Gear: Xena XX6 disc lock alarm

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This fist-sized lump of yellow metal is possibly the most convenient, best value and effective motorcycle security device available today. With one quick snap of a locking cylinder, the Xena XX6 physically immobilizes your bike and uses a motion sensor to sound a piercing, 120dB alarm should anyone monkey with it. That prevents and deters theft, all without hacking into a wiring harness, creating a battery drain or breaking the bank; all that costs just $65.

Disc locks themselves are something of an odd security device. We live in a world where law enforcement isn’t actually any good at catching or deterring thieves, but is remarkably efficient the second you park on a sidewalk so that you can lock your bike to an immovable object to prevent it being stolen. Even though most motorcycle thefts involve the bike being lifted into a van, truck or similar vehicle rather than ridden away, that still creates a need for a product that can provide some physical security when you’re parked away from home.

Because any thief capable of packing the powertools necessary to remove a lock quickly is likely also capable of bringing a van, I’ve never really looked at disc locks as needing to provide much in the way of actual security. To me, they’re more effective as a deterrent, adding a visible layer to your overall security system that hopefully sends prying eyes on to an easier target. You can never make a bike 100 percent impervious to theft, but you can make it a less appealing target than the bike parked next to you.

Used like that, the addition of the motion sensor alarm is a master stroke. Elevating a minimal layer of security into something much, much more effective. It’s also why I opted to buy this cheapest of Xena’s new XX-range of disc lock alarms; it provides the same deterrent and alarm as more expensive models in a more compact, more portable, but less hard to remove package. The money required to get a stronger disc lock would be better spent adding another layer of security in the form of a chain, ground anchor, cover, etc.

XX6 = 6mm locking pin. As you can see, that’s still reasonably beefy and incredibly hard to access. A thief is going to have to try and cut that while a 120dB alarm blares in their ear.

All I’m looking for is the presence of a good lock and the effectiveness of that alarm (plus the ability to cart it around), so the fact that the XX6 only has a 6mm locking pin, as opposed to the 10 and 14mm items of the more expensive locks in the range is, in my opinion and in my use case, of little importance. You’re still going to need real powertools to get the thing off a wheel, the lock cylinder, for instance, spins in the lock body, making it drill resistant, the body is seriously chunky, the pin is a strong steel alloy, the lock is pick-resistant and ice-spray proof.

The XX6 is also remarkably perfect for my own unique security needs. Riding multiple press bikes in a given week or day and living in Los Angeles, I often need to park away from home with a bike not fitted with an aftermarket alarm. Press bikes come stock, which means, at best, there’s an utterly-worthless electronic immobilizer pegged to a chip key and a steering lock. Neither is going to prevent someone from stealing a motorcycle. But, with the addition of the Xena, I can add that alarm and immobilize a wheel.

The XX6 will fit over pretty much any brake disc. Chain bikes to the one with the alarm, and they’re all protected; the motion sensor is sensitive enough to detect any real movements or anyone touching it, without going off every time the wind blows. That allows us to have an alarm along on road trips. No more trying to sneak bikes into a dodgy motel room in the Utah desert, 120db is more than enough to wake us up on the other side of that hollow wood door. Heck, I can hear it inside my house, three room and two doors away from where I keep my bikes.

I first discovered Xena disc lock alarms 10 or so years ago. In fact, one alerted neighbors in London that one of my bikes was being stolen while I was away, allowing them to dash out and run off the would-be thieves.

That first-gen product was fairly effective, if a little low-tech. The stack of six button cell batteries ran out of juice quickly and was a real bitch to replace. Those batteries were hard to come by too. The lock lasted up till the first battery replacement after six weeks or so of use, then inexplicably refused to ever arm itself again.

The XX6 is several generations removed from that, however. It uses a widely-available CR2 Lithium battery that’s easy to install and lasts a claimed six months of daily use. An area of concern on that first gen product is also gone. Xena used to mount access to its alarm on the external side of the lock in a plastic body (the lock itself was still metal), something which didn’t exactly instill confidence in its longevity or ability to resist theft. Now, every part is metal and access to the alarm mechanism is through the side of the lock that sits inside your wheel. Attacking the alarm module would be relatively pointless, it’d still take minutes, the alarm sounding the whole while.

The alarm module is housed in the large, main lock body, but accessed through this metal panel on the base that can only be removed using a special tool when the lock is open.

It also adds an important layer of security at home. Thick chains locked to immovable objects provide great security, but I still want to know if someone’s messing with them. The Xena does that just as effectively as an on-bike alarm for way less money and, again, without hacking into the wiring loom or draining the battery. I put it on the wheel without a chain through it, making the bike that much harder to steal.

One area where the XX6 is less than convenient is in portability. Since most bikes don’t have underseat storage areas anymore and because it’s a terrible idea to carry a fist-sized metal object on your body (think broken bones and pulverized organs if it concentrates crash forces), you’re left needing to throw it in a tail pack or backpack. You can’t simply lock it around the straps on pillion seats, as that arms the alarm.

