.
I'm in the same position. Someone here recommended me Dura Ace quick release levers, and they completely solved my problem. (Ultegra ones probably would have been fine too.)
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Old 07-09-18, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
Quite possibly. I mean with good maintenance a cup and cone will be great for a long time and but on both you can replace bearings easily enough (though maybe on sealed stuff more easily due to not having to deal with individual bearing balls?) Me personally I don't want to have to adjust hubs or regrease bearings though maybe if I had the money and space for a good solid home shop as well as a ton more experience wrenching it and also maybe fewer bikes (which wouldn't happen) I could see it being more possible.
I worked in a bike shop years ago. To me adding a bit of grease to a hub is something that I don't put a lot of thought into, I just do it. Have done it over a hundred times. No shop needed, but the right size cone wrenches and a jar of grease is needed.

The original issue was potential for wheel failure in the middle of nowhere, I still think that quarter inch ball bearings are better than a cartridge. I do not carry cone wrenches on a tour, but any bike shop would have cone wrenches and I can't imagine that they would not have a bag of loose quarter inch ball bearings in a bin somewhere.
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Old 07-09-18, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
Quite possibly. I mean with good maintenance a cup and cone will be great for a long time and but on both you can replace bearings easily enough (though maybe on sealed stuff more easily due to not having to deal with individual bearing balls?) Me personally I don't want to have to adjust hubs or regrease bearings though maybe if I had the money and space for a good solid home shop as well as a ton more experience wrenching it and also maybe fewer bikes (which wouldn't happen) I could see it being more possible.
I did it in my kitchen on my back wheel in about 10 minutes flat last night. Not that big of a deal.

Thing about 1/4" ball bearings? You can get them (or a close enough metric equivalent) almost anywhere in the world, regardless of bike shop availability. Pop down to any hardware store or industrial supply or machine shop, they'll have something that'll work.
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Old 07-09-18, 10:53 AM
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thing about cartridge bearings is they don't all just pop in-n-out. the novatek (and dozen other rebranded labels) bearings are a tight press fit. gotta beat 'em out with a hammer and pvc tube from the back side. pressing them in requires the DIY headset tool you probably aren't carrying on tour. you can probably tap them in, but odds are you'll damage the seals. not something you wanna do on the roadside with spooky nighttime approaching.

if you carry the lightest cone wrench you're set. even if you don't have spare bearings, you can grease up the ones inside. something one learns when their bob trailer wheel with the crappy seals seizes up after crossing a flooded road 100 miles back of bourke.
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Old 07-09-18, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
I did it in my kitchen on my back wheel in about 10 minutes flat last night. Not that big of a deal.

Thing about 1/4" ball bearings? You can get them (or a close enough metric equivalent) almost anywhere in the world, regardless of bike shop availability. Pop down to any hardware store or industrial supply or machine shop, they'll have something that'll work.
Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I worked in a bike shop years ago. To me adding a bit of grease to a hub is something that I don't put a lot of thought into, I just do it. Have done it over a hundred times. No shop needed, but the right size cone wrenches and a jar of grease is needed.

The original issue was potential for wheel failure in the middle of nowhere, I still think that quarter inch ball bearings are better than a cartridge. I do not carry cone wrenches on a tour, but any bike shop would have cone wrenches and I can't imagine that they would not have a bag of loose quarter inch ball bearings in a bin somewhere.
True true but still I like my sealed cartridges, call me new-unfashioned but by-gum I don't like getting greasy often.

I know I don't really need a shop to do it but I would like to have one so I can get dirty and get the place dirty without having a more extreme clean up. If I got grease on my kitchen counters I would be pissed and where I normally do most of my bike work is in the living room which isn't a good place and would hate do cleaning and regreasing there.
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Old 07-09-18, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
True true but still I like my sealed cartridges, call me new-unfashioned but by-gum I don't like getting greasy often.
Yeah and on top of that, they shouldn't really catastrophically fail without warning. I rode my sealed bottom bracket a good year after it started getting squeaky and gritty, without failure.


TBH, I wouldn't put either on a pro or con list, either should be more than suitable for anything but sttanded at a Russian mine camp with a bearing issue needs.
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Old 07-09-18, 11:10 PM
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Damn. It's mind-boggling to see so many people are paranoid about stuff that didn't happen.

Every time I hear people say this imaginary place "in the middle of nowhere", I just want to throw up.
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Old 07-10-18, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
+1

KISS - T/A is simply a marketing/sales gimmick for most cyclists. I don't bomb down MTB trails anymore, and I go easy on fire/dirt road descents too. Actually I haven't used QR in years, instead I use slow release, which is a bolt-on QR-like skewer, secured with 5mm Allen key.
The idea with a thru axle is a much stronger wheel interface with the frame/fork. Great for loaded touring, mt biking or such. Locks down solid as well. At 230 lbs, I need all the help I can get.
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