Monday, 14 May 2012

Quick Release lever alignment

Michael Barry, the Team Sky professional rider, recently wrote about his favourite cycling innovation, the humble quick release lever (article here). The other day, I looked idly at bikes in a public rack. I noticed that people position the closed lever in many different orientations. Which way should QR levers point? A good subject for a "Chuck's Tech Opinion," I mused.
Sounds like a trivial matter? No way, I say! A good friend of mine had a minor crash on his beautiful all carbon bike. The front fork was gouged by the QR lever - a very expensive mishap. The lever had been locked in front of the fork blade, pointing up. I've also heard stories about a person who pulled a bike out of the rack, and only when riding discovered that the QR lever had been snagged open!

When you examine pro bikes, it's very interesting, as it seems that rear lever alignment is team, or should I say team mechanic, dependent. So, for example, TT bikes from Radioshack/Leopard Trek (including Cancellara), Vacansoleil (including Larsson), Saxo Bank (including Boaro), Astana (including Brajikovic) have the QR lever on the rear wheel pointing backwards, as in the photo above. The others have the QR lever positioned under the chainstay pointing forwards (e.g. Team Sky), or back and up, or in the crook between chainstay and seatstay like this:
"In the crook" also appears to be the way most pro cyclocross riders orient the rear wheel QR lever. I guess that is because the risk of snagging the lever (e.g. by a passing bush!) is lower in this position (it's tucked into the stays, which protect it a little). Another thing the pros have to worry about (but I don't!) is ease of access for wheel changes.

When it comes to the front QR lever, it's much simpler. Among the pros, as far as I can tell, it is always pointing backwards. Either under the fork, or backwards and upwards. The other pro thing is that the lever on the front wheel tends to be on the left side of the bike (on the rear wheel it HAS to be on the left side).

So, fwiw, here's my opinion. On the rear wheel of CX bikes and commuters that are often parked in racks with other bikes - where there is a risk of snagging the lever - I will orient it tucked into the crook of the seatstay and chainstay. Whereas for TT, I may have it pointing backwards. It really depends on the frame structure around the dropouts and the shape and configuration of the QR lever. I am not that keen on pointing it forwards and down under the chainstay - but I would do that if there is no other way (it depends on the configuration of the lever and type of frame - sometimes it won't go into the crook without fouling the frame, for example). On the front wheel, it's always pointing back, either under the fork or backwards and upwards behind the fork blade. Usually this is achieved with the skewers oriented so that each QR lever is on the left side of the bike.

And yes, I agree with Mr Barry that the quick release is a great bicycle innovation.

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