The Bike List

Pinhead Locking Skewer Set £40

Tested by Neil Watterson, tester for The Bike List

Bike theft is a big problem where I live. And, although the police are doing their best to warn cyclists about the problem, more bikes are stolen every day. I don't want to become a victim, so one of the anti-theft products I've fitted is a set of Pinhead locking skewers: even if the bike is stolen, it will cause problems for the thief.

You see, the Pinhead skewers replace the normal quick release pins on the axles - a short one for the front and a longer one for the rear. You can also get them for the seatpost clamp and headset, but I haven't tried those yet.

The Pinheads have a rounded head at each end with three holes in the side you tighten - which correspond with pins in the removable 'key'. To fit, you simply remove the old quick release mechanism, slide the bolt through and wind up the lock side. Your wheels are then locked to the bike frame.

The profiles of the head mean they're impossible to grip with pliers and the design and positioning of the holes for the key makes removing the locks by any other method than the supplied keys a real challenge for thieves.

At £39.99 they're not the cheapest and some riders will question whether they're a worthwhile investment as they don't fall into the 'in-your-face' anti-theft category. The chances are a potential thief won't even spot that they're fitted - so you still have to properly secure your bike - but they do mean that you can get away with fewer locks if you pop to the shops, with a single decent U lock securing the whole bike.

Pinhead says there are 'dozens' of different pin combinations for the locks, so I was amused to find the two sets I owned - bought over a year apart - had the same pin pattern. Although slightly worrying from a security point of view, it's handy on a practical level: the kits are only supplied with one key so a spare is useful (otherwise you have to register and get a spare from the company).
Just remember to take the key with you whenever you go out on the bike - I picked up a puncture ten miles into a ride recently and found I had left the key at home. Fortunately I repaired the puncture without removing the wheel, but would have been stuffed if it had needed a new tube.

The key can slip a little when the bike's wet or if it's not located properly, but this hasn't caused any damage yet. Apart from that - and the fact the keyring attachment on the key is particularly insecure - the skewers have been remarkably easy to use. I wouldn't fit them on a bike used solely for fun riding (one that never leaves my sight and is locked up at home), but they're a sensible option for all-rounders - bikes that you may leave in less secure areas.

Oh, and the keys have a built-in bottle opener, so you'll be able to crack open a bottle safe in the knowledge that your bike will be more likely to be where you left it come home time!

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At a glance

Verdict Simple extra security for your bike, but shouldn't be treated as an anti-theft deterrent.

Pinhead says:

How the Pinhead Locking System Works:

Unlike a conventional U-lock, which only secures your bike frame, the Pinhead locking system secures your individual bike components from theft. The Pinhead bicycle locking system locks your front wheel, rear wheel, seat, and handlebars to your bicycle frame.

Each Pinhead locking component replaces the standard fastener (pin assembly or hex nut) that your bike was built with. Install the locking components, then forget they're there. Once installed, the lightweight, unobtrusive Pinhead locking fasteners remain on your bicycle when you ride, protecting your components from theft. If you do need to remove a component for bike maintenance, your unique locking key lets you easily and quickly remove any component.

No more removing your wheels or seat each time you leave your bike in a vulnerable area! Pinhead's patented locking fastener devices secure your components from theft.

Why Pinhead Locking Fasteners Work:

Standard fasteners can be opened by anyone who has a set of standard tools. By contrast, Pinhead locking fasteners can only be opened by the unique key for that fastener. The Pinhead lock cannot be replicated or "picked" like a key lock and cannot be cut like a cable lock. It is installed and removed only with a specially coded key. In the event of a key loss, any registered product owner can readily order a replacement key through our secure website.

Pinhead locking fasteners are built using dozens of different and unique key mechanisms. To have any chance of unlocking your components, a thief would have to buy dozens of Pinhead locking sets and carry all the keys! Since all key replacements are tightly controlled, your bike is secure.

Suitable for All Types of Bikes

Pinhead bicycle component locks are convenient, inexpensive, and easy to use. Pinhead locks can be installed on all bicycles, including those with no wheel release system and those with existing quick release systems. The locking components are universal, functional, compact, durable, lightweight, and cost-efficient.

The Pinhead locking system is safer than quick-release systems, which can accidentally release if the release mechanism is bumped (for example, if a child is riding near low bushes) or if someone has tried to remove the wheel and failed.
Available Locking Products

The Pinhead bike wheel lock replaces standard quick-release devices, and provides one-time lock up for your wheel. The Pinhead wheel lock is unlocked (with your special key) only when you need to remove the wheel for repair.

The Pinhead bike seat lock replaces the standard seat clamp bolt, and provides one-time lock up for your seat. The Pinhead seat lock is unlocked (with your special key) only when you need to adjust your seat.

The Pinhead bike stem & fork lock replaces the standard headset hex-nut bolt, and provides one-time lock up for your entire front wheel assembly. The Pinhead stem & forks lock is unlocked (with your special key) only when you need to remove your front wheel assembly.

Pinhead locking products are:

  • Attractively finished
  • secure, because the products are manufactured using a wide variety of Sifferent key moulds (just like the locks on houses) 
  • Unobtrusive
  • Compact 
  • Light weight 
  • Inexpensive
  • Pick-resistant 
  • Installed via an easy, one time installation
  • A universal fit to all bicycle models and sizes, new and old
  • Built using high-strength stainless steel components 
  • Corrosion-resistant 
  • Constructed so that the key handle is a bottle opener (Pinhead says no Drinking & Driving!)

Supplier: 2pure, +44 (0)844 811 2001,