“a consumer reports for the cheap” — the new york times

Bicycle Lock Performance

When researching bike lock reviews we found out that although some cycling websites provide input about bicycle locks, most reviews are written by riders themselves. Here's what users say about cheap bike locks.

Bicycle Lock Security.

Again, the type of lock you purchase should depend on where and how you use it.
Some riders park their bikes temporarily while running errands in suburban settings and others lock their bikes overnight in urban centers. A bike lock comparison on Slate that assesses security, portability, and value awards the OnGuard Bulldog STD U-Lock highest grades for security. Its smaller sibling, the OnGuard Bulldog MINI 5013TC Bike U-Lock (starting at $22), is rated highly in bicycle lock reviews on Buzzillions, with one user noting that it's too small for thieves to fit tools around and the double locking barrel is harder to break.

The Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 U-Lock (starting at $28) receives praise for the security and peace of mind it provides, according to reviews on Amazon. One person reports the KryptoLok Series 2 kept a bicycle safe for three days on the streets of New York City, although another rider suggests it might not be sufficient for high-end bikes in some neighborhoods. The KryptoLok sans cable gets the green light in bike lock reviews on Epinions, where users say it's very secure and durable.

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The longer version of the Abus Steel-O-Chain lock earns endorsements on the security front in bike lock reviews, including one by a rider posting on Amazon who lives in New York City and prefers it to the Kryptonite brand. One Target customer describes the Wordlock Cable lock as strong in reviews on the vendor's website, while a biking blogger says it was secure enough to protect her teenage daughter's bike while locked outside a store. The lock gets a mixed review in About.com's bicycling guide, which asserts it doesn't fare too well against a determined thief but is adequate for low-theft areas.

The OnGuard PitBull DT 5005 U-Lock (starting at $31) and cable is dissed by a user writing on Amazon, who explains that someone cut clear through the cable and snatched his bike. Several riders who bought the inexpensive Bell Hands Off Bike U-Lock (starting at $10) likewise report bikes were stolen despite the lock, including two who posted reviews on Sports Authority's website. But don't be fooled by price alone: one of the most expensive locks we found -- the Kryptonite New York Chain (starting at $58) -- only earns lukewarm praise in bicycle lock reviews at Amazon, where one rider notes the lock was broken and the bike stolen.

Ease of Use.

Aside from wanting a lock that's impossible for a thief to bust, you want one that's easy to use. When it comes to attaching the frame and wheels of your bike to different objects, the 5-foot-long Wordlock Cable Bike Lock (starting at $13) stands out, according to a review at Bicycling.com. The Wordlock Cable Lock also scores high among users for its easily detachable seatpost-mounted lock holder and for a locking mechanism that uses letter combinations instead of numbers. Bicycle lock reviews on Target.com indicate that consumers generally like the length of Wordlock's cable and letter-combo lock, although one says his was a lemon, as neither the combination nor the lock worked. A few reviewers posting on Amazon say the locking mechanism on the Kryptonite KryptoLok can be finicky, although one user appreciates having the secondary cable lock, which lets her secure the bike to those of her friends. A reviewer posting on Buzzillions likes that the lock is strong and durable, but adds that it's too heavy for his bike. The Abus Steel-O-Chain 685 (starting at $25) is easy to use, according to a review on Amazon. And a cyclist posting a review at bike site TownsandTrails.com, who is still mourning the loss of a stolen bike, has mostly positive things to say about the OnGuard Bulldog MINI, the lock he purchased for his replacement ride. He describes it as lightweight and easy to pack and carry.

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Bicycle Lock Durability.

Although the most critical performance issue for a cheap bike lock is security, you also want a lock that will last. The Abus Steel-O-Chain wins an endorsement on Amazon from a user who has been using the lock daily for five months without problems and further notes that he likes the weight-to-security ratio. Ditto from a user reviewing the Steel-O-Chain 685 on Amazon, who maintains that it's more secure than a cable lock.

Still, users report some durability problems with cheap bike locks. Two bike lock reviews on Sports Authority claim bikes were stolen while locked with the Bell Hands Off Bike U-Lock (starting at $10) and a consumer review on the Target website says the mounting bracket that came with the lock broke soon after purchase. User reviewers on Amazon grumble about what they perceive as a bit of false advertising on websites, where the cable on Master Lock Cable locks is described as being thicker than it seems. All seven bike lock reviews on Epinions mention the Kryptonite KryptoLok as being durable and secure, but a consumer posting on Amazon says the keys are flimsy and seem likely to break or be damaged. The About.com bicycling guide cautions that the plastic housing surrounding the tumblers in the Wordlock lock could pull away. And users of the OnGuard Bulldog MINI posting on Buzzillions like its durability, but several complain that the lock rusts.

Anti-Theft Warranties.

Many cheap bike locks, including some on our list, feature a free one-year, anti-theft warranty worth at least $1,000. The value of the warranty usually increases with the price of the lock, and you need to fill out paperwork to register and activate the warranty. But note that some anti-theft warranties have special stipulations in New York State. Kryptonite, for example, offers New York residents a one-year, non-renewable group insurance policy equal to the amount of the anti-theft protection offered in other states.

Kryptonite's KryptoLok U-Lock comes with a $1,250 anti-theft protection warranty and key protection that guarantees replacement keys if they break or are lost. In several user reviews, Kryptonite wins applause for its solid warranty, although users on Bikeforums.net say it's a hassle to use the warranty on a stolen set of wheels. The OnGuard Bulldog MINI 5013TC (starting at $22) carries a free one-year $1,251 anti-theft guarantee, while Abus bicycle lock warranties cover manufacturer defects, not misuse or normal wear and tear. Wordlock carries a limited lifetime warranty if the lock fails, but mentions nothing about theft.

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