I don't ride particularly fancy bikes, but I do ride in New York City, so I'm interested in securing the components on my bikes without using a ton of locks. Most security bolts products cost a bunch of money, though.

Anyone know of affordable sources for security button-head or socket-head M5 and M6 bolts, or M10x1mm nuts, especially in stainless steel? McMaster-Carr only has them in English thread.

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    You know what's more expensive than a few good security bolts? Buying a new set of wheels. Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 21:46
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    For any higher torque applications, button head and flat head cap screws will tend to strip out before reaching specified torque. Socket head cap screws have deeper sockets and better resist stripping. This is important on stem and handlebar fixing hardware as well as on seatpost binder bolts.
    – WTHarper
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 23:23
  • Right now I use two mini U-locks, one on each wheel, but I'd prefer to bring that down to one if I can get the right setup. Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 21:23
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    This answers to this question are becoming a list. Voting to close as too broad.
    – jimchristie
    Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 14:06

5 Answers 5


If you can find some ball bearings that just fit into the allen key sockets, then you lube them up with thick grease, it's quite difficult to remove them. Use a magnet to get them out. Although I imagine a good bike thief would carry a magnet because this trick is quite common. You can also replace your quick release skewers with allen key skewers. They wouldn't be the most secure solution, but they would work better than quick release skewers.

If you use nutted wheels, you can pick up some security nuts for a lot cheaper than you can buy security skewers. Check you local professional tool supply store and you can probably buy them by the piece for a couple bucks each.

They also sell security skewers which are cheaper than pitlock. The disadvantage over pitlock is that they all use the same specialized tool to remove whereas pitlock has 256 differently shaped pits available. So they would be safer than quick release, allen key or hex nut, but less so that pitlock. And almost definitely safer than the bike next to yours.

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    I've spent countless hours shopping for Torx, security Torx, security hex, spanner head, ... you name it. Unfortunately, there just isn't much of a market for stainless metric security hardware! I use ball bearings and beeswax. I use the narrow screwdriver bit on my Leatherman to pop them out when needed, and a lighter to set them back in.
    – WTHarper
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 23:17
  • Pitlock makes very nice (but expensive) security products. Velo Orange, Pin Head, and On Guard make more affordable security skewers as well.
    – WTHarper
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 23:19
  • If you can pop a bearing out with your leatherman, what's to stop the thief from popping it out with his leatherman? Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 0:00
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    @hillsons - The bike next to his..... All you can do is make you bike harder and less worth while to steal (and steal bits from) then the next one in the rack. As for using Torx, security torx etc - a couple of bucks will buy anyone a box with 100 different bits. The only advantage these have is the time taken choosing the correct fitting - back to my first point. If the guy really wants Your bike, it's his - If he only wants A bike, you have a chance.
    – mattnz
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 1:03
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    @WTHarper - if Wax is not enough, you can always use solder and make it even harder......
    – mattnz
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 1:07

I just did a little more digging myself, and found a promising source for bike-sized stainless security Torx bolts: http://www.bicyclebolts.com/collections/bicycle_bolts

I figure putting a security bolt on one side of each of my racks, in the binder bolt and seat bolt, and in the headset bolt would be pretty good deterrence while still making the bike easy enough to adjust. Security Torx aren't the hardest driver bits for a thief to get their hands on, but a bike thief isn't that likely to carry them around, and my parts aren't fancy enough to be worth a trip to Home Depot.

I've also found what looks to be a very small British manufacturer of security axle nuts: http://www.seclock.co.uk/Seclock/Bicycle_Nuts_1.html

They don't look easy to get a grip on with vice grips, and if the tool needs to be ordered from abroad, it's probably not going to be common on the street.

In researching the Pinhead skewers, they are apparently relatively simple to defeat with a "Gator Grip" tool, and this is supposedly known to thieves at least in the SF area. I have seen it claimed that newer ones come with a security washer as a countermeasure to this attack.

