Lawyer Tabs or Not

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I was watching the Tour yesterday and was interested in how quick guys were getting front wheel changes when they had a flat.  Some teams seem to do it pretty quickly, but for sure, there are others that have serious “lawyer tabs” on their forks, so their mechanics have to spin the front quick release quite awhile before their secure the wheel.

I pretty much hate the tabs on the forks that “prevent” your wheel from coming off, in case you forget how to properly use a quick release.  They are just a hassle.

I have ground dozens of them off of different forks I own.  Road, cross and front forks on my MTB bike.   For racing there is no place for lawyer tabs.

The rule that makes this all pertinent is the UCI rule – Article 1.3.002, which states,, “A license holder is not authorized to modify, in any way, the equipment given by the manufacturer used in competition.”

I would have thought by now there would be a fork manufacture that would produce a race fork without the tabs, but maybe that is against government law?

I’ve left my tabs on both my road and MTB bikes.  I don’t have any tabs on my cross bikes, which is strange, because those are the races where I have the highest chance of having my bike checked by the UCI.  I have ridden some UCI MTB races and no one looked at my bike there.

Throwing out the problems of removing the front wheel quickly for a wheel change or repair, the hassle of putting a bike on and off a roof rack, especially and older roof rack, is a real problem.  Spinning a quick release on a roof rack is sometimes problem, so taking a bike on and off the top of a van, ect., can really turn into a task.  That is probably what I hate most about the tabs on a fork.

Anyway, just a little short rant about a bothersome rule that really has no place in the sport. These tabs don’t add any safety to bike racing.  If anything, they add additional stress, which most likely detracts from a riders safety.

I understand the rule, I just don’t think the UCI should be enforcing it in this instance.

If I had my way, this would be the best way to deal with all lawyer tabs on forks.

If I had my way, this would be the best way to deal with all lawyer tabs on forks.



52 thoughts on “Lawyer Tabs or Not

  1. Richard Durishin

    Well Steve,

    Little Johnnie is stupid, his parents are negligent and the bike shop and manufacturers are criminals because no body showed little Johnnie how to and explained that he MUST check his QRs before each and every ride.

    You simply cannot fix stupid – and for that we must all pay.

  2. 82medici

    Are you sure there is not something else going on with the slow wheel changes? I can’t imagine that these guys who are riding juiced to the gills are worried about a silly, minor equipment infraction like this.

  3. Bryan

    I had my front-end updated two years ago (had to go from threaded to threadless on the headset) and sure enough, the front dropouts have those stupid tabs. Credit to the service department of the shop though; they offered to file them off the fork. I may have refused, but may rethink that the next time I bring it in for service.

  4. pen 15

    Yes there is something that’s come along to fix this. They are called thru axles. Yes they have thru axles now that release in a 1/2 turn instead of multiple turns. If your mtb was built in the last 4yrs then you are already used to TA’s. Lots of cx bikes are now moving to them with road following. Advantages are a stiffer front end, near perfect alignment for the fact that disc brakes are finally showing up in mass production on bikes, wheels changes are fast.

    This is where all the armchair engineers reply back saying “TA’s are just another excuse for XXXX company to sell more bikes. My old method was just fine, TA’s are about as dumb as disc brakes on road bikes., etc , etc”

  5. Jim

    Please explain how lawyer tabs have anything, at all, to do with a political party?
    That is one of the dumbest things I have read in quite some time.
    IMO, if anything, it would be the other side (and I am not saying it is).

  6. channel_zero

    Lawyer tabs are an international standard. They are like helmets, the benefits are arguable. As long as all riders in any given race are identically equipped, I don’t care either way.

    Someone, somewhere, has benefited from them, for sure.

    On a bike with discs, you better leave those lawyer tabs on. The rotating force on the wheel is intense and the QR can turn in the fork despite your best efforts to keep the lever tight.

    If you are buying a new bike with discs, make sure the fork is a thru-axle. It’s the appropriate design for disc brakes.

