Since licensing their wheel technology to Easton last year, Topolino’s been busy maintaining their wheelchair wheel business…and coming up with more new bicycle concepts. The latest is the SpeedRelease axle system for road bike front wheels.
It’s a system comprised of the hub and axle, and they’ll be selling it primarily as such, letting you build your own wheelset.
The hub shown here is a prototype modified to work with the SpeedRelease axle. Together, the combo came in a few grams lighter than Topolino’s standard front hub with steel quick release, and they’re working on a lighter titanium version, too.
Founder and engineer Raphael Schlanger says the important thing is “it doesn’t add weight, but it increases the security and ease of use compared to a traditional quick release skewer. And it’ll work in any fork. Manufacturers could even mold the insert or threads into the frame.”
Video and more details below…
“With some people starting to move toward thru axles, this provides an easier alternative,” Schlanger said. “Road forks are already stiff, so you don’t need a thru axle to increase stiffness. It just adds weight and slows things down. For a road application, it’s gotta be light and stiff, but also allows for a simple, quick, one-handed wheel release. This is incredibly quick – faster than a quick release if you had to thread that open to clear the lawyer tabs.”
And for those arguing that thru axles keep a disc brake hub in place, note that the non-drive side of the axle is fully captured and can’t come out unintentionally.
Production versions will use a new, original hub design different than what’s shown here. The Control Shaft has a fast pitch thread that only requires a few turns to fully engage and lock the wheel into place. The wheel is held in place solely by the tightened shaft. The folding lever moves on a standard hinge, there’s no cam that further tightens it. Schlanger says there are features that prevent it from loosening on its own, but they’re patent pending and can’t be divulged yet.
As for the rest of the tech, it’ll have ABEC 5 bearings, 7075-T6 alloy (shell/flange/axle caps/handle) and the chromoly Control Shaft inside an aluminum sleeve. The cartridge bearings are actually contacting the shell and sleeve, so the sleeve and shaft work together as the axle.
Total weight is just 140g, about the same as a lightweight road hub and skewer, and while he’s not giving out numbers, he says the titanium version will drop double digit grams. They’re about three months out from having production units available…and it’ll be a disc brake version aimed at cyclocross. A lighter “SL” non-disc road version will follow. Price is TBD.