Bicycle wheel theft protection: How to protect your wheel and quick release

Bike thefts are a problem that are not limited to complete bikes or e-bikes. Thieves and vandals are increasingly targeting components. Wheels are particularly easy prey, unless you secure them against theft. You can find out how to do this here.

Kaufvertrag Fahrrad: Infos, Tipps & Vorlage

The most important facts about wheel theft protection in a nutshell:

  • Whether it’s a special lock, a gravity locking system or special locking screws – make sure you choose the component lock you trust for your wheels, there are huge differences.
  • We recommend the HexLox locking system for protecting wheels, it is versatile, easy to use and can be applied to many components such as saddles or wheels.
  • Don’t forget to protect your e-bike as a whole against theft. The best solution currently on the market for e-bikes is the combination of a high-quality bike lock and the GPS tracker BikeTrax from PowUnity.

GPS tracker installed and bike or e-bike locked to protect your bike, no need to worry? That depends. Not even PowUnity’s BikeTrax GPS tracker is a proper wheel security device when it comes to bike component thefts . Wheels with quick-releases, for example, can be stolen in passing. Depending on the wheel, this means a high financial loss. On top of that, you have to get your bike home somehow.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent wheel theft. In this article, we will present them to you, including advantages and disadvantages as well as tips for proper use.

Here we go.

Why bike thieves like to steel wheels as well

Bicycle and e-bike wheels are targeted by bike thieves for two reasons:

  1. They can be dismantled relatively quickly and easily. This is especially true of wheels with quick-releases.
  2. There are now wheels that cost several thousand euros, for example models with carbon spokes. So thieves can earn quite a bit from wheel theft.

The price of a wheel depends on the material. Are they aluminium or carbon rims or disc or rim brakes? These are all decisive questions that raise or lower the price. Dealer-owned wheels such as Rosebikes wheels with Shimano system start at 80 euros. The manufacturer DT Swiss sells its wheel sets for prices between 600 and 2300 euros. Even wheels for pedelecs such as E-MTBs, E-road bikes and E-gravel bikes sometimes cost between 400 and 2000 euros per set.

So depending on the wheel, thieves can make valuable loot with little effort. Sometimes, however, that is not the central motivation at all. Often enough, (drunken) contemporaries simply enjoy making a parked bike unrideable.

In both cases, the result is annoying and expensive.

Anti-theft protection for bicycle wheels – a comparison

Combination is key – use not only one bike lock

If you don’t want to deal with special security systems for bicycles, you can use several different locks. For example, to prevent bike theft lock your bike to a fixed object with folding locks or U-locks and secure the wheels with additional cable or spiral cable locks.

Kabelschloss für Fahrräder

With a long cable lock you can lock both wheels of your bike or e-bike.

The ABUS Cobra 12/180 cable lock is 1.80 m long and weighs less than 500 grams.

Advantages and disadvantages of cable and spiral cable locks

  • easy
  • prevent quick wheel theft
  • can be used for different components

  • can be easily cut with the right tool
  • only suitable as additional locks for components

Use screws instead of quick-releases

Quick-releases are practical for the flat tire on the bike because the wheel can be removed quickly. But they are also practical for the thief, who can remove them just as quickly from the bike when it is not guarded. If the wheel set costs a little more, it is better not to save on the time it takes to remove a wheel in the event of a tyre or casing change and instead make it a little more difficult for thieves.

Much safer than quick-releases are thru axles, for which you need your own tools to remove them from the frame, because they are fastened with bolts. Thru axles or seat posts, for example, can be fastened with Allen screws (hexagonal or pentagonal). Torx screws or hexagon socket screws offer even more security.

Wheels are safer on the bike if they are fastened to the bike frame with security screws instead of quick-releases. You can ask for them in your local bike shop.

Of course, thieves can also acquire the necessary tools to remove all kinds of screws. But against opportunistic thieves this variant protects effectively. If they choose to steal one of multiple bikes on the street for example, they take the easiest option.

Gravity locking systems – quick release set with special features

You can only open quick-releases, bolts or nuts with gravity locking technology if you turn the wheel 90 degrees or turn the bike upside down. If you lock your bicycle or e-bike properly to a fixed object, it can no longer be turned.

This means that if a thief wants to steal a wheel, he must first break your bike lock.

