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Bike Locks: Key or Combo revisited 10 years later...

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Bike Locks: Key or Combo revisited 10 years later...

Old 10-19-17, 08:43 AM
  #1  
glennnall
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Bike Locks: Key or Combo revisited 10 years later...

I found the same thread already, but it's from 2007, so I'd like to ask again:

Are keyed lock cables or U-locks pickable these days? The key I looked at looked only a little better than a suitcase key . But I'd rather use a key than scrolling a combination all the time...

I saw these combo locks based on four letter words so that all one has to remember is the correct four letter word. Any views on these? And, no, that particular four letter word wasn't on it. First thing I checked.

This bike would never be locked long-term. Just stops and goes...

Thanks for any advice.

GN
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Old 10-19-17, 08:51 AM
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In my experience and reading, I find that most locks and cables are just cut.

The "four position" locks can be picked/figured within minutes.

I suggest using multiple methods and a good key lock. IE, put a U lock and a good heavy cable with a master lock.
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Old 10-19-17, 08:57 AM
  #3  
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Much easier and safer for a thief to cut many cables than to stand there trying to pick a lock. My Surly LHT is locked up to a sign post outside my office right now with a Kryptonite U-lock around the frame and front wheel and a pretty thick cable around the rear wheel. I have no doubt it will be there at the end of the day.


When I tour, I bring a light weight cable combination lock but often don't use it. Use the combination variety because a key is just one more thing to keep track of. Write down the combination in case I were to forget it and keep it in my wallet because if I am leaving the bike unattended for in a populated area for any length of time my wallet is coming with me anyway.

Last edited by indyfabz; 10-19-17 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 10-19-17, 09:14 AM
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^ Along the lines of the "experiments" you see on youtube...

My wife and a good friend and I all like to go to a Mexican joint with a patio in town. We can park our bikes, lock them to the fence and go eat. I am a tall, red headed dude with a prosthesis. I can almost guarantee you have never seen another person you would mistake as me, or vice versa. I use one of the Master Lock four position cable locks for my "carry/ride" lock.

Just to see if anything would be said. I locked up while the patio was full, and the wife and I went in to eat. Our friend wanted something different, so he went up the shopping center and ate elsewhere. After getting finished he came down and unlocked/moved our bikes while we were in paying. Not one single person got up, looked, or even asked a question. He does not know my lock combo, and had it open and off within the time it took us to pay at the counter.
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Old 10-19-17, 09:20 AM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
In my experience and reading, I find that most locks and cables are just cut.

The "four position" locks can be picked/figured within minutes.

I suggest using multiple methods and a good key lock. IE, put a U lock and a good heavy cable with a master lock.
well, I really don't have it in mind to carry all that with me - my question would be, to both of you, are your bikes the value of which would attract someone who's willing to cut cables? Mine is NOT that attractive - it's new, but it's NOT expensive at all - it's just a small mountain bike. I'm in a (the) "'hood" where easy thefts are rampant, and really nice bikes are not.

By easy thefts, I mean those bikes someone was dumb enough to leave outside "for just a minute" while they run in and out. I don't know if our friendly neighborhood thugs carry cable cutters with them in their cars, or in their low-slung pants or what...

So I'm only guessing that a thief's efforts are contingent on the value of the bike...? Am i woefully mistaken?

Last edited by glennnall; 10-19-17 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 10-19-17, 09:22 AM
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^ yes. Many times people walking along and see an unsecured bike will steal it simply not to walk. I would not go out and leave bike out of sight or even out of reach long enough for someone to have that opportunity.
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Old 10-19-17, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by glennnall View Post
By easy thefts, I mean those bikes someone was dumb enough to leave outside "for just a minute" while they run in and out. I don't know if our friendly neighborhood thugs carry cable cutters with them in their cars, or in their low-slung pants or what...

So I'm only guessing that a thief's efforts are contingent on the value of the bike...? Am i woefully mistaken?
Woefully mistaken. People steal bikes for all sorts of reasons, from they are drunk and acting like an a-hole to someone who will take anything not bolted down that they think they can sell for $20 for a hit and all the way to professional thieves who only target high end bikes.

I'm most worried about opportunistic theft, so combo v key doesn't really matter to me, just being lashed to something to prevent walk-offs is the biggest concern.
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Old 10-19-17, 09:40 AM
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I have found the Abus Bordo , folding link locks to be excellent, I went for their most secure model

https://www.abus.com/eng/Mobile-Secu...IT-X-Plus-6500

they have others that cost less, are lighter and use a simpler key (increased 'pickability'), one such of those incorporates a combination lock.

https://www.abus.com/eng/Mobile-Secu...ombo-Lite-6150




...
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Old 10-19-17, 09:41 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Woefully mistaken. People steal bikes for all sorts of reasons, from they are drunk and acting like an a-hole to someone who will take anything not bolted down that they think they can sell for $20 for a hit and all the way to professional thieves who only target high end bikes.

