Bicycle Lock Recommendations?
March 14, 2005 5:29 PM   Subscribe

So I'm living Chico, a great bicycle town, and I got my treasured cruiser (over 6' long, black & cream, whitewall tires) out of storage. Bike theft and vandalism is a pretty big problem here, and I was wondering what people are using to lock their bikes in the wake of the Kryptonite lock issues. Bonus points for something that doesn't make my cruiser much heavier than it already is.
posted by keswick to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Krytonite locks without the cylinder key are still decent.
posted by exois at 5:42 PM on March 14, 2005

The New York Bike Messenger Association has a detailed article on bike locks. Their recommendation is nothing less than a heavy-chain-and-hardcore-padlock solution. They call U-locks "the easiest for a thief to break through"--'course, they didn't even include those dinky traditional cable locks in the discussion.
posted by schroedinger at 5:51 PM on March 14, 2005

Definately don't leave it overnight on the CSUC campus.
posted by dirvish at 5:54 PM on March 14, 2005

I've been using an "OnGuard" brand U-lock. It was recommended by my favorite bike shop (Palo Alto Bikestation) and seems to have engineered around the faults of the Kryptonite U-lock, including the cylinder key and the brittle U.

It also comes with 5 copies of the key, which is nice.

It's hella heavy, though.
posted by u2604ab at 5:57 PM on March 14, 2005

I keep seeing a heavy-duty shielded cable around town... about an inch thick... are these any good?
posted by keswick at 7:40 PM on March 14, 2005

I went to a locksmith after getting my bike, got some advice. I came away with a heavy-duty padlock and seperate cable. You might be interested in the padlock - it has some kind of hardened aluminium or other lightweight alloy for the body, and is very light for it's size. It has "American Lock TM USA" on one side and "XEE SERIES 1105" on the other. As well as being lightweight, it's a great look - the key insertion and turning is solid, smooth, and really nice to use. It doesn't jam, the U-bar pops out every time. This was 3 years ago and it still operates nicely (I don't leave the bike/lock in the rain much though).

Another option I have kicking around but haven't done anything more serious than play with, is a keycode vibration alarm, so save the bother of getting the chain out when I'm only going to be in a store for a few minute.
You can buy them here at a surplus sale price of $4. I bought one for my bike, and so have played with it, but not used it in the real world. The thing works and is LOUD, and the sensitivity can be set. You would arm it and if the bike was moved, jostled, or every so slightly bumped (depending on the sensitivity setting), the alarm goes off. Disarm with a three digit code. Obnoxious, but a potentially useful toy. Lighter than normal bike lock system too.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:41 PM on March 14, 2005

If you go the chain n padlock route, get a padlock that locks with ball bearings, not a spring loaded catch. Otherwise padlock shims are more likely to open them.
posted by whatisish at 8:15 PM on March 14, 2005

This is it. I used this in New York City for years. It's the best:

The mother of all bike locks
posted by Shanachie at 8:24 PM on March 14, 2005

Isn't that Kryptonite lock the same one in this video?
posted by fandango_matt at 9:04 PM on March 14, 2005

Can I ask why you're not returning it for the new ones? I just got my new one in the mail last week.
posted by scazza at 9:34 PM on March 14, 2005

For ultimate security, use that sort of chain as found on that Kryptonite along with a much better padlock, the more pins, keyway bends, shackle guards and bearings the better.

Like these fine Medeco padlocks.

I personally use a very thick jacketed braided coiled cable with an all steel integrated bolt and hasp lock on it. But I don't trust it for more than a few minutes. I've personally picked it in less than 10 minutes with nothing but a handmade hairpin torsion bar/wrench and a single straightened but thinner/smaller hairpin for a rake/pick. A friend who actually knows how to pick did it in less than 25 seconds on his first try with a good wrench and rake or hook. As such, I prefer to bring it inside wherever if at all possible and even lock it up inside. It's fairly light and compact.

Kryptonite-type locks have never been very secure. Because of their size, material, and shape they can be pried, broken and cut in a variety of ways very easily. A carbide grit hacksaw blade can cut one in less than 20 minutes even in unexperienced hands. (I lost my keys once, and never bought a U-lock ever again.)

Imagine a carbide composite cutoff sawblade on one of those nice 20+ volt cordless 3 or 4" saws. Yeah, it'd spark and screech like a burnt monkey but it'd take seconds.
posted by loquacious at 9:40 PM on March 14, 2005

scazza: if you're asking me, it's because 1) I don't know where my old U-lock is, much less if it's actually a Kryptonite brand, and 2) the damn thing was so awkward, it would bounce right out of the damn holder when I was riding around. (My seat post isn't perfectly vertical, it's raked back.)

I'm trying to balance the cost of a lock and the cost of my bike. My bike only cost me $130, but it IS a nice cruiser. I got it at a going out of business sale. That $80 Kryptonite chain lock seems like overkill.
posted by keswick at 10:40 PM on March 14, 2005

Ah, here they are, lightweight, tough, inexpensive, and in anodized colours to match your bike. I've actually had people make impressed comments about my bike lock. Which really surprises me, because it's well, it's just a lock... :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 11:29 PM on March 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

I have a Kryptonite U-lock - not the one that can be opened with a Bic pen or a 2x4; rather, the very thick one they call the "New York" lock.

It's so heavy that it changes the way the bike handles when it's mounted. I never bring it with me, and consquently never leave the bike alone.

So that would be one vote against, I guess.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:29 AM on March 15, 2005

The Dutch solution: use several bike locks - krypto, chain, cable, especially the Dutch style around the tire lock. Most thieves won't carry the large amount of different tools needed to cut through more than one type of lock. Just seeing multiple locks seems to turn them away.
posted by zaelic at 3:33 AM on March 15, 2005

I use a quadrachain. Very heavy; tough as the Kryptonite chain, but with an integrated lock that doesn't leave the bolt exposed. It's kept my bike theft-free in Berkeley (a very high bike theft per capita city) for 9 years.

I wouldn't use the Kryptonite chain with their baby U-lock... too much room for pry bars. I'd replace it with a heavy-duty padlock without the bolt exposed.

The link above includes a recipe for a good relatively low-cost approach.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:13 AM on March 15, 2005 [2 favorites]

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