Topolino SPEEDrelease road bike front hub and thru axle system

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.


  1. I have a feeling that the industry is going to push to 15mm thru-axles before something like this system gets any real traction. But, it is a pretty nifty setup minus the odd shape for the lever. I didn’t really see him take advantage of it at all, so I could imagine you could really re-shape that lever to appease the aero dorks.

  2. Very well done.

    No brainer as long as you allow other hub makers to license it.

    I wouldn’t let my 8YO ride a bike with a conventioanl QR skewer. Never trusted them, never will.

  3. Sock–I’d love this for my Cross bikes. I had to do a wheel swap at a race this year, and this would’ve saved me a few seconds.

  4. What is the “more secure” claim based on exactly and does it imply that QR skewers that millions of people have been using for decades without problems aren’t secure enough?

  5. I hope the 15mm thru axle standard takes over.
    It’s got about all of the benefits of this system, but it’s already established.
    Which is great if the road bike world finally transitions to discs.
    I’m sure for non-disc road bikes it could be lightened considerably, as well…

  6. @Chasejj,

    “Never trusted them, never will.”

    Really? Quick releases can’t be inherently dangerous as tens of thousands of us use them with some regularity- and all without bursting into flames. We do need to learn (once) how to use them correctly, but that’s nothing to stop you from informing yourself and taking advantage of the technology. Just as you could educate your eight year-old to use QRs properly rather than teaching him/her to live in fear of crazy newfangled technologies.

  7. On disc brake bikes if you put this together with the nut on the left fork leg (the caliper side) it could help keep wheels positively located.

  8. There are 15mm through axles out there that are faster to use than a “quick” release. And easier to align with disk brakes. Go on with the times, roadies.

  9. With a 15mm TA QR, you have three parts to deal with: the bike, the wheel, and the QR itself. This system keeps the wheel and the QR together, which would be a lot easier to deal with when doing a fast wheel change. Because last I checked most people only have two hands.

    As an aside, manufacturers don’t have to retool for a new system, which helps to keep costs down for everyone.

  10. it actually works pretty well. i like that the axle is captured, spring loaded, and can click into its open position.
    the only issue i have is with the “lever”. even DT’s RWS handle is cleaner, but i think ideally it would be one of those older style Maxle type ones where the handle slides into the axle when not in use. or if the system was like a keyless drill chuck that adjusts very quickly for size but when you tighten down, a clutch gives and there’s a lot more leverage. then you would only need the smallest protrusion to turn it.

  11. Tim A- You have no idea what my background is or you would not be making such ridiculous assumptions.

    Your defense of the clearly obsolete conventional QR is misguided.

    Fact is that the ancient QR days are numbered and for good reason. I will not miss them when they are all gone.

  12. @Gillis: Keeps cost down for everyone? Thanks for a laugh. Did you check what they charge for road wheels and forks.

    15 mm will be just as cheap, just as light, and faster and easier to work with for 99.9% of riders. MTB riders do know that for a while now.

  13. Chasejj – 12/12/13 – 10:32pm
    “Your defense of the clearly obsolete conventional QR is misguided.
    Fact is that the ancient QR days are numbered and for good reason. I will not miss them when they are all gone.”

    So what is wrong exactly with clearly as far from obsolete as it gets QRs on road bikes with disc brakes?
    I mean the actual performance for an average user, not some marketing BS bullet points.

    Are they unsafe? Not stiff enough? Too heavy? Too slow to operate?
    What is it?

What do you think?