New posts

15mm axles are here to stay

June 1, 2010, 2:38 p.m.
Posts: 0
Joined: Dec. 10, 2002


I wanted to deal with a couple of things that you said. Apologies for the partial quote.

One of the main points of the article is that hub and wheel manufacturers are starting to focus more resources on making lightweight 15mm hubs and one of the reasons that Rock Shox is making the change is because of this shift in focus from the wheel manufacturers. So…that's where I got that from. From the article. That we're commenting on.

As for "heavily promoting the industry position" and "discounting people's misgivings". Well, we'll deal with the latter first.

I know Stuart. I like Stuart. This isn't a criticism of Stuart. This is a criticism of the mountain biking marketing industrial complex.

I generally read Stuarts articles and enjoy them. I don't really have a problem with how this article was written. But, there are several paragraphs that are dismissive towards Internet grumblings about 15mm. The 9th and 10th paragraph in particular. I don't expect Stuart to read everything on the Internet and take it in and believe it and all that crap. You're right that this story is his opinion. But there are a lot of solid reasons as to why people don't want this standard and why it's not as simple as "nobody is forcing you at gunpoint to buy a 15mm fork". I think Stuart does a good job at the bottom of the article at addressing some of these complaints. But there's still a general feeling to the article that it's only whiners and crackpots that are saying these things.

Now, on to "promoting the industry position". I do think that this is a well researched article. There's lots of facts. There's lots of quotes from relavent experts on the field. But the whole premise of the article feels like a sales pitch. I don't doubt that Stuarts genuine opinion is that 15mm is a useful thing that he's getting behind. But it feels like a team of PR flacks worked him over with a large hammer and a bunch of thumbtacks and just kind of kicked him in the nuts until he starting thinking about things properly.

I really would have no problem if the article was something along the lines of "Wow. I just got this 15mm fork and I really enjoy it and it's filling this perfect niche that I couldn't find before. I realize there's some shortcomings here, but you should check it out if you're this, this and this." Ironically, I think Stuarts ambition to provide as much background and information as possible makes this opinion feel….less personal, we'll call it.

Well, I was going to sit this one out until I read this.

You're welcome to read whatever you want into the article, Dave. You clearly are already. You're wrong, though, if you think I'm promoting the industry position. I think that I have a half-decent understanding of the industry position, and that's a very different thing. It's possible to see where the industry is coming from if you look at the big picture, rather than hunting for conspiracies or collusion where there are none. We're talking about bike companies, not Big Tobacco, for chrissakes.

I was trying to share that position with people who might not normally have access to it. I suspect most of the people on the board haven't talked to a product manager from a suspension company recently.

I do, however, take objection to your accusation that I'm a shill for the suspension companies. I wish I was smart enough to get on both the Fox and RockShox payrolls - simultaneously.

Would I be more credible to you if I took a big shit all over the guys from Fox or RockShox, and talk about how they're trying to screw mountain bikers? How they're trying to impose an unnecessary standard? How the industry should just stop evolving, because some people are happy with the status quo? Would that earn me some respect? I'll be sure to do that, real soon.

It makes no difference to me if anyone ever buys another 15mm fork again. There is a story here, and I was laying it out for people. Without being a dick about it. If that makes me a shill, then stop reading the site. Turn off the computer and go for a ride. On your bike with a 20mm fork.

Not that it really matters, but I'm not the world's biggest fan of 15mm forks. For my type of riding, at least. I also think that some bike companies are doing riders a disservice by spec'ing them on bikes that should actually get a longer-travel fork with a 20mm axle. But let's not let the facts get in the way of some good ol' fashion internet mud slinging.

She said, why don't you stop your crying/
Go outside and ride your bike
- Sliver, Nirvana

"If stars were all that mattered, why would I go to the trouble of writing a review?" - Roger Ebert

June 1, 2010, 2:51 p.m.
Posts: 948
Joined: Feb. 8, 2008

I also think that some bike companies are doing riders a disservice by spec'ing them on bikes that should actually get a longer-travel fork with a 20mm axle.

