By Dave Iltis
If you commute by bike, you need to lock your bike – outside your workplace, at the grocery store, the library, or the movie theater. And, you need to lock it to a bike rack, a sign post, railing, or other immovable object. Locks won’t completely prevent theft – any lock can be defeated by a dedicated thief – but they will slow a thief down, or make them think twice about trying to nab your bike. Since many bike thefts are crimes of opportunity, good protection will help keep your bike safe.
I had the chance to try out two locks recently that are high performance alternatives to the standard U-lock.
Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 1090 Integrated Chain
Kryptonite’s high security chain is made from 10 mm 6 sided manganese steel chain links. The 3 foot long chain is plenty long enough to wrap around your bike’s frame and wheels and around a bike rack or post. The chain is encased in a nylon wrap to protect your bike and prevent access to the links. The locking mechanism uses a super secure key system and is integrated with the last link of the chain. The last link fits into the mechanism in such as way as to prevent access to that link and avoids any weak points.
I found this lock to be easy to use and easy to store in a backpack. In 2014, Kryptonite will have a frame bag to provide an option for carrying the lock on the bike. The nylon wrap keeps the chain from clattering, and keeps it from scratching anything. The lock comes with 3 keys, including on with an LED for ease of use at night. The lock is rated 8/10 on Kryptonite’s security scale and comes with a $2250 anti-theft offer (registration required) along with a key replacement program.
The version I tested is 3 feet in length. It also comes in a 5.25’ or 21.5” length. One drawback is the 6.1 lb weight, but then I’d rather carry the lock than have to walk home without my bike. For more information, visit kryptonitelock.com.
Rating HC (5 stars).
This lock looks great. It’s not like any other lock that you’ve seen. The Bordo is a folding lock made up of six 6” steel bars that attach at pivot points. The bars form a 33” loop to go around your favorite immovable object and your bike frame and wheels. The bars and the locking mechanism have a thick silicone cover that keeps your bike paint safe, and makes the lock easy to handle. The lock is rated at 15/15 on Abus’ internal security scale. The lock weighs 3.5 lbs, and fits in a nice frame holster that velcros on to a frame tube. I found the Bordo easy to use – just pull it out of the holster, and wrap it around a post and your bike frame. I especially like the simplicity of the holster for transporting the lock on a commuter bike. One small drawback to the holster is that it can slip on the down tube if it’s not secured tightly. The seat tube or top tube are probably better options for the holster. The lock comes with 2 keys, one of which has an LED. The lock is very stylish, and will catch the attention of your fellow cyclists. Look for an anti-theft offer to be introduced on their website in 2014. Find out more at abus.com.
Rating HC (5 stars)
Tips for locking your bike:
1. Always lock your bike when it’s out of your sight. Many bike thefts are crimes of opportunity, and a locked bike prevents someone from riding off on it.
2. Any lock is better than no lock, but most cables and hardware store chains can be cut instantly with a bolt cutters or hacksaw. They deter crimes of opportunity, but not thieves looking for a bike to steal.
3. Lock your bike when it’s in your garage, on a patio or porch, or at home.
4. If you have an older U-lock with a circular key, you might want to turn it into a paperweight since the lock can easily be picked by jamming a the non-business end of a ballpoint pen into the lock mechanism.
5. Use a lock that has a security rating appropriate to your city’s bike theft problem, and to the value of your bike.
6. At a minimum, lock the frame of your bike to a post, bike rack, railing, or some other object that is anchored securely to the ground. The lock should go through the main triangle or rear triangle and around the post. Better yet, thread the lock through the main triangle and the front or rear wheel and around the post – this prevents the wheel from being stolen. The best option is use a heavy duty lock to lock the frame to the post, and a heavy duty chain to secure the wheels. You can also remove the front wheel, and thread the lock around both wheels, through the rear triangle, and around the post. This option only works if you have a long enough lock.
7. Lock your bike in a visible area where others can see if someone tampers with your bike.
8. License your bike. At the very least, record your serial number. You won’t likely get your bike back unless you have this piece of data. Licenses can be obtained at any bike shop (assuming they are in compliance with local code), at most fire stations, and if you are in Salt Lake County, at the Salt Lake City and County Building business office at 451 S. State in Salt Lake City.
9. Use a U-lock, or one of the two great options we review above for extra security.
10. If your bike is stolen, file a police report immediately, and check local pawn shops.