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Old 02-28-17, 04:02 AM   #1
Paul_QUB
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Bike lock advice

I have a covered chain lock and it is a good thick steel chain but I've been told the u lock is the only way to really stop your bike getting stolen, is there any truth to this and if so why?
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Old 02-28-17, 07:05 AM   #2
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Kinda-sorta, but not really.
For a thief willing to use an angle grinder it really doesn't matter. They cut any lock in seconds.
For thieves using bolt cutters, basically the thicker the lock, the longer handles you need on the bolt cutters to be able to cut the lock. Has some influence on how discrete a thief can be and how difficult it is to carry the tool around.
And usually an U-lock can be made thicker than a chainlink.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:46 AM   #3
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A smaller U-lock, like the kryptonite Mini, has the advantage of making it harder for a thief to get a pry bar or something similar inside the U. As mentioned, it's additional thickness also makes it a less appealing target.

Locking the rear wheel inside the triangle with a tight u-lock combined with a simple & light cable through the front wheel, should be enough. It would generally require a thief to use two different types of tools, and there are bound to be better, easier targets for them.

If a thief really, truly wants your bike, virtually no lock system is unbeatable- with time and patience anything can be cut through. But, bike theft is driven mainly by convenience/opportunity. All you can do is make your bike the hardest to steal, and a thief will move on to an easier target. If your bike is conspicuously expensive, consider making it appear less so with some electrical tape, etc.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:51 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Paul_QUB View Post
I have a covered chain lock and it is a good thick steel chain but I've been told the u lock is the only way to really stop your bike getting stolen, is there any truth to this and if so why?
So much will depend on the quality of your chain vs the quality of your u-lock.

Also a chain of comparable or higher security than a u-lock will be heavier.

And all of this is before factoring in cost.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:00 AM   #5
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It would generally require a thief to use two different types of tools, and there are bound to be better, easier targets for them.
I read this a lot and don't really believe it is true, but maybe I am not understanding it correctly. If a thief has an angle grinder, that same tool will go right through the u-lock and cable quickly. Same tool. If a u-lock is small enough gauge to be defeated by bolt cutters, the same bolt cutters will also make short work of the cable.

Cables are easily defeated by a small pair of wire cutters in a couple of minutes. Most petty bicycle thieves carry these around in their pocket. But these won't work on a u-lock, so that type of thief will only get your wheel if you secure it with a cable, but they won't get your whole bike.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:19 AM   #6
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I read this a lot and don't really believe it is true, but maybe I am not understanding it correctly. If a thief has an angle grinder, that same tool will go right through the u-lock and cable quickly. Same tool. If a u-lock is small enough gauge to be defeated by bolt cutters, the same bolt cutters will also make short work of the cable.

Cables are easily defeated by a small pair of wire cutters in a couple of minutes. Most petty bicycle thieves carry these around in their pocket. But these won't work on a u-lock, so that type of thief will only get your wheel if you secure it with a cable, but they won't get your whole bike.
Good point, and I agree with you on the angle grinder, I see it in it's own category, hence my point about a thief not being stopped if they really want your bike.

I remember reading an article by a writer who interviewed multiple bike thieves and even had them demonstrate their methods for him. One of them talked about how some newer cable locks require larger wire cutters, some even bordering on bolt cutter size. He said many thieves carry some sort of prybar and small cutters, but not a prybar and large cutters.

So yes, they could get your front wheel, but it's much less valuable then the rear wheel and so less desirable. The main point I take away from it all is that to a bike thief, time is everything. If your bike requires two different approaches to steal, they'll just move on to an easier one. If in the time it takes them to just get your front wheel (because your rear is u-locked) they could have stolen an entire bike, they'll do the latter.

Plus, as Sheldon Brown points out, the weight of extra u-locks or an extra heavy-duty chain is the difference between a $400 and $700 bike. At some point, I'm willing to trade ultimate security for a bit of convenience. I tend to keep my u-lock on the rack at work and just use my cable for random errands; this way the bike is locked securely each day at it's primary location (work), but I don't have the weight of the U-lock for short errands. Others have different preferences.

Last edited by CovCider; 02-28-17 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:27 AM   #7
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I agree with you on the angle grinder, I see it in it's own category, hence my point about a thief not being stopped if they really want your bike.

