Removing a Female Hex on an Axle

What, no 22mm Allen Wrench?

Every once in a while you may need to remove your bike’s front axle. No big deal—all you need to do is remove the securing nut, loosen the pinch bolts and drive the bugger out, right? Maybe. Many axles do come out that way, but just as many are threaded into the fork leg and need to be unscrewed. This shouldn’t present much of a problem if the axle in question has a male hex on one end. Just grab the appropriate wrench and twist away. If the correct wrench isn’t handy, you can always use an adjustable with no ill effects. But what if your axle has a female hex?

Female hex on front axle
Presto chango—your spark-plug socket is now an axle removal tool!Photography by Mark Zimmerman

The right tool to use is obviously an Allen wrench, but in most cases you'll find the axle socket is 22mm (7⁄8 inches). That's a hefty-sized Allen wrench and one most do-it-yourselfers are unlikely to have in their tool box; in fact, many tool suppliers may need to special-order it. Fortunately, the solution is simple. Many easily available 13⁄16 spark-plug sockets have a 7⁄8 bolster on them so they can be turned with a box wrench in close quarters. Simply fit the bolster into the axle, insert a socket extension through the portion of the socket that would normally go over the spark plug and spin the axle out with your ratchet.