Security Skewers Can be Defeated

If you have expensive wheels, you may have invested in a set of Pitlock or Pinhead/OnGuard security skewers to prevent them from being easily removed and stolen. These devices replace the quick-release skewers of axles, seatposts, and also the bolts from Aheadset threadless headsets, preventing the theft of your wheels, saddle, and entire front fork with wheel still attached respectively.

Unfortunately, I seem to have found a way that they can be bypassed, being removed in roughly the same amount of time as it takes to remove an ordinary Allen nut skewer or solid axle hex nut (but this still is better than using quick-release skewers and then not bothering to remove the wheel and lock it with the frame.) Currently, I can't disclose this method, so please don't ask me what it is. I don't believe in security through obscurity per se (yes, I have advised one of the companies, and the other was already aware) but I think that the fewer people that know this technique the better. I don't want to make it easier for any thieves.

I would still agree that having the security skewers is better than not having them, especially in North America where they are not as common and thus thieves have not had as much of a chance to learn to bypass them. But don't use them as your only means of protection. Lock your bike up to an immovable object in a well-travelled, well-lit area, and use more than one locking mechanism if possible, such as separately locking the wheels to the same immovable object that the frame is locked to, and using a heavy cable lock as well as a U-lock, forcing the thief to have two different sets of hardware get to your bike.

No security is perfect or impassable, of course, but all that is required is that it takes longer for the thieves to get what they want than it would take for them to be noticed, and makes it more tempting to move on to find an easier target than to attack your difficult target. Having to bypass a separate lock and your security skewers is always going to take longer than just one of them, and that might be enough to make them move on.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to about this article... but please don't ask me how the defeat of these devices is done! Thanks.

Last updated: 2006-Feb.-11

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