  7. The Cyclist

    That’s exactly how I deal with them… only I use an angle grinder. Makes the procedure just a little faster. Works on those mudguard bosses too, btw.

  8. The Cyclist

    Anyhoo… does anyone out there know who, when and why first introduced these motherfuckers? This wasn’t an issue when I raced Italian bikes back in th 80s, so has to be something American inforced y American bike manufacturers… if my guess is right.

  9. The Cyclist

    …by, not y. There’s always a delay while typing comments on this site. I have to type at half the normal speed or there will be characters mssing, just like above. Anyone else has that problem?

  10. Paul Barnes

    I once had a road bike without the safety tabs blow out of my roof rack while driving in a 30 mph cross wind.

  11. Jim

    A manufacturer, or more than one, was undoubtedly sued as a result of someone losing a wheel while riding. Adding the tabs in the design is a simply process to deflect such suits. The propensity for such suits will vary by country. So an Italian bike company that doesn’t sell in the US may not bother with them. If a manufacturer that sells in the US (or another country that may have a higher possibility of these suits) offers a fork without them, even if they declare it a race component, they would decrease their defense. After all, many people buy race components who have never raced or are just starting and have plenty of $$ but little experience. If you remove the tabs yourself, you assume the liability of the alteration and the manufacturer’s position is not diminished.

  12. RGTR

    All I want to know is: where can I get one of them half-feral cats in the last post? The wilder the better. I have a barn full of rats that need something to do and I refuse to poison them.

  13. Paul Engler

    I saw a tweet by Jonthan Vaughters and picture of where UCI mandated the bars had to be shorten by 1-2 mm in stage 1. The bars were over the legal UCI length.
    I suppose if the UCI is getting this picky, the tabs on fork forks would be contested as well. I suppose the team mechanics would have replace the fork if they were caught.
    Having tabs on Johnnies bike good thing if Johnnie’s bother loosen the tabs to watch his brother crash on his face. Mom and Dad probably not very happy about brain injury and years institutional care.

    There usually good reason safety designs are mandated if we were to research it. Interesting John forester advocated this for children bikes but industry adapted in all bikes. New fangle quick release in 1971. We tend
    to forget how recreational riders ingnorant in changing flat tires and wheel changes. Insurance companies wanting to reduce theiy loses surely advocates any safety devices to people from themselves.

    The reflectors and tabs come on bike are pain and have no place on race bike. UCI should let them file off as reflectors and the other safety devices are removed.

    I like to see Kevlar carbon light weight crash proof kit designs instead. That’s whole new can worms.

  14. old and slow

    My recollection from being in the bike business in the 1980s is that lawyer tabs were very much a Schwinn-centric phenomenon. Just like the sticker on the down tube that tells you that your brakes will not work as well in the rain.

  15. The Cyclist

    Once in a while I see morons use their QRs as wingnuts. Tried to tell one of them and she got pissed off saying it has worked for her that way the last 20 years so that’s the way it should be done. Back in the 80s no race bikes had these tabs. No bikes had them. Pretty sure it’s an American invention and came from the MTB scene… to prevent companies being sued by morons like the one above or dudes ridin stunts like they’re some evel knievels. Too bad the whole world of cycling had to adopt to US suing practices. I’m sick and tired that people with brains and skills time after time are forced to adopt to the levels of witless dingbats and not the other way around. Just like with damn helmets. Crap.

  16. chaz

    Yeah, have them file those damn things off. I’m sure it will be the winning edge in your next 40k TT. Of course if you forget to close your qr and that front wheel comes off at speed, you will be a very very unhappy camper. Very unhappy.

  17. chaz

    All bicycles sold today have the lawyer tabs simply because they are safer and they can prevent serious injury and possibly death. It’s been proven by statistics. Like them or not, they’re here to stay.

  18. chaz

    Cyclist, the witless dingbats ARE the guys who didn’t use helmets. That’s WHY they are not only witless, but dingbats as well. They smashed their brains against the ground when they crashed with no helmet to protect them. Grow up and be safe and responsible fer cryin’ out loud.

