Condensed Answer: It’s fine to grease/lubricate quick-release skewers, but it’s not a mandatory action, especially if you take off the wheels of the bike fairly often.
What Are The Advantages Of Lubricating a Quick-release Skewer?
1. Prevent Corrosion
Skewers are made of strong steel alloy and are therefore subject to corrosion such as rust.
Rust is the reaction of iron and oxygen in the catalytic presence of water or air moisture.
A thin layer of grease applied on the shaft of the quick-release skewer will isolate the steel from the atmosphere and thus prevent the formation of rust over time.
Don’t forget to grease the threads of the quick-release skewer to facilitate the rotation of the end nuts.
It’s recommended to use grease rather than oil. Grease is easier to apply in this case and lasts longer than oil. Also, the paste structure of grease offers better protection against dirt and debris.
Note: It’s also worth mentioning that the grease on the quick-release skewer will provide some protection to the inside of the axle too. There’s a small gap between the skewer and the hub. The grease on the skewer’s shaft will prevent the accumulation of water and dirt in the area.
2. Prevent The Skewer From Getting Stuck
In extreme cases, the skewer may get stuck in the hub. This is usually the result of corrosion and occurs only when the wheel has not been removed for years. The chances of that happening are higher in a moist environment.
Truth be told, this scenario is highly unlikely for a bike that’s in use because the wheels will often have to be removed to service other parts, replace the tires, fix a puncture…etc.
FAQ: Should I also lubricate the inside of the skewer cap? (The part with the serrations)
Some people recommend greasing that part too because it can corrode and rust too.
FAQ: What kind of grease should I use to lubricate the skewer?
Honestly, basic grease would do just fine. But if you want something that offers increased protection in a rainy climate, marine grease would be a better choice as it’s highly resistant to water and lasts longer than generic grease.
FAQ: Why isn’t it mandatory to lubricate the skewers?
The quick-release skewers are neither rotating nor load-bearing units. Their purpose is to provide clamping pressure securing the hubs to the fork and frame dropouts.
The skewer is inserted into a shallow axle around which the hub and respectively the wheel rotates thanks to a bearing system.
All the lubrication that the wheel needs for smooth rotation is found in the hub.
FAQ: Are there any downsides to greasing the skewers?
The only downsides are the extra work required and the increased chance of dirt accumulation on the outside of the skewer in case of over-greasing. (Grease protects from dirt but collects it too) .
Truth be told, a skewer can operate just fine for decades without being greased. I have two 35-year-old hubs on my retro road bike with skewers that have never been lubricated. The bike has been in my possession for years, and the skewers have only a few minor surface rust spots.
FAQ: I don’t have grease. Can I use oil?
Yes, you can. Oil will provide some degree of protection too. However, as already mentioned, it won’t be as effective as grease. If that’s all you have, you can use it initially and eventually switch to grease.