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How easy is it to pick U locks?

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How easy is it to pick U locks?

Old 04-30-13, 07:10 AM
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Winfried
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How easy is it to pick U locks?

Hello

This poor lonesome [strike]cowboy[/strike]Abus mini U lock seen last night...



... made me wonder how easy it is to pick U locks.

Reviews always mention how thick and strong the shackle is, but how strong is the lock itself, even on the more expensive items like the Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit?

www.google.com/search?q=u+lock+picking

Does someone have more infos?

Thank you.
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Old 04-30-13, 07:22 AM
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I think the bic pen thing that comes up in searches doesn't work with newer locks, but it is a good question that I don't have an answer to.
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Old 04-30-13, 07:55 AM
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A lonesome lock says that the rider parks there regularly and doesn't want to lug the heavy lock around, not that the lock was picked and bike stolen.

I think they're as easy to pick as any lock. https://www.wikihow.com/Pick-a-Lock
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Old 04-30-13, 08:17 AM
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I think it is unlikely that the u-lock shown was lock picked and then closed again (you have to "lock pick" it to close it too). Besides that, it is important for the thief to remove any evidence of the crime. By leaving a "signature" picked u-lock behind, the thief reveal both MO and shows a pattern on how often and where he steals. The lock may have been left by someone who regularly park there, or eg. the attached bike was stolen by bypassing the u-lock by sawing the wheel in two or similar.

Most modern u-locks are very resistant to lock picking. While youtube have plenty of videos that show how to pick locks, few of them are about u-locks. The u-lock picked seems to be old (the BIC pen method etc), low end, or by using "cheating" blank keys.
Not an expert, but apparently, u-locks with very flat keys are easier to pick, while square, "thick" keys usually are a sign the the u-lock is hard to pick.
My take on it is, that lock picking is a very low threat compared to motorised tools, huge bolt cutters, or long steel bars.
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Old 04-30-13, 11:26 AM
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better locks have opposing sets of pins and the keys have to open Both..

others there are little dots machined in the sides of the key, those are a Bugger to pick as a result.

I too think the lock you see was left there and the rider will come back there and use it repeatedly.

setup a web cam if you want ..
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Old 04-30-13, 04:05 PM
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Thanks for the input. I find it odd that someone would leave their U lock attached: What if they have to stop at some point between eg. their office and home?

Incidently, it's not an old U lock: It's the Abus mini U lock which is still sold, and I happen to own one. The Bic incident was with an old Kryptonite U lock circa 2008.
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Old 04-30-13, 04:52 PM
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It's very common for someone (esp. delivery people) to leave their U-locks or chain locks alone on the racks where they lock their bikes frequently. I see it a lot in NYC. They are usually heavy, old and rusty. (Although I suspect some may have been abandoned or forgotten) Sometimes it's annoying when you need to lock your bike on the same rack.
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Old 04-30-13, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
A lonesome lock says that the rider parks there regularly and doesn't want to lug the heavy lock around, not that the lock was picked and bike stolen.
Yup! I have 3 U-locks currently occupying 3 different bike racks around town - places I normally ride. Plus, one cable lock on a railing close to a place where I used to work. I lost that key, and that cable has been there for over 6 years.
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Old 04-30-13, 08:39 PM
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I've considered leaving my lock at a common destination - thought it was an awesome idea, but evidently others have thought of it too
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Old 04-30-13, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by sfleuriet View Post
I've considered leaving my lock at a common destination - thought it was an awesome idea, but evidently others have thought of it too
Go for it. You don't have to carry it around and who's gonna take it?
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Old 04-30-13, 09:46 PM
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a coworker at one of my jobs leaves a ulock on the rack we lock up to, makes sense if you dont want to carry it around
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Old 04-30-13, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Winfried View Post
Hello

This poor lonesome [strike]cowboy[/strike]Abus mini U lock seen last night...



... made me wonder how easy it is to pick U locks.

Reviews always mention how thick and strong the shackle is, but how strong is the lock itself, even on the more expensive items like the Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit?

www.google.com/search?q=u+lock+picking

Does someone have more infos?

