Generally I'm coming around to 20mm axles...or 15mm...or 24mm...or 25mm...for nearly everything. But I've started to think that bigger wheels may benefit the most from stouter axle interfaces. If you think about it, the bigger the tire/wheel is, the bigger the leverage it has while it works its magic. It's probably even more of an issue on a 29'er.
No...not every bike or rider needs a huge axle. The harder you ride, the more technical terrain you ride, and the more discriminating you are in suspension feedback, the more you'll appreciate a larger front axle.
Bigger wheels create more leverage that can flex not only your skewers, but your entire fork. The bigger axles are there to lessen that effect. Larger stanchions like 36's make the fork even stiffer, and ditto with thicker steerer tubes. In theory, the stiffer your front end (no ****), the more precisely your bike steers, especially at speed on rough terrain. While you're at it, if your hubs can accommodate a 10mm thru-axle, you can greatly stiffen your rear too.
Okay.. I have no science to prove any of that LOL... Just rock the thicker axle. It'll make you fit in with the cool crowd!
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