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  1. #1
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    Some lock advice from a locksmith

    (I posted this in another thread, but I thought I would start a new one for all of those people who will search it out in the future. Please ask any questions on locks, methods, lubrication, and/or maintenance that you may have)



    Okay, I see one of these lock threads pop up every couple of weeks here.

    I am a CRL (certified registered locksmith) in Illinois. Have been for about 14 years.

    I have dealt with many customers' questions after they just lost their bike to some thief. I know exactly which methods are used by thieves, and exactly which methods will actually work best on most, if not all of the locks out there.

    Here are some thoughts:

    You should lock your bike in accordance with:
    1) Your risk of theft (crime rate in your area, or your personal paranoia)
    2) Your available budget on a locking system.
    3) The value of your bicycle.
    4) The length of time you will be leaving your bike locked.
    *Not necessarily in that order*

    MOST bike thefts ARE a crime of opportunity. Committed by low level thieves who carry around bolt cutters, pry bars, and/or a small jack.
    **You CAN defend your bike against this type of theft with a locking system.**

    SOME (very few, at least to my knowledge, in chicago) bike thefts are committed by individuals who specialize in this kind of work, have the skill, speed, tools, and know-how to steal bikes very quickly. They usually carry a variety of tools in a van and can steal, pretty much any bike they want.
    **You CANNOT prevent this type of theft with ANY locking system that I have seen**

    Thieves do not pick locks, they break them.

    A cordless angle grinder with the right blade can and will cut through any LOCK/CABLE/CHAIN that I have seen on the market. This can be done in under five minutes per lock/cable.

    So, you can't stop someone with a grinder, you can only slow them down by using multiple locks.

    The best way to lock your bike for MAXIMUM security is to use this cable with this lock (links below), looping one end of the cable through your front and back wheels, around the frame, and around whatever you are locking to. Lock both ends of the cable with the padlock. They will barely fit into the shackle, but they will fit. Even more easily if you cut away the plastic covering in one small section of the eyelets to help with this.

    **EDIT: I now recommend MEDECO padlocks (and lock systems) due to some shop defeat research I have done on the MULTI-LOCK brand. They are more easily drilled out than the MEDECO due to better construction and more hardened material in the MEDECO cylinders.

    http://www.medeco.com/index.php?opti...6&Itemid=?1025

    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...lex+Cable.aspx

    Then use one or more kryptonite U locks (the best you can afford) to lock the frame and/or wheels in addition to the above lock. This is deterrence. Even hearty bike thieves will move on to another 'easier' target when they see this. The more locks that they have to break or cut through, even with a fast grinder, the better. Opportunistic thieves won't even look twice before moving on.

    Multi lock (and MEDECO) brand locks MUST be purchased through a locksmith. The keyways are restricted to individual lockshops and, therefore, cannot be duplicated, even by another multi lock/MEDECO dealing locksmith. When you purchase a lock and keys, the key bitting(s) will be recorded by the locksmith onto a key authorization form. The only people that will ever be able to get keys to your lock will be the people named on this list. Period. You will have to return to that same lockshop, with a valid photo ID, to obtain replacement/extra keys (very handy if you lose your keys).
    The lock cylinders are virtually pick, drill, and 'bump' proof. (Moreso in the MEDECO)
    Very secure.

    Unless you are in a very low risk area, DO NOT use combination cable locks. They are too easy to open if you know how, and it is not hard to find out.

    Don't lock your bike in dark, low traffic areas, or parking garages, if it can be avoided.


    With all of that being said, I use the above cable locking method, but with a kryptonite U lock EVERY time I lock my bike. I will use a secondary kryptonite U lock on the frame if I will be locking it for an extended period of time.

    Kryptonite brand is highly recommended, especially their higher end products.

    I hate bike thieves.
    You can't stop them all, but you can stop 90% of them if you just invest a little money and lock your bike properly every time.

    Edited 5-10-10 with new information.
    ~DC
    Last edited by crawdaddio; 06-23-10 at 10:22 AM.

  2. #2
    gridlock junky jgrant75's Avatar
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    dont you think a quad faced chain would be way better than a cable lock?
    in LA we're facing increased bike theft and if a lock is involved its usually a cable...

    also, as a locksmith what is your impression of the American shielded padlocks? vs. non shielded?

    thanks for your expertise
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgrant75 View Post
    dont you think a quad faced chain would be way better than a cable lock?
    in LA we're facing increased bike theft and if a lock is involved its usually a cable...

    also, as a locksmith what is your impression of the American shielded padlocks? vs. non shielded?

    thanks for your expertise
    Yes.
    Heavier though. If you don't mind the weight, the krypto chains are better than the cables.

    Shielded padlocks are always better than non-shielded. Buy the most expensive one you can afford. More $$ = better quality (generally).
    Last edited by crawdaddio; 03-15-09 at 10:55 PM.

  4. #4
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    The first post is the best post on BF ever. EVER.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddac View Post
    What do you recommend in terms of lock maintenance? In the old days, I heard people used to stick crushed lead in locks as lube.....but I'm sure there's far better ways now. Any recommendations?
    http://www.rd.com/33973/article33973.html

  6. #6
    . blickblocks's Avatar
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    Is it helpful to use two different brands of U locks when using two locks? I'm going to buy a second lock soon.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    The first post is the best post on BF ever. EVER.
    Why? Because it's in the wrong forum? Because he says that any lock can be defeated? Because he is a locksmith and did everything but tell us the price of a super duper padlock he might be selling? Because he doesn't even use the super duper padlock and instead just loops a flimsy 10mm cable around his bike and uses a regular u-lock on it?

    Best post on this forum...EVER...Really?

  8. #8
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by areacode312 View Post
    Why? Because it's in the wrong forum? Because he says that any lock can be defeated? Because he is a locksmith and did everything but tell us the price of a super duper padlock he might be selling? Because he doesn't even use the super duper padlock and instead just loops a flimsy 10mm cable around his bike and uses a regular u-lock on it?

    Best post on this forum...EVER...Really?
    No. Because he posted some useful information that we can all use and didn't come off like a D-bag troll, like you just did.
    Last edited by carleton; 03-16-09 at 01:28 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by blickblocks View Post
    Is it helpful to use two different brands of U locks when using two locks? I'm going to buy a second lock soon.
    No. Don't forget what the locksmith said: "Thieves do not pick locks, they break them.".
    Like guys going around a parking lot stealing GPS units from cars....
    they're not worried if a car is an import or a domestic or what kind of security system it has, all they have to know is that they can smash a window and get what they want.
    A U-lock will be defeated by physical cutting/brute force, nothing else matters.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    No. Because he posted some useful information that we can all use and didn't come off like a D-bag troll, like you just did.
    I'll try again. I asked you a series of questions. And your reply included a nice personal insult. Who is the troll, lol.

    Have a nice day!

  11. #11
    iRide. IllSpecialist's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info OP. Very useful.

    As for me.... I don't lock my bike up if I can't see it... PERIOD.
    Quote Originally Posted by photonick View Post
    Do you know how many super deep v-neck shirts he could buy if he sold his Pista...omg, it's almost overwhelming. He might even have enough money left over to buy some PBR!

  12. #12
    Lurker yoyosup's Avatar
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    So I'm suppose to use a flimsy $8 cable lock to secure my bike to whatever I'm locking to? Are you kidding me?

  13. #13
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    yeah i disagree with the use of the cable



    i lock my bike up pretty lax but i don't leave it for long and bike theft is not that prevalent here...not to mention it's a flashy bike so it'd be hard to get rid of most of the parts
    Quote Originally Posted by murdaki11
    i still think you guys who like ride 5+ miles on these bikes are crazy

  14. #14
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iansmash View Post
    yeah i disagree with the use of the cable
    Quote Originally Posted by yoyosup View Post
    So I'm suppose to use a flimsy $8 cable lock to secure my bike to whatever I'm locking to? Are you kidding me?
    Did you guys read the entire post? The cable is an ADDITIONAL DETERRENT. Not the main lock. It becomes one more hassle for the would-be thief to overcome along with the main U-lock.

    Then use one or more kryptonite U locks (the best you can afford) to lock the frame and/or wheels in addition to the above [cable] lock. This is deterrence. Even hearty bike thieves will move on to another 'easier' target when they see this. The more locks that they have to break or cut through, even with a fast grinder, the better. Opportunistic thieves won't even look twice before moving on.

  15. #15
    Rumblefish jtarver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iansmash View Post
    yeah i disagree with the use of the cable



    i lock my bike up pretty lax but i don't leave it for long and bike theft is not that prevalent here...not to mention it's a flashy bike so it'd be hard to get rid of most of the parts
    This guy seemed to have no problem getting rid of high end parts.
    http://austinbikeblog.org/2009/02/04...ed-bike-thief/
    1973 Crescent Pepita FG, 1987 Panasonic DX-4000, 1991 Trek 1400 FG, 1990's Gary Fisher Hoo-Koo-e-Koo SS, 1990's Denti Road Tech Five, 2009 Surly Long Haul Trucker

  16. #16
    Senior Member howl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by areacode312 View Post
    Why? Because it's in the wrong forum? Because he says that any lock can be defeated? Because he is a locksmith and did everything but tell us the price of a super duper padlock he might be selling? Because he doesn't even use the super duper padlock and instead just loops a flimsy 10mm cable around his bike and uses a regular u-lock on it?

    Best post on this forum...EVER...Really?
    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    No. Because he posted some useful information that we can all use and didn't come off like a D-bag troll, like you just did.
    jesus christ. are you guys not getting laid or something? chill the **** out and stop embarrassing yourselves.

  17. #17
    Senior Member jack002's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by areacode312 View Post
    Why? Because it's in the wrong forum? Because he says that any lock can be defeated? Because he is a locksmith and did everything but tell us the price of a super duper padlock he might be selling? Because he doesn't even use the super duper padlock and instead just loops a flimsy 10mm cable around his bike and uses a regular u-lock on it?

