Pinhead Lock Review
Welcome to our Pinhead Lock Review. At Interbike a few years back we were introduced to a very cool company called Pinhead (https://pinheadlocks.com) who make really cool products to help secure your bike. I was immediately fascinated with their lock design since it doesn’t use a traditional key.
Pinhead Locks History
Pinhead was founded in 1997 to make better more enjoyable locks. The company operates out of Edmonton, AB Canada and distributes their locks to over 20 countries. Their mission is to improve cycling security and safety with high-quality locks that protect the bike and provide a safer ride.
Pinhead Lock Review
Let’s face it getting your bike stolen is no laughing matter. Since being in Austin, I have had one bike stolen and have friends who have also had their rides stolen. In many cases, bikes were left unattended with simple cable locks as the only security. My bike had one of those big chain locks but still fell prey to a thief. A couple of my friends had their bikes stolen literally from under their noses as they were walking to them.
It’s just one big hassle having to file a police report, call your insurance company (Hopefully if you have renters or home insurance) and waiting a few weeks to get money to replace your bike. For many people, their bikes have a certain sentimental value that really can’t be replaced. The other aspect of course is you feel violated that some punk took something that belonged to you. All in all not fun.
How To Help Avoid Bike Theft
Pinhead has created a whole ecosystem for bike security including making locking skewers, headset locks, seat locks, a u-lock and an oval lock they call the city lock. The really cool trick is all these locking devices can be opened with single Pinhead key.
When I go for a run around Austin, I will sometimes venture up near the University Of Texas campus. On these runs, I will often pass bike racks and see an occasional frame missing both wheels and the seat. The frames always appear properly locked, but everything else was fair game to a thief. When it comes to theft, bike thieves love quick release skewers and seat posts, especially wheels, since wheelsets can run in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
When a thief sees a bike all decked out in Pinhead locks, they may think twice and move along. Realistically a bike thief is going to have a really hard time figuring out what to do with Pinhead’s lockable skewers and seat post locks. From my estimation, most bike thieves, especially ones who are looking for a crime of opportunity, aren’t going to have the right tools to really deal with them.
Pinhead Wheel and Seatpost Locking Skewers
Pinhead sells wheel locking skewers for both quick release and thru axle bikes as well as seat post locks, which help prevent wheel and saddle theft. Now since the skewers aren’t truly locked, a thief could use a metal hole punch and hammer and slowly unscrew the locking mechanism. That type of attack, however, will take a lot of time and effort just for one wheel or saddle. The other downside, of course, is it makes a lot of noise as they hammer and potentially draw a lot of unwanted attention. Now imagine the whole bike is decked out with Pinhead locks and most thieves will move on to easier targets.
Earlier versions of the pinhead wheel locks could be defeated with a Gator Socket (3/8 inch drive and a 3/8 inch drive ratchet), available at most hardware stores. The steel pins move over and around whatever they are being pressed on and form a tight grip that they can use to turn.
After the Gator socket attack was discovered, Pinhead came out with Pog security washers to prevent this from happening. These washers are a free upgrade for any previous Pinhead customers who have the older non-pog locking mechanism. Currently, this new upgrade is only available for quick-release wheels. Until Pinhead has a fix for their thru axle wheel security, they could be prone to this type of attack.
The Pinhead seat post and headset locks are recessed with a metal ring around them, which I believe thwarts a Gator socket type attack.
Pinhead Key Registration
Pinhead provides key registration should you lose your keys and need replacements. Pinhead locks use a special key. Each key is engraved with a 9-digit code. It is important that you keep a record of your key code so the key can be replaced if lost.
Pinhead Lock Review | Bottom Line
Pinhead gets major kudos for designing and implementing a whole array of bike security features. With prices starting at $59.99 and going to $159.99, there are a lot of options for people to choose from. We absolutely love how the key mechanism works and makes it rather fun just to play around with it.
As an added bonus, each Pinhead key also comes equipped with a bottle opener, should the need arise.
