Brake rotors turning into saw blades of death aside, one of the real issues with converting the pro peloton over to disc brakes is the concurrent desire to use them with thru axles. The thru axles designed for mountain bikes work on the road, but they’re far too slow for the F1 pit stop speeds wanted in road side wheel changes.
We’ve seen some clever solutions that speed things up quite a bit, like those from Focus, Tune and NAILD, but the new Mavic Speed Release does it with similar speed but the added benefit of keeping the axle in the wheel and not requiring finely tuned positioning of the lever…
This video shows just how quickly you can remove a wheel. Here’s how it works:
The Speed Release system uses a thru axle with variable diameters and a spring loaded retention wedge. It might look familiar, Mavic has licensed the base design from SpeedRelease, a small group that showed the original and updated designs over the past few years but hadn’t seen commercial adoption. Mavic then refined and improved the design, most importantly by making it compatible with any hub. And thanks to their recent purchase of ENVE, will be the first to make it available at scale.
Speed Release works with any 12mm thru axle hub, so there are no proprietary wheels needed. It does, however, need a specific fork design with an open dropout on the right side. The trick here is that it’s not a normal open dropout…the opening is narrower than the center.
The axle is then thinner just inside of the part that carries the weight of the wheel. The thinner section lets it slide into the dropout, then it pops inward to fill the hole. At this point, it’s not threaded in, but the axle (and wheel) is sitting securely in the fork on both sides and, even if the axle somehow came unthreaded and loose while riding, the wheel can’t eject because you need to physically pull the axle out to the point where the thinner section is visible.
The axle remains in the wheel during wheel changes, held snugly inside the wheel’s axle thanks to a slightly expanding collet. That collet is on a sliding portion, which gives the axle tactile “steps” during wheel removal, so you don’t pull it out too far. There’s no harm if you do, and the axle comes out of the hub easily enough when you wanna change wheels at home, but during flat fixes or other mid-ride repairs, it won’t just fall out. For the pro peloton, chances are pretty good the axles will be preloaded into the spare wheels for the quickest possible change.
Rather than a cammed lever, it uses a simple ratcheting one with factory set torque, so it simply tightens down to about 5-6Nm then clicks so you can position it however you like.
Once installed, it looks like any other thru axle. It’s first iteration will show up on a new ENVE road fork (more on that in a separate post soon) in early 2017 and will include the axle. The standard is open for other bike and fork brands to license, too, and here’s hoping they do.