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I am trying to pack my bike for an plane ride, and while packing I wanted to know what is the name of the spacer that needs to replace the wheel(s) between the fork dropouts to prevent frame compression/flexing/breakage without the wheel(s) installed.

It is the thing that replaces the quick release skewer or through axle.

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  • I've seen this as wheel placeholder but only as a nichè product for the rear dropout, including a roller to keep the chain tight for cleaning/adjusting. Why not just cut a small tube to length and use it with an actual thruaxle or QR skewer? However, I'm not sure if this will be a gamechange when your bike takes load from the side because forks are mainly built to take load longtitudinal forces. So, such spacer perhaps won't save your frame when it takes that much stress through the case/padding....
    – DoNuT
    Oct 29, 2023 at 10:28
  • Regarding the photo (above the two answers), I agree one should also remove the derailleur to prevent damage from outside forces. The same ones that could compromise the front and rear dropouts might also cause mischief elsewhere. HVAC
    – HVAC
    Dec 9, 2023 at 20:18
  • Note: if you have a thru-axle bike, you don't need anything -- just use the axles
    – Paul H
    Dec 9, 2023 at 23:57

3 Answers 3

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"bicycle dummy axle" or hub get good results in a search engine, including Park's DH-1.

enter image description here Because of course Park has a tool for that.

Depending on how tightly you need to pack the bike, there are other solutions too. I would find/make/3Dprint a tube with flanged ends that allows the QR skewer to pass through and lock down.

The derailleur is vulnerable when packed, so its common to unbolt that, and wrap it in a plastic bag and zip-tie it to the frame. This reduces the oiliness and you could then pack clothes or other items inside the frame between the stays to help fill the void and limit squashing.

If you have a good relationship with your LBS, then ask them for new-bike packing parts - they often have something left over from setting up a new bike out of a box. You might get frame-foam and front/rear wheel tubes here.

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    Definitely ask at the LBS. They just throw away (or maybe recycle) all that stuff, so they shouldn't have any issue giving it to you.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 13, 2023 at 18:49
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There isn't one unified name for them. Where I work in the PNW USA we pack bikes a lot and the approximate most common term for them is "fork block," but "fork spacer" or the more ambiguous "dropout spacer" are also used.

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The best and cheapest way to protect your fork and rear drop out is to use a fully threaded bolt, four large washers and four butterfly nuts. A washer and butterfly nut goes inside on both sides and the same is attached on the outside of both sides. Tighten the two interior butterflies against the washers where they are snug and not pushing the frame/fork out past its limits. Then tighten the butterflies on the outside firmly inward, to immobilize the fork or rear dropout.

For the past 20 years, I have been shipping approximately 100-200 bikes to the east coast and back for a yearly event, and this has kept all bikes shipped without damage. It costs approximately $3-5. Soft sided cases are terrible unless there’s a frame involved, and that’s usually marginal.

If I could post a photo of the item I would, but I'm not sure how. In the diagram below, F is the fork or frame, - is bolt or threaded rod, { is a butterfly nut or wing nut, and | is a washer.

-}|F|{---}|F|{-
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  • The above picture with the chain retention doesn’t offer any support on the non drive side, nor do regular through axles. Apr 13 at 1:13

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