Pinhead Skewer Review

On our last tour, locks and cables were the heaviest items we carried. Securing our bike frames is one thing; keeping our wheels from walking off is another matter. Pinhead skewers are a good, simple solution for keeping your wheels attached to your frame.

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The skewers are very simple: they consist of a titanium bolt, a washer, a nut, and a key. The nut has a smooth, convex surface with three embossed dimples. The key has matching protrusions that fit into the dimples and let you turn the nut. Without the key the nut cannot be loosened.

Picture 013 Pinhead in action

Here's the front wheel of Mary's bike secured with the Pinhead. Without the matching key you cannot get the wheel off. Of course, that means you always have to have your key with you! Each key is serialized. If your key is lost, Pinhead can issue a replacement as long as you have the serial number.

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They also have a seat post skewer to keep your Brooks saddle from sprouting wings. The seat post collar they provided did not fit our bikes (I don't remember why) – we had to get new ones.

All in all I would say this is a good product. It is expensive at CAD $60 for a set of two skewers for the wheels and one for the seat post. But that's a lot cheaper than a new set of wheels (or a saddle). It's a good way to cut down on the dead weight of a heavy cable. And with the start of another touring season,it's one less thing to worry about when locking up.

12 comments on “Pinhead Skewer Review”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    Pinhead Components Inc. are Canadian I see. Excellent. Available in the UK from Wiggle (surprise surprise).

    I have some Tranz-X security skewers. But not as good, I suspect. They have a recessed nut that requires the 5-sided allen key supplied with the set. The same key will undo any of that type of skewer, but the main reason I don't use them is that they are a loose fit inside the axle. I'd be interested to know if the Pinhead skewers are a good tight fit in the axle, ie: the same diameter as a normal quick-release skewer.

  2. Kern wrote:

    Good question, Patrick – I never thought of that. I had to dig a little to find my calipers. The quick release that came with my wheel measures 5.9 mm. The Pinhead is slightly smaller at 5.8 mm (the same diameter as the cheaper quick release I bought for mounting on the CompuTrainer). Do you think this is significant?

  3. Patrick wrote:

    I doubt if it's significant Kern. The axle ends are held in position by the dropouts. My Tranz-X security skewers are cheap things compared to your Pinhead skewers. When mine are tightened up they are not loose any more but I just didn't fancy them compared to the proper Shimano skewers.

  4. Paris wrote:

    Kern, your Brooks saddle will indeed sprout wings if the thief is smart enough to remove it from the seatpost instead of trying to get it all together.
    Take a collar with some fill, place it high on your seatpost – just below the saddle, secure it with another pinhead skewer to make the saddle bolt inaccessible.

  5. Slumph wrote:

    I think the Pinheads are basically a decent product, might turn away a casual thief. But you should be aware that they can be removed very easily using a universal socket tool, like the Gator Grips, $10 at Home Depot. Comes in handy if you can't get in touch with the company to get a replacement key! (Seriously, after a few weeks, I gave up and was forced to hack into my own lock).

    I actually think I'll keep using mine without the key and just use the Gator Grips socket.

  6. Kern wrote:

    Thanks Slumph. I have been told many times to "get a grip" – now I know what kind to get: a Gator Grip! :)

  7. Bryan wrote:

    1) Can the universal socket also open the frame u-style lock, the Pinhead Bubble Lock?

    Or, will the Gator Grip not fit into the frame lock?

    Reference here:

    http://tinyurl.com/9n4gnus

    2) Also, does anyone know the thickness of the frame lock, or its composition?
    I cannot find either specification.

    Thank you!

    ~Bryan M.

  8. Bryan wrote:

    If so, then I see nothing special that makes this frame lock/u-lock more special than the hoards of competitors with flat/dimpled keys, with the exception that it is easier to open!

  9. Chloe wrote:

    Great Slumph, now any thieves that we had a slight edge on will know what to do... 😉

  10. I'mCallingBS wrote:

    "I think the Pinheads are basically a decent product, might turn away a casual thief. But you should be aware that they can be removed very easily using a universal socket tool, like the Gator Grips, $10 at Home Depot. Comes in handy if you can't get in touch with the company to get a replacement key! (Seriously, after a few weeks, I gave up and was forced to hack into my own lock).

    I actually think I'll keep using mine without the key and just use the Gator Grips socket."

    So you had to hack into your own lock and your going to keep using it? That makes no sense. What's your agenda?

  11. DaveL wrote:

    No worries regarding your pinhead locks, the company created a washer that will accompany the pinhead components which makes the gator grip obsolete. For current owners of pinhead they will give it to you for free. Just contact them.

  12. michelle wrote:

    I have the current pinhead skewer locks (with the "POG" security washers). They can definitely still be removed with a gator grip socket. I lost my key and got really fed up with the sloth-like and anti-helpful customer service, so I ordered the gator grip. It's a bit clumsy to remove, but it works. All you have to do is loosen the bolt a bit, and the rest is easy. Or, you can just wait for it to naturally loosen over time, and take it off. I find that I have to tighten it every few hundred miles or so anyway.

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