When someone buys a nice bike, often their first question is: What is the "best bike lock" I can buy? Or, who makes the "strongest bicycle lock" money can buy?
The April 2005 issue of UK's "Cycling Plus" included the results of their 2005 lock tests. Cycling Plus tested the locks by trying to break them with manual tools favored by crooks and then cutting them with the type of portable, battery-operated power tools used by crooks.
SHORT VERSION OF TEST RESULTS: The Kryptonite New York 3000 U-lock is the "best bike lock" and the "strongest bicycle lock" for high crime areas and an expensive bike.
The OnGuard Bulldog Mini U-lock (just $24 at REI) is the "best bike lock", and for its low price, "the strongest bicycle lock" for average neighborhoods and for less expensive expensive bikes.
The European models: the Squire Paramount Plus, and the Axa-Basta Secu-City Plus model did almost as well as the New York lock. The German-designed mid-price Abus lock, was only "average" against power tools.
LOOONG VERSION OF TEST RESULTS: The tests using manual tools had one scary and surprising result: the locks were so strong that when heavy force was applied to the locks, the frame of the bike got mangled, while the locks remained in good shape.
To prevent damage to the frame, and to fully protect both the frame and rear wheel, position your lock around the rear wheel, just behind (but not around) the seat tube. That locking procedure secures both the frame and rear wheel. If a crook uses a prying method, he might bend the wheel, but he won't damage the frame.
HOW TO CORRECTLY LOCK YOUR BIKE by Sheldon Brown:
RESULTS BY LOCK TYPE:
- CABLE LOCKS: Cable locks are a joke. Most lasted just a few seconds. None lasted long. A cable may have some value for protecting your front wheel or your helmet. They have ZERO value for protecting your bike.
- BARGAIN U-LOCKS: The OnGuard Bulldog Mini U-lock ($24 at REI) was as strong as the top ranked Kryptonite New York 3000 against manual attacks. But, OnGuard locks don't last long against power tools, so the New York 3000 remains the top choice for "high end" bikes parked in Manhattan and other "crime centers".
- KRYPTONITE - The Bad News: Their second best U-lock, the Evolution, failed against manual tools in just 95 seconds, after the application of massive force. The leverage force applied to break the Evolution was so massive that the frame of the bike was mangled during the attempt. A good reason to put the lock around the rear wheel, not the frame.
My personal interpretation of the test results is that NO Kryptonite U-lock using a "single bolt" design is likely to last more than two minutes against a skilled crook.
The Kryptonite New York 3000 is far more effective than other Kryptonite U-locks because it uses two bolts to lock both ends of the "U" shackle, just as OnGuard does with every one of its U-locks. Then, the New York 3000 adds "cut resistent" steel to the shackles, making it about 400% stronger than OnGuard's best locks against (the very rare) cutting attacks using power tools.
MY SUGGESTIONS: If the crooks in your town use ONLY manual tools, and will never use power tools, buy the $24 OnGuard Bulldog Mini (or a larger Bulldog if your bike rack requires a larger lock). A compact lock provides less space for a crook to insert his tools, so buy the smallest version of the Bulldog that will fit around your rear wheel and your bike rack.
But, if you park on a "mega-sized urban college campus, or in a "high crime" area where Pro crooks have been known to power tools against targeted "high end" bikes, there is only one U-lock widely sold in the USA that really works: the Kryptonite New York 3000 Lock.
"Cycling Plus" did NOT test heavy weight chain locks in the April issue. However, in a previous CP test, the 8 1/2 pound Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Chain lock lasted about eight minutes against power tools, compared with ten minutes for the four pound New York 3000 U-lock.
Because the four pound New York 3000 is the stronger of the two, the only reason to buy the eight pound Fahgettaboudit is if you lock your bike to telephone poles or large trees, or other objects that are too large for the New York 3000 U-lock.
USE YOUR HEAD: No lock lasted much more than ten minutes against power tools. Park at locations where only the dumbest crook would employ power tools for ten minutes. Lock your bike next to the ticket booth at the movie theatre, not in the dark alley behind the Theatre.
For "over-night" parking in a high risk area (never a great idea) consider combining two or three good locks. Most criminals are too lazy to work hard for twenty or thirty minutes. If they were willing to work that hard, they would not be criminals. A crook facing TWO New York locks might see the advantages of going out and finding "honest work".