    Best post on this forum...EVER...Really?
    I keep finding your name in every thread that insults people over and over about this and that and the other.

    Anyone want to see an endless line of insults and rants? Then read this!
    http://www.bikeforums.net/search.php?searchid=5764151

  18. #18
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    Ok, I will defend my original post a little bit here.

    I had a customer come into my shop and ask about some GOOD locks for his bike. He had a very expensive ($5000-ish) canondale road bike that he wanted to start commuting on this summer. (His wheels alone cost more than my bike!)

    So I recommended the above locks and method.
    The 'Multi lock' heavy duty padlock and krypto cable are used to secure THE WHEELS.
    The krypto U lock is for the frame.
    He was happy to spend $300 on the padlock, cable, and TWO U locks (one short, one long) to protect his very expensive transport.

    I understand that most people won't want to spend that much cash.

    A krypto U lock through the frame and rear wheel will suffice for most cyclists.
    Be aware that they can be defeated by the right tools in under 5 minutes though.
    Add a secondary U lock through the frame for added protection, if you want (will take longer to cut two).
    Add a cable or chain through the wheels if you want to keep those too.

    Super glue and hardened ball bearings in your allen heads will save your components, as will locking skewers.

    Sorry if this info makes people mad (for some strange reason), I just thought some of you out there might want to know THE BEST WAY TO LOCK YOUR BIKE UP.

  19. #19
    Rumblefish jtarver's Avatar
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    Hey daddio, ever have anyone come in with a broken off key in one of the new style Krypto locks? I started using my extra key after a friend broke his off in the lock and I noticed a twist developing in mine.
    1973 Crescent Pepita FG, 1987 Panasonic DX-4000, 1991 Trek 1400 FG, 1990's Gary Fisher Hoo-Koo-e-Koo SS, 1990's Denti Road Tech Five, 2009 Surly Long Haul Trucker

  20. #20
    ECR Meepers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jack002 View Post
    I keep finding your name in every thread that insults people over and over about this and that and the other.

    Anyone want to see an endless line of insults and rants? Then read this!
    http://www.bikeforums.net/search.php?searchid=5764151
    "Sorry - no matches. Please try some different terms. "
    :-(
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    Someone get me my brown pants!

  21. #21
    Pretty Prince of Parties chadbrochill17's Avatar
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    Thank you

  22. #22
    extra bitter kyselad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by areacode312 View Post
    Why? Because it's in the wrong forum? Because he says that any lock can be defeated? Because he is a locksmith and did everything but tell us the price of a super duper padlock he might be selling? Because he doesn't even use the super duper padlock and instead just loops a flimsy 10mm cable around his bike and uses a regular u-lock on it?

    Best post on this forum...EVER...Really?
    I'll bite.

    Locking methods come up all the time in this forum. But you knew that already. Or did you just get here? Er, nevermind.

    Any lock can be defeated. Maybe you just considered this too obvious? It's certainly true.

    Sounds like he's probably selling the multi-lock, but he didn't send us to his shop. Unless you think he's the manufacturer, he'll likely never see a dime in relation to this post. It's possible that he suggested this lock because he has some relevant expertise, being a locksmith and all.

    As already mentioned, you didn't read the post if you thought the cable was supposed to keep the bike in place.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddac View Post
    What do you recommend in terms of lock maintenance? In the old days, I heard people used to stick crushed lead in locks as lube.....but I'm sure there's far better ways now. Any recommendations?
    Sure.
    DO NOT USE POWDERED GRAPHITE IN YOUR BIKE LOCKS.
    DO NOT USE WD-40 AS A LUBRICANT ON YOUR BIKE LOCK.

    After some time, particulates (foreign material) will get into the keyway. The graphite will cling to this crud and clump up, essentially defeating its own purpose.

    WD-40 is a water displacement product. It is used as a cleaner, not a lubricant. When it dries, it will also attract particulates, gunking up your lock. It SHOULD be used on OLD, gunky, rusty, cruddy locks to clean them out. Spray some into the keyway and all moving parts. Wait 5 minutes or so and wipe as much out as you can. Wait as long as you can to let it dry out, and apply a teflon lubricant.

    Use any teflon based lubricant. I use 'tri-flow'.
    Spray some into the keyway and work it in by running the key in and out rapidly and turning the key in the lock repeatedly. This should be done 2-10 times per year, depending on how frequently you use the lock.

  24. #24
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yoyosup View Post
    So I'm suppose to use a flimsy $8 cable lock to secure my bike to whatever I'm locking to? Are you kidding me?
    No. Read the original post again. Most bike thefts are crimes of opportunity. To prevent your bike from being stolen you must convince the would-be thief that that the opportunity to steal your bike is not worth the effort needed to do so. You must assess the criteria he lists (i.e. value of bike, crime rate where locked, length of time locked, etc.) and base your locking strategy on that.

  25. #25
    Senior Member jack002's Avatar
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    crawdaddio, great posts! I appreciate the info. SOME people here like to flame anything that moves, its not you.

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