Kryptonite theft protection for wheels: WheelBoltz quick-release axles and Security WheelNutz

These quick-release skewers can only be opened with a 5 mm hexagonal special key – be careful – when the wheel is upside down!

If you have secured your bike to a fixed object with a primary lock so that it cannot be turned over, the wheels remain securely on the bike. If, on the other hand, you want to change a tyre yourself, you can easily turn the wheel and unscrew the axle with the additional tool. This also applies to Kryptonite’s full axle solution, the Security WheelNutz. Their internal “lock-out” function prevents them from being opened when the wheel is upright.

Zefal anti-theft protection: Lock’n’Roll

The security system with the nice name “Lock ‘n’ Roll” features a ball inside. This ensures that the bike has to be horizontal to open the quick release.

ABUS anti-theft NutFix component security system

THE ABUS NutFix gravity locking system consists of a nut that only releases the bolt underneath when the bike is placed on its side. It can be mounted with a standard open-end spanner.

Advantages and disadvantages of gravity locking systems

  • available as quick-release and thru axle versions for wheels
  • protects against theft with gravity technologies
  • assembly is easy and, depending on the model, possible with conventional tools

  • Comparatively expensive
  • Does not offer one hundred percent security against theft

Nuts and grooves as anti-theft protection for wheels

The Pitlock system

The Pitlock system consists of different bolts and nuts. Depending on which components of your bicycle or e-bike you want to secure, different parts are available. There is an individual key for each nut, which you can only buy if you present the corresponding code.

The Pinhead system

The Pinhead system works on the same principle. However, the Pinhead brand also sells complete sets with a chain wheel lock. For this you get a pinhead key that fits the axles, nuts and lock.

Advantages and disadvantages of special nuts and grooves:

  • Suitable for different components
  • available in complete sets
  • can only be opened with an individual key

  • comparatively expensive
  • does not offer one hundred percent security against theft

HexLox: the optimal bike theft protection for components of e-bikes and bicycles

The HexLox special security system is our tip for component protection on bicycles or e-bikes. Whether rear wheel or front wheel, saddle or stem, HexLox is versatile. The only important thing is that the part in question is secured to the wheel with an Allen screw.

How it works:

  1. Insert HexLox into the Allen screw with an individual key.
  2. Now it is no longer possible for other people to insert the corresponding Allen key and open the screw.
  3. To remove HexLox, press the key onto the inlay, wait briefly and then pull it out.

HexLox is available for magnetic and non-magnetic screws.

You can also choose the size. Depending on the HexLox, it ranges between 4 mm and 10 mm. If you want to order inlays for your individual key, you can do so at any time. All you need is the three-digit code inside the packaging.

HexLox is much more than a wheel or component lock.

According to the motto “HexLox anything”, you can also use the product to secure motorbike parts, furniture, exhibition stands or solar panels against theft. HexLox is especially popular for securing bicycle parts.

Especially for wheels, HexLox offers Security Skewers that replace existing axles with quick release levers and secure them with a 5mm HexLox. The Hexlox Security Skewers are tightened with a standard 5mm Allen key (7Nm) and then secured with a 5mm Hexlox.

Advantages and disadvantages of HexLox:

  • small, light and inconspicuous
  • suitable for all Allen screws on the e-bike or bicycle with a size between 4 and 10 mm
  • Suitable not only for bicycle components, but also for many other items

  • somewhat more expensive than simple types of anti-theft protection

Protecting wheels is possible

There is no guarantee that your carbon wheel will still be there when you come back from the bar. But with the right anti-theft device, the chances are very good. You have the choice: whether it’s your own bike lock, a gravity lock system or special screws, there is a whole range of anti-theft devices for wheels – just like for bicycle saddles.

But before you blindly put items in your digital shopping basket, it’s worth comparing. Because even component locks offer different levels of security. For us, the HexLox system definitely belongs in the category of the best component security devices. After all, it is versatile, easy to transport and protects your wheel just as reliably as your bicycle saddle.

What you still need is anti-theft protection for your bike itself. The best solution on the market for e-bikes is currently a combination of a high-quality bike lock and the GPS tracker BikeTrax from PowUnity. The latter not only warns you immediately if someone tries to tamper with your e-bike without permission. It also enables you and the police to track the stolen bike in real time. So there’s a good chance you’ll get it back again quickly. More security is not possible.

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