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The arming mechanism works by bouncing a beam of light inside the main lock body off a reflector on the other side of the gap when you close the lock. If that beam doesn’t make it back because there’s a brake disc or whatever in the way, the lock beeps to confirm arming after five seconds, then arms itself after 10. After that, any motion will trigger it and it’ll go off for a good period of time before checking to see if it’s still being moved. The only way to disarm it is to open the lock with the key.

Available on Amazon and other websites for around $65, there’s really no reason not to buy and then use the XX6 every time you park your bike. That’s cheap insurance against theft and a nice reassurance that you’ll be alerted should anyone try and steal your bike. I sleep better at night knowing my motorcycles are safe.

You can read more about motorcycle security here.

  • Coreyvwc

    I’ve been using this for a few years now and it works great. Just don’t ever start your bike with the lock still engaged because it will go off almost immediately from the vibes, and it’s quite painful to unlock while it’s beeping…

    • Gene

      Yeah, but that’s a HELL of a lot better than dumping your bike because you tried to drive away with your lock still on.

      Seen it happen to 3 people :-(

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Done it myself. And, to go with the shame and the scratched fairings, it bent the disc and I had to replace that too.

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

          I damn near put a hole in my Akrapovic fender. I’m too absent minded to remember to remove it, so I stopped using it.lol

          • http://www.xenophya.com Xenophya

            I had a bungee cord that I fastened between the disc lock and the handlebar. A bit of a visual prompt for when you’re about to set off and the lock’s still there!

            • http://mansgottado.tumblr.com/ Andy Gregory

              The bright orange stretchy cord thing (technical term) that came with my Kryptonite reaches my brake lever, reminding me and serving as an extra visual cue for thieves to look elsewhere. This Xena Warrior Princess lock will likely be my next one though.

            • Core

              That’s a good idea!

        • Greg

          Same deal here… I’ve stopped using them due to my own absentmindedness.

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    I got the XX10 for my bike and did a short video review for the Brammo Owners forum:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kvcs92sOcPs

    It’s an excellent lock.

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

      Its seriously, really, ear-piercing loud.

    • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

      It also fits nicely under the seat, but you have to have your charging cord coiled up with a Xena-sized opening in the middle of it.

  • Holden and Annette

    It’s good security if you’re not an idiot, like the one I know (OK, I’m talking about myself) who twice has parked his bike in the parking lot all day at work with the keys dangling from the ignition or top box lock.

    • Gene

      This is a lot better than my stupid Scorpio alarm too.

    • Edward

      I don’t know what it is about bikes, I can’t seem to understand that when I stop, turn off the engine and walk away, I shouldn’t also leave the keys in the ignition. Maybe that should be part of the motorbike learning curve too, body position and basic comprehension of the relationship between keys and vehicle security.

    • Frosty_spl

      The one thing I like about Harleys is the keyfob.

      • Sean Smith

        Ducatis are going that way too.

    • Chuck

      Practically every time I unlock the seat on my 85 gsxr, I leave the keys in the lock. More then once, I have gotten up in the middle of work and rushed downstairs to retrieve them. Thankfully, I usually keep my bike covered so no one has nabbed it yet.

    • aristurtle

      I’ve done that before at work, too.

      Of course, my work parking lot is the most secure damn parking lot I’ve ever seen, with a ton of cameras and patrolling guards and so forth so the only real problem is that I got out of work to find the battery dead.

      If I had ever left the keys in when the bike was in my driveway, though, I’m pretty sure I would no longer have that bike.

  • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

    My old Xena used to go off randomly quite often. Drove me and the neighbors nuts. Any issues with false alarms on the XX6?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Not in 2 months or so of use.

      • mathew

        I got false alarms all the time with mine. I also started alarming about 2 minute after I would put it on the rotor, every time. Tried new batteries. Tried different locations on the rotor. It even would alarm inside my tank bag while I was riding.

    • rvfrules

      My old Xena did that as well, and the alarm would also sound when I was trying to unlock it. Does the XX6′s alarm go off when you unlock it?

  • smoke4ndmears

    ZTL2???

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      You can always put it on the back brake if it doesn’t fit the front.

  • Kahlil

    Just wondering.

    Could a thief effectively muffle the sound with a few towels or drenching the unit with water?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Water won’t work. Wrapping it in towels or whatever will work, but it’d take a little while to get it effectively wrapped, with the alarm sounding clearly while you did it. Getting the towel or rag through the brake disc and around the back of the lock would take a while and it’d take a fairly thick wrapping to achieve effective sound deadening.

      Go back to the idea that nothing is 100 percent theft proof and that you need to use layers of security to achieve effective results. Why are you parked somewhere that a thief, unobserved, can sit through 60 seconds of wrapping with a 120db alarm going off, then use power tools to remove the lock, then roll it away, unobserved? And wouldn’t a thief that prepared simply bring a van and throw the bike in it giving him far less than 60 seconds of exposure?

      • Kahlil

        I appreciate the reply. It was just a comment voiced by a coworker at work, so I was curious as to see how effective a thief would be if he was to do the same thing.

