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I have an old Motobecane with quick release skewers in both wheels (700mm wheels), that I only use for short commutes (so I don't use the quick release function if there is a flat; [also hadn't have a flat in years given the anti-puncture tires]).

I just had my front wheel stolen, while parked next to many other bikes with through axles without their front wheels secured, so now I'd like to make the front wheel exactly as hard (and as easy) and a through axle to remove (needing a wrench).

I don't want something that is harder to open (i.e., a pitlock) nor easier (Allen Key Skewer), I want something equal to the most commonly used old-school nutted axle. Can a through bolt axle of the same width be used? (What do we search to buy such? My searching has at most given me at most Allen Key Skewers, which are still easier to open than with a wrench)

Thank you

EDIT: So I should ask for a wheel intended for nuts of the same size (radius 700mm). How do I know the size of the axle?

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    There are skewers that replace QRs and that need a special, dedicated and unique nut to open. They are mainly meant as anti.theft devices but they might be what you're looking for. – Carel Oct 1 at 7:39
  • FYI 700c wheels are not 700mm diameter. '700c' is an old French wheel size code, now standardized as ETRTO 622 i.e., 622mm rim bead seat diameter – Argenti Apparatus Oct 1 at 14:53
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    FYI, Nutted axles aren't any harder to remove than Allen keyed skewers. Most thieves are opportunistic with no tools, and those that aren't, if one is bringing tools, rest assured they'll have both. – whatsisname Oct 1 at 21:55
  • Google lockable quick release skewers – Daniel R Hicks Oct 1 at 22:36
  • Another improvement is to have a normal axle nut but without the standard 6 flats. Both 5 and 7 flats would defeat most standard spanners or ring spanners. Though OP would need a suitable tool to carry on the bike, which may defeat the purpose if stored there. – Criggie Oct 2 at 1:41
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More generally, there are three main kinds of axle, old school nutted axles, QRs, and fancy new through axles.

The through axle is out of the question because it is designed to mate with threads on the frame, and your bike absolutely won't have anything suitable.

QRs are too easy to remove, which leaves you with nuts for your axles. Downside is that the QR axles will be too short to simply accept wheel nuts, so you would need to replace the whole axle on the wheel.

Slight upside, since your wheels were already stolen, make sure you get replacement wheels intended for nuts. This probably means the second-hand market. It would be ideal to get aluminium rims instead of steel rims, for better rim braking too, if you can. Also you'll need to either get the same size as the old wheels (622mm or 630mm) or you will have to move the brakes down.

Good luck with your shopping/searching !

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  • This. So I should ask for a wheel intended for nuts of the same size (radius 700mm) How do I know the size of the axle? – WurmD Oct 1 at 9:52
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    Its not 700mm sorry, a "700c" wheel is probably 622mm, but you also say "old motobecanne" which could be the 630mm wheel size too. – Criggie Oct 1 at 10:16
  • 700x28c is what I have written on the tire – WurmD Oct 1 at 10:59
  • @WurmD yeah 700c is a code but not a measurement in mm. Its probably 622mm or maybe 630mm. – Criggie Oct 1 at 12:00
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    I could have sworn all 700c wheels were the same diameter, otherwise there would be no way to know if the tyres you're getting actually fit. Note that the 700 in 700c is meant to represent the approximate outer diameter of the fully inflated tyre on the wheel. – Turksarama Oct 1 at 23:55
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There is a list of products here

https://www.cyclingabout.com/list-ways-theft-proof-wheels-secure-components-locking-security-skewers-seatpost-locks/

Loosely:

  • A set of skewer ends designed to make your wheels unremovable unless you turn your bike upside down, which would be hard without removing the bike
  • Various proprietary tools that mean your wheels are unremovable without the right tool
  • Slightly more deluxe versions with the manufacturer making dozens of different tools/keys so that there is no chance a thief will carry them around

In general you won't be able to replace your skewers with bolt thru axles unless the unlikely event you have fancy hubs that are designed to take a bolt on axle.

E.g. https://www.hopetech.com/products/hubs/accessories/axle-conversion-kit/

I suggest something like this

https://www.evanscycles.com/brand/mpart/road-allen-key-security-skewers-930614

Is a reasonably cost effective solution

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Can a through bolt axle of the same width be used? My searching has at most given me at most Allen Key Skewers, which are still easier to open than with a wrench

Relying on the hypothesis that a thief can have allen keys but not a 15 mm wrench to unscrew the bolt-on axle is rather weak. You should certainly expect a thief to have common tools with them, and to be very fast with using these tools. I am sure that in your incident, if the thief had less exposure, all the bicycles on the same rack would have lost their unsecured wheels.

There is no easy way to replace a QR-axle with a bolt-on axle (nor with through axle). The latter one (ø9–10 mm) cannot be squeezed into the hollow QR-hub hole (~ ø5 mm); you'll need a different wheel hub that has a solid axle. Then, the dropouts of the fork and frame, if they are designed for QRs, may be a bit too narrow to fit bolt-on axles. They can be filed to be wider of course, but that is irreversible.

That said, I do happen to have a "bolt-on" rear axle replacing the QR. It is threaded all along its length, and uses two large nuts with matching threaded holes to secure it. I use it not for security but because I need a wider rear axle. It is fully custom however and very hard to obtain for two reasons:

  1. The rod itself must be of a hardened steel, which is typically not available in hardware stores in form or threaded rods with required diameter.
  2. The nuts must have wrench flats for larger wrench (15 or 17 mm) but have a tiny threaded hole (5 mm), which is also not something usual.

I don't want something that is harder to open (i.e., a pitlock)

Sorry, but you are contradicting yourself. You do want something that is harder for the thief to open; otherwise why bother? There are many "secure QR"-designs on the market, from those with custom heads, to gravity-based ones (can only be opened when a bicycle is upside down). Another alternative is to actually lock the second wheel with a secondary lock to the frame in addition to the primary lock that secures the frame and the remaining wheel to a stationary object.

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  • I editted my question: added "nor easier (Allen Key Skewer), I want something equal to the most commonly used thru axle" – WurmD Oct 1 at 9:44
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If you are absolutely convinced that nutted axle is what you need, it is possible with some but not all QR hubs. The first step is to find the exploded view diagram of the hub or disassemble it if you already have it, and see if the axle is just a straight threaded rod. If it is, and you can find a bicycle axle with the exact same thread and 3-4 cm extra length and matching track nuts, you're all set. Just any threaded rod will not work, because even if the diameter is right, the thread is probably too coarse and heat treatment not right.

Now that you have both the hub and the replacement axle, you simply disassemble the hub by unthreading everything on the axle, and rebuild it with new axle.

Edit: Of course, there are conversion kits for some but not all hubs with non-standard axles.

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Another option that is commonly employed to consider is to continue to use regular quick release skewers, but to lock the skewer handle to the frame and fork using hose clamps.

This is a common countermeasure in high theft areas. It's not bulletproof, but since hose clamps are only around a dollar each, it has an unmatched bang for the buck value.

You can file the edges of the screwdriver slot to require a nut driver or wrench instead of a screwdriver. Any thief capable of undoing these will be capable of removing nutted axles just as easily.

Hose Clamps

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