Are all bike lock cables created equally (Kryptonite, Avenir, Bell, etc)?
I currently use a OnGuard Brute LS U-Lock, but am looking for a supplement cable for the seat and occasionally the front-tire if I'm away from my bike for only a few minutes. Regardless of thickness and length of cable, are all lock cables the same? I know the thickness will provide more protection, and I certainly plan to get the thickest cable I can get (12mm or 15mm), but wanted to know if there's a difference between Kryponite, Avenir, or Bell, since they all sell cables for different prices (even for the same thickness and length - with Bell being the cheapest).
Do you know anything about the differences from the brands? i.e. does Kryptonite use a different steel or method in manufacturing their cables that make them stronger than something Bell sells? I guess anyone who knows anything about the differences in cable locks could have some insight too.
2010 Kona Dr. Dew, Yuba Mundo V3, 2009 Diamondback Kalamar
I think I've seen some companies braid their cables, but I don't think that will make much difference to someone equipped to cut the cables. The metal-sheathed cables might provide a little more protection, but probably not enough to matter. Thieves would be using bolt cutters or rotary cutting wheels, neither of which will be stopped by braids or a thin metal sheath.
The only thing I can think of that might make a real difference is the Kevlar sheath some cables have, since Kevlar is supposed to be resistant to cutting.
Here's my take with my background of many years in "campus" law enforcement, where bike theft is one of our constant problems. Cables are simply not as good as U-locks. Most all the bikes we have stolen are "secured" with cables.
Having cut quite a few of these myself (we sometimes have to seize bikes, or remove them from improper parking area, or just cut it loose because junior forgot the combination...)
A standard 16" bolt cutter, the type favored by bike theives, will open to about 1/2". Provided the cutter is sharp and well-adjusted, it will rather quickly cut anything that will fit inside the jaws.
So, the big, thick braided cables are better. They can be defeated, but it takes time. The theif has to "nibble" through the cable, which takes time and attracts attention.
The advantage of cables is that if the bolt cutter is not sharp and well-adjusted, they just sort of "mash" together and nothing gets cut.
So, if you must use a cable, get the widest, thickest one you can find.
That sounds logical. I was disappointed when I ended up cutting a cheapie Bell cable lock of mine several years ago - I was prepared for at least a little bit of a fight, as the thing was probably 7/16" thick overall, but it turned out most of that was rubber! No wonder the lock seemed so handy and flexible! The inner cable was tiny, comparable to a 12AWG copper lead as I recall, and took only a few non-determined minutes to file through it.