        Every once in a while, Garage Parking in the Med Center here in Houston is closed due to maintenance or demolition of other buildings. You would think security in a med center would be better than most places, but for a few months, there was a good number of motorcycles being stolen from outdoor motorcycle designated parking areas. I would really like to use the chain and lock combo with the xena, but it seems the security chain you guys did an article on a few months back, is not available in the US

  • Chuck

    Would this be too sensitive to us on the streets of NYC? I park in Manhattan a lot and people are always walking past my bike, plus there is the rumble from the way to large delivery trucks blasting down the street.

    Would I annoy everyone on the block if I used it?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Should be fine. If you live above a subway or on a major truck route you might have some issues, but it doesn’t seem bothered by stuff like cars passing or the wind blowing.

  • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    How long does the battery last assuming the thing isn’t going off frequently?

  • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

    About the storage, the easiest way is to use a little bag attached to the handlebars or frame. They used to give one with the lock (XN series if memory serves).

  • Penguin

    I’m a big fan of disk locks as purely aesthetic security, it’s not going to stop anyone picking it up but it shows that you give a fuck about security, it’s like the saying about 2 guys running from a bear, you’ve only got to be faster than the guy next to you. I have the cheapest lock I could get with bungee cord wrapping it around the brake lever (because I’m forgetful at the best of times).

    The biggest problem I find is that no one cares about alarms anymore. Ask yourself, if you hear an alarm going off is your first thought “Oh no, someone is stealing my neighbors car” or “Who’s the idiot who’s alarm keeps going off, shut up!”

    One of the mechanics’ here had is R1 break down on a BP petrol station car park (ironically because the immobiliser was acting up), he walked back to the workshop and asked if someone could go and pick it up in the van, off they trotted (without the keys) and got to station reversed the van up to the bike and then lifted it into the van, because they didn’t have the keys the alarm was blaring the whole time, no one even batted an eyelid, no one did a thing.

    • Gene

      I remember pushing my GS1100L through a mall parking lot, and having a sheriffs’ cruiser go on past without even a question or a “can I help you?”. I didn’t have a helmet or anything (at the time, FL had a helmet law) This was back in the ’80s and the cops give even less of a shit now.

      Edit: and do immobilisers *ever* work?? Old Honda V-4 Sabres/Magnas had an immobilizer hooked to an extensible security rope. A bunch of us had these bikes and we all had to rewire them because the immobilisers would fire off while we were riding down the road.

      I also remember Jeremy Clarkson complaining about the immobilizer on his $140k Ford GT failing a dozen times the first 6 months he had it.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    I could see a potential thief start to move the bike, the alarm sounds, so he just shoves the bike over and bolts. Though, having some cosmetic damage is far better than having a bike stolen.

  • DAVID

    Here’s an idea for a good story: if you read the British bike mags, it seems no amount of security is enough over there. they pry open your garage door and cut your chains with a plasma cutter. Alarms don’t do anything. I even read people put flash-bang devices in their garages and other crazy stuff. Apparently you can’t even do anything if you are there, as home defense is outlawed.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yeah, that’s pretty much the situation there. What’s the story idea?

      • Edward

        trap-gun motorbike security: good idea or great idea?

        • Kirill

          The kind that gets you thrown in jail for a long time due to being illegal.

          • Edward

            that was my proposed headline for the story idea. trap-guns are definitely illegal – can’t kill people in defense of property.

      • DAVID

        I was just thinking an interview with someone from there who can give a firsthand summary and maybe some pics of the remains after a garage invasion.

        • Penguin

          Yep, The bike theft scene is shit-house here. There was a story in the paper last year about a British Superbike team that had their race bikes stolen from their workshops. What the hell are you going to to with 2 stolen and fully liveried up race bikes that are on TV every other weekend!

          I’ll have to see if my mate still has the photos he took when his Fireblade got stolen. It is funny as hell but sad at the same time. The blade was at the back of his garage with a Range Rover parked in the garage in front of it – the theiving toerags went round the back of his garage and took the bloody wall down brick by brick! He went down the next morning to find 6 piles of bricks, a massive hole in his wall, no blade and a ring of cigarette ends where they’d been working all night! Sureal.

    • Core

      Wow, That sounds screwed up.

      Its a mess that criminals are more protected that the honest individual.

      • Kirill

        Check out Iron Maiden’s “The Age of Innocence”

  • paul redican

    I have had 2 of these (slightly bigger version can’t remember the model number) both were faulty and never really worked, alarm either wouldn’t set or would just go off randomly and constanly. I returned them to the shop I purchased from and after the replacement failed as well I gave up. Sounds like you are having better luck with yours.

    • rvfrules

      @Paul, was this the latest generation Xena? My old Xena had similar issues.

  • Charles

    Wait a second, why would I risk a thief dropping my bike after hearing the alarm go off? I pay all of seven extra bucks a year for a $100 deductible on comprehensive/theft compared to $1000 and the bike is worth well under its book value.