I'm most worried about opportunistic theft, so combo v key doesn't really matter to me, just being lashed to something to prevent walk-offs is the biggest concern.
I'm glad you said that last part - that's what I'm getting at. Thanks!
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Old 10-19-17, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by glennnall View Post
I'm glad you said that last part - that's what I'm getting at. Thanks!
This debate basically comes down to getting you feeling comfortable with YOUR bike being secured in YOUR locale. A cheap combo cable lock (no worries about losing a key) takes me to about 98% confidence for my situations.

My neighbors leave their bikes out front of their condo unlocked for weeks on end. I seriously doubt anyone will ever bother them. I couldn't say the same of bikes left anywhere unsecured in Detroit.
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Old 10-19-17, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
This debate basically comes down to getting you feeling comfortable with YOUR bike being secured in YOUR locale. A cheap combo cable lock (no worries about losing a key) takes me to about 98% confidence for my situations.

My neighbors leave their bikes out front of their condo unlocked for weeks on end. I seriously doubt anyone will ever bother them. I couldn't say the same of bikes left anywhere unsecured in Detroit.
Right, or in Chicago, where it would be most likely be shot.
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Old 10-19-17, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
Not one single person got up, looked, or even asked a question. He does not know my lock combo, and had it open and off within the time it took us to pay at the counter.
Grim facts ... unless you accept them and deal with them.

Five minutes anything except a major U-Lock or extremely expensive shackle lock can be picked ... or a cable sawed through with a steak knife.

And if your bike is worth all that, some guy with a pick-up or van and a grinder will steal it in 90 seconds instead of two minutes.
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Old 10-19-17, 05:23 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by glennnall View Post
By easy thefts, I mean those bikes someone was dumb enough to leave outside "for just a minute" while they run in and out.
A couple thoughts.

I won't take offense if you don't...

Those "dumb enough" to ride in areas where you can't leave your bike for 5 minutes while you use the WC and get a bite to eat and some liquid deserve to have their bike stolen.

I don't have a lock. My main bike cost $2k. While I wouldn't leave it unattended in an alley in Harlem, I have no compunction leaving it in plain view near the entrance of a local convenience store in VT/NH..
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Old 10-19-17, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by FlamsteadHill View Post
A couple thoughts.

I won't take offense if you don't...

Those "dumb enough" to ride in areas where you can't leave your bike for 5 minutes while you use the WC and get a bite to eat and some liquid deserve to have their bike stolen.

I don't have a lock. My main bike cost $2k. While I wouldn't leave it unattended in an alley in Harlem, I have no compunction leaving it in plain view near the entrance of a local convenience store in VT/NH..
AH. Key words here: "Vermont/New Hampshire." 'nuff said.

I'm in the 'hood in SW Atlanta. A lot like Harlem (yes, I've been there) only the guns are smaller.
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Old 10-20-17, 02:23 PM
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Pretty much any lock can be picked with locksmith tools, but that's not what most bike thieves do.

The old bike locks had plain barrel locks that could be picked with a bic pen. No reputable company uses that lock type anymore, but extremely cheap generic locks may still use it.

The Master Lock Street Cuffs use a barrel key but not a barrel lock, and so can't be picked with a bic pen.

Most bike thieves just cut or break the lock somehow, and most bike thieves are in big cities. As you move further away from urban areas, the chances of such a crime drop off drastically.
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Old 10-20-17, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by glennnall View Post

I saw these combo locks based on four letter words so that all one has to remember is the correct four letter word. Any views on these? And, no, that particular four letter word wasn't on it. First thing I checked.

This bike would never be locked long-term. Just stops and goes...

Thanks for any advice.

GN
for just short stops i have a $12 combo (5-digits) chain from amazon. By short I man on the MTB trails to go into a PArk restroom.

The lockpickinglawyer convinced me any sort of lock is easy to defeat fro someone professional. For my hybrid for locking it in front of a window of my office I use a folding lock (keyed) and a combo-cable lock. I wouldn't use that or any other method in a high-crime area.

The problem with the "better" expensive solutions is they are also easy to defeat, and heavy. If you carry 8 pounds of chain, why not just buy a cheaper (=heavier) bike and a lighter lock?
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Old 10-20-17, 05:38 PM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by glennnall View Post
I don't know if our friendly neighborhood thugs carry cable cutters with them in their cars, or in their low-slung pants or what...
https://www.amazon.com/Uxcell-Cutter.../dp/B0137466AS

They'll take out most of the thin cable locks with about as much effort as crimping a ferrule on a brake cable.

Most of the time, I use a thicker Kryptonite cable, but if I'm actually concerned about leaving the bike somewhere, I double up with a U-lock through the back wheel and frame.
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Old 10-20-17, 06:14 PM
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Years ago I tried cutting a small cable lock with ordinary wire cutters. It would just mash, not cut. But, I've also seen actual cable cutters that are designed to keep the cables from mashing. Actually I've seen some braided cables, and wondered if they would keep the cables bunched up better than the twisted ones, and thus might be easier to defeat.