I remember reading an article by a writer or interviewed multiple bike thieves and even had them demonstrate their methods for him. One of them talked about how some newer cable locks require larger wire cutters, some even bordering on bolt cutter size. He said many thieves carry some sort of prybar and small cutters, but not a prybar and large cutters.

So yes, they could get your front wheel, but it's much less valuable then the rear wheel and so less desirable. The main point I take away from it all is that to a bike thief, time is everything. If your bike requires two different approaches to steal, they'll just move on to an easier one.
I read that article also and he had some very good points. My main takeaway from it was that he concluded there are two types of bicycle thieves: the opportunistic petty thief and the professional thief. You can protect your bike against the first kind with a medium grade u-lock or better, but if the professional wants your bike he is going to take it.

In practice, I think you can avoid the professional thief as well by staying off of his radar. Don't lock your bike up in the same place every day and don't leave it out for hours at a time. If your circumstances require you to lock up the bike at the same place every day for hours at at time, don't take a bike that a professional will want to steal and use a u-lock on the beater bike.

I have decided to use a Tigr Mini lock (medium grade, can be defeated with large bolt cutters) and Pitlock on the front and rear wheels, as well as on the seat post and stem. I have a bike locker at work and will only lock the bike up when running errands to the store or stopping at a restaurant.

MTA: I know Pitlocks can be defeated with a cone wrench, but I believe that the opportunistic thief won't even know what a cone wrench is.

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Old 02-28-17, 10:43 AM   #8
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Just, fyi, I edited my previous post. I looked at the pitlocks and those seem pretty neat- I hadn't heard of them before. I like your setup. I use bolt on skewers, and I suppose if a thief as the correct allen wrenches he can take the skewers but not the wheel.

Either way, we agree about professional thieves, I just don't ride a particularly nice bike so I don't need to worry. Paul QUB, if you do ride a nice bike, don't advertise it to thieves. If it's in between, a little electrical tape on the frame and seat make it much less conspicuous.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:44 AM   #9
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I read this a lot and don't really believe it is true, but maybe I am not understanding it correctly.... If a u-lock is small enough gauge to be defeated by bolt cutters, the same bolt cutters will also make short work of the cable.
Not quite. A bolt cutter doesn't have to be particularly sharp. It doesn't even have to have the two jaws come together fully. It doesn't make a clean cut. Last part of the item being cut is simply forced apart, leaving a granular surface.
A bolt cutter like that will struggle with a cable. A cable will flatten and widen between the jaws. Some strands will break. Many will remain. "Chewing" through won't work particularly well.
The thief will need another pair of pliers to finish the job.
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Old 02-28-17, 12:13 PM   #10
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I have a covered chain lock and it is a good thick steel chain but I've been told the u lock is the only way to really stop your bike getting stolen, is there any truth to this and if so why?
I seriously doubt it. Nothing will stop your bike from being stolen if the thief really wants it. Anyone with a battery powered rotary tool could cut through most locks. Is it a better theft deterrant? Good question. I also have a big chain lock and am happy with it. But I lock my bike up and off of the street. Otherwise, I'd put it in a garage if I couldn't bring it into the building. I work in upper Manhattan (East Harlem). So I would never leave anything on the street here no matter how good the lock(s) are.
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Old 02-28-17, 01:20 PM   #11
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I have a covered chain lock and it is a good thick steel chain but I've been told the u lock is the only way to really stop your bike getting stolen, is there any truth to this and if so why?
Nothing can "really stop your bike getting stolen", but in general U-locks take the most time to break, about 2 minutes with a grinder. Lots of analysis and videos on the internet about this.
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Old 02-28-17, 02:09 PM   #12
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Yes, a good U-Lock will be better security than a chain, and lighter weight too.

