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Cable Lock - How Long is Good Enough?

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Cable Lock - How Long is Good Enough?

Old 04-25-05, 12:25 PM
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Cable Lock - How Long is Good Enough?

Hey guys.

I know lock questions have been asked here before, but if you were to make a cable lock at the hardware store, how much length would be sufficient? I have a 6 footer now, that is light (small diameter), and just small enough to use one of those small luggage padlocks to secure. Definitely not good for downtown New York, but nice and light for touring. I may even cut it down a foot or so. I have a 5-foot cable lock too and always seem to have plenty of length with that one as well.

Opinions?
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Old 04-25-05, 05:48 PM
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A luggage padlock?? Why bother?
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Old 04-25-05, 06:29 PM
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I've been taking a Kryptonite "kids" combination cable fitness riding (for getting stuff at stores/coffee shops etc). It's 4', fits in my saddle bag. It can fit through the frame, 1 wheel (both wheels if done rite), and a fixed object. This lock is basicly to keep honest folks honest. Anyone with a pair of hand held cable cutters on them could probably cut through it like butter. At work, if the bike I rode in on has a nice saddle, I use it to lock up my saddle (again-only keeping honest folks honest).

When touring I take a Kryptonite RCL II 6' combination cable. Fits both wheels+solid object fine. This cable is thicker, so would require more time for a thief with a small hand held cable cutter. A prepared thief with a large cutter would have it in <1 minute.
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Old 04-25-05, 06:32 PM
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The April "Cycling Plus" tested locks. Cable "locks" are not really locks, they are simply decorations for your bike. In their tests, "average" cable locks lasted three seconds to twenty seconds against a crook's preferred tool. The BEST cable, a massive EIGHT pound cable lock, could not be cut with manual cutting tools, but lasted only 97 seconds against a portable, battery operated cutting tool.

The ONLY lock that is easy to find in the USA that lasted ten minutes against ALL portable tools, both manual and powered, was the 2005 model Kryptonite New York 3000 lock.

The OnGuard Bulldog Mini U-lock ($24 at REI.com) worked just as well as the New York lock against manual tools, but lasted less than two minutes against power tools.

A light weight cable lock might be a good way to protect the front wheel and your helmet from folks who are basically "honest", (or who left their cutting tools at home). But cable locks are eitherwise a neon sign saying "Free Bike - Come and Get One".

Based on the "Cycling Plus" results, I will be using one (and sometimes two) of the OnGuard Mini locks as my "coffee shop" locks, and using the Kryptonite New York 3000 for higher risk situations such as my visit to a festival last Saturday night. My bike was left alone in the middle of a crowd of 30,000 people in downtown Houston after dark for three hours - that is a "New York Lock" sort of security challenge.

HOW TO LOCK A BIKE by Sheldon Brown

www.sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html

Last edited by alanbikehouston; 04-27-05 at 01:12 AM.
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Old 04-25-05, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
The April "Cycling Plus" tested locks. Cable "locks" are not locks, they are simply decorations for your bike...
Yup. My point was-keeping honest folks honest. When out for a fitness ride, if I need some quick calories, or water-it's usually just a quick trip into a store. Unless someone has a cutter ON THEM, I'm good. Note that these rides are in "low" bike crime suburbia.

On tour, you're never really sure of the crime areas, so there is a trade off between weight carried, and the trouble a would be thief has to go through to steel. When I'm on tour, if I leave the bike for touristy bits, I've left my bike (panniers and all) locked in full view of a cafe (which I patroned). The cable I take touring takes a large (noticeable) cutter to cut quickly-or small one, (with extra time). Things thieves don't want, while in front of other people. I've also locked up amongst other loaded bikes. The best/only real deterrent is to not leave the bike out of sight.

When staying at pensions/hostels/B&B's/motels my bike comes inside and is locked (in my room-preffered) or in a storage area to something. Or I don't stay. I've never had to find another place due to a refusal. In countries where cycle touring is the norm, rather than the excepetion, secure space is allways available (garages with racks, etc.).
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Old 04-25-05, 09:43 PM
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To me, the most essential part of a tour is having a bicycle to ride on. If it gets stolen, then you’re screwed. I hate to be paranoid about these things, but I like to drink my coffee or sleep at night with a sound mind, and the kryptonite 3000 chain lock does exactly that for me. Do I really need it? No. Do I recommend other people go and buy this lock for a tour? Absolutely not. And do I sometimes feel a pang as the extra ten pounds makes that mountain just a little higher? Yep, sure do.

But I was lucky to get my bicycle, and I want to keep this sucker for as long as possible. I have had bicycles stolen from me before, so I've learned something. Never leave the bicycle unlocked and carry a big chain, and it will be stolen where you LEAST expect it.

My security is simple, heavy, and absolute. I have all my valuables in one bag that I carry with me. I have the chain lock for my bicycle and a cable lock for all my bags. If someone wants my smelly clothes or my readily replaceable, handmade stove, they are welcome to it (as long as I'm not in earshot).

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Old 04-27-05, 10:22 AM
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Good points. I am not too worried about bike theft for this particular trip, so I may still go with the lighter lock. Maybe I'll buy some tighty-whities and a little brown paint to make the bike even less attractive.. Still, I understand the points for getting a heavy lock, but hauling 8-10 pounds hundreds of miles doesn't seem quite worth it either, as long as a little common sense is applied. I could always undo the chain too (powerlink) when I am worried. Then they would atleast have to carry a fully-loaded touring bike to steal it!
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Old 04-27-05, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by theden
...hauling 8-10 pounds hundreds of miles doesn't seem quite worth it either, as long as a little common sense is applied. I could always undo the chain too (powerlink) when I am worried. Then they would atleast have to carry a fully-loaded touring bike to steal it!
There is no need to carry 8 or 10 pounds of locks. The two pound OnGuard Bulldog Mini U-lock, combined with a one pound cable (for locking to trees and such) would offer about as much "real world" security as the eight pound New York Fahgettaboudit chain.

A 180 pound guy touring across the country with about seventy pounds of bike, racks, bags, and gear would hardly notice three extra pounds. Is there really a difference between pedaling up a hill with a total load of 253 pounds versus 250 pounds?
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Old 04-27-05, 11:30 AM
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With four panniers on the bike, unlocked and unsecured, I never leave the bike for very long anyway, so I am trying to determine the optimal combination between security and weight/space. At night it is right next to the tent (sometimes "locked" to it, and with no rain fly if not raining), and the bike goes in hotels with me when not camping. Grocery stores are probably the biggest threat, but often I wheel the bike inside when possible. If you don't ask and just do it you generally get less trouble. I wouldn't ever park it in high-crime areas just because of the panniers alone, even if I had a big-ass lock. I will look into the onguard mini though, I have a few useless U-locks that need replacing...
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Old 04-27-05, 04:09 PM
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A simple cable lock like you can purchase at Wal-Mart works excellent for me. It is effective, and also stores nicely. If you're doing serious touring, then there will seldom be time that you will be locking up your bicycle for an long period of time. Instead, probably the only time that you'll leave your bicycle is when you go into a market to buy food. In that case, be bold. Wheel your bike into the store where everyone can see it, and lock the wheel so no one can walk away with it, and it should work. It has for me, and this upcoming summer will be my 30th year touring on my bicycle.

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