Agree 100%

All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.

June 1, 2010, 3:18 p.m.
Posts: 5717
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

The bottom line is that this creation and focus on the new 15mm 'standard' is business and perception driven.

Business: People will buy more/different wheels to 'upgrade'

Perception: People may think that because it's marketed specifically to their niche, it's superior for the riding they do and it is lighter (not nearly enough to notice even for weenies) and stiffer (not as stiff as an equivalent 20mm). xynine put it right in saying that it's so the XC and enduro crowd can have a standard to call their own, is that a good enough reason though?

The 'good of the riders/market' has no place.

How long until the DH and freeride set are pushed to upgrade to 30mm axels for similar marketing purposes?

June 1, 2010, 3:22 p.m.
Posts: 7306
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

Ummm Foes has had a 30mm axle for years now(8 years or so??)….but they don't push it on anyone.

Maverick and Specialized also have oversized axles(30 and 25mm) but both are marketed for the x-c and A/M crowd…

June 1, 2010, 3:38 p.m.
Posts: 2313
Joined: Sept. 18, 2008

wow, page 5 already! i'm surprised there's so much emotion on this issue.
i like my fox 100 15mm fork. its far stiffer than the 9mm QR version.
i'm sure a 20mm version would have been just fine, but i'm not loosing sleep over this.

June 1, 2010, 3:38 p.m.
Posts: 5717
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

Ummm Foes has had a 30mm axle for years now(8 years or so??)….but they don't push it on anyone.

Maverick and Specialized also have oversized axles(30 and 25mm) but both are marketed for the x-c and A/M crowd…

that's why I didn't say 40mm. 40 ;)

June 1, 2010, 3:42 p.m.
Posts: 67
Joined: May 14, 2010

It's incredible to me that people are so skeptical that they think that a company releases something that requires a different standard solely as a way to stimulate sales. You know the best way to maintain/increase sales? Make the best product. And most of the time, when a new standard is introduced, it's because it represents a step forward, not a convenient way to sell more wheels or forks.

Every time something new comes out, the skeptics run rampant, and that is a good thing in reasonable doses - Rapid Rise is a good example of something that the market voted NO on, even though some folks at Shimano will still claim it had something going for it, in the face of overwhelming pressure not to sell it anymore. But if new standards weren't championed by companies with the balls to do it, we wouldn't have things we take for granted now, like (irony alert!) 20 mm axles, or disc brakes, 1.5" steerers (let alone 1.5 / 1 1/8 tapered steerers), tubeless systems…do I need to go on? All of these things drew the same kind of ire - and all of these things are now embraced in the market segments they were intended for.

Not every piece of technology is for you, but the companies putting it out there aren't saying it is either. 15mm is not intended for use on the North Shore trails. People will do it, but that wasn't why it was designed. 15mm forks are not replacing ones with 9mm (for now), they're offered as alternatives. Bike companies spec them where they make the most sense but the aftermarket consumer still has a choice.

You cannot compare one 15mm fork to one 9mm fork on a completely different bike, judge it to be a noodle and condemn the standard - that is absurd. Front end stiffness is subjective, and it also depends on the system as well as a lot of other factors. Fork, bar, head tube, stanchions, bushing overlap - stiffness comes from all of these components. The axle is a big part of it but you can only compare the same fork on the same bike with two different axles to get an accurate idea.

The 15mm standard was co-developed by Fox and Shimano - SRAM's two strongest competitors. Obviously they won't just switch over to it immediately - they'll continue to defend the status quo while they decide for themselves. In the end, whether they switched for the simple sake of sales they might lose or because they changed their mind about the benefits of 15mm, who really cares? The consumer wins because now all the suspension co's are using that standard. You can bury your head in the sand and stick with 9mm if you want - the option still exists!

