DT Swiss RWS Quick Release Skewers
Tullio Campagnolo patented his quick release hub on February 8th, 1930. A few years prior, Campagnolo had descended the Croce d’Aune Pass and fumbled with frozen fingers to loosen the wing nuts on his axles in order to flip his rear wheel and use a smaller freewheel for the flatter part of the stage. His difficulty with the wing nuts left him saying, “Something needs to be changed.” Well, they say necessity is the mother of invention. After that frustrating episode, Tullio solved the problem and the modern quick release hub was born. Since 1930, manufacturers have come and gone, bringing with them a multitude of skewer designs both good and bad. One thing is for sure, we haven’t looked back since. Wheel removal is a cinch with quick release skewers. Although convenient, the weakness in some quick release systems is the inability to provide adequate clamping force. We struggle and strive to reduce the weight of our bikes and sometimes we overlook pure function. One type of skewer that is both lightweight and can provide plenty of clamping force is the DT Swiss RWS Quick Release Skewer System.
The DT Swiss RWS Quick Release Skewers are new for this year. It is a skewer system, yes. A quick release skewer? Only in the sense that it doesn’t require tools to remove the wheel. They rely on a standard steel rod that is visibly threaded on one end. There you’ll find a very standard looking nut (although nicely machined from aluminum). On the other end of the skewer is a carbon-reinforced composite lever. The functional highlight of the lever is the red button that allows the lever to “float” freely on the skewer rod. This enables the lever to “ratchet” when used to tighten the skewer in the dropouts.
Most quick release skewers on the market today rely on Tullio Campagnolo’s original ideas of a lever operated cam, pulling tension on a steel rod inserted through a hollow axle. Most are simple and quite functional. However, the function of the modern quick release is only as good as the knowledge of the operator. There are still folks out there who have no idea how a quick release skewer works. Enter the DT Swiss RWS Skewers. It works like a regular nut and bolt would, except the lever has a ratcheting head. To use, simply hold the lever and tighten the nut until it contacts the dropout, then start tightening on the lever side until the skewer is tight. DT Swiss claims that it is possible to apply 15nm of force with their RWS skewer system. That would be nearly impossible to replicate with most quick release skewers on the market today. The added clamping force would certainly add stability to suspension forks and rear suspension elements. Aggressive off-road riding demands a lot from our equipment, and perhaps some help from our skewers could eliminate some imprecision from our bike’s handling.
I found the skewers to be easy to use, although not as convenient as I had hoped. To me there will be nothing more quick and convenient as Tullio’s basic design, although he has been hamstrung by modern day safety tabs on forks. Speed aside, the DT Swiss RWS Skewers are a safe way to get the wheels clamped safely into the bike frame. I found the rear skewer to be quicker to use than the front simply because I could spin the lever all the way around without any interference from frame tubes. The front skewer required the employment of the ratchet action of the skewer. The lever wouldn’t swing clear of the fork lower leg. Easy enough -- just push the red button, pull the lever free, rotate to a starting position, start over, and repeat until it’s tight. The safety factor of the DT Swiss RWS Skewer system is great. There is no guessing as to the security of the hub. Either it’s tight, or it’s not.
The DT Swiss RWS Quick Release Skewers address a problem common to many quick release skewer sets -- proper clamp force. They are a boon for those who want added security, or those who might appreciate the added stability for suspension elements that the higher clamping force provides. They are light as well as strong. The set tipped our scales at 112 grams -- a very favorable weight compared to the lightest skewer sets on the market. They function beautifully in their intended purpose. I found the knurled stainless steel clamping surfaces to never slip once the skewer was tight. All said and done, they were extremely secure. I think the DT Swiss RWS Skewers would be absolutely great on a bike with horizontal dropouts. You can be assured a solid connection with the frame, similar to a nutted axle, except no tools are required for wheel removal. That said, the RWS skewers aren’t quite quick release as we've come to know it. Tullio wanted change. We have had it. His skewer design is beautiful and revered by legions. But, it has it’s limitations, most notably the weak clamping force. However, DT has brought forth a new design to address this issue. The DT Swiss RWS Quick Release Skewer is built upon the original premise that wheels should come out of a bike frame easily, but only when you want them to.