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Locks test 2012

14 November, 2012

Fully updated and including 11 newcomers, Rowan Lamont, assisted by the officers of the Brisbane City bike police, tested a selection of 27 locks to see how well they protect your precious property. 

For this year’s instalment of our popular bike lock test, Ride On collected a range of the most interesting new and current locks to determine the best and best value at high, medium and low security levels. Thinking like thieves, we tested the locks to breaking point using techniques that were quick, simple and least likely to draw attention to ourselves. If a lock showed resistance, we increased the severity of the tools and techniques we used.

D-locks continue to offer the highest security. Even the cheapest require an angle grinder to break – a hacksaw can’t get through hardened steel.

A surprise in this test were the hardened steel chains combined with resilient locks. These proved very awkward to break into, providing a great deterrent along with the convenience of being easier to stow than many D-locks.

The lowest level of deterrent came from light and small cables, which require very little ingenuity to break. They can be used to add an additional deterrent along with a bigger lock, or if you just need something to prevent someone walking off with your bicycle while you pop into a shop, but not much more.

The main thing to consider when choosing a lock is the security it offers. If you leave your bike in high-risk situations then you will need a lock that offers high security. A medium security lock would be sufficient if you never leave your bike in a high-risk situation, with the advantage that a medium security lock is generally lighter and less expensive. Another thing to consider is the size of the lock. You might prefer to carry a more compact, smaller lock or you might require a longer, flexible lock such as a chain or a cable to effectively secure your particular bike, such as a cargo bike or trailer. Supplementary cables, such as the Kryptonite Kryptoflex reviewed here, are very useful for locking the wheels as well as the frame or for securing unconventional bikes, trailers, tag-alongs and the like.

The locks are rated on a scale that takes into account function, materials and components, construction, appearance and value for money – within a broader designation of the security level offered. For all locks, it’s important to consider the intended usage and level of security required.

Key to security

Sergeant Michael Schodel knows from personal experience how attached you can get to a bicycle. “I can remember the smell of the bike shop I bought my very first bike from as a kid,” he told Ride On. As a bike mounted officer from Brisbane City Police Station he’s in his dream job and he’s learned a lot about how bikes get stolen.

He and his partner Constable Alana Johnson have three key messages about bike security:

1. Smart positioning

Select a well-lit public place where there are lots of people around. It is even better if there is CCTV coverage.

2. Solid anchoring

Lock your bicycle to as strong and solid an object as you can find as many thefts don’t even have the lock broken. When bicycles are locked against a wall or to flimsy railings they are an easy target for an opportunist thief.

3. Effective recording

The Brisbane police donate many bicycles to community organisations each year that once belonged to a bicycle rider but can’t be returned. A simple solution is to record the serial number of the frame, which is usually underneath the bottom bracket. If you lose your bike, report it and quote its serial number.

Thefts can also be deterred by taking some simple steps to add complexity to the security you use, creating extra inconvenience for a would-be thief. Take advantage of bike cages, use a couple of locks – one for your frame and another for the wheels – and lock the front wheel to the frame. If you regularly leave your bike in the same place each day, you expose it to a possible planned theft. Instead, park in a few different locations to help reduce this risk.

High security – D-locks, chains and a folder

The hardened steel and robust lock mechanisms of these locks means they offer high security, yielding only to an angle grinder. The Abus Bordo 6000 folding lock is included here because it gives such a high degree of protection that it offers an alternative to a D-lock. Chains also offer high security because they are very awkward to attack and require an angle grinder to be broken.