Are there any downsides? Replacing any quick release skewers with security skewers does come with a cost and that is removal time and having to bring or use the Pinhead key. I am not quite certain I would want to add Pinheads locking wheel skewers to my road bike simply because I remove both the front and rear wheel a lot when using my indoor direct drive trainer.
For any anyone who is a regular commuter and leaves their bike unattended for any length of time, having a more secure bike definitely has its benefits and probably outweighs the extra time needed for wheel removal.
Checkout Pinhead (https://pinheadlocks.com) and their entire line of bike security and safety products.
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Thanks for the review. And also thanks for the heads-up about the Gator socket vulnerability still being a problem for the Thru-axle versions! I have the quick release versions of these locks on a few bikes (all keyed alike) and I have not yet lost any wheels yet (knock-on-wood), but my upcoming bike will have thru axles. I hope they figure out that security vulnerability.
To “Brent Carson”, above: I’ve been using Pinhead’s locking skewers for at least 6 years (since ~2014). And I’ve purchased new one’s in recent years for new bikes (all keyed the same for convenience). I don’t understand why you seem to think they are a shady, fly-by-night company with a fake address. They’ve been around for a long time.
Anyway, my only negatives with Pinhead are:
1) If you buy from third parties, you cannot get “keyed alike” locks, so you are forced to buy direct from Pinhead at full MSRP if you want that benefit.
2) Indeed, their headset locks don’t work with my Cannondale bike, either. FSA integrated headsets use a different system than “typical” threadless headsets. Similarly, their seatpost collar locks don’t fit on many bikes (depends on the design of the frame), so you do have to be aware that compatibility is not guaranteed.
Other than that, I don’t have any complaints about the company’s products. I can’t say anything about their customer service/support because I’ve never needed to call them.
Thanks for the comment. It always helps in getting other opinions.
Be very leery about dealing with Pinhead Locks. All is not as it appears. Their website lists their store address as:
#373, 11007 Jasper Avenue
Canada T5K 0K6
However, if you “Google map” the address, you’ll find it’s only a rented mailbox at a UPS depot below a condo unit with laundry hanging off the balcony railings. (Call 1-780-448-5898 to confirm that fact.) Pinhead then insisted their place of business is a warehouse with an “engineer” at another Edmonton location. When asked its specific address, a man who claimed to be the engineer told me the location was secret. Huh? How many legitimate businesses have secret locations? Is this a top-secret missile defense contractor or a bicycle parts business?
If Pinhead had a real address, why would they rent a cheap UPS mailbox? And why is an engineer needed for an outfit that imports bicycle nuts from China/Taiwan? Sounds more like a guy (who won’t identify himself) operating out of an apartment.
But it gets worse. Many of the claims on the Pinhead website are false.
Their FAQ page states that: “You can order matching locks so all your bikes are protected, and ALL can use the SAME key. Our online store provides a place to enter your key code.”
This is false because at least 2 different styles of key are required. This is important because – unlike reputable companies such as Kryptonite that include 2 extra spares – Pinhead charges you through the nose. I ordered 2 spare keys and it came to $73 CDN ($54 US)! Having worked as a cost accountant in a large manufacturing plant, they probably cost about 25 cents to manufacture.
Pinhead also claims their headset locks protect your front wheel and forks from being stolen: Upon arrival, their headset lock would not remotely fit on my brand new Cannondale. My bike mechanic also had no idea how it would fit. Why do you think they’re called “Pinhead” he joked? And I doubt if they’ll fit on other modern bikes either. Pinhead’s installation manual is a joke so one has to fall back on their old YouTube videos, where they use mostly 70’s and 80’s style bikes. Because their headset lock is useless, their front wheel through axle is also rendered almost pointless. Because any thief with an Allen key can remove the stem, which gives him the fork and wheel within seconds. Someone failed to think this through. Some engineer!
Their website states “Pinhead Products are sent in a loose bag with no retail packaging,” thus concealing the source of manufacture. What reputable firm does that? Not even Walmart! Moreover, their 5-star website reviews by “certified buyers” looks like it was done by the owner. For real reviews, see the Yellow Page posts.
I haven’t had any issues with the company.