Fox Racing Shox Introduces 15QR Axle for 2009

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I just got a sneak peak at the 2009 Fox Racing Shox catalog and boy are there some great new innovations they are packing into their already-strong lineup of forks. New crowns, new steerers, new sealed lockout mechanism, and entirely new TALAS 32 and 36 models that include a 150mm travel 32 TALAS and oh yeah, a new little thing called the 15QR.

I’ve long been a detractor of the current 9mm quick-release standard and have exclusively ridden 20mm thru-axle forks since my first Marzocchi Z1 in 2001. The difference in torsional-rigidity between a 9mm quick-release and a 20mm thru-axle is huge… so much so that I simply don’t consider the standard 9mm dropout to be an option. Not that I’m a DH racer or a roof-jumping freerider, I just like my front wheel to track straight and true with no noticeable flex, that’s all. I believe you should too.

And, with the myriad of forks using the 20mm thru-axle, I have yet to feel limited in my fork selection. However, with the new 15QR standard coming on the 2009 Fox 32 and F-Series forks, I will now have another set of fork options to choose from. So, lets dig into the nitty gritty on the new 15QR.

Fox Racing 15QR

About the Fox 15QR Thru Axle

In the beginning, mountain bikes used borrowed standards from road bikes. Quill stems, drop bars, lever shifters and the infamous 9mm quick-release axle standard were all adopted from roadies. Thankfully, many of that hand-me-down technology has since been replaced by better and stronger parts made specifically for mountain bikes… everything except for those wimpy 9mm skewers keeping your fork and wheelset from separating themselves and causing you some serious grillwork.

Yeah, those spindly things are relics in my book, hence my adoption of 20mm thru-axles. However, looking over the new 15QR jointly-developed by Fox and Shimano, I’m sold and here’s why:

  • According to Fox, there is no stiffness or strength difference between 15QR and 20QR
  • 15QR’s offer a 15% increase in torsional stiffness and a 25% increase in transverse shear stiffness over standard 9mm axles
  • Because of the smaller diameter and standard 100mm wide spacing, axle system weights are at least 71 grams lighter than a standard 20mm system with 110mm spacing
  • We need to do something to abandon the 9mm quick-release and the 15QR provides that hope

While I’m stoked on this new design, it doesn’t come without some concerns. The most obvious one is that anyone wanting a new 15QR fork will need to upgrade their front hub, which isn’t cheap or easy. It’s something that many people simply won’t be willing to do. My other concern is that it’s not really that much different than the current 20mm thru-axle standard. I’m not a gram-counting weight weenie, so dropping 71 grams is not worth the hassle in my book.

And, what about bike racks? Many people will have to upgrade their fork-mounted bike racks in favor of upright racks or hitch racks… another potential expense for someone wishing to upgrade to the new 15QR.

However, I can only hope that the 15QR catches on and we finally see the 9mm quick-release die a fast death. Thru-axle designs are noticeably stiffer, they track better and have been just as easy-to-use for several years. The Fox 15QR design will be available as an option on their entire 32 and F-Series lineup for 2009. And, as a result, I’m crossing my fingers that this signals the end of skewers as we know them.

More Info: Visit FoxRacingShox.com

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

13 Comments

  1. I have a Shimano XT 15QR hub in my hands with a Fox Vanilla 32 15QR in the mail. Look for a first-look and review shortly. Too bad I’m going to have to re-lace my front wheel just to test it, but I’ll be in the same boat as anyone else who buys one aftermarket, right?

  2. 15mm axle ??? For real! This is a joke right? What are they gonna come up with next to make poor mtbr’s to spend more $ on their products, 139mm bottom brackets, 4.0 front tires or a plutonite injected rear shock? Marketing driven useless product development.

  3. I pointed that out in my post. Yes, some will write this off as marketing-hype, but others will be open-minded about it. It’s like when the 1.5 standard was introduced… there were detractors and believers. It has never caught on as the original developers thought it would.

    Only time will tell if the 15QR will catch on. Goodness knows that I would be stoked to see the standard 9mm QR go the way of the Dodo… 20mm and now 15mm thru-axles are far superior in all respects.

  4. Well just wondering if Mavic will be coming out with a conversion for there Crossmax SX, love the wheelset and want to try the 15QR…any clue?

    Thanks,
    -R

  5. As far as I know, most manufacturers will be producing 15mm options. I can confirm Shimano, DT-Swiss, WTB, Hope and Ellsworth at this point, but I’m positive Mavic will jump onboard.

    I was just chatting with Tony Ellsworth about their new line of wheels and they look to be on the right track. Their hubs will be 9mm/15mm/20mm compatible out of the box. If you want the ultimate in flexibility, that’s a great option.

  6. Hi,
    Any word on the WTB qr15 hub drop date? Also, I understand the Hope Pro II is convertible for 9mm, qr15, and 20mm applications?

    Thanks……..J.

  7. Yo John

    I just chatted with WTB and they still don’t have their 15mm hubs in stock, but the response was “any day now”. Yes, the Hope Pro II is currently convertible between all sizes. As I said above, Ellsworth will also have 9/15/20 front hubs on their wheels. Good luck… it’s tough being an early-adopter with something like this. It took me over two months to get mine sorted out.

    All I can say is that he QR15 is awesome. The Fox Vanilla 32 I’ve got is outstanding.

  8. Is anyone making a sleeve to convert a 20qr to 15qr as in Marzocchi to Fox? It seems to be simple to make? Thankyou. Tony Webster Ave Bikes

  9. Hey Tony

    It depends on your hub manufacturer. Just inserting a reducer sleeve won’t work since 15mm and 20mm hubs have different axle lengths as well. The end caps take both the diameter and length into account.

    What hubs are you running? If the endcaps aren’t replaceable, then you might be out of luck.

  10. Philipp Ace Acedo on

    I’m currently using a 20mm front hub on my 2010 Van36R,maybe the manufacturer created the 15mm hub to shed weight making the bike lighter for xc users and also of course to profit on it,you can never spend enough money on a good technology, there’s always new thereafter. 20mm has proven their durability eversince and I’m happy with it. Converting a 20mm to a 15mm hub may cause hassle while riding, you should match your fork and hub so your components would jive accurately.

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