Tested – Lucas Axle, Britain’s 21st Century axle design

Its not often a component is revolutionised in our sport. Karting is a sport where the equipment has been refined over and over since its inception, you need only look at the karts from the 50’s and 60’s to see how far we have come through constant evolution. However, for about the past 15 years the 50mm axle has remained largely unchanged, and unquestioned by most.
One person who has questioned the design however is Andy Lucas who noticed a pattern in axle failures spurred on by footage taken of a failure of his driver’s axle 5 years ago, all of which he explained to Chris McCarthy in this interview.

The test

In conjunction with Jade karts, Andy invited us to Shenington to test one of the new Lucas Axles on a TKM extreme Jade kart, and to discuss the features and story behind the axle.

This would be my first time driving a full blown TKM, and only my second time at Shenington in five years, but I picked it all back up pretty fast, and was able to get down to testing the axle right away. The kart felt great and as anyone versed in karting will know Shenington is a great track, I was having a whale of a time. Once I found my feet I began to push the kart and axle to the limit, to see if I could find any specific characteristics, good or bad, about the new axle.

The kart was very easy to drive, and the axle was confidence inducing. The behaviour of the kart was predictable and smooth. I could put the kart where I wanted. Park Bend, turn 1 at Shenington was a perfect example, this corner is flat out and requires precise inputs into the steering to gently load kart into the corner for the optimal line. After finding the correct line I felt I could do it consistently lap on lap. The same applied into the bruno chicane, the constantly changing weight transfer from the right, to braking, then the left would have highlighted any inconsistencies, but it at all felt very natural.

Towards the end of the test I was able to lap the circuit within a tenth of a second most laps which is indicative of kart that is handling well and consistently.

One thing that did stand out to me was corner entry into slow corners under heavy breaking. Stratford hairpin was the best example. I could trail the brakes all the way in, gliding the kart to the apex. Now whether this was the kart, the axle, or a combination of both I can’t say for sure, but what I can say for sure was I felt at home within just a few laps in an unfamiliar kart at a circuit I haven’t drive since 2012. They must be doing something right.

I spoke to Chris just after my last session about the day, check out my reaction here.

The theory

As Chris mentioned, the Lucas axle has been in development for 5 years now since Andy Lucas first thought of the idea. The design of the axle has reliability and precision at its core. Andy said to me “This high performance axle design has F1 standards of precision and is designed not to snap, there are too many axles breaking in competition, this development will reduce the risk immediately”.

The thing that put this in perspective for me as a racer was this situation pictured below. Not only do you not want an axle letting go for obvious safety reasons, but imagine this; You’re fighting all year head to head with your competitors, be it Super One, or any club championship, sometimes the points are very close at the end of the year, and 1 ‘DNF’ can often be the difference. Using the Lucas Axle effectively negates the risk of an avoidable axle failure which could mean you collecting those few points you need.

The Axle itself has been tested by top drivers including Scott Allen and Danny Keirle. They have put it through its paces and completed back to back comparisons with standard axles. Mark Allen the founder of Jade Karts arranged for the new design to be tested on a 250cc Superkart with impressive results. Jade Karts have chosen the Lucas Axle in competition and incorporate the axle in the TKM Kart chassis that Jade manufacture.

Jade will no longer supply drilled and machined axles to customers, they recognise the significant safety and performance advantages without them.

The Axle

So you’ve heard all about it, what it does, why it works, who’s tested it, what it feels like, but you’re probably wondering how this axle is physically different. The theory is there are no holes in the axle, and no flat keyways, thus meaning the axle should be better balanced, and structurally more reliable.

The axle and keys have been designed using a Kinematic coupling method ensuring the keys fit the axle exactly, every time it is installed. This offers a balanced, stronger and safer alternative to axles with drilled holes and machined flat areas. The surface pattern that matches the key in this design has evolved from over 1000 design configurations of which Andy Lucas holds the intellectual rights.

When I first saw the axle in person it looked very good. The key sits in the keyway very snugly with no play at all, and possibly tighter than the usual design. The keyways are located at 90 degrees around the axle further increasing the better balanced properties of this design. The tolerances in the machining of this axle are obviously high which is very good sign.

Overall

The Lucas Axle is an innovative British design that could potentially take over the Axle market in the UK, and then possibly the world. The Axle is more evenly balanced, has higher tolerances, and due to its design, safer than the conventional axles available. Moreover, it will be at a price point below what some will be paying for their current Axles.

British design, British build is yet another bonus for this product. I personally believe as its rolled out there is no reason why this can’t become the new norm in karting, and I’m all for it.

Andy Lucas and his newly released Axle

Jade karts and Andy Lucas are encouraging anyone interested to know more to get in touch with them via the dedicated phone number

07756 025097

 or contact Andy via the email address andy@lucasaxles.com with any questions, queries, or concerns.

 

Written by Piers Prior

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