Abus Granit X-Plus 54

$199 | 1397g
High security
- 13mm thick shackle took longest to cut
- Square-section shackle must be cut twice to release

96% The best D-lock money can buy

For retailers southcottcycles.com.au

Vulcan VLS101B Supreme 2000(80 x 140mm)

$40 | 954g
High security
- Shackle had to be cut twice to release
- Very high quality materials and construction for the money

92% Excellent value for money

For retailers www.bikecorp.com.au

Knog Strongman

$100 | 1175g
High security
- Took second-longest time to cut, with two cuts required
- Silicone cover prevents frame damage

89% Difficult to break due to clever design/material choice

For dealers www.knog.com.au

Kryptonite Evolution mini 9

$100 | 1089g
High security
- One cut releases the shackle

89% Performance justifies Kryptonite’s strong reputation

For retailers call Cassons (02) 8882 1900

Abus Bordo 6000 folding lock

$190 | 920g
High security
- Resisted all types of non-mechanical attack
- Convenient size for carrying

88% More compact than a D-lock with more locking options

For retailers southcottcycles.com.au

Trelock BS610

$125 | 1430g
High security
- Top quality hardened steel shackle, requiring two cuts to release
- Heavy but has long shackle

84% Very good high security option

For retailers www.bikecorp.com.au

Ortre Back in 5

$40 | 515g
High security
- Thinner shackle material but had to be cut twice
- Smallest D-lock on test

82% Great looking, great performance, great price

For retailers www.ortre.com

Knog Bouncer

$55 | 865g
High security
- One cut releases the shackle, but tricky to rotate open
- Compact size/protective silicone covering

80% Very good smaller, lighter option

For retailers www.knog.com.au

Trelock BC215 (6mm x 110cm)

$50 | 1025g
High security
- Surprising resistance, two cuts required
- Comparable to a lighter D-lock in security

80% Convenient, flexible and compact high security alternative

For retailers www.bikecorp.com.au

Knog Straightjacket

$36 | 1365g
High security
- Hard to isolate a link to grind, with two cuts required
- Comparable to a lighter D-lock in security

80% Convenient, flexible and compact high security alternative

For dealers www.knog.com.au

On Guard Bulldog SDT 5010

$60 | 1254g
High security
- The lock mechanism became damaged but did not yield during tests
- One cut releases the shackle

76% Reasonable security for the weight

For retailers www.apollobikes.com

Broughill 13mm square shackle

$25 | 1420g
High security
- Tough looking, but one quick cut releases
- Heavy but long shackle

60% Good value for a lock of this quality

Ask at your favourite bike shop

BBB U-vault

$35 | 910g
High security
- Took five seconds longer to cut than the Broughill
- Small, thin key – worried it would snap

60% Budget high security option

More info bbbcycling.com/dealer-locator

Trelock BS301

$59 | 905g
High security
- One quick cut releases

56% Trelock BS610 D-lock offers better value

For retailers www.bikecorp.com.au

Oxford Hercules

$30 | 1095g
High security
- One quick cut releases

54% Low cost, heavy, useful security

Ask at your favourite bike shop

Medium and low security – cable locks

Cables are light weight and convenient, but offer low security. Some of the thicker and more expensive cable locks are more time consuming to break, but all these cables can be cut through with bolt cutters. Some of these locks can be broken by just smashing the lock mechanism apart with a hammer. For a high security lock, see the previous section.

Kryptonite Hardwire 2018

$100 | 1950g
Medium security
- The key lock can be fiddly to use
- Toughest cable on test

88% The best an armoured cable can be

For retailers call Cassons (02) 8882 1900

Kryptonite Krypto Flex (1200x10mm)

$20 | 354g
Low security
- A tough cable providing above average resistance to cutting
- Good soft coat to protect your frame and add cutting nuisance

88% Value-for-money additional cable

For retailers call Cassons (02) 8882 1900

Kryptonite Modulus

$50 | 754g
Low security
- Two cables provide double the protection
- Easy to secure both wheels and frame

86% Fresh and effective new approach that works well

For retailers call Cassons (02) 8882 1900

Kuat Bottle Lock

$35 | 425g
Low security
- Bottle cage mount makes very convenient operation
- Thin, basic cable but 153cm long

82% Very convenient for low-risk situation

To buy www.blueglobe.com.au

Knog Kabana

$50 | 468g
Low security
- Small and light
- Silicone provided an extra nuisance to cut through

80% Funky and effective

For dealers www.knog.com.au

Abus Steel-O-flex 1025 X-Plus

$179 | 1832g
Medium security
- A multi-layered large diameter cable was
difficult and time consuming to break
through
- Lock was very well made and extremely
tough

80% Top performance for top dollar

For retailers southcottcycles.com.au

 

Trelock PK515 armoured cable

$125 | 1400g
Medium security
- Large diameter very difficult for bolt
cutters

76% A top quality armoured cable

For retailers www.bikecorp.com.au

ES Goliath key

$40 | 985g
Low security
- Layered silicone outer has high nuisance value
- Rotating barrel made it more difficult to cut

62% Average quality armoured cable

For dealers www.echelonsports.com.au

Squizz Combination (12x1800mm)

$20 | 540g
Low security
- Woven braid cable is a nuisance to cut
- Lock broken with seven hammer blows

56% Above average cable for good price

Ask at your favourite bike shop

BBB Codesafe combination (10mm x 1000mm)

$23 | 350g
Low security
- Nice tumbler action makes it easy to use
- Lock broken with six hammer blows
- Plain cable, weaker than Squizz

46% Good operation, average value

More info bbbcycling.com/dealer-locator

BBB Microsafe

$20 | 45g
Low security
- Highest convenience, lowest security
- Weak lock mechanism was broken with one hammer blow
- Cable cut with pliers

42% Says “Please don’t take this bike” but doesn’t do much more

More info bbbcycling.com/dealer-locator

ES Hercules key

$35 | 700g
Low security
- Barrel key lock is easy and quick to use
- Lock broken with four hammer blows
- Thin, basic cable

32% Low-end-of-average cable

For dealers www.echelonsports.com.au

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. Nicholas Clarke permalink
    14 November, 2012 5:52 pm

    Why didn’t they test the AXA Defender wheel lock with plug in cable?

    • 15 November, 2012 2:30 pm

      Hi Nicholas. Sorry we don’t test all the locks on the market. That’s not a particularly common one except on European brand bikes. The fact that Gazelle fit it to their bikes is a good recommendation. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. 14 November, 2012 8:42 pm

    Probably because they are not common off the shelf locks Nicholas. I have Abus of similar ilk which is also not tested but not surprised.

  3. hoff permalink
    14 November, 2012 10:07 pm

    does anyone else think the female cop is hot?

  4. Mike permalink
    15 November, 2012 5:13 am

    Almost all the thieves around here are using battery operated angle grinders.

  5. Dave permalink
    15 November, 2012 8:20 am

    what about the bunnings masterlocks?
    (the ones that are impulse buys at the checkout)

    i know they are useless, but for $8, id be really curious to see how they compare to the higher priced options.

    of course, the other option is to have a bike that no one wants to steal…

  6. Colt permalink
    15 November, 2012 10:10 am

    Hey you forgot the Kryptonite New York (Fahgettaboudit) It carries some weight but has served my well. I keep it stored at my regular destination to save on carrying it. Would have to take top honours. Would like to see it tested.

    • Kdawg permalink
      15 November, 2012 8:22 pm

      Kryptonite New York: pretty much mentioned as the top Lock everywhere so a surprising omission, in fact glaring omission. Nevertheless, a very nice list and very useful, so thanks.

  7. 15 November, 2012 1:49 pm

    A common way of stealing bikes using D locks around Texas is by using a long board (2×4) twist and pry locks off. This is generally faster and doesn’t require cutting. I’d be curious which of these locks withstand leverage from a board.

    • 15 November, 2012 2:34 pm

      In the 2011 test we tried leverage, but not quite how you seem to describe. We found this was tricky to do without causing significant, ugly damage to the bike. Based on what you say though we’ll investigate leverage again next test. Thanks for the information.

      • Chris permalink
        2 July, 2013 1:03 pm

        A few years ago in London before the smaller dlock sizes became popular it was common for people to steal bikes using a mini car jack as they typically lift about 1 ton for a car or explode a dlock outwards. Obviously selecting the correct size dlock won’t leave you open to this but sometimes people have larger ones and a few inches gap.

