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The Kryptonite WheelBoltz are a set of locking skewers with a difference. Part of the Gravity range, they use a pin system that, when correctly set up, will not permit removal unless the bike is turned upside down. Like any security, it's not foolproof, and stirs conflicting emotions in me.
There are two versions. Ours is designed for hollow axles, but there are also 'nutz' 9 and 10mm track nut versions for the fixed and hub gear fraternity. Both are made from heat treated steel and come with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. Being a strictly secondary form of defence, this does not cover theft.
Most forks/frame ends are catered for with 130/150mm skewers; I've had no difficulty swapping them between my road and derailleur geared dirt-biased fleet. Staying with fitting, the instructions are pretty clear, although the miracle of YouTube makes this all the more obvious.
Nipping them snug with the generic 5mm hex key, I was pleasantly surprised to find Kryptonite hadn't skimped on the grease, so in the everyday sense, corrosion shouldn't be an issue, but I'd still whip 'em out and grease the skewers every six months or so, especially on a daily driver.
Now, many will be a little perturbed by the 5mm key. Personally, I prefer the unique key-specific mechanisms used by others, including Atomic 22, since chancers often carry a set of Allen keys and pliers for brute-force pilfering.
On the flip side, these can be an absolute pain, should you forget or lose them, and then puncture several miles from home. At least with the 5mm and a few practice drills from the comfort of home, you can lessen the nightmarish scenario.
So long as you have locked the bike to an immovable object and it cannot be turned upside down, I've been quite confident about leaving the front wheel otherwise unsecured around town, say when running a few errands, or meeting friends. Similarly, they've been welcome on longer group rides when you've stopped off at the cafe for a fuel up and only wanted the encumbrance of one lock.
Trying to prise the resin cone adrift with pliers left some minor calling cards but nothing parted company.
On many levels, they meet their design brief in the sense that they provide additional defence against opportunist theft. Though relatively pricey, they are aesthetically pleasing and relatively light. They could work out very cheaply in the longer term when the cost of replacement wheels are factored into the equation.
Twelve years spent living and commuting around London's seedier districts taught me that locks are only to keep honest people out. However, good locks used properly are the best visual deterrent. If you can persuade a thief in a glance to look for easier pickings, they've done their job. The danger is when a thief starts weighing things up.
My preferred choice, Atomic 22, aren't that much more expensive, and the only security skewers I would feel comfortable forgoing a front lock with in big cities. I'm talking for short periods and in well trafficked parts – not backstreets or slum neighbourhoods where, unable to defeat the lock, I've known thieves wreck a bike out of sheer frustration.
Useful security that should foil opportnist wheel theft, but using a 5mm hex key is less secure than some systems
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kryptonite WheelBoltz
Size tested: 130mm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Kryptonite says: "*Gravity Line WheelBoltz harnesses the power of gravity to prevent the removal of wheels."
My feelings: "Useful secondary deterrent and really useful for short stops. That said, like all locking systems, it requires intelligent use."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
When the bike is upright, the WheelBoltz are locked and can only be unlocked with the bike turned upside down.
*Easy to install. No special keys required. (5mm hex wrench included)
* Industry standard axle fitment lengths of 130mm (front) / 150mm (back)
*Lightweight - only 120gms per set
Set up properly, seems fairly effective and easy to use relative to their design brief. No obvious weaknesses using pliers and other brute force techniques. However, the system is reliant on the bike being properly locked to an immovable object.
In many respects, the Wheelboltz will recoup their outlay many times over, when used as a secondary system and given the price of wheels. However, though convenient, I am inclined towards a more obvious lock that may persuade an opportunist to walk on by, rather than "have a go".
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, they're easy to install, unobtrusive and add some additional security. However, for me, the generic 5mm key is a mixed blessing, and in many cases, all good security buys you is time. Time for a potential thief to get frustrated, or get caught.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lightweight and relatively user-friendly.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Less convenient compared with some systems using unique keys.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? For short stops and when they didn't want the encumbrence of a second lock.
Use this box to explain your score
Convenient fit 'n' forget security ideal for those occasions where you don't want to be carrying a second lock. However, vulnerable to a savvy thief carrying a set of Allen keys.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)