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Good example of a badly locked-up bicycle

May 1, 2015

A poorly locked-up bike with the problem areas highlighted in red.

For about five hours on Thursday my bicycle and trailer had to fend for themselves in an area known for theft. Building management had posted a sign near the bike rack I used to the effect that if we cyclists didn’t use a good “metal” lock we could kiss our bikes goodbye (I think “metal” meant “not a cable”).

I can only hope that would-be thieves look at how I lock up, with my heavy chain looping from the trailer frame through both wheels and the closed frame of my bicycle, as too much trouble to bother with and that they opt to choose an easier target.

On Thursday, the easier choice was a nice blue Norco locked to the rack opposite the one I locked up to.

the lock on the Norco was good enough — a Kryptonite integrated chain — but it was locked up in nearly the worst possible way.

Lock up like you’re connecting closed links of chain

Ideally the chain lock should’ve been used to join the three closed links of the bike wheel, the bike rack and the triangle of the bike’s frame.

Instead, the Kryptonite chain was passed through the closed link of the Norco’s front wheel (good) and through the closed link of the welded bike rack (good) but went over the top bar of the bike frame, not through (oops).

The front wheel was safe but it looked to me like the rest of the bicycle was at fair risk of being stolen.

The Kryptonite chain had enough give to allow a thief to undo the quick release on the front wheel and slip it off the forks and then potentially wrestle the chain over the handlebars, thus freeing the bike (sans front wheel).

Not even a possibility if the chain had been passed through the closed triangle of the frame; then all a thief could steal was the back wheel — and the seat of course.

My bicycle seat has a quick release but I make it a bit less quick by fixing a hose clamp over it.

Series locks, problems and all

The Kryptonite integrated chain, whether the kryptoLok Series 2 or the Keeper 785, is composed of 9mm-thick, four-sided link chain made of triple-heat-treated manganese steel which is permanently joined to a lock with a cylinder described as pick, drill, and cut resistant.

Serious bike locks but with two or three serious flaws in my opinion.

First of all. at about 33.5″ (85cm) or about 2.7 feet, these integrated chains are just too short.

And with Kryptonite’s integrated chains the cylinder lock is permanently connected to the chain so that when the cylinder lock finally fails that’s it, chain and all.

In my experience, thick chains rust but they don’t break. Cylinder locks exposed to the elements, however, will eventually always fail, generally slowly enough to warn you to replace them before it’s too late.

If the Kryptonite integrated chains have a third flaw in my opinion, it’s their price — They will set you back over CAD$52 t0 $74 in Vancouver bike stores, such as Bicycle Sport Pacific.

Unfortunately you pay a hefty premium for that big Kryptonite logo.

My MEC transport/storage chain cost less than $40 three years ago and apparently still does. Throw in the Master-brand mini-U locks I buy elsewhere for about $30-a-pop and I’m spending about the same in total, but I’m getting over twice the length of high-security chain (2 metres or about 6.5 feet). And I only have to replace the part that actually breaks.

My solo 2 metre chain is now on its third mini U-lock in as many years.

The Kryptonite integrated locks are the way they are (integrated and short) for a very good reason: to strike a balance between security and general usability. A cyclist doesn’t have to worry about juggling two parts and the short length keeps the weight down to just two or three pounds, making the locks as easy to carry as can be. Click the image to enlarge it.

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