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Quick Release History

By Brad Quartuccio

The quick release skewer has become all but standard equipment on many bicycles today, making wheel changes and seat height adjustments a tool-free occasion. The construction and operation is simple enough that it is hard to believe the eventual influence its development in the late 1920’s would have on bicycles as we know them today. The quick release mechanism patented in 1930 was the first invention of Tullio Campagnolo, at the time a twenty-something bike racer frustrated with a recent loss at the hand of an axle nut he simply couldn’t turn in order to fix a flat. Just a few years after that fateful flat tire Tullio went on to produce the first bicycle shifting mechanism that allowed racers to switch gears without dismounting and flipping the wheel over. Twenty years later Tullio introduced the first modern derailleur, a two-pulley parallelogram design fundamentally the same as current models. Quick releases themselves haven’t changed much since their introduction—it’s still a rod threaded on one end with a lever operated cam mechanism on the other. The rest, as they say, is history, with Campagnolo firsts influencing the construction of and rules governing bicycles ever since.


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