We had a clinic last weekend where we shared some of our secrets and handy tips to make sure your bike is safe and ready to ride in between maintenance checks. Today, we’ll focus on skewers. Next clinic is July 2nd.
Skewers: No, not those sticks for creating delicious BBQ food, but those metal rods that hold your wheel onto your frame. Yeah, they are actually holding it on, so it is very important to make sure they are put on, oriented, and tightened correctly.
If you swap skewers and the springs fall off, it is important to put them back on correctly. There should be 2 springs, 1 for each side of the wheel. The springs should have the smaller end pointing towards the wheel and the bigger end towards either the skewer handle (left side) or the skewer nut (right side). See the image below. The springs aren’t necessary, but they help in centering the skewer for ease of wheel entry and exit.
Never orient a skewer to close onto any portion of the frame: fork blade, chain stay, or seat stay. You may think it “looks cooler” but there are a couple reasons why you should never orient your skewer where it closes onto the frame:
1) The skewer may not be all the way closed. If the frame is in the way, the skewer will stop at the frame, and that may not be the final closed position of the skewer.
2) It is harder to get your fingers in between the frame and the skewer when you need to take the wheel off. That means more time for you on the side of the road.
3) Bad habit – okay, so your skewer doesn’t hit your frame. But say you take your buddies bike off the rack and put his wheel on for him and he doesn’t check it. You guys then barrel down Mt Palomar and his wheel falls off…not a pretty day for either of you.
Around 70% of the bikes that come into our shop for service have skewers oriented incorrectly.
Remember, your skewer is holding your wheel onto your bike. Tighten either the nut or handle side until you begin feeling resistance when the skewer handle is parallel to the hub of the wheel. Then you can begin to close the handle. You may use the spokes to grab hold and you should have a good impression of the handle in the palm of your hand.
Make sure your wheel is centered in your dropouts. Before you move the brake caliper, loosen the skewer to check if the wheel was centered. If you move the caliper, you are loosening the bolt that attaches the brake to the frame.
If you have any questions or would like a safety check of your skewer installation feel free to stop by the shop!