Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fixed Gear with Quick Release Hub

I know hard-core fixed-gear riders like to be known by their nuts, but from a practical standpoint the quick release makes great sense for those of us frequently shifting gears in hilly or mountainous terrain.

I keep getting told by members of the modern fixed gear crowd that quick release hubs aren't a good idea for fixed gear bikes. In contrast I place almost 30 years on fixed gears with only quick release hubs. I may have pulled the rear wheel crooked once or twice, but I did that with my road bike as well.

Similarly, holding fixed cogs on old-school freewheel-threaded hubs using a bottom bracket lock ring may have been less than ideal, but I only spun the cog loose once or twice in nearly three decades. I do prefer to have proper stepped threads, but straight freewheel threads allowed me to stack a couple of cogs many years before Surly's Dingle Cog came out. Yes, you shouldn't backpedal against the outer one, but it was there for forward locomotion. I wouldn't do it any more, but for a while the wild and free fixed-gear devotee had to scrounge. The subculture was so very sub as hardly to be visible.

The free-range fixed gear is a different animal from the creature of the velodrome. We make all kinds of mutations, some successful, some less so. Unrestricted by the rules, distinct stresses and closed environment of the track, we venture into all sorts of territory.

Tell me how it's gone for you, skewered or nutted.


Ralph said...

I like to be known for my rod. I prefer to keep my nuts in the bag.

cafiend said...

Dude, it's a skewer, don't get too proud. But I've seen you use it and I know you're good at it. Thanks for keeping the nuts under wraps.

Stephen said...

What sort of skewers do you use? Does it make a difference whether they're new or old (i.e., 2008 Dura Ace vs. vintage Dura Ace)? That question is leading towards whether there's something about old materials that make them stronger...

cafiend said...

Over the years I have used whatever skewers came with various hubs or whatever conventional skewer I found lying around.

Just recently, an old skewer snapped from fatigue while I was reinstalling the rear wheel with the bike hung on the work stand. It broke at the nut threads. Threads create a stress riser, so the break point made sense. The skewer had been opened and closed countless times in its long career.

Some newer skewers seem pretty chintzy. Just feel for something that seems substantial, especially the skewer itself.

Note that skewers of different vintage will be different lengths, too. Old road hubs are 120 mm across the hub locknuts, same as track hubs. In the late 1970s, early '80s, road bikes went to 126mm. Now they're all 130 mm, and mountain hubs are 135. Skewer length varies accordingly.