Take a deep breath, back up and take a look at it, and be a bit realistic. In the end, bikes are SO much better now than they were even 5 years ago, and it's these things that SEEM insignificant like axle width or 20g saved here and there that all add up to make it that way.

That's a nice bit of sales hype.

I wish it were truer than it suggests/pretends.

June 1, 2010, 4:05 p.m.
Posts: 2267
Joined: Nov. 22, 2002

That's a nice bit of sales hype.

I wish it were truer than it suggests/pretends.

I have no vested interest in this issue.

June 1, 2010, 4:19 p.m.
Posts: 0
Joined: June 12, 2004


If SRAM came out with Rapid Rise i wouldn't be surprised. They've got some balls.

in a way, shimano incorporated thumb shifting(to shift down to smaller cog) rapid fire plus. monkey see monkey do

June 1, 2010, 4:58 p.m.
Posts: 394
Joined: Feb. 25, 2003


I don't think that I did suggest that you were in the pockets of the companies listed. I think I went out of my way to not suggest that and to defend your integrity.

But the entire point of your article is basically to provide some sort of counterpoint to the numerous criticisms of this system that have been pointed out and there's language within the article that dismisses criticism. Pete, in his comments, seems somewhat dismissive of some of the points being raised as well.

I've at no point suggested a bike company conspiracy to sell more product. I've at no point suggested that you're a part of that conspiracy. But I do feel that the main interest of the bike companies isn't the long term interest of most consumers. Their small improvement gains are going to produce some long term headaches for us consumers. And we have every right to bitch about that and talk about why we don't like it.

Anyhow. Please re-read what I've said. I commended you on the depth of your analysis. I explained to you why a story quoting numerous industry folk, laying out there arguments for why this is necessary and dismissing internet criticism might create a certain feeling in certain readers. I didn't call you a shill and I didn't suggest you're on anybodies payroll. I question your conclusions, but as I said, I think you arrived at them honestly. I'll continue to read the site and I'll continue to comment on things that bother me.

June 1, 2010, 5:20 p.m.
Posts: 11203
Joined: Nov. 18, 2004

I really dig sponsored people who can give real criticism of a product, but let's face it, that never happens in this industry. It happens all the time in the moto world, but why not in mtb? Most info seems too "fluffy" and most like a sales pitch. Those people are less likely to be open to viable criticism too, which I also don't understand.

Let's be honest, every argument against 15mm in this thread is very valid, so why dismiss it? New doesn't always mean better.

June 1, 2010, 5:53 p.m.
Posts: 26382
Joined: Aug. 14, 2005

But don't call it a cash grab or some princess might get upset.

Cash grab.

Of course it is. Because now you need a new hub, rim, spokes , and the cost of a wheel build. And multiply it as many times as needed for however many wheelsets you keep around.

June 1, 2010, 5:56 p.m.
Posts: 0
Joined: Oct. 6, 2005

I have a F29 100 15QR and before that I had a 26 F120 9mm. The 15QR is way stiffer feeling and tracks far more precisely. Probably helps that the head tube is tapered, but the steer tube is a straight 1 1/8. I don't get the fuss. Most quality hubs are convertible, or are becoming convertible these days.

It is certainly a step up over 9mm. Obviously I would have preferred a 20mm option for swapping wheels, but my 29'er already doesn't play fair with my other bikes.

June 1, 2010, 6:18 p.m.
Posts: 5
Joined: Nov. 24, 2002

What a pleasure to read a bit of well written and intellegent journalism. Great article.

June 1, 2010, 8:27 p.m.
Posts: 8323
Joined: Jan. 18, 2004

I enjoy Dirk's thoughtful and intelligent posts.

Fewer people out there question what they read; most just lap it up. Dirk is an example of someone who's questioning. Stuart seems upset because he's asking these questions.

Questioning what you read is a healthy practice everywhere. BP press releases, NSMB articles, Globe and Mail op-eds.

Forum jump: