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  1. #1
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    How hard is it to cut bike locks? Read and find out...

    Hey After my bike almost getting stolen twice, I decided to test how hard it was to cut locks, chains and cables. I don't have a digital camera so you just have to believe in me.

    The tools, 18 inch bolt cutters, a mini hacksaw with several blades made for cutting metal, and a hammer and chisel.

    The first lock was a real old master lock 10mm braided steel cable with a master number 3 pad lock. For all the tests I locked my bike to the fence in my back yard, except where noted.

    First I used the hacksaw, the cable didnt last long it took about 1.3 minutes to cut through it. Than I took the bolt cutters to the cable and after pinching it one direction than the other direction like an X. I couldn't cut the last couple of strands of cable so I grabbed the cable and kept flexing it back and forth until it snapped.

    Conclusion just like everyone says cables are only useful for your seat, I wouldn't even trust my front wheel to one.

    Now the master number 3 lock was a joke. The bolt cutters snapped it in an instant but it took a massive amount of force to do it, than I needed to cut the other side of the shackle. The hacksaw cut it in about 5 minutes for both sides, and I needed to change the blade once. I attacked the lock between the laminated plates with the hammer and spike and without a hard surface to back it I couldn't destroy the lock this way.

    Next up the thickest chain I could find at the hardware store , it is stamped G3 on the chain. The lock I used on that was a master number 40 diskus padlock. The lock couldn't be cut do to the shackle shroud however, when I took the chain off and attacked the shackle with the bolt cutters it only put light jaw marks on it, it is alot harder metal than the number 3. The hacksaw also was cutting it so slowly it seemed futile. Than I attacked the case of the lock with the hacksaw it was going through it, but not fast enough It would take to long to be usefull method.

    Now back to the chain the chain was pretty thick and when I attacked with the bolt cutters, I could put light jaw marks on it, but hanging from the bike I couldn't get enough leverage to snap it. When I layed the chain on concrete and than used the ground as a backstop to attack the lock. With a huge amount of effort I could cut it with the bolt cutters. When I used the hammer and spike I could but big gashes in the chain but it would take to long to break it that way. The hacksaw took about 3 minutes each side of the links and I had to change the blade once.

    Conlcusion hardware store chain is pretty crappy as expected, but it would be good for the front wheel or seat however. I did not have any U lock I was willing to sacrifice.

    However my previously destroyed on guard beast chain was tested this is a sold secure silver rated lock. The bolt cutters could barely grab the 14 mm chain. And even when backed by concrete I could hardley touch the chain. The theif that tried to cut my chain probly used much larger bolt cutters than I had. The hacksaw blunted instatly when I tried to cut the chain with it. The hammer and spike also did barely anything to the chain. The lock's 16mm shackle I couldn't even grab with the small bolt cutters. The hacksaw barely destroyed the finish. I didn't even bother with the hammer and spike.

    Conclusion this lock is tough. I only had one real bike lock on hand to damage but I proved once again that cables are worthless, and hardware store chain is kinda easy to destroy. And Sold Secure silver rated locks cannot be destroyed with tools that fit in a backpack. Except for maybe a battery operated dremel with a couple of cut off wheels. Also assuming you use the U lock correctly and leave no room for a jack. Enjoy
    Last edited by The bike dude; 09-15-06 at 02:17 AM.

  2. #2
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    Edit & I'll get back to you.

  3. #3
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    True, you could use some line breaks there.

    What I've heard about hardware store chains: ask them if you could get it cut to length. If they can do it, it won't stop a thief either.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by The bike dude
    Hey After my bike almost getting stolen twice, I decided to test how hard it was to cut locks, chains and cables. I don't have a digital camera so you just have to believe in me.

    The tools, 18 inch bolt cutters, a mini hacksaw with several blades made for cutting metal, and a hammer and chisel.

    The first lock was a real old master lock 10mm braided steel cable with a master number 3 pad lock. For all the tests I locked my bike to the fence in my back yard, except where noted.

    First I used the hacksaw, the cable didnt last long it took about 1.3 minutes to cut through it. Than I took the bolt cutters to the cable and after pinching it one direction than the other direction like an X. I couldn't cut the last couple of strands of cable so I grabbed the cable and kept flexing it back and forth until it snapped.

    Conclusion just like everyone says cables are only useful for your seat, I wouldn't even trust my front wheel to one.

    Now the master number 3 lock was a joke. The bolt cutters snapped it in an instant but it took a massive amount of force to do it, than I needed to cut the other side of the shackle. The hacksaw cut it in about 5 minutes for both sides, and I needed to change the blade once. I attacked the lock between the laminated plates with the hammer and spike and without a hard surface to back it I couldn't destroy the lock this way.

