Keyless security for your bike wheel

Bicycle wheel security without special keys using Kryptonite Gravity WheelNutz and WheelBoltz

kryptonite gravity wheelboltz & wheelnutz

Kryptonite announced these products a couple of years ago and I completely missed them because I was so focused on their then-new “Messenger Mini+,” which is the Kryptonite Mini with a rear wheel shackle designed specifically for quick locking and unlocking.

Kryptonite also offers secondary protection for both wheels with either the Gravity WheelBoltz wheel locks (for hollow axle wheels) or WheelNutz locks (for solid axle wheels). WheelBoltz replace standard quick-release skewers, while WheelNutz replace the 15mm nuts used on singlespeed and fixed gear bikes.

The genius of these products is the use of standard tools for removal and installation. A pin secures the wheel lock so that a potential thief cannot turn the nut securing your wheel. The pin drops out of place when the bike is inverted so you (or your bike shop mechanic) can repair your flat tire, and a properly locked bike can’t be inverted. This video from Kryptonite shows how these bicycle wheel locks work.

I’m super disorganized, and there’s no way I would keep track of proprietary tools used for similar wheel locking solutions from other vendors, so I love the idea of standard tools. I don’t know how robust these Kryptonite gravity wheel locks are compared to these other locks; the Gravity WheelNutz in particular look like they could be vulnerable a leverage attack. Can that locking pin hold up to a 200 pound guy standing on the end of a cheater bar?

Still, I really like the idea. Cables through the front wheel are useless even for daytime parking in large portions of the San Francisco Bay Area, and I mentioned my hesitation about proprietary or uncommon tools. Perhaps these Gravity locks can be enough to stop the opportunistic theft of a wheel when I’m parked outside of a coffee shop for a few minutes in downtown San Jose.

To find where you can buy locally, click the “BUY LOCAL” button at Kryptonite’s product page. If your local dealer doesn’t have them in stock, you can call ahead and you can usually have them within a day or three from their distributor. Or buy online through Amazon (from which I might receive a dollar or two of your transaction if you click the below links):

6 Comments

  • April 26, 2016 - 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Assume a thief busts the primary U-lock and/or cable lock, and rides away on your bike. Is there a device that can lock up the wheel so that it cannot be ridden away and force the thief to carry it or toss it into the back of a vehicle?

  • Pete
    April 27, 2016 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    Nice to see my favorite bike brand in use the city I grew up in. I wonder if the internal pins can be manipulated magnetically? I also wonder if the OnGuard pin-keyed wheel locks on my stolen Gary Fisher have caused any challenge whatsoever to its thief, as he clearly had a key for the OnGuard U-lock (which I neglected to grind the key code off of).

  • April 27, 2016 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Funny you should mention that OnGuard since I discovered that product after I posted this Kryptonite one. I assume you’re talking about this? http://www.onguardlock.com/skewers/

    And regarding your defeated u-lock — is that what you figured out, is that the thief used the key code to find or get the right key?

  • April 27, 2016 - 12:08 pm | Permalink

    @Steve – I like that idea. I think I’ve seen crowdfunding projects for electronic devices that might do similar things.

  • Pete
    April 28, 2016 - 4:52 pm | Permalink

    The ones I had were the “pinhead” type, such as the ones shown being defeated in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cqrMxErIXE

  • Pete
    April 28, 2016 - 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and the Kaiser security guard told my wife he thought they used a “master key”, because they saw him just open the lock like it was his bike, which is why they didn’t stop him. He left the lock there (locked) and it’s fully functional. I figure it’s just like the rack locks from Thule or Yakima – all you need is the four-digit code that’s stamped on the housing and you can order a replacement key on eBay for $7. (Hint: grind the code of your housing, so at least they have to try several different keys – unless of course there truly is a “master” for those locks).

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