If you dabble in bike DIY, you are probably well versed in the problems of Bottom Bracket Standards; different standards which require different tools and if you are stuck with a creaking or clicking bottom bracket, it can be painfully frustrating. As thru-axles become a popular alternative to the traditional quick-release skewers, the bike industry is once again a step ahead of the bike riders and mechanics because they have introduced an array of incompatible sizes instead of settling on a common standard. Who would have thought…
In mountain biking, thru-axles promised a stiffer and more reliable connection between the frame or fork and the wheels in comparison to regular 5mm diameter quick release skewers. Thru-axles are not as fast to release, but fast wheel changes are not a major priority in MTB. When they started appearing on the market, the rear 135mm (length) x 12mm (diameter) thru-axle was joined by the 100mm x 15mm front thru-axle. Downhill MTBers demanded wider axles and soon-after, the market was hit with an array of different widths. Road bikes started adopting thru-axles and currently the gravel bike world is discussing with itself whether it will stick to the popular standards from road cycling or beef-up. And to make it even more interesting, there are also different threads.
Introducing the Hexlox Universal Thru-Axle
In a nutshell, the front and the rear thru-axles from Hexlox can adapt to almost any existing thru-axle standard. But if your bike already has a thru-axle, why would a universal system be needed? This product is not targeted towards new bikes, rather it fills the gap for thru-axle replacements and for wheelset upgrades. In particular, it saves mechanics in bike shops from having to source and order very specific skewers.
The inventor is a Berlin based Australian, Ian Berrel who is the man behind the Hexlox bike security brand. The core of the brand are technically minded products such as skewers and bolts that help make your bike more theft-proof. The universal thru-axle is not specifically a security product however can still accommodate the ‘anti-theft’ hexlox (which will be explained later).
The principle of the universal thru-axle is that it can expanded and once it has the required length, it is locked. Once the width is set, although it is permanently secured, it can also be reset if needed and subsequently can be adjusted to a new length so is a fairly versatile bike part.
As Ian demonstrated the thru-axle this for me, it took a while to understand the hidden mechanical principles. But for riders, the mechanics of this are somewhat irrelevant as long as the instructions are followed for installation to correctly set the size and lock it into place… otherwise it simply behaves like a regular thru-axle.
The rear thru-axle is called REAR 12 and fits dropout widths 130mm, 135mm, 142mm, 148mm (Boost), 150mm and anything in-between. It also accommodates the three existing thread types, M12x1, M12x1.5 and M12x1.75)
For the front, there is both a FRONT 15 and FRONT 12 version. The FRONT 15 supports 100mm to 110mm (Boost) widths) along with M15x1.5 and M14x1.5 threads. The FRONT 12 also supports 100mm and 110mm (Boost) dropout widths and threads M12x1 and M12x1.5.
An optional extra for the axles are the anti-theft Hexlox ‘nuts’. These fit into the head and effectively block the hex bolt and prevent it from being unscrewed with an Allen key.
Even as a universal solution, some brands have their own unique thru-axle standards so Hexlox welcomes enquiries and can also provide advice on compatibility.
Hexlox promote their universal thru-axle as a more robust and durable alternative but acknowledge that it is slightly heavier than regular thru-axles.
In Australia, the Universal Thru-Axle from Hexlox is available from Abbotsford Cycles in Melbourne and Omafiets Dutch Bicycles in Sydney. The retail price for 1 thru-axle is ca. $90 (AUD) and in context, standard thru-axles are priced between $30 and $130 depending on brand and model.
For more information and online ordering, visit: Hexlox Universal Thru-Axle