A few weeks ago, Perry from Velo Orange sent us a courtesy (read: “free”) pair of their new anti-theft skewers to test out.
We’ve discussed wheel security strategies in the past, and some of the drawbacks of existing “non-QR” skewers have been addressed by Velo Orange in their design. Read on!
Many of you have noticed that most new bikes (even ones billed as “urban” or “commuter friendly”) come with wheels that have traditional quick-release skewers installed. Obviously, this creates additional security headaches…without a good locking strategy, those wheels are quite easy to steal and could certainly use more protection.
Enter the non-QR skewer — replacing the cam lever with a fixed head that accepts a 5 mm hex key. While not foolproof, these non-QR skewers surely deter casual wheel thieves, but many savvy criminals now carry hex keys to swipe wheels and components off poorly-secured bikes.
Those non-QR skewers weren’t good enough for Velo Orange, so they set out to create an inexpensive alternative to Pitlock/Hublox-style skewers by using a standard “security fitting” on the head of the skewer. The Velo Orange skewer’s hex fitting has a raised “pin” in the center, defeating standard hex keys by requiring a special key with a centrally-drilled hole. Here’s a look at the VO skewer head:
And corresponding 5 mm “security” hex key:
The VO skewers are made of chromed steel for the skewer itself and anodized aluminum for the clamping ends. Most non-QR skewers on the market have serrated faces on the aluminum ends, and I’ve experienced quite a bit of slippage over the years using such skewers on horizontal dropouts. VO did their homework on these skewers, as there is a serrated STEEL face pressed onto each aluminum end. It’s an extra touch that means these things will not slip once tightened down. Here’s a look at the nonslip face:
As a test platform, and in keeping with the spirit of the Velo Orange company (lovers of all things French), I installed the skewers on my 1971 French “Astra” citybike…well, not quite. Currently, VO offers the skewers in a length to handle a standard 100 mm front hub and 135 mm rear hub spacing. My Astra has a 126 mm hub with a short axle, so I couldn’t use the VO skewer on the rear. Velo Orange indicates that other sizes will be available soon. For now, the rear skewer went onto my Xtracycle (which had a QR skewer with the lever pipe-clamped to the subframe of the Xtra).
The test platform:
As for testing these skewers, I can say this: once they are clamped down, those serrated faces do the trick. The wheel will NOT slip within the dropouts. I’m loathe to test the anti-theft nature of these skewers by parking my bike in a high-crime area, but I’m confident that these skewers will convince all but the most dedicated scofflaw to move on to easier targets.
I only have one negative to include about the VO skewers…only one special hex key is included in the package, and replacement keys are not yet available from VO. So, for now, don’t lose the key!!!
Currently, the Velo Orange anti-theft skewers are on sale for $12.00. They’re worth twice that in peace of mind.
We’ve got some other Velo Orange products in the review pipeline, so stay tuned in the next few weeks for more.
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