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Bike Locks

Tuesday, 30 October 2007 | Tags: , , ,

Whether you live in a big city or small town, you can protect your bike from theft with a sturdy lock. We explore whatís out there in the realm of bicycle locks to help you make the right choice for your bikeís security.

The Basics

  • Bike locks come in a variety of different shapes and sizes with different locking mechanisms.

    • U-Shaped: probably the most popular on the market. Often made of hardened steel. Pick one with the locking mechanism in the middle of the straight piece as opposed to the end: this makes it harder to tamper with.

    • Cable: easier to carry because they are more flexible than u-shaped locks. It should be least 3 feet (1 meter) long and made of weaved cable, which is harder to cut through.

    • Chain: Make sure the chain is at least 3/8 inch thick in diameter and the links are welded together.

    • Cuffs: similar to u-shaped locks, these look sort of like a large pair of hand cuffs. One ring attaches to the bike frame and the other is attached to the bike rack. Square links are harder to tamper with than round links

  • Regardless of the type, the thicker it is the harder it will be to cut.

  • A lock made from hardened steel will resist a simple hacksaw, a common tool of bike thieves

Other Considerations

  • A simple rule of thumb when buying a lock is to spend somewhere between 10-15% of what your bike is worth.

  • Some bike locks, especially chains, can get pretty heavy. Make sure you pick one you can easily carry on your bike.

Be Aware

  • Read the fine print on your guarantee as sometimes the lock manufacturer will only pay a portion of the cost of a replacement bike.

  • Many bikes are stolen easily because people don’t lock them properly. Be sure to attach the lock through the frame and wheel and then to the bike rack. If there’s no bike rack, attach it to something immovable that can’t be cut or broken.

TEST CRITERIA

We asked a rehabilitated bike thief to demonstrate how easy it was to break through our test candidates below. (We won’t tell you what kind of tool was used, but there were no power tools involved.)

  • Kryptonite New York 3000 (u-shaped): $159.99
  • Stocks Lock (u-shaped with bendable hinge — used by Canadian Olympic Team in Atlanta): $99.99
  • Master Lock (cuff): $99.99
  • Schwinn (oversized woven cable): $24.99
  • SC Supercycle (48-inch chain with combination lock): $7.99

Theft Test

  • Defeated in under one minute: Master Lock, Schwinn, SC Supercycle, Stocks Lock.

  • Undefeated: the Kryptonite New York 3000. Our expert said it would probably require a power tool of some sort to break through it.

Usability Test

  • We liked the Schwinn woven cable lock for its portability and easy locking procedure. (Sometimes those u-locks are like a 3-D puzzle!)

OUR TOP PICK

If your bike is worth a small fortune, spend a little more on the Kryptonite New York 3000. Otherwise, we recommend the Schwinn woven cable lock. It did slow our former thief down, though he eventually broke through it.

And remember, for any thief, time is of the essence. Two locks, whatever the type, will help slow a thief down, and may even make him decide to move on. 

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