Quick release skewers are found on many modern bikes. If you’ve only ever had wheels with nuts, this can seem a bit confusing. The lever that releases the wheels goes through the axle. You may have noticed that there are two quick release skewer springs at the ends of the axle. In this article we are going to look at those little springs, how they fit and why they’re there.
The history of the quick release skewer
Up until the 1930’s, the state of the art wheel retention system at the time were wing nuts. This meant that riders didn’t need to carry a spanner to remove the wheels. It wasn’t a perfect system as the wing nuts had to be very tight to ensure the wheel stayed in place and could only be secured by hand. In the late 1920’s, Tullio Campagnolo, an Italian road cyclist was racing in the alps and the cold made it too difficult for him to undo the wing nuts. As a response to this dilemma, Tullio invented the quick release system that is seen on many modern bikes.
If you have a quick release skewer it looks like this. There is a nut that comes off and allows the skewer to go through the hole in the axle. There are also two conical shaped springs. Their function is to keep the skewer away from the axle so that it is easier to get the wheel back into the dropout.
About the springs
A conical spring has the ability to fold into itself. When it is fitted onto the skewer and axle it compresses to be the thickness of one coil and fits inside the recess of the acorn nut and lever body allowing them to lock against the dropouts. If the quick release skewer spring was the same width top to bottom, then it could only compress to be the thickness of all the coils and would sit proud of the recesses. This would result in the lever body and acorn nut being unable to meet the dropout and subsequently be unable to tighten. causing the wheel to come out.
The answer is no, from mechanical point of view the lack of springs will not make any difference to the safety and performance of the bike. They are however very practical and can make fitting the wheel much easier.
Which way round do the quick release skewer springs go
Each spring compresses on the quick release skewer and the axle keeping even distance between them on each side.
This can change if they springs are not in the correct position.
The wider end goes into the lever at one end and the nut on the other.
The smaller end sits against the axle. This means that when you tighten the skewer the springs fold away.
If you have them the other way around they will sit on the axle.
When fitting the wheel, the axle will either not fit in the dropouts or the wheel will not sit properly. This will potentially make the cycle unsafe and damage the springs.
If one of the springs is missing or it’s damaged then this will cause the remaining spring to push out the skewer further away from the axle on that side bringing the skewer close to the axle on the other side. This will make fitting the wheel more difficult then without the springs.
If you are fitting the quick release wheel without the springs you will have to centre the skewer manually.
Luckily replacement springs are not expensive and widely available.
You can also watch our video tutorial here:
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