Hexlox Review: The best way to secure your bike bits!
I’m not going to mess about here: I think Hexlox are by far the best way to secure your seat, your wheels and any other parts of your bike that are attached with a hex (Allen) key.
Why? Well, they’re easy to use, they’ll protect your stuff and they’re competitively priced. Which are the three big things you want from any bicycle security system!
What’s more, Hexlox provides these things in a very elegant and flexible way. Which for me, is the icing on the cake.
How do I know all this? I’ve been using the Hexlox for the past couple of months and to tell you the truth, I can’t imagine going back to my previous security set up.
So read on and in the Hexlox review, I’ll try to explain why I think they’re so good and why I think you should be using them too...
How does Hexlox work?
The basic idea is that anything that’s attached to your bike using a hex key (also known as an Allen key) can be secured with a Hexlox.
What is attached to your bike using a hex key? Well, there are various components that could be. For example your seat, your wheels, your handlebars, your brakes and pedals and quite possibly more.
It depends on how your bike is set up.
Each individual Hexlox is just a tiny hexagonal nut that slots into (and blocks) the socket in the head of the screw that attaches all that stuff to your bike.
And of course, if this socket is blocked by a nut, a hex key can’t access it to loosen it. Which prevents a thief with a hex key helping themselves to your stuff. Simple.
This idea is not new. Innovative cyclists have been blocking up the sockets of their hex screws for years. Usually with superglue covered ball bearings. But sometimes with Supergru, candle wax or steel epoxy as well.
These old methods are effective. But they’re fiddly to install and when you finally need to remove a component, it’s a complete pain to get whatever you blocked the socket with out of the way.
This pain being of course the very thing that stops the thieves!
But Hexlox has taken this idea and evolved it in a very elegant way. How? Well, the nuts are both effortless to fit and equally effortless to remove. If you’re not a thief!
Each nut has a small hole in its head which contains a tiny, red metal cone. And with each Hexlox (or set) you get a tiny key which fits perfectly into the hole and around the cone to form a tight bond with the nut.
This enables you to easily place the nut in the socket when you’re fitting the Hexlox and effortlessly remove the nut from the socket when you need access to the screw to remove or adjust your component with a hex key.
Here’s a short video that illustrates it pretty clearly…
What keeps the nut securely in the hex socket? A magnet. The bottom of the nut has been heavily magnetized so that it forms an incredibly strong attachment to the top of the hex socket.
The strength of that magnetic attraction, the tight fit of the nut in the socket and the bevelled head of Hexlox nut, mean it is very difficult to remove it without the key.
Each key comes with a 3 digit code, so that if you lose your original you can order a replacement key and if you want to order more Hexlox you can get them to match your existing key.
How secure is Hexlox?
Of course we shouldn’t let the clever design distract us from their main purpose: protecting out stuff. And Hexlox would be no good at all if they weren’t able to effectively do that.
So how secure are they really? For me, this comes down to two issues. Firstly, how they prevent people without keys from removing the nuts. And secondly how they stop thieves buying their own sets and then using the keys remove other peoples nuts.
Since the Hexlox are secured in place by magnetism, you’d think that a big, powerful magnet might be able to pull them out. However, that’s not the case. They have fiddled with the polarity and shielded the magnet so the Hexlox aren’t magnetic from above.
Hexlox claim that the nut’s been tested against needle nose pliers, gator/vise grips, hammers, liquid ice, hacksaws, screw drivers, medical tweezers and toothpicks (!), none of which were able to dislodge it.
I had a good go with a magnet, tweezers and a screwdriver and wasn’t able to remove the nut. I also tried and failed with a cotton bud dipped in superglue!
I’m sure it is possible to remove it with the right tools and enough time. But I’m not sure what those tools would be!
But to be really sure, I’ve been testing the Hexlox on the streets of Barcelona for the last couple of months. Bike seat theft is rife in Barcelona. And since I leave my bike in the street overnight, my seat has to be well protected.
If it’s not, I know from experience that it will be stolen within a couple of days!
What do I normally do? Well, obviously, I’ve replaced the quick release seat clamp with a regular hex bolt. But I also use an old bike chain that’s threaded through the seat rails and the space between the seat stay and the seat tube (see the photo above).
I’ve been protecting my seat like this for a couple of years and I know that it works.
To test the Hexlox, I got a brand new seat, got rid of the old bike chain and fitted two Hexlox. One on the the seat post. And one on the seat clamp. And then I continued to leave the bike locked in the same place, on the same street, night after night.
And while I’m sure the local thieves have had a good look at it, they haven’t managed to steal the Hexlox protected seat.
So it seems pretty clear to me that Hexlox offers enough protection to deter the casual thief. But what about a more calculating mind?
What’s to stop an enterprising thief buying a selection of their own Hexlox and using their keys to nick your components? Or even fashioning their own key?
Well, each set has three variables that make that particular key fit that particular nut. The first variable is the size of the hole into which the key fits. The second is the shape of the cone within the hole. And the third variable is one that the Hexlox team are keeping to themselves!
