Thursday, February 21, 2013

Skewer Snobbery

Last week I was described as a "Skewer Snob", I was offended for about 10 seconds until I realized the description couldn't be more accurate.
It isn't hard to have "an offensive air of superiority" [Merriam-Webster]  when you work in the bicycle industry; most of us are pretty jaded by interbike and forced obsolescence.  Every year "the next best thing" is unveiled and everyone is made to feel like they are subhuman because their bike isn't "vertically compliant" or "laterally stiff" enough.  "Hey I noticed you have a 2012 Madone with Dura-Ace 7900, you make me sick, you piece of garbage" - A Trek Sales Rep.  Even with all the talk about 11-speed, electronic, or even Italian parts groups shaving your grams, no one ever talks about skewers.  Shimano did make Dura-Ace 9000 skewers to go with their new wheels, ask anyone who works at Shimano and enjoy the blank stares.

The Japanese are pioneers in dolphin flipper technology (and soup).

So then, who gives a shit about skewers? I do. With so many parts of a bike costing thousands of dollars, skewers are an opportunity to buy something extravagantly expensive and still only be spending about $100. Buy a frame for less than two hundred dollars and it will likely be made out of asbestos and Super-AIDS; buy a set of hundred dollar skewers and they will be made of angel wings and unicorn hooves. Putting trash skewers on your $7000 bike is like pairing a Wal-Mart tie with an William Fioravanti suit, you better be fast because you look like an asshole.

My preference is for bolt-on skewers: I don't race competitively and, I always ride with a multi tool so I don't mind the few extra seconds to wrench my wheel. I have bolt-on skewers on all my bikes: they are probably more aero than quick releases (matters tons on the fatbike), they are significantly lighter and, the clamping force is more predictable. I also work on my own bikes so I consider the extra few seconds for wheel removal "me-time" if you don't work on your own bike stick with quick releases because unbolting your wheel takes us longer and ain't nobody got time fo dat.

My favorite skewer is the Control Tech Race-SL, made of titanium bolts with scandium end caps, the Race-SL's only weight 25 grams for the set. Swapping out a set of Mavic Skewers saved me a quarter pound of bike weight, GODDAMN! I know what you are thinking; isn't Control Tech the French company that makes stupid and gaudy bike parts? ANSWER: no and sometimes.

Control Tech no longer makes this crime against humanity

There are several other companies out there that make rad skewers too: Tune, Extralite, KCNC and New Ultimate all make lust worthy skewers that are probably better than yours. You can get skewers to color match your frame or some pink ones to match your pretentious, Rapha-infused attitude.  Considering the weight difference between a Cervelo R3 frame and a R5 California frame is less than 200 grams for more than a $7000 COST DIFFERENCE it's probably not a bad idea to invest in some high-end skewers. Use that $7000 savings on a new Red group and you will still have enough money left over for a bunch of performance enhancing drugs!

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