    Next up the thickest chain I could find at the hardware store , it is stamped G3 on the chain. The lock I used on that was a master number 40 diskus padlock. The lock couldn't be cut do to the shackle shroud however, when I took the chain off and attacked the shackle with the bolt cutters it only put light jaw marks on it, it is alot harder metal than the number 3. The hacksaw also was cutting it so slowly it seemed futile. Than I attacked the case of the lock with the hacksaw it was going through it, but not fast enough It would take to long to be usefull method.

    Now back to the chain the chain was pretty thick and when I attacked with the bolt cutters, I could put light jaw marks on it, but hanging from the bike I couldn't get enough leverage to snap it. When I layed the chain on concrete and than used the ground as a backstop to attack the lock. With a huge amount of effort I could cut it with the bolt cutters. When I used the hammer and spike I could but big gashes in the chain but it would take to long to break it that way. The hacksaw took about 3 minutes each side of the links and I had to change the blade once.

    Conlcusion hardware store chain is pretty crappy as expected, but it would be good for the front wheel or seat however. I did not have any U lock I was willing to sacrifice.

    However my previously destroyed on guard beast chain was tested this is a sold secure silver rated lock. The bolt cutters could barely grab the 14 mm chain. And even when backed by concrete I could hardley touch the chain. The theif that tried to cut my chain probly used much larger bolt cutters than I had had. The hacksaw blunted instatly when I tried to cut the chain with it. The hammer and spike also did barely anything to the chain. The lock's 16mm shackle I couldn't even grab with the small bolt cutters. The hacksaw barely destroyed the finish. I didn't even bother with the hammer and spike.

    Conclusion this lock is tough. I only had one real bike lock on hand to damage but I proved once again that cables are worthless, and hardware store chain is kinda easy to destroy. And Sold Secure silver rated locks cannot be destroyed with tools that fit in a backpack. Except for maybe a battery operated dremel with a couple of cut off wheels. Also assuming you use the U lock correctly and leave no room for a jack. Enjoy
    (Formatting mine)

    That is a good review. A lot of people sell department store chain and expect it to protect their bikes... except if it can be cut by the worn jaws of a chain cutting machine in a store, it can be cut into bits in the field.

    I have found that the chain (its gold/brass colored) that is sold in pre-cut lengths by some locksmith shops is of very good quality, though heavy. For a padlock for it, I'd avoid anything by Master (unless its a shrouded ProSeries lock) and go for something like an Abus Granit, or a Medeco padlock. Those locks are expensive, but are well made and will serve you for years with little trouble (provided you oil them every six months or so.)

    Barring a heavy duty chain, you cannot go wrong with the New York lock from Kryptonite (assuming its the version with the Abus-like double-sided disc cylinder rather than a round key.) Onguard locks are good too.

    A couple years back, one of the bike rags did a breaking test on all the major brands of bike locks made (supposedly done by a genuine(tm) bike thief who has reformed). The Specialized Wedlock, broken. Generic U-locks with the key on the side, jacked open. Cables frayed and cut. Pretty much every lock they tried except the New York Chain and the New York Lock got broken in less than thirty seconds.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Lot's Knife's Avatar
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    Good report, Bike Dude.

    Scott Elder of Slate did similar testing: http://www.slate.com/id/2140083/

  6. #6
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The bike dude
    ...
    I did not have any U lock I was willing to sacrifice.
    ...
    I think that pretty much sums it up. I recently upgraded from a 3/16 inch thick steel cable and tiny toy padlock to a good quality mini U-lock. Only issue I have with the U-lock is that it doesn't fit around some things I used to lock my bike to.

  7. #7
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    Interesting post. I just got my new lock in the mail yesterday after my old Masterlock U lock got stiff and froze up. I ordered an Onguard Brute mini from Amazon and it got here in 2 days! It is SUBSTANTIALLY thicker than my old U lock. Rediculously beefy. I would really like to see the results of someone trying to break this lock with various tools. I can't imagine it would be easy.

  8. #8
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    Good info.

    If someone really wants your bike, I think they would be able to cut through anything, including the best U locks, with a high speed grinder and an appropriate diamond/carborundum cut off wheel, in probably less than a minute.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

    1980 3Rensho-- 1975 Raleigh Sprite 3spd
    1990s Raleigh M20 MTB--2007 Windsor Hour (track)
    1988 Ducati 750 F1

  9. #9
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Nice report! All locks can be defeated. It's more a matter of making it too difficult for the casual thief to break. Most thefts are crimes of opportunity. Use a cheap cable lock that can be cut w/ bolt cutters in a couple seconds and you give a thief an easy opportunity to steal your bike.
    HHCMF - Take pride in your ability to amaze lesser mortals! - MikeR



    We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!