  • Nice find on those Torx screws!
    – WTHarper
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 19:48
  • If you have a lock and pinhead on the wheels, then the thief then needs a lock cutter and a gator grip - so they still provide some benefit. On my bike the headset and saddle post pinhead are slightly recessed, the saddle post recess has a notch which would make it more awkward to use the gator grip on, even if aligned perfectly on axis.
    – Chris H
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 9:55

Assess the risk for the single parts, and start with the most risky ones:


Pitlock skewers work very well and will outlive a couple of bicycles. In comparison to wheels interesting enough for a bike parts thieve, they are cheap. There are cheaper replacement skewers which are not as safe (basically variations of allen key bolts).


The second most stolen part seems to be saddle and seat post. You can attach the saddle rail(s) to the frame using a piece of an old chain, without a chain lock of course. Nicer looking options include, of course, Pitlock (a seat post clamp bold and a cover for the seat clamping bolt). Alternatively use a separate lock cable through the seat rails.

Stem and handlebars

Now it gets harder. An ahead stem can be fixed using a Pitlock insert. Still, the stem/handlebars connection is there, too. Maybe the bearing ball option mentioned in another answer is the way to go here, and even for the bolts of the precious shifting and brake levers.


This is hard. A lot of simple bolts, and potentially valuable parts. I would instead use cheap derailleurs (with good cables and proper assembly they will work very well). A cheap crank set upgraded with good quality chainrings when the first set is worn out does not look attractive for thieves either.


The cheapest option, and working very well: Don't let the bike look good. Stickers, tape, dirt, rust, weird colors all have their place. Be creative! In Germany we call it Boruttisieren (translated by Google), after the guy who brought the concept to perfection.


As long as there is are enough more attractive victims nearby, your bike is pretty safe. Take that into account when leaving the bike somewhere. If it still is attractive to a thieve, it will help if you don't leave your bike in a predictable manner, e.g. not at the same place during work time monday to friday etc. That makes it pointless for the thieve to prepare (e.g. by taking a magnet).

  • Camouflage can be good. You don't have to go completely ugly. Even having a black paintjob would probably help. The shiny red one next to it would catch the thief's eye more. Also, consider personalization. Bright green bar tape, bright blue rims, colored tires, Anything that will make you bike easily identifiable. If you bike gets stolen, send a message round to all the shops. If you bike has something that no other bike has (specific dings and dents) it will be much easier to track down. Even if you don't catch the thief, you may be able to get it back form the guy he sold it to.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 14:37
  • At least from Germany I also know of a registration service, which includes engraving a unique ID in the frame (probably not carbon though...). Maybe you could engrave your social security number or such on the frame. The side of the seat tube upper end is a good place. Just make sure that there is an obvious warning/explanation for thieves there, too.
    – bhell
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 15:06
  • They put those little RFID tags into dogs and cats. I wonder why the same can't be done for bikes. Put it in the downtube before assembly to make it hard to remove, or even embed it in the frame during manufacturing. The bike could then be registered when it was bought, and there could be a way of transferring the registration. If they could get all the bike shops involved in verifying ownership before servicing a bike it could go a long way. Sure you could steal a bike, and then do all the servicing yourself, but this would probably greatly reduce likelihood of theft.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 15:49
  • Hah! The last part works two ways as well: Not only does it mean a more attractive target exists right next to yours, but perhaps its owner took more care to park it in a place where it's not as likely to be stolen, either. In which case, you're benefiting from someone else's research. :)
    – Ernie
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 20:06
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    @Billy : Sums up all the arguments brilliantly - 'Shiny' - you get it stolen, 'Identifiable' - you get it it back, 'Ugly'- you don't loose it.....
    – mattnz
    Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 20:26

A wide range of security bolts and nuts, together with technical information and videos are displayed on this site: www.securityfasteners.net. You mentioned socket button screws in your post - the site has information on the security pinned versions as well as other security screws. Hopefully you'll find it useful for making a decision.


Sphyke.com has a system where you can use any normal cap screw that you like (up to M9).

Then a Stainless steel/ Alloy 'security cover' is placed over the head so it cant be accessed.

Only with your personalized combination lock code can this security cover be removed.

They also have the M10x1 nut version you ask about using the same system.

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