After a lot of research, I found this one to be the best. Bolt cutters won't get through this one, and it's lighter than the competition. I'd suggest going with the 9" version, and you can get it packaged with a mount if you want.
Abus - U-Lock GRANIT X Plus 540
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Old 02-28-17, 03:02 PM   #13
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Nothing can "really stop your bike getting stolen", but in general U-locks take the most time to break, about 2 minutes with a grinder. Lots of analysis and videos on the internet about this.
Abt 2 minutes?
What kind of underpowered tools were they using?
My Dremel will cut a U-lock in that time. Angle grinder, say 30 seconds if I don't have to aim or be careful.
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Old 02-28-17, 03:13 PM   #14
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How much harder is it for a square shackle (chain link or U-lock) to be cut than for a cylinder one? (noticed some Abus chains and U-locks have square chain links/shackles)
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Old 02-28-17, 03:41 PM   #15
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Abt 2 minutes?
What kind of underpowered tools were they using?
My Dremel will cut a U-lock in that time. Angle grinder, say 30 seconds if I don't have to aim or be careful.
I stand corrected.
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Old 02-28-17, 07:34 PM   #16
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Abt 2 minutes?
What kind of underpowered tools were they using?
My Dremel will cut a U-lock in that time. Angle grinder, say 30 seconds if I don't have to aim or be careful.
What kind of weak U-lock is your dremel cutting through?
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Old 02-28-17, 10:15 PM   #17
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Do folks generally not like folding locks here? Whenever I see a post about a lock, it is usually comparing U-Locks and Cables.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:26 PM   #18
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Do folks generally not like folding locks here? Whenever I see a post about a lock, it is usually comparing U-Locks and Cables.
I have an Abus Granit X 6500 folding lock. Kind of heavy to carry around, but it packs small and includes a case for the frame. That, plus pitlocks, and I feel fairly secure. Still, there is no lock or system that cannot be defeated.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:57 PM   #19
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Do folks generally not like folding locks here? Whenever I see a post about a lock, it is usually comparing U-Locks and Cables.
We've heard cable, chain and U-locks being cut or picked, but have yet to hear folding locks being cut or defeated. Anyone knows such cases?
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Old 02-28-17, 11:05 PM   #20
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We've heard cable, chain and U-locks being cut or picked, but have yet to hear folding locks being cut or defeated. Anyone knows such cases?
There's a video of the Abus Bordo 6000 being defeated at the pin with bolt cutters, but not the 6500, AFAIK. An angle grinder would have no problem cutting through any lock.
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Old 02-28-17, 11:09 PM   #21
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We've heard cable, chain and U-locks being cut or picked, but have yet to hear folding locks being cut or defeated. Anyone knows such cases?
Here's a few for you,

1.)

2.)

3.)
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Old 03-01-17, 12:02 AM   #22
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I have an Abus Bordo 6000 on my Brompton because it can be conveniently mounted on the frame without interfering with the fold. However, I can count on one hand the number of times I have had to lock that bike up and I have never left it for more than 30 minutes or so. I usually just carry the bike inside with me.
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Old 03-01-17, 01:05 AM   #23
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What kind of weak U-lock is your dremel cutting through?
The kind my sister locked her bike with and left for weeks with the keyhole pointing up.
Diamond cutting discs aren't fussy about what they go through.
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Old 03-01-17, 01:43 AM   #24
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How much harder is it for a square shackle (chain link or U-lock) to be cut than for a cylinder one? (noticed some Abus chains and U-locks have square chain links/shackles)
In this limited example, if all that changes is the shape - very little. Any shape of link that engages an equal amount of the cutting edge of the jaw will take the same effort to cut.

If the sides of the square link is the same as the diameter of the round link it'll be a little harder early in the cut but the final effort will be the same.
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Old 03-01-17, 05:48 AM   #25
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We spill some electrons here talking about the "best" lock but I really believe thefts of bikes out of decent name-brand u-locks is pretty rare. We do get reports but not a lot of them. Security goes up with thickness - requires bigger tools or longer to cut. It goes with the square of diameter so an 18mm shackle actually has 2.25x more material (and weight!) than 12mm.

Kryptonite recently released a couple of locks with skinnier 11mm shackles. They claim the steel quality brings it back up to code with the 13mm models. (But then why not use it across the lineup?) I have not looked for any independent testing whether this is true. Still, I have one on my wish list because I think it would be adequate around here.

LITE Mini & Messenger Mini "11mm hardened MAX-Performance steel shackle provides a lighter weight lock with the same security as the EV Mini 5, 7, or 9"
Keeper 12mm
Mini 13mm
Standard 14mm
New York 16mm & double bolt
Fahgettaboudit 18mm & double bolt
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