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I've got a problem with the quick release lever on the front thru axle of the bike I use for a short commute (a several-years old Motobecane Fantom Cross Outlaw, FWIW).

The last time I tried to remove the front wheel to fix a flat, I had trouble with the lever on the thru axle. The lever would just spin, and no force was being applied to the axle itself. I fiddled with the mechanism to try to get it to engage properly, but nothing seemed to work. I even tightened (and eventually removed and re-installed) the tiny screws on the sides of the lever. Still no luck. Finally I had to use pliers to turn the axle and get it off.

Once I got the wheel off the bike, I played with the lever mechanism some more and it seemed to be working again. I put the wheel (with new tube) back on, and the lever worked fine until I'd gotten the axle just barely tight enough. Now it's refusing to engage again, and I can't either tighten the axle further or loosen it up.

Anyone have an idea as to whether this is fixable? I've already tried tightening the screws that are on either side of the lever mechanism. If it's not possible to repair, can I replace just the lever, rather than the entire axle? I'm also open to replacing the quick release lever with a setup that would require a wrench to loosen/tighten. Thanks in advance for any advice!

closeup A of qr lever

closeup B of qr lever

closeup C of qr lever

  • 1
    You can buy a new thru axle for 30-50 bucks these days; while thru axles are different than a regular dropout (and therefore have different failure modes), I still wouldn't hesitate to replace the whole shebang. – Batman Nov 24 '18 at 0:28
  • This doesn't seem to be a thru-axle. This looks like a standard axle with a normal quick-release. You can just remove the QR and replace it with a new one. If you want to be on the safer side, buy a QR with an enclosed cam rather than one with an open cam (that's the type in use on your bike) The enclosed cam type is safer. For proper use of the QR, see this: youtube.com/watch?v=Hcq-PwYj3TE – Carel Nov 24 '18 at 13:16
  • @Carel, It looks like a QR but one can see the 'drop out' goes all the way around the bottom of the axle. – Argenti Apparatus 1 hour ago – Argenti Apparatus Nov 24 '18 at 14:36
  • There are some thru axles with QR-type levers that are constructed of two pieces screwed together with a permanent Loctite or adhesive, the axle and a very skewer-like piece inside of it. When that bonded connection comes loose they can be fixed by redoing the bond. But because your lever part sounds like it's twisting in place and not screwing itself out and leaving the axle stuck, that's probably not what you have. – Nathan Knutson Nov 25 '18 at 17:08
  • @ArgentiApparatus: Really not sure about this. The view is too restricted. I'd like to see a picture from a bit further down and from the opposite side of the fork. The thing that disturb me is that the lever when screwed in would run into the brake. – Carel Nov 26 '18 at 13:17
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Whatever mechanism engages the lever with the axle that allows you to turn it is probably made of alloy and has simply worn so that it will not catch and engage properly.

You could try disassembling the lever to see what is actually wrong but you very likely cannot repair it - where would you find replacement parts for the non-branded axle?

Just go ahead and replace it, but beware that to be compatible the replacement needs to have the same thread pitch and length. See this article: http://blog.fairwheelbikes.com/reviews-and-testing/high-end-skewer-review/all-about-thru-axles/

  • Many thanks for your response. I ended up removing the quick release lever from the thru-axle completely (mostly through brute force). That left a small piece of the axle exposed that I could grab with pliers to tighten. I don't need to change the tire often, so for now I'm just checking the axle frequently, tightening when necessary (infrequently so far) and keeping pliers with me. This isn't ideal, but it does have one upside: the front wheel is now a bit less vulnerable to theft if I'm in a position where I can lock the frame. – ize Feb 24 at 18:44
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Anyone have an idea as to whether this is fixable?

It's not worth it.

Quick release skewers are cheap. The medical costs you might incur if your "fixed" one were to fail while you're riding won't be - even if you have full medical coverage and no amount of medical care will cost you money, the non-monetary costs of any potential injury from a front wheel falling off while riding are potentially huge.

Buy a new one.

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