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A thru axle is a hollow axle that gets clamped by each fork leg and through the hub. Like what a motorcycle has. Much stiffer and stronger design then the typical QR dropout.

My sons newer downhill mountain bike has a thru axle on his front wheel/fork. I've never had a bicycle with an axle like this.

Is there any different sort of maintenance I should be doing?

Edit ---------

They are on some Marzocchi 55s, probably around 2008/2009 model year:

Marzocchi 55s thru axle

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Is it floating or Maxle? – cmannett85 Jan 6 '12 at 0:06
I don't know what those terms mean. We push it thru from one side to the other and screw it into place and once tight (I think) something locks into place. – Glenn Gervais Jan 6 '12 at 1:32
Basically, you don't do any maintenance on a regular axle, other than to repack the bearings every 10-20K miles. I don't see why anything different would be required of a thru axle. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 6 '12 at 3:52
Those forks should be using Marzocchi's proprietary QR20 axle type, but it's hard to tell from the picture. So does it have a QR handle? – cmannett85 Jan 6 '12 at 9:52
Yes, on the other side. Thanks for the help. – Glenn Gervais Jan 6 '12 at 16:02
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Keep it lightly greased where it comes into contact with the hub bearing races and dropouts. This helps get it in and stops it seizing against the dropouts (the axle and dropouts are alu).

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Not much maintenance required. Just apply grease very lightly on the axile before inserting, make sure it is a thin layer evenly spread on the whole length. This helps for insertion and prevents seizure. We don't want seizure here, as it is a pain to get out the stuck through axile.

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