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Some lock advice from a locksmith

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Some lock advice from a locksmith

Old 03-15-09, 08:25 PM
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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 keep your bike is to always bring it inside with you and maybe even lock it securely there if you are really concerned.

The best way to lock your bike for MAXIMUM security is to use this cable (or a hardened boron steel hex chain if you don't mind the weight) with this padlock (links below), looping one end of the cable through your front and back wheels, around the frame, and around whatever you are locking to. Always lock to the most secure object that you can. A proper bike rack, a parking meter, anything that is thick steel and cemented into the ground with no exposed bolts. 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.

https://www.mul-t-lockusa.com/product...=1938&catid=25

https://www.kryptonitelock.com/produ...=1001&pid=1124

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 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 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 highly pick, "bump", and drill resistant.
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.

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.

Last edited by crawdaddio; 06-19-09 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 03-15-09, 09:03 PM
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Thanks for the information. I take it that you do not favor any of the On Guard locks. Any particular reasons that you are willing to divulge?
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Old 03-15-09, 09:13 PM
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Thanks for the info! It really means something when it comes from a pro.....
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Old 03-15-09, 09:20 PM
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Thanks for the info... I haven't read this anywhere else...

Really makes you think.
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Old 03-15-09, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tatfiend
Thanks for the information. I take it that you do not favor any of the On Guard locks. Any particular reasons that you are willing to divulge?
The materials and machining on the 'on guard' locks are inferior to the 'kryptonite' brand. This equates to a lock that is easier to break via prying/jacking. The key systems are not as durable and secure.
Simply better quality.

I would recommend kryptonite over on guard any day of the week.
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Old 03-15-09, 10:01 PM
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Learned advice. But discouraging. It's clear how multiple heavy locks will give you a fighting chance, but the cost in weight and hassle sort of ruins the idea of having a good bike in in the first place.

I think the lessons I'm taking away from this are as follows: Don't live in a place where thieves run around with angle grinders. If you do, park the bike where people will notice and do something if a thief spends more than a few seconds powering through your lock. If that's not possible, don't park a decent bike at all. Use the good bike for riding only and bring it inside when you return. Otherwise take a bike you don't care much about, lock it with something that will stand up to a quick attack, and let the professionals have it if they're that desperate.

And also: It would be nice if law enforcement cared, and we didn't have to fight these idiots on our own.
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Old 03-16-09, 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by crawdaddio
The materials and machining on the 'on guard' locks are inferior to the 'kryptonite' brand. This equates to a lock that is easier to break via prying/jacking. The key systems are not as durable and secure.
Simply better quality.

I would recommend kryptonite over on guard any day of the week.
Agreed. 100% The main thing I try to do is make my bike enough of a hassle to steal that the 'pros' will move on to easier pickins'. I've gone so far as to strap my helmet through my rear wheel/frame to add a 'layer' of hassle to potential thieves...every second counts. Those things plus mid-level comps and Pac-rim frames aren't enough of a pricepoint for pros to take the trouble. Thank you for some 'straight-up' answers from an expert. We ALL appreciate you taking the time to post.
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Old 03-16-09, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by crawdaddio
The materials and machining on the 'on guard' locks are inferior to the 'kryptonite' brand. This equates to a lock that is easier to break via prying/jacking. The key systems are not as durable and secure.
Simply better quality.

I would recommend kryptonite over on guard any day of the week.
+1

This has been my real world experience. Never a problem with Kryptonite or Abus, but several OnGuard locks which have frozen up on me.
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Old 03-16-09, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by crawdaddio
The materials and machining on the 'on guard' locks are inferior to the 'kryptonite' brand. This equates to a lock that is easier to break via prying/jacking. The key systems are not as durable and secure.
Simply better quality.

I would recommend kryptonite over on guard any day of the week.
Bummer, advice a day late. I just bought an OnGuard U-lock. Well, the crime rate around here is quite low, I've been doing fine totally without a lock, so I guess I'll just use the OnGuard. Odds are I'll never have to replace it anyway. I really can't imagine anyone getting away with something as blatant as prying/jacking a lock in my town anyway.