        Good reviews, I’m in the process of selecting some new locks and cutting is my only real worry. In work I leave my bike near a smoking area so at most 20min between someone standing a few feet away.

      • 2 July, 2013 4:01 pm

        Great tip. Put those smokers to work!

  8. Rob permalink
    16 November, 2012 5:38 pm

    I can imagine a thief using an angle grinder would be not all that conspicuous… Still though, some are pretty brazen. I’m with Dave though, I don’t think I’d be leaving my $5000 bike in a city bike rack even with a D-lock on it.

  9. Rob permalink
    16 November, 2012 5:39 pm

    *inconspicuous

  10. 26 November, 2012 1:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Alt Route Clothing and commented:
    I need Santa to bring me a better lock!

  11. 26 November, 2012 5:26 pm

    Reblogged this on ~.

  12. MCPC141 permalink
    27 November, 2012 12:00 pm

    Also be aware of thieves simply unbolting the ENTIRE bike rack from the footpath and lifting it and all the bikes on it into the back of a van/ute.

    Sometimes they may even visit the rack at night to loosen/chop the bolts to make their job easier down the track.

    And of course be aware that locking to poles can see your bike lifted up and over, especially if the ‘No Standing’ sign/bracket at the top can simply be unbolted off.

    They are lowlifes, but they can be cunning.

    Battery angle grinders are our enemy.

  13. 6 March, 2013 7:19 am

    Please let me know when you plan to test for 2013. Commando Lock would like to submit a sample for destruction. We’re not yet known in the bike market but the US military favors our products at top quality. Patrick Smith

  14. 8 May, 2013 5:32 pm

    Pit locks are great too http://www.pitlock.com/ – i have a touring bike with schmidt dynamo hub on the front & rohloff hub at the rear. and also use the Abus Granit lock – it’s heavy, but would prefer that than no bike

  15. Abe permalink
    14 June, 2013 11:49 am

    I purchased the Ortre BI5 lock based on its good results in this test. It’s a stylish lock to be sure, but it does not require two cuts to open as stated in this test.

    It could easily be opened with one cut, it just depends which side you cut. Only one end of the U locks into the base, so if you cut the side that does not lock, sure it would still be held in by the side that does, and require another cut. But if you cut the locked side, the whole U would just slip out easily.

    I feel a bit misled by this test, and will now be looking at buying another, more secure lock.

    • 14 June, 2013 11:54 am

      Thanks for pointing this out Abe. I’m sorry we didn’t check that more thoroughly. We’ll be alert for this in the next test.

  16. 3 August, 2013 3:37 am

    Does anyone know of a self-locking bike dock that you pay with a credit card to use?

  17. Alan permalink
    16 August, 2013 3:30 pm

    A trick used years ago by theives was to use THEIR OWN lock to secure YOUR bike which enabled them to come back later and get the bike – it happened to me once: I called my father, but he couldn’t cut it with his selection of tools, so he went down the road to the fire brigade who didn’t have anything to do so came over and cut off the would be thief’s lock! Ha! Take that!

    When I strolled into the college canteen the next day, the ‘thief’ stood up and shouted at me: ‘you tosser! you wrecked my lock” it was a mate playing a practical joke on me. :-)

  18. Andy permalink
    2 September, 2013 10:32 am

    Another common trick which D-Locks are especially prone to is the use of some kind of freezing agent (eg the cans of compressed air you can get to clean computer keyboards, etc… then turn the can upside down to fire the cold propellant at the lock) to freeze the locks, then one sharp tap with a hammer shatters even the toughest lock. Worth trying this in the next test (eg layers of silicone may protect it from freezing).

  19. 17 January, 2014 2:48 pm

    Hi,
    Just figured you may want to update your review, as I’ve just purchased an Ortre BI5 and upon inspection, it’s quite clear that the lock will only have to be cut once, as only one of the C-prongs are actually locked inside the end-piece.

    There’s also a small amount of play between the C and end-piece once locked.

    Other than that, it is nice, light and compact.

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