Hexlox Review: Miniature Crime Fighters
Do you bikepack on the bike you ride every day? Or perhaps you worry about parts when you leave your steed locked up on tour? We try out the Hexlox system, designed to secure saddles, wheels, handlebars, and even thru axle wheels against theft…
If you’re like me and your bikepacking bike is also your everyday bike, securing valuable parts like your wheels and your saddle is especially important, lest opportunists wander off with prized components. In the past, I’ve used all kinds of quick release wheel locks – Kryptonite and Pinhead, for example – but now that I’m running thru axles, I’ve had to hunt down a different solution, or use bulky and less effective additional cables.
Enter Hexlox, a German company headed by a Swede and an Austrian, and their miniature crime-fighting products. Similar to the way that I used to place a greased or glued ball bearing in the seat clamp of my city bike, to thwart would-be bike thieves from stealing my saddle and seat post, the Hexlox is a tiny, cone-shaped magnetic insert that nests in your hex (Allen key) bolt. Unlike the ball bearings of old, it’s fitted and removed with a key. Once in place, its magnetic properties ensure it’s held securely, foiling all but the most concerted efforts to gain purchase in the socket. Removing it is just as easy; all it takes is a twist and a pull with the key. Watch this short video to see how it all works.
You can buy the Hexlock system as a complete system (£62) or individually (£10 each), in a variety of sizes to suit your bike. The complete kit includes a key and a set of tiny magnetic insert of different sizes, catering to the majority of easily removed parts on your bike, right down to the bolts on your stem. Each key comes with a unique identifier, in case you need to order an additional one. Usefully, this number is also stored by the company at the time of your order, should you forget where you’ve jotted it down.
It is, however, important that the bolt socket itself is made from steel. This means you’ll need to replace your titanium or aluminium ones, and note that stainless steel bolts won’t work either. If your bolt is non-magnetic, you can swap it out for one of Hexlox’s high tensile 10.9 steel bolts, available in a variety of lengths and widths. For a bolt where the head is exposed (and can possibly be gripped with pliers), there are dome-shaped versions available. Either way, Hexlox has everything you need on their site. Decipher it all here.
For bikepackers running quick release wheels, Hexlox offer replacement skewers for a very reasonable £9 each. The replacement thru axle is considerably more expensive at £52, as it includes a hardened steel head, which the company claims has been torque-tested and is suitable for all uses. Don’t forget that you’ll also need the inserts themselves – either a single (£20) if your intention is just to secure the front wheel, a wheelset kit (£31) for both, or the complete set for all the bits and pieces on your bike, as mentioned above (£62). Buying the complete set also means that a single key will work for all your bolts.
As for the thru axle themselves, there are various options to suit the model in question (be it 12 or 15mm) and thread sizes; see here for available offerings and here for how the TA system is installed. Be sure to read the fine print and make sure you get the right one, and note that a different system is required for Trek and Q-Loc. Those who are riding fat bikes that have axles wider than 205mm aren’t in luck right now… but there’s something in the works.
Given that my main concern is the front wheel when I lock up my bike (my D-lock runs through the rear), I tried the front 15mm universal TA, which replaces axle widths ranging from 120-160mm. With its need to be compatible with a host of sizes, initial installation can be a bit complicated, requiring both the correct thread pitch for your fork and an adjustment of the axle length to suit your hub spacing, before backing it off to lock it in place. I’d advise watching the video at least twice! Note that if you need to reset the axle (to a different length, for instance) there’s a separate video to guide you through these non-intuitive steps, which can be found here. This part wasn’t quite clear to me initially, so I almost forced it. Also, if you’re running a fat front with a 150mm hub, the axle will likely not be wide enough, as was the case with my Jones SWB. Its 160mm outer limit is the axle length, which means a 150mm hub will likely be too wide. A Boost fork, on the other hand, will be fine.
But what’s to stop someone coming along with a very big magnet, a set of needle-nose pliers to dislodge the insert, or another Hexlox key? Firstly, the inserts nest and are magnetised in such a way that they can’t be removed by a standard magnet. Secondly, Hexlox claim that the design has been thoroughly tested against attacks by screwdrivers, needle nose pliers, hammers, liquid ice, hacksaws, and even medical tweezers and toothpicks! As for removing it with another key, there are three variables that make it unique to the individual user: the size of the hole that the key fits into, the shape of the cone, and the third is apparently Hexlox secret.
Without actually leaving my bike out for days on end in a high crime area, it’s hard to be 100% sure what the Hexlox are really capable of withstanding. But after digging around online and seeking advice from big city commuting groups, the overall feedback is extremely positive. Ultimately, the main aim of a deterrent like this is to make your bike as time-consuming and complicated to steal as possible, encouraging the thief to move on to a more straightforward victim. In this, the Hexlox is definitely successful. Sorry, neighbouring bike!
Downsides? You’ll need to remember to have your key with you at all times. There’s only one in each pack, but a second can be ordered for £10. When you remove your wheel – to change a flat or pack your bike for transportation – make extra sure you don’t drop anything, as the inserts are tiny and easily lost. In terms of concerted attacks, the only issue I can really see is if the conical magnet itself, or the socket that it sits in, is damaged to the point that the insert is tricky to remove.
Apart from that, this really does seem like a very well thought through security system for both general components and thru axle users. It’s a bit pricey for the latter, as you’ll need to replace your thru axle as well as buying the inserts themselves. Ideally, we wouldn’t need to go to such lengths and expense to protect our bicycles. But given that we do, I’d consider the Hexlox a worthy investment, especially as it’s modular, so you buy the bits you need. And, it’s adaptable from bike to bike.
- Place of Manufacture Germany
- Price £52 for TA + £20 for single Hexlox and key (free worldwide delivery above £30)
- Manufacturer’s Details Hexlox
- Weighs almost nothing
- Thwarts opportunists and more concerted attacks alike
- Vast array of options to suit QRs, different thru axles, solid axles, seats, handlebars, and more
- Particular useful if you have a dropper post or carbon post on a bike you might leave in town
- The basic system is good value for what it is, especially if you have QR wheels
- Only 1 key provided (a second can be ordered)
- Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security; be sure to find a suitable spot to leave your bike
- The TA system is more expensive (but cheaper than new wheels!)
- Incompatible with 150mm front and 197mm rear fat bikes hubs
Do you have a nice set of wheels, a Brooks saddle, a Thomson stem, or a dropper seatpost? Although not designed with bikepackers in mind, the magnetic Hexlox is a clever evolution of the ball and bearing trick, serving to ensure the valuable parts on your bike remain attached when you leave it unattended. For thru axle users, it’s probably the only option of securing your wheels, bar a bulky and less effective cable. The Hexlox system adds almost no weight to the bike or what you carry, it’s quick and easy to install, and it works on almost every bike.
Of course, you’re never going to leave your prized bikepacking rig locked up for more than a moment in a big city, especially if it’s loaded up with gear. But if you use your bike for everyday riding as well, then this system comes into its own. Price-wise, the thru axle version isn’t cheap, but it’s also eminently more affordable than losing a wheel, which makes it well worth the investment. Just take extra care not to misplace the tiny magnetic insert when removing your wheel during transportation, and hang onto that key.
Although the Hexlox may not resist prolonged attacks (what does?), it will certainly foil opportunists. I’d still recommend exercising extreme care and diligence in where you choose to leave your bike, and for how long you do so. But within reason, these nifty little crime-fighting devices should give you the confidence that when you go back to it, your beloved bicycle will still be complete.