  19. chaz

    Those damn Yankees! It’s a plot I tell you! A plot by the evil American bike empire to ruin your life!

    Boycott! Boycott!

  20. Tatiana

    Hey Steve, ask John Howard about the role his “expert testimony” played in getting those lawyer tabs mandated on bikes.

  21. Richard Durishin

    Yeah. If I remember correctly, some kid in new jersey rode off without checking his. His wheel came off and either he died or was crippled… And there was a lawsuit against the manufacturer. Same old same old.

  22. Krakatoa

    Again, thank you John Howard (America’s foremost “cycling expert for hire” to ambulance chasers). I think of you every time I remove my front wheel.

  23. Krakatoa

    No, it was a wrongful death lawsuit in the early 90s. John Howard was the expert witness for the plaintiff. You know, because he could draft behind a gigantic fairing attached to a race car.

  24. Lionel

    The lawyer tabs were actually a preemptive move by the bicycle industry due to continued misuse of quick releases, which did result in a trial in November 2005 in the USA, based on accidents of 7 to 13 year olds from 2000 to 2003 on MTB bikes mostly sold at Walmart.

    John Howard gave expert testimony that “that the bicycles were junk and dangerous, the tab tips were not adequate, the quick-release skewers were not high quality, some adjusting nuts lacked serration, and variability in the size of adjusting nuts indicated lack of consistency in the manufacturing process”. However that was pure conjecture and another expert, Gerald Bretting actually conducted hundreds of hours of testing and came to very different conclusions. Ultimately the suit did not win, but the tabs remained.

  25. Paul Barnes

    It’s possible it could have been tighter I guess. But it was pretty damn tight. There’s a lot of shear force in that situation, and nothing to hold it in except the pressure on the fork. I can understand not wanting the tabs for quick wheel changes in road races, and it’s silly to make a rule against filing them off. But for an amateur, primarily crit racer like me, and for recreational riders, the benefits outweigh the costs. People make mistakes, and the tabs are a simple safety feature which can prevent accident or injury. I know I won’t trust a bike without them in a roof rack anymore.

  26. JB

    Coincidentally, last evening there was some play in the front end of my 10 yo son’s mtn bike (XS Giant Revel). The quick release was closed but loose. Who knows how it got that way. Thank Lob for the lawyer tabs.

  27. Mike

    I recently started using a pickup truck bed rack which requires pulling the front wheel. I noticed that my quick release was closed but very loose. Not a big deal because I don’t poppa lot of wheelies on my recumbent.

    I had a Schwinn Mirada back in the mid 80’s that had an interesting system. The thing had two steel tabs about 2″ long with holes in each end. One end fit to the axle held captive but allowed to spin by a stepped nut. Once the wheel was in position on the fork you would rotate the two slightly bent tabs until The holes on the other end aligned with studs on the inside of the fork leg and popped into place. The tab had a little 90 degree bend dog ear that made it easier to get a hold of. It worked fine retaining the wheel but I think it was an over engineered precursor to the modern day lawyer lips.

  28. Yani

    On the flip-side. I mount my bike on a rack that requires the front wheel to be removed almost every time I ride. With lawyer tabs I need to unscrew and re-screw the quick release to get proper tension. Some times I give it one turn more, or one turn less. Without the tabs, I open the QR, the wheel comes off. I put the wheel back on and close the QR. Tension is always the same and ideal.

  29. The Cyclist

    Exactly, and the biggest dingbat of them all was this Kivilev dude who we all have to thank for having to ride around with foam hats on our heads. Not sure how you explain what happened to Wouter Weylandt a few years later though. For sure he was wearing one, no?

