What’s the importance of a quick-release trainer skewer?

When buying a turbo trainer, the first thing you have to do is set up your bike on the trainer. And when you open the turbo trainer’s box you will find a quick-release skewer. This can be quite surprising and generally, people wonder about the purpose of this skewer. How important is a quick-release trainer skewer when riding indoors?

Using a special quick-release skewer for bike trainers is essential when riding indoors. It is made of steel, stronger material than standard road skewers, to make sure it won’t snap. It has a special shape on the nuts to allow the bike frame to grab onto it.

Let’s see in detail the purpose of trainer skewers in this article. I have gathered all the information I find helpful to guide you on this topic.

Can you use a bike trainer with quick release wheels?

Yes you can use a bike trainer with quick-release wheels. But it is not recommended to use the original quick release skewer from your wheel. You should use the one provided with the turbo trainer.

Quick-release wheel

If you are wondering about the possibility of using your turbo trainer with quick-release wheels, you are asking yourself the wrong question. Trainers are made to be used with a special quick-release skewer. These “trainer skewers” are designed to be stronger (to take on the loads from riding indoors) and to the right shape to fit the trainer’s frame. Let’s look at this in detail in the next paragraph.

Do you need a special quick release skewer for turbo trainer?

A quick-release skewer designed for trainers is mandatory to ride indoors safely. This ‘trainer’ skewer comes with the trainer and is much stronger than standard skewers. It will also fit perfectly within the cups of wheel-on trainers, giving a better and safer fit.

Quick-release skewers comparison (road vs trainer skewers)

When riding indoors on a turbo trainer, the forces applied on the wheel axle are different and more important than when riding on the road. Your bike is attached via the skewer to the turbo trainer’s frame. That’s why the skewer needs to be stronger than your usual wheel skewer.

Trainer skewers are made of steel for the nut and lever, unlike road skewers made of aluminum, plastic, or composite materials. These road skewers are designed for weight optimization and aerodynamic. They can easily snap under your weight when attached to the trainer. But also they might not be able to fit properly onto the trainer’s attachment system.

Clamping mechanism of a turbo trainer onto a trainer skewer

With a wheel-on trainer, your skewer will be tightened against two pieces of turbo trainer frame to hold the bike onto the trainer. To prevent the bike from rocking, the skewer must fit closely the dimensions of the cups from your trainer frame.

You also need the skewer to handle being squeezed by the trainer frame. Aluminum and plastic materials will get damaged very easily by the wear from the motion of indoor riding. So, it is very important to use the trainer skewer when riding indoor.

Are quick release trainer skewer universal?

As a general rule, quick-release trainer skewers are compatible with every wheel-on trainer. It is best to use the one provided with your turbo trainer. You can find universal trainer skewers that will work without buying specifically the brand of your trainer.

For instance, this skewer is a universal bike trainer skewer.

Can I ride outdoors on my turbo trainer skewer?

It is safe to ride outdoors with your trainer skewer. Actually, it is stronger than standard skewers. It weighs a bit more and doesn’t look as nice as your standard skewer. The only drawback is that it is made of steel and could rust while riding outside, but this is unlikely.

So what are their downsides?

  • A trainer skewer weighs between 100 and 150g, while a road skewer weighs between 60 and 80g. This won’t make a difference when riding outdoors. But if you are very worried just consider swapping the skewer back when going for a race.

  • A trainer skewer looks very ugly :p It’s not designed for aesthetics but for purpose. So, definitely not nice looking but who cares? At least your buddies will know you have a turbo trainer.

  • A trainer skewer is made of steel, a material subject to corrosion. But it is not very likely that you will get rust on your skewer unless your bike sleeps outdoors. Otherwise, I can tell you from my experience of riding for a bit more than a year with a trainer skewer that I never saw any signs of rust. I am not riding with it anymore because I upgraded my turbo trainer to a direct drive trainer.

Things you need with your smart tra...
Things you need with your smart trainer

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