Honestly, I actually own one of those crappy little $7.99 combo cable locks. It's just to keep kids from screwing with my bike, not to stop anyone who really wants the bike from stealing it.
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Old 03-16-09, 06:27 AM
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I'm not sure why I would bother with the special padlock when the thieves are just going to go through the cable.
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Old 03-16-09, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
I'm not sure why I would bother with the special padlock when the thieves are just going to go through the cable.
I am a little confused by that, also.
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Old 03-16-09, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
I'm not sure why I would bother with the special padlock when the thieves are just going to go through the cable.
Cable is almost impossible to cut with bolt cutters, and very difficult to impossible with a hacksaw. If they have bolt cutters, they're going to go for the lock. If you fill the shackle of that lock with cable loops, they won't have an attack point.

If they have an angle grinder, you're boned anyway.
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Old 03-16-09, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
Cable is almost impossible to cut with bolt cutters
Not true, I'm afraid.

My wife had what I thought was a pretty good, thick, cable with a combination lock. The cable was one of those ones that looks like 5 cables twisted around one another. It wasn't cheap.

Anyway, something went wrong with the combination lock. We couldn't open it with the same combination we had been using for months.

So I took to the cable with bolt cutters. These cut through most of the cable, and I finished off the remaining strands with pliers. It took less than 5 minutes to free the bike.
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Old 03-16-09, 08:02 AM
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Is cable preferable to a heavy duty chain, like the ones Kryptonite sells? such as this one.
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Old 03-16-09, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by cod.peace
Is cable preferable to a heavy duty chain, like the ones Kryptonite sells? such as this one.
No, it isn't. Cable is rather easy to cut with small hand tools; the Krypto chain isn't.
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Old 03-16-09, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by cod.peace
Is cable preferable to a heavy duty chain, like the ones Kryptonite sells? such as this one.
No.
The krypto chains are better than the cables.
Heavier though, if you don't mind the weight, I'd use a heavy duty chain

It simply depends where you are. City vs. country. This is the best locking solution available. I had someone recently ask, so this is my answer if you can afford it.

You should use a secondary U lock in addition to the padlock/cable, as I said in the OP.

It works because the thief has to have at least two types of tools to get your bike, and it takes them longer to get it.

It will take someone a lot longer than you think to cut that cable with bolt cutters. Unless they are carrying the ginormous 3' variety.
The padlock will take a hell of a lot more time to defeat than any other lock out there.

It's all about:
1-Deterrence. Make them move on to something easier.
2-Time. Make it take as long as possible to break your lock. Maybe someone who cares, or you, will see what they are doing.
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Old 03-16-09, 10:13 AM
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I use 2 ulocks and have a bike rack that makes it easy to fill the space inside the u-locks. One u-lock goes around the back tire and seat tube and bike rack. The other goes around the front tire and down tube and the bike rack.

My bike is the hardest to steal in the area. I work on a college campus so there are plenty of other easier targets, then my bike.

The other advantage I have is that since I work in the same building all the time, I just leave my u-locks lock to the bike rack. So I have no need to carry them. If I have to stop somewhere on my commute, then I take a u-lock with me, but that is rare.

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Old 03-16-09, 10:19 AM
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One more reason why I send my building management a gift every holiday season, as a thanks for the dedicated (and locked) bike room we have in the building.
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Old 03-16-09, 10:23 AM
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2 ulocks, 1 heavy duty cable and 1 heavy duty padlock. Wow. That's adding more than 10lbs to the weight of your bike. It'd add easily 30-40% to the weight of my typically loaded bike. I'm glad I don't have to lock very often. (I do carry a mini ulock and a light cable lock with a very light seat collar, I live in a low theft town).

