About a year and a half ago, SpeedRelease showed their hand with a front thru axle-like system that fit into standard road bike forks, boosting stiffness and security while possibly shaving a few seconds from wheel swaps. At this year’s Taipei Cycle Show, they had a more polished version alongside rear wheel designs and iterations for mountain bikes.
The premise of SpeedRelease is to create a backwards compatible thru axle system that works with standard road forks that prevents the wheel from coming out if the lever accidentially loosens by locking the axle (skewer) into the hub. The original design came with an adapter to retrofit any fork to use it, and now they’ve added an OEM parts kit for any bike brand that wants to integrate it into the design.
The adapter slides into the dropout, then uses a large bolt to lock it into place. The inside face has a lip, similar to what’s inside a proper thru axle fork, that the hub fits into. It essentially creates a closed dropout from a QR system, which means the wheel can’t fall out even if the skewer comes loose, and it ensures it won’t slip under disc brake forces.
It’s a system that includes the hubs, and the standard 9mm axle system is locked into the hub. It’s designed for people that want to integrate it into their existing fork and keep things as light as possible.
The hub has a forged shell with Centerlock disc brake mounts and 16/8 straight pull lacing holes. System weight is 179g for skewer, hub and adapter with the steel shaft. A titanium shaft model will come later and likely save 25-30 grams.
The threads that the axles grab into are double lead, meaning they thread twice as fast as normal for quicker installation and removal of the wheel. Once it’s threaded in, you just flip up the handle. It’s not cammed, so it’s only thread tightened with a friction washer to prevent it from unthreading.
Another option is available without the handle and just uses a 6mm allen key to tighten, like shown at the top of the post…which happens to be a new version built around a 12mm thru axle on a fork that’s designed specifically around this system. The driveside slot has a 10mm keyhole and 12mm circle, so once the wheel’s slid in, you pop the axle into place and it instantly aligns the wheels and holds it in place while you tighten it.
The rear uses the same system, just wider. Which means there’s a slot on the non-drive side, so the system is not compatible with regular thru axles.
On the mountain bike side, it gets a bit closer by switching to a standard thread pitch, but still needs a slotted entry on the non-drive side. But, since the axle’s not stepped, so it would be backward compatible with any current 12×142 thru axle wheelset.
On a frame like the Intense Carbine (shown), that could mean just swapping in an aftermarket dropout.
The real thrust behind the project is to create a solution for road disc brakes. They wanted something that retains the axle safely and is easy to use. It’s also quick, which could make a break a pro’s race if a wheel swap is needed. They say there’s been a lot of interest among bike brands, so perhaps we’ll see some it come about as a production standard in one form or another.