As someone who has suffered from having his 3k+ bike stolen in less than 60 seconds, I thought I would post my thoughts on the arguments of taking a lightweight lock versus something that just might deter the bike thieves. Weight is always an issue, particularly with Ultra Endurance cyclists and so carrying a heavy D-Lock is never going to be an option for many.
But what is a good alternative? While looking around for myself I found some pretty horrible stories and one company who quite frankly, are not being honest with their customers. More on that in a minute.
Let’s be honest here though, no lock will stop a determined bike thief and on asking a few questions myself, it turns out the majority of ‘opportunistic’ thieves carry a few basic tools around with them and the more clued up ones target specific groups of cyclists. These cyclists are known as the ‘Rapha’ brigade and they are preyed upon deliberately at known locations like bike cafes and regular stops.
Why? Because one lightweight lock marketed as the most suitable for cafe stops etc. has become so popular amongst this group of cyclists and to no surprise, the thieves know this and simply lie in wait with their cheap tin-snips. There are even stories of some of the thieves dressed up in cycling gear eating and drinking at the stops.
The lock in question is the Ottolock and was considered a good (if expensive) option. That is, until stories started emerging on YouTube and in particular a guy called the Lock Picking Lawyer (LPL) did a video showing him cutting through one in 2 seconds with a pair of cheap tin snips.
Ottolock went on to claim his video was a setup, so he did a follow-up video on the newer model just released (2019). I’ll link the video below and you can judge for yourself, but I think he was pretty polite and fair.
More importantly take a look at the two links he puts underneath the video (use the view on YouTube button), especially the one from bikeportland. To quote the bike theft task force:
"that lock should not be used" they said. "It's maybe a smidge better than nothing at all. No more secure than a cheap cable lock."
Am I being unfair? Well I think not. Yes it’s an incredibly light and compact piece of kit and for people who refuse to carry the weight of a more robust bike lock, their choice may be between this and nothing. It’s better than nothing, but clearly if it can be defeated in under 2 seconds by a pair of cheap tin snips then I think the marketing is (very) misleading. However I’m sure there are many happy users and I hope they don’t go on to regret their purchase.
Personally, I’ll gladly accept the weight penalty of my own lock of choice (the Kryptonite Evolution Mini7) to protect my expensive bike. On the understanding of course that no lock will defeat the most determined thief, but that this will at least give a good level of protection when out and about. Incidentally the above LPL gives my choice the thumbs up and given his skill level, that’s a pretty good endorsement.
Ive been using it here in the busy city of Groningen (and beyond), where bike theft is rampant and so far no attempts at theft have been discovered and with luck that will continue to be the case. Understand also that this bike is my only mode of transport and is used for things like shopping, taking the kids to play-school, commuting and our holidays. It’s out there all the time and the thing is, if you make your bike (much) more secure than those around it, then hopefully the thieves will move on.
Oh and I’d like to mention another security measure I added to my bike – Hexlox bike skewers. These replace my quick release levers with allen key skewers and these are then further protected by the Hexlox hex bolts. A simple yet extremely effective way to protect your wheels from being removed. When funds allow, I’ll also protect the seatpost, saddle and computer display with more Hexlox bolts.
More info Here.