Cities and stores really ought to think about lockers more often. It sure would be convenient.
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Old 03-16-09, 10:35 AM
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why ulock and cable? and not two ulocks?

i had a cable that was 8mm of steel braided cable and took a pair of wire cutters and cut threw it in 30seconds. so long as you cut the plastic first then cut one steel cable at a time then there is no need for bolt cutters. i have an KryptoLok series 2thats 5x9 for frame/rear wheel/inmoveable object and a mini onguard bulldog for frame and front wheel. both locks weight 5pounds and i find it a secrure way to lock up my bike for long periods of time in a low to mild level crime area.

i know its pretty easy to steel and bandalize my bike, but locks are really only there to keep good people honest and keep crooks, crooks
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Old 03-16-09, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Abacus
So I took to the cable with bolt cutters. These cut through most of the cable, and I finished off the remaining strands with pliers. It took less than 5 minutes to free the bike.
OK, I should have said that you can't cut a cable with bolt cutters in the 2 seconds that you can cut a lock with bolt cutters. Certainly you can get through a cable, heck, you can get through a cable with a pair of pliers, but it'll take many minutes.

Bolt cutters will go through a padlock shackle in a few seconds. Using a disc lock or the obstructed shackle lock the OP linked to are a good defense, but if you link to it with a chain, you're back to "snip snip" with bolt cutters and they're in. Probably doesn't apply to hardened steel chain, but I can certainly cut conventional chain with bolt cutters in a few seconds.
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Old 03-16-09, 11:01 AM
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crawdaddio: thanks for the tips. Two questions,if I may. First,I have a pair of these that I use as additional locks in my apt's garage:
https://www.bike-locks.com/product/02...da1636864.aspx

I use proper U-locks with motorcycle-level cables and a Krypto NY chain to secure my bikes to water pipes,but use these to tie the frames together as an added defense. A couple times I've considered taking one with me for a quick lockup somewhere. Just how easy is it to defeat the combo?

Second,what's your opinion of these?
https://www.bike-locks.com/product/6b...e27c776e2.aspx

They have a Gold rating. I use one of these when out riding with friends because I don't always know what we'll be able to lock to,and just in case someone forgets their lock we can lock together.
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Old 03-16-09, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by dynaryder
crawdaddio: thanks for the tips. Two questions,if I may. First,I have a pair of these that I use as additional locks in my apt's garage:
https://www.bike-locks.com/product/02...da1636864.aspx

As long as you are using them ALONG with a good U lock, I think it's great. Any added security can't hurt.



I use proper U-locks with motorcycle-level cables and a Krypto NY chain to secure my bikes to water pipes,but use these to tie the frames together as an added defense. A couple times I've considered taking one with me for a quick lockup somewhere. Just how easy is it to defeat the combo?

For someone who knows how, it can take as little as 30 seconds, and as long as ten minutes to find the right combo. As and added deficit to this style of lock, it simply looks like the thief is the owner of the bike fumbling with the combo as he determines the right combination. Combination locks should only be used as your only lock if you are in an area that poses a very LOW RISK of theft.


Second,what's your opinion of these?
https://www.bike-locks.com/product/6b...e27c776e2.aspx

They have a Gold rating. I use one of these when out riding with friends because I don't always know what we'll be able to lock to,and just in case someone forgets their lock we can lock together.

I haven't seen that one before. It 'LOOKS' pretty robust. Notice that they advertise its 'pick resistance'. Thieves don't (usually) pick locks, and they know that. I still wouldn't use that as my only lock if I am locking in any kind of risky area.
-Two cents-
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Old 03-16-09, 12:37 PM
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Awesome thread. Great advice.

I'm not going argue with what the locksmith wrote about. It is some of the best advice I have read on a public forum in a long time. Unfortunately, the lock that he recommended seems pretty hard to come by. I can't get one in the city I live in. The nearest dealer is 1 hour away.

Master Lock makes a comparable alternative shrouded lock. Its shackle diameter is 7/16. That is thick, a diameter like this would influence a thief to attempt to cut through the Kryptonite cable instead of the shackle; which would take time using a bolt cutter or hack saw because it takes time to cut through threaded cable.

https://www.masterlock.com/apps/catal...ty&subId=D6327
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Old 03-16-09, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by crawdaddio
I would recommend kryptonite over on guard any day of the week.
+1 I've always bought Kryptonite locks. U-lock and cable. My bike(s) have never been stolen or tampered with.
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