The springs on quick-release skewers are designed to center the skewer’s axle. Their function is very helpful, but it’s not fundamental to the quick-release operation.
Thus, it’s possible to safely use a quick-release skewer with one or even two missing springs.
In the long run, however, skewers with springs are much more convenient.
The Function of Quick-release Springs
Here’s all you need to know about the springs of quick-release skewers:
The springs’ function is to center the skewer and make the removal and re-installation of the wheel easier.
The image above shows the position of the quick-release skewer when no force is applied to either side.
Note that both ends of the skewer are at roughly the same distance from the hub’s axle.
If we pull one end of the hub towards the skewer’s cap and then release the hub, the hub’s body will return to its previous resting position.
This is possible thanks to the springs on the skewer as they always push the hub’s body away when there is no lateral force in either direction.
The proper orientation of the springs is as follows:
- The wider part of the cone is oriented towards the skewer’s ends (the narrower points toward the axle).
The purpose of this orientation is to maximize the effective points of contact. The inner side of the springs comes in contact with the axle which is narrower than the end caps of the QR skewer.
Thus, it makes no sense to position the wider parts of the springs towards the axle. Instead, they point toward the end caps.
If you position the springs the wrong way, they will still function, but will not be as “bouncy” and effective.
The Springs Are Important For Competitions
The springs on quick-release skewers are fundamental for quick wheel changes. Without the spring it’s more difficult to remove and reinstall the wheel because it’s necessary to center the quick-release skewer by eye.
If you aren’t in competition settings, the additional time doesn’t matter. But if you’re competing, it could be the difference between winning and losing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to ride with a missing quick-release spring?
Yes. The spring isn’t an integral part of the quick-release skewer, but it’s convenient.
Quick-release skewers can function without the springs, but the user will have to center them by hand during wheel installation.
By the way, quick-release skewers do not support the bike.
They have an internal or external cam mechanism that compresses the dropouts of the fork or frame against the hub. The hub then rotates around its axle. It’s the axle rather than the quick-release skewer that supports the bike.
My quick-release skewer has one spring left. What should I do?
Ideally, you will find another spring. If you go to your local bike shop, they may even give you one for free. Another option is to take one from another quick-release skewer. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Any model would do.
Of course, nothing is stopping you from using the skewer with one spring, but in that case, it’s better to remove the other one too as it will continually push the hub to one side.
How wide are the springs of quick-release skewers?
The narrower end is 7.18mm. The wider end is about 11mm.
What’s better a thru-axle or a quick-release skewer?
Thru-axles have a major advantage – they position the hub and respectively the wheel at the same place. As a result, there’s no disc brake rubbing.
Both work just fine, though. If you want a more detailed comparison, consider reading the dedicated post.
My quick-release spring got stuck in the dropout. I can’t get the rear wheel out. What should I do?
This sounds like a custom situation, and it’s hard to give definitive advice without details. That said, a stuck spring shouldn’t be enough to hold the wheel tightly. Put the chain on the smallest sprocket, push the derailleur forward, and gently but firmly tap the wheel. In most cases, it will pop out.