Nonetheless, I've seen cut cables along the street too

The Kryptonite NY locks would take a lot of cutting to get through. Not a quiet proposition. I did see a youtube video of someone picking a NY lock. Probably a pretty skilled locksmith, but it looked quick. From 20 feet away, I might not notice someone picking a lock, but would definitely notice someone attacking one with an angle grinder.

Anyway, I hate the weight of the NY locks.

Oh, and I lost my key a couple of days ago. Fortunately it was found and turned into lost and found.

If I had my preference, it would probably be a combination U-Lock. I think some exist, but aren't common.
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Old 10-20-17, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Years ago I tried cutting a small cable lock with ordinary wire cutters. It would just mash, not cut. But, I've also seen actual cable cutters that are designed to keep the cables from mashing.
Yup, have a U/V shape that holds the cable in place and cuts it like a hot knife through butter. We use them regularly (for legitimate reasons...).
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Old 10-21-17, 12:26 AM
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How to choose the best bike lock in 2017 - The Best Bike Lock

This is a really good read. Basically, stealing bikes is like stealing anything else: if someone is really determined to steal something, they can and will!

If you only park in low risk areas for short periods of time, you don't need a big honking lock. If you are going to park over night in an unsafe area, you'll something more substantial. Avoiding locks that can be cut with easily concealable pair of small bolt cutters is worth the investment. A lock that requires a 3 ft long set of cable cutters is going to deter more people.

There are some great video reviews on youtube where people show what it takes to cut various locks/chains.
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Old 10-21-17, 10:13 AM
  #21  
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Back when I was 13 years old (Almost 50 years ago) I owned a Schwinn Super Sport and it was stolen. It was locked and chained near a local mall. Regardless of the argument of how it was locked or where it was when it was stolen, I was crushed. That bike was my pride and joy. It lived in my bedroom and was cleaner than any bike on the road. I would spend hours every day keeping it clean. Honestly, this was a big thing in my life back then. After losing that bike I vowed that I would never leave a bike unattended or out of my direct line of site again.
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Old 10-23-17, 09:17 AM
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I've got a keyed lock that stays locked up to the bike rack at work. Some days there's a bike locked with it, some days there's not. It came with about six keys; I know where three of them are after 8 years.


I got lucky when I couldn't remember my combination the first day of my big tour. One trip to the store and I got two with the same combination. One of those gets used 4-5 times a week on a locker at the shower, so it helps me remember the combination of the other one in the saddle bag for locking the bike up on a ride!
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Old 10-23-17, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
The Kryptonite NY locks would take a lot of cutting to get through. Not a quiet proposition. I did see a youtube video of someone picking a NY lock. Probably a pretty skilled locksmith, but it looked quick. From 20 feet away, I might not notice someone picking a lock, but would definitely notice someone attacking one with an angle grinder.
I don't personally pay much attention to folks with an angle grinder, especially if they have something like a hi-viz vest or a truck with an orange light, I just assume they are some sort of contractor.

Best bike theft story I've ever heard was from the Netherlands, where a gentleman was explaining one time his bike was stolen. Couple guys got a van, dressed up like the city folks whose job it was to remove illegally parked bikes, and went down a street taking their choice of bikes.

In college one of my buddies bought an old facilities truck. Really wouldn't have been that hard to find some old facilities T-Shirts at the thrift shop and do the same on campus.
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Old 10-23-17, 10:05 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
I don't personally pay much attention to folks with an angle grinder, especially if they have something like a hi-viz vest or a truck with an orange light, I just assume they are some sort of contractor.

Best bike theft story I've ever heard was from the Netherlands, where a gentleman was explaining one time his bike was stolen. Couple guys got a van, dressed up like the city folks whose job it was to remove illegally parked bikes, and went down a street taking their choice of bikes.

In college one of my buddies bought an old facilities truck. Really wouldn't have been that hard to find some old facilities T-Shirts at the thrift shop and do the same on campus.
Perhaps one should be paying attention to whether they're pulling the new top of the line bikes off of the racks, or they're pulling off those battered MTB's missing one or both wheels, no seat, etc.
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Old 10-23-17, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Perhaps one should be paying attention to whether they're pulling the new top of the line bikes off of the racks, or they're pulling off those battered MTB's missing one or both wheels, no seat, etc.
How exactly should I go about confronting that person? Why should it matter if it is a battered MTB which had a wheel stolen that day while the owner was at work, or a top of the line bike? Either can be stolen and be a major headache for the owner, and both can be illegally parked or left in an area legitimately necessitating their removal. Saw a whole rack full of them with notices that they would be cut the next day last time I was in one of my regular Detroit parking lots.

If someone is obviously stealing bikes it is one thing, but I am certainly not spending my time getting to the bottom of every situation around a bike.
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