Crankbrothers Split Quick Release Skewers
What’s to improve on the good ol’ quick release skewer? Apparently not much if you look at current offerings in the bike world. The DT Swiss RWS design aside, the only significant changes over the years have been the use of more exotic materials, and opening up the cam to the outside elements. Today’s bread-and-butter quick release skewer is basically the same one Tullio Campagnolo envisioned when a flat tire frustrated him during a cold road race in 1927. Then, as now, they’re made of a rod, a toothed nut threaded onto one end, a lever operated cam at the other and some tapered springs to keep everything away from the dropouts when installing and removing wheels. We’ve all opened and closed some form of this 80+ year old design so many times it’s become second nature to us. It works. It’s simple. What more do we need? Well…there is one minor quick release gripe that people often have, especially disc brake equipped mountain bikers and those who spend more time riding than doing pushups. Sometimes there’s simply too much stuff in the way or the strength just isn’t there to apply enough force to secure them properly or to loosen them later. For whatever reason it’s unfortunately too common for riders to under tighten their skewers to facilitate removal later, sacrificing safety and security in the process. Enter the good folks at Crankbrothers with another innovative design to address the problem. The Crankbrothers Split Quick Release Skewers aim to split the forces necessary to properly and comfortably operate a set. The two stage lever design is meant to ease opening and closing by using two levers to do the work of one.
First impression of the Crankbrothers Split Quick Release Skewers: “Hmm…they actually work.” We were admittedly skeptical of the necessity or even the advantage of the split levers, but felt a noticeable difference between opening and closing traditional single lever skewers and the two stage Crankbrothers version. The thumb pad on the larger lever covers the smaller lever’s end and makes it easy to engage the skewers in one motion if the rider chooses since it might be easier to muster up the requisite leverage in this direction. We quickly started using them as intended though, by first closing the silver lever and then finishing with its bigger brother. Tightness settings that required a considerable effort to move the levers as one were easily mastered with just a thumb when the two levers were engaged separately. Some might describe the difference as subtle, but it is definitely there.
The advantage of the Crankbrothers design was even more evident when opening the skewers to take a wheel off. We’ve always found that pulling the levers on a well-tightened skewer requires a lot of effort on the part of the fingers and leaves us more prone to entanglements with disc brake rotors. Again, the way the Split Skewers’ levers fit together allows both of them to be opened as one like any other skewer lever, but pulling on them separately makes the whole process easier. Ideally everyone will ride for a long lifetime without their skewers loosening unexpectedly, but the ubiquity of lawyer tabs on forks these days indicates that many people out there have struggled to adequately tighten theirs. The Crankbrothers team has taken away one hurdle or excuse that plague cyclists and have come up with a safe, comfortable way to skew and de-skew wheels.
The Crankbrothers Split Quick Release Skewers are made of anodized 6061-T6 aluminum with chromoly shafts. The nut and cam ends have deeply toothed steel inserts where the skewers engage with the bike’s dropouts to give a solid connection. The pair weighs in at 125 grams, a bit heavier than other modern skewers but pretty impressive considering the extra material needed for the twin levers and the added weight of the beefy steel shaft.
Aesthetically speaking the Crankbrothers Split Quick Release Skewers are jewels like the rest of their lineup. The silvery anodization on the end caps and smaller of the two levers matches well with all five of the color options for the large lever. Also, the black, red, blue, green, and orange dyes that Crankbrothers uses look great next to Chris King hubs, the gold standard of bike bling. The designers at Crankbrothers turned the flared end of the main lever into a well-shaped backdrop for their laser etched logo that cleverly serves double duty as a textured surface for your thumb as you’re operating the quick release mechanism. The aggressive machining on the threaded nut and the levers give the skewers a sleek industrial look. However, the nut’s three raised and three lowered areas’ sharp edges appeared a little tough at first. Overall, the edges of all the moving parts seemed a bit harsh, especially for a product meant to make its use easier and more comfortable than the competition’s, but after working with the skewers for a while we actually ended up liking the unrounded look and feel of the design.
The Crankbrothers Split Quick Release Skewers will give any rider added peace of mind and ease of use in the tidily beautiful presentation we’ve come to expect from the Brothers Crank. Adequately tightening skewers has never been easier and removing the wheels for a quick tire change or to throw your bike on a roof rack becomes child’s play. We’d recommend them for anyone who doesn’t mind adding a handful of grams in exchange for gaining safety and convenience.