  30. jayne hathaway

    I’ve been riding bikes of every kind you can imagine, in every condition you can imagine since the early 80s, and I’ve never had a wheel come off, or had one come loose, or had one blow off a rack etc. My mountain bike fork however, is a PITB to tighten, because the lawyer tabs are built into the lower housings, so it’s like tightening something you can’t really reach. I resisted through axles (have XTR hubs with stans crest rims) but this tightening thing with my current Fox float is a major pain. Then I never know if it’s tight enough, it *seems* tight, but the fork design is prohibitive in making any kind of accurate determination. So I guess I’ll have to succumb to through axle, which means a new wheel set, and new fork and probably new brake discs, since mine are ShimaNO center lock, they don’t fit on any other hubs. It sucks that they do this to us, force new standards on everyone when the old gear works perfectly well. Lucky for those of you who can do your own wrenching/mods, but I don’t have the time (or tools) to learn all that…

  31. krakatoa

    The bike industry themselves helped bring this about by putting them on bikes with such low price points where their owners would just take them into a bike shop every time they get a flat… And they wouldn’t learn anything about them until it was time to throw it in the trunk the one time a year they wanted to actually ride it. I will admit that anyone who used a QR needed to be given a demo (and they should show it to the bike shop salesperson to confirm that they actually understood).

    I wish there was a “pro” aftermarket QR product that could overcome the lips in one flip and actually facilitate a QR experience. These should never be sold on “out-the-door” bikes.

  32. 55x11

    The Cyclist, sorry but you are an idiot (and an a$$hole – the worst kind of idiot). Yes, Wouter Weylandts tragically died in a bike crash. So by your logic, helmets are useless? (even if his skull wasn’t crushed, he had internal organ damage that was lethal and even if that didn’t happen, his leg would need to be amputated).

    It’s like arguing that airbags and seatbelt should be banned because they obviously useless as people still die in car crashes.

    I am sorry but if lawyer tabs saved just one, single life of some young kid who is, we can all agree, is clueless about cycling (we were all there at some point), then yes, you Steve and the TdF pros have to go through the painful, terrible trouble of spending extra 4 seconds tightening your skewer, making your amazingly fast 30 second wheel change a whopping 34 seconds.

    Or better yet, just cheat and file down your lawyer tabs (everyone seeks unfair advantage over their competition, because if everyone else must be doing it, who cares if it violates the UCI rules and the spirit of competition, the rules are stupid, and you are above the rules, right?). Besides, if you are never caught by race officials, it makes it all Ok.

  33. chaz

    The correct spelling is proofread and not proof read. At the end a sentence or a statement, we use a punctuation mark called a period. Finally, when numbers are used in a statement or sentence as you have done, the number or numbers should be spelled out.

    Grammar is your friend.

  34. krakatoa

    Don’t let your lava love flow turn to stone

    Read more: B-52s – Lava Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  35. 55x11

    iving in your own Private Idaho
    Underground like a wild potato.
    Don’t go on the patio.
    Beware of the pool,
    blue bottomless pool.
    It leads you straight
    right throught the gate
    that opens on the pool.

  36. Craig

    I just don’t understand QR’s on race bikes anyway. First, if you are running disc brakes and file your lawyer tabs you are begging for problems. The off axis torque generated by the disc constantly pulls the wheel and will eventually pop open the QR. On a road race bike a cheaper, lighter and simpler system would be a floating bolt axle that was opened by either a hex or an electric torque wrench. Think of F1, Indycar, NASCAR – the mechanic runs up, unbolts with said impact driver, pops in new wheel, rethreads and the rider is off …

    It would slow the non supported racer down but for the pro’s? Join the 21st century.

  37. krakatoa

    I remember these. I worked at a Schwinn shop back in the 80’s. They were great for low-to-mid price point bikes. But back then, non-racing, non-serious FREDS would rarely buy a high-end bike. But now they will (just because they can).

    In 1985, a $1800 Campy-equipped Colnago could hardly be described as a “consumer product” in the eyes of most. Now they mass-market literally everything under Mark Cavendish’s crotch.

  38. The Cyclist


    Don’t be sorry. I forgive you bc apparently you’ve missed what the cycling is really about.
    Have a nice day now.

    /The Cyclist


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