But all in all, this means that there is a huge variety of key/nut combinations, so the chances of anyone else’s key fitting your Hexlox are very slim indeed.
And the high precision machinery needed to manufacture these combinations means there’s no chance of anyone creating their own key.
Possible Complications with Hexlox?…
The problem with a security system that has to work with a huge variety of different components is that there can be situations where things might not work well together.
So let’s have a look at some potential issues…
What sizes do the Hexlox come in?
Hexlox nuts currently come in three sizes: 4 mm, 5 mm and 6 mm. And they've also now added 8 mm and 10 mm to this selection. This should cover all your needs!
My hex socket isn’t magnetic!
In order for the Hexlox nut to fit securely into the socket, the socket needs to be made from steel (so that it’s strongly magnetic).
Other materials such as Aluminium and Titanium are not magnetic enough to keep the bolt in place. And unfortunately, even some steel sockets might not be magnetic enough for it to work well.
If this is the case for you, Hexlox can supply a bolt with a thin magnetic insert that you fit into the socket before you add the Hexlox bolt.
How does this work with the quick release levers on my wheels and seat?
It doesn’t. You’ll need to replace them. This is slightly annoying. But no security system works with quick release levers. They are the worst possible invention in terms of bicycle security.
And you should be replacing them anyway!
You can either buy separate wheel skewers or seat bolts with hex sockets, or Hexlox also supply their own in a variety of sizes.
I have solid axle, nutted wheels!
If your bike has solid axle wheels which come with nuts rather than bolts, then obviously there’s no hex socket to fit the Hexlox into!
But fear not! In this case, Hexlox also produce the HexNut which is essentially a wheel nut that’s tightened and loosened with a hex socket. These can simply replace your existing wheel nuts.
I have other complicated components or requirements that are probably not compatible with Hexlox!
Check the website. The great thing about Hexlox is that the system is based around standard hex sockets. So it will work with anything that uses magnetic (steel) hex sockets.
But if you have components that don’t use hex sockets, the Hexlox team may provide alternative versions that do use them.
Hexlox Bike Component Locks Summary
After using them for a couple of months I’ve become a huge fan of the Hexlox. But are they the right choice for you? To help you decide, here’s 5 things I like about Hexlox and 2 things I’m not so keen on…
+ They’re retrofitting!
What do I mean by this? That if you’ve already got components with hex sockets, you don’t need to replace them; all you need is a Hexlox.
For example, seat post and saddle clamps, brakes, handlebars and pedals will often come with hex screws by default. So you don’t need to change anything.
+ They’re really flexible
Unlike other systems, if you only want to secure one component, you can just buy one Hexlox and one key.
If you decide later on you want to secure more components, you can order more Hexlox to match the key you already have.
And if you’ve you’ve got multiple bikes or you get a new bike, they’re super easy to swap over.
+ They’re lightweight and discreet
Each Hexlox weighs just 0.5 g and once installed, it’s barely noticeable. Other systems are significantly heavier and more intrusive.
+ They’re really easy to install and remove
Because they’re independent of the component they’re securing, there’s no complicated installation process.
And if you want to remove them to change your components, you don’t need to turn your bike on it’s side or upside down. You just slot the key in a pull it back out!
+ They’re pretty secure!
I’ve scoured the internet for ways they might be defeated. And tried each suggestion. But each one has failed so far. Of course, that’s not to say they’re undefeatable.
Every lock can be beaten. But unless someone comes up with a very simple method that Hexlox has overlooked, I think that they do more than enough to beat the vast majority of thieves.
– They won’t work with quick release levers
Many bikes come with quick release levers on the wheel skewers and seat post clamps. You’ll need to replace these with skewers and bolts that have hex sockets.
However, if you’re buying a new bike the shop will usually do this for free. And if you’ve already got a bike, you should be replacing the quick release levers anyway as they’re a security nightmare!
– They won’t work with the regular nuts on solid axle wheels
Again, there’s no hex sockets on regular nuts, so they can’t be secured. However don’t forget Hexlox supply their own HexNuts that are fastened with hex sockets.
So although this is slightly annoying and will involve an extra purchase, it’s not a deal breaker if you’ve got solid axle wheels but you want to secure your whole bike with Hexlox.
Wrapping Up the Hexlox Review
I said it at the top of the review. I’ll say it again here. I love the Hexlox system. They’re easy to fit, easy to remove, offer lots of flexibility, you can rely on them to protect your stuff and they’re reasonably priced.
What more do you want!?
I’ve been using them on my seat post and saddle for the past couple of months without any problems at all. I leave my bike in the street, in the same place, night after night and I’ve still got my saddle. So I don’t see myself going back to the old bike chain trick!
For sure, if you’ve got quick release levers on your bike, then you’re going to have to replace them before you can use the Hexlox. And it’s the same for the nuts on solid axle wheels.
But Hexlox can provide reasonably priced alternatives and you should get rid of those quick release levers anyway!
Of course, if you have doubts that the Hexlox system is the right one for you, then there are plenty of alternative ways to protect your wheels, seat and other components.
I have a pretty exhaustive guide on wheel and seat security with plenty of DIY methods as well as the more standard security systems.
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