  10. #10
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    If i really saw something i wanted to steal i would hacksaw right through the top and down tube or seat tube depending on where it was locked,yes the frame would be ruined but i would have the componets

  11. #11
    Senior Member FraAngelico's Avatar
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    nice report

  12. #12
    Zinophile tibikefor2's Avatar
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    very good report. I am glad that I lock my bike in a secured garage with CATV.
    Tibikefor2

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    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    Good info.

    If someone really wants your bike, I think they would be able to cut through anything, including the best U locks, with a high speed grinder and an appropriate diamond/carborundum cut off wheel, in probably less than a minute.
    Or an oxy-acetylene torch, probably less than ten seconds. 6000F plasma > *.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Scorer75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibikefor2
    very good report. I am glad that I lock my bike in a secured garage with CATV.
    I think you meant CCTV

    CATV (originally "community antenna television," now often "community access television") is more commonly known as "cable TV." In addition to bringing television programs to those millions of people throughout the world who are connected to a community antenna, cable TV is an increasingly popular way to interact with the World Wide Web and other new forms of multimedia information and entertainment services.

    CCTV (closed circuit television) is a television system in which signals are not publicly distributed; cameras are connected to television monitors in a limited area such as a store, an office building, or on a college campus. CCTV is commonly used in surveillance systems.

  15. #15
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibikefor2
    very good report. I am glad that I lock my bike in a secured garage with CATV.
    Wow, you treat your bike nice! What are its favorite shows?

  16. #16
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    The editors of "Cycling Plus" do lock tests once or twice each year. Their results are consistent with the test results at soldsecure.com: breaking a "gold" rated lock with portable manual tools is essentially impossible. Cutting them with the sorts of expensive power tools that are actually used by crooks who specialize in stealing bikes is noisy, conspicuous, and time consuming.

    www.soldsecure.com/Leisure.htm

  17. #17
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    Theres a video out there of two guys who plant bikes all over Manhattan, and then in broad daylight, with all kinds of people around, including cops, proceed to cut the locks off them with all kinds of tools, power tools, hammer and chisel, bolt cutters etc.

    Nobody does anything to stop them and the only person who even talks to them offers advice on how to cut off the lock!
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

    1980 3Rensho-- 1975 Raleigh Sprite 3spd
    1990s Raleigh M20 MTB--2007 Windsor Hour (track)
    1988 Ducati 750 F1

  18. #18
    Drive the Bicycle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The bike dude
    ...I decided to test how hard it was to cut locks, chains and cables.
    --- Thank you for your labor and your report.
    "The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well." Ivan Illich ('Energy and Equity')1974

  19. #19
    Raving looney
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    Theres a video out there of two guys who plant bikes all over Manhattan, and then in broad daylight, with all kinds of people around, including cops, proceed to cut the locks off them with all kinds of tools, power tools, hammer and chisel, bolt cutters etc.

    Nobody does anything to stop them and the only person who even talks to them offers advice on how to cut off the lock!
    link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZbklkFuFk-4

  20. #20
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    Hey I'm back I recently got a krypto Fahgettaboudit chain and a really sweet cisa monoblock padlock. I wanted to cut the chain down into two pieces so when I lock my bike I wouldn't have too wrap it around my bike more than once. And I wanted to use the excess to lock my front wheel with a abus granit long shackle pad lock.

    So I went to my friend Doug (he has an immense collection of power tools) and asked if he could cut it down. He said sure! He wanted to use a torch but I said I would buy the daimond wheel for his air powered grinder. This would be a more better way to test durability.

    So we lay the chain on a plywood workbench and start hacking at it with the diamond grinding wheel. This was the most frustrating 20 minutes of my life! The first cut took about 10 minutes, than we put it in a clamp and grabbed the other end of the link with big vice grips and tried to pry it open. Hopeless... So another 10 minutes with the grinder we cut it open bigger so we could seperate the links.

    Conclusion Krypto Fahgettaboudit chain is really tough and no crook would spend 20 minutes cutting through the links with power tools to free your bike, it would be more easy to cut the post it is locked too.

    Than since I got a superior shrouded padlock for the chain, So We cut the Ny disc lock too that comes with it. This was much faster it took about 4 minutes or so for each side of the shackle.

    Conclusion the lock they give you with the chain isn't nearly as good the chain. If your concerned about crooks with power tools get that chain and this lock. Buy a abus granit shrouded pad lock, or the cisa monoblock padlock like I got. Due to the design of the cisa lock the shackle cant be cut and even if you could get tools to it the shank just spins so tools can't grip it.

    So there ya have it Krypto Fahgettaboudit chain is almost unbreakable, but the lock isn't, get a better lock too. Oh I found the link to the padlock I would reccomend for that chain. http://www.lockitt.com/PadlockHighSecurity.htm It's at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!
    Last edited by The bike dude; 09-21-06 at 02:45 AM.

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