Thank you.
Heck with picking.. In an age of battery powered handtools, a little time with lithium ion powered cutting-wheel and whatever neglected steed is yours ..
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Old 04-30-13, 10:35 PM
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Any lock can be picked if the person picking has spent time with the particular lock in question practicing picking it. But like others have said, the bike/lock owner left the lock there so he wouldn't have to lug it back and forth everyday.
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Old 04-30-13, 11:03 PM
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Just to clarify, there are several different types of locks, each of which require their own set of skills (and tools) to pick. The Wiki-how link is for a standard pin-tumbler lock, the kind used on most houses, and cheaper bike locks. Depending on the skill set of the lock-picker and the quality of the lock, it can take anywhere from about 5 seconds to a half hour or more. I'm not a terribly good lock picker myself, but I can get through a standard Kwikset, like the one on my front door in about 30 seconds. Most people who can pick locks can only pick these types of locks.

The old Kryptonites that you can open with a bic pen used a different type of lock entirely; they used a Tubular pin-tumbler, which, ordinarily are a real pain to pick using conventional tools. Despite the Bic incident, they are still pretty secure (Generally speaking, Kryptonite just got unlucky), which is why you see them on vending machines, pay phones and slot machines. The tools needed to pick these are expensive and difficult to use (usually).

Most modern U-locks (at least that I've seen) use a different system again, now that people have lost faith in the Tubular pin-tumbler. Both Kryptonite and On-Guard, as well as Abus use Disc Detainer locks. They are a real pain in the ass to pick, and I don't think there is any nice workaround using stationary. They can be picked, but it again requires a lot of skill and a lot of time.

If you have a Kryptonite key, take a look at it; notice that line of numbers on the handle? That's the code that opens your lock. All someone needs to steal your bike is that code. Granted, no casual thief is going to go to those lengths, but a dedicated thief after your bike would just need a quick look at the keys to have his own copy made.

Last edited by fuzz2050; 04-30-13 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 05-02-13, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post

Most modern U-locks (at least that I've seen) use a different system again, now that people have lost faith in the Tubular pin-tumbler. Both Kryptonite and On-Guard, as well as Abus use Disc Detainer locks. They are a real pain in the ass to pick, and I don't think there is any nice workaround using stationary. They can be picked, but it again requires a lot of skill and a lot of time.
Your both right and wrong. You are right it takes a skilled person to pick a detainer lock but once that skill has been learned it won't take that person a long time to pick it, in fact a skilled person can do it in under one minute, a semi skilled person may take several minutes.
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Old 05-02-13, 11:24 AM
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If I were a thief, I wouldn't care if it was a disc detainer or tubular pin tumbler or whatever with space-age laser cut keyways. I'd just use a jack and pop it open.
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Old 05-02-13, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
Your both right and wrong. You are right it takes a skilled person to pick a detainer lock but once that skill has been learned it won't take that person a long time to pick it, in fact a skilled person can do it in under one minute, a semi skilled person may take several minutes.
I don't disagree, but I think you're notion of 'skilled' might be different. I'm maybe a hundred hours of practice in on pin-tumbler locks, and I can get through most mid-level pin tumbler locks without much problems, but higher security locks can still be a problem, if not outright impossible for me. I don't think you could learn to pick a disc detainer without having a solid background in pin tumblers, or at least it's highly unlikely. You're talking about someone who has spent a significant length of time, as well as a significant investment in tools, all to duplicate a result achievable with a $20 bottle jack.

Maybe if you a member of a ring of high end bike thieves and had a particular target in mind, but I somehow don't see Oceans 11 happening for your bike, no matter how nice it is.
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Old 05-02-13, 01:53 PM
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I think there is some confusion regarding the lock on a Kryptonite U-Lock. The Kryptonite I have does not have a round, barrel style key. It's flat, but knotched in a squarish pattern. It would be pretty tough to pick. Angle Grinder? No problem.

FWIW. Kryponite did/does make a line of uber-cheap U-Locks for the big box stores. They have no where the quality of the Kryptonite lock sold through bike retailers and most on-line places. Those locks are easier to break and pick.

Last edited by OneGoodLeg; 05-02-13 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 05-02-13, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
Your both right and wrong. You are right it takes a skilled person to pick a detainer lock but once that skill has been learned it won't take that person a long time to pick it, in fact a skilled person can do it in under one minute, a semi skilled person may take several minutes.
All disc detainer locks are not the same. There are some that have as few as three discs with four positions, and then there are others that are far more intricate. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you for some proof that there are folks that can reliably and repeatably pick a top spec Abloy or Abus disk detainer locks they've never seen and have no access to the key "in under a minute".
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Old 05-02-13, 02:39 PM
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Lock picking in the real world is very rare. It's best employed by someone who needs to break into a building or tool crib or file cabinet without anyone knowing they have done so, or to return a legitimate owner to their property ('non-destructive entry'). Usually when someone has a bicycle stolen, they realize the bike is no longer there.

Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post
The old Kryptonites that you can open with a bic pen used a different type of lock entirely; they used a Tubular pin-tumbler, which, ordinarily are a real pain to pick using conventional tools. Despite the Bic incident, they are still pretty secure (Generally speaking, Kryptonite just got unlucky), which is why you see them on vending machines, pay phones and slot machines. The tools needed to pick these are expensive and difficult to use (usually).
Because lock picking bike theft is darn near unheard of, in around 1987 or so, Kryptonite redesigned their U-locks, putting more value towards resisting physical attack and less money in the lock cylinder. In fact, they specified such a cheap lock cylinder, it was breachable by 'self impression'. Oops.

Realistically, so long as one is not using such an inexpensive lock that it can be self impressioned, bumped, shimmed or easily drilled, the lock itself will be fine, and more of the security budget should go towards resisting physical attack (snipping, cutting grinding, torching, levering, jacking, etc.)
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Old 05-02-13, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Sirrus Rider View Post
Heck with picking.. In an age of battery powered handtools, a little time with lithium ion powered cutting-wheel and whatever neglected steed is yours ..
...or go old school with a little cutting torch set. Fits in a backpack and a lot quieter than an angle grinder, too. You'd surely only resort to either technique if you couldn't get a stubby hydraulic jack into the shackle, though.
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Old 05-02-13, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post
I don't disagree, but I think you're notion of 'skilled' might be different. I'm maybe a hundred hours of practice in on pin-tumbler locks, and I can get through most mid-level pin tumbler locks without much problems, but higher security locks can still be a problem, if not outright impossible for me. I don't think you could learn to pick a disc detainer without having a solid background in pin tumblers, or at least it's highly unlikely. You're talking about someone who has spent a significant length of time, as well as a significant investment in tools, all to duplicate a result achievable with a $20 bottle jack.

Maybe if you a member of a ring of high end bike thieves and had a particular target in mind, but I somehow don't see Oceans 11 happening for your bike, no matter how nice it is.

I did post a You Tube video of a guy defeating one, so I know it's not impossible. In fact according to Wiki here is what they say about disk detainers: "[h=2]Vulnerabilities[/h]

A disc-detainer pick for the ABUS Plus lock.

Disc-detainers are subject to all the same attacks as traditional lock designs, though the tools used are less common. Lockpicking tools designed for disc-detainer locks closely resemble the 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 picks used with lever locks. The main anti-lockpicking feature of disc-detainers is the use of false gates (or notches), but more advanced designs include a disc locking system that prevents discs from being individually manipulated.
Given the proper tools and skill, all disc-detainer locks are subject to one or more of the following:

So all those methods can be used to get pass a disk detainer. There's even a You Tube video showing how to make a disk detainer pick; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NE9Vnsn-Vs So I know it's more the just possible to pick those.

Again picking is rare for the time being and mechanical devices are the weapons of choice...for now.
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Old 05-02-13, 08:51 PM
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https://www.youtube.com/results?searc...be.mN-6r1mY2ns how to pick a lock

bike lock picking
https://www.youtube.com/results?searc...be.Xg0ccUofKaM

Last edited by trx1; 05-02-13 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 05-02-13, 11:54 PM
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I know, there are ton of these videos on You Tube, people seem to think that picking a lock is voodoo magic, it's not.
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Old 05-03-13, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
Again picking is rare for the time being and mechanical devices are the weapons of choice...for now.
There are folks analyzing disk detainer lock cylinders, learning how to defeat them, disseminating that information, designing and building disk detainer picking tools and selling them to the general public.

Back in the real world, I find most bikes - including a lot of nice, strippable, fencable bikes - still secured with cables that could be cut in seconds with 12-18" bolt cutters. There are posters that claim bike thieves will by-pass those bikes to attack - including pick - the quality locks on my modest machine, but I'm willing to bet my bike (and I do) that those beliefs cross the line into paranoia.
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