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AN INVOLUNTARY CASE OF DESTRUCTION TESTING
I have to admit that although I've got one of these, I haven't used it yet. So what gives me the background knowledge or authority to even start commenting on anything other than the packaging?
Well, as a cycling instructor for one of the London Boroughs, one of the effects of the now-to-be-expected cut-backs was that we ceased to give any adult tuition, falling back to just doing our mainstream work, i.e. National Cycling Standards level 2 tuition, mainly to year 6 children. We had planned to give one of these locks away to each adult signing up to our paid-for 1-to-1 courses. Naturally, we ended up with rather a large overstock of them. In deference to the 1/3rd pay cut we were all taking whether we liked it or not, we were told we could have a lock each.
Hence, all 20 of us have one. We've also fitted them to each of the dozen 'pooled' bikes kept in the Civic Centre's car-park for staff use.
However, one by one, the locks have been giving problems.
First the good news - no-one has had a bike stolen with one of these deployed.
Now the bad news - once the key breaks off in the lock, your bike is even safe from being 'stolen' by you!
I'm now starting to feel rather glad that mine is still in its packaging!
A couple of Sundays ago, I got a call from my cycling instructor colleague and best mate, 'Aussie Mike'. He had given his to his son as a present - well they do retail at around £50. With the bike safely ensconced behind Waitrose in Wandsworth, he had been forced to abandon it overnight (never a good idea) after his key broke off in the lock, leaving nothing to get hold of, not even with the thinnest of long-nose pliers.
I'll begrudgingly admit that there is some more good news.
Removing one is not easy. It's easier to saw the bike in half than the lock.
Also, making just one cut through the u-shaped hasp doesn't work. This is because of the method by which the hasp attaches to the locking barrel. Both ends of the 'U' are notched to prevent their being twisted when locked, so making a single cut on only one of either sides won't allow for the two sections to be swung out of the way. Thus, with only one cut it may well be possible to free a bike from say chain-link fence but not a lot else. As I have found with the Civic Centre bike, further cuts were needed to get it off the bike!
In the fun and games, I actually took my electric angle-grinder with new steel-cutting disc fitted, and 50 metres of mains cable on a drum. The nice folks at Wandsworth's Arndale Centre actually let us use the mains socket nearest the door, and arranged for the automatic doors to be locked in the open position to prevent our cable being chopped. I can't help feeling that we're on film though, 'just in case'.
The angle-grinder cut through both sides of the U-bar in about 15 seconds per side. Don't think that this means the locks are weak. Not many steels can withstand being turned into a shower of sparks when I put my mind and my arsenal of power tools to the test! It also pays to be able to prove who you are, and have the broken stub of the key for further back-up. One person did actually query what we were up to, but was satisfied with our reply! I'm guessing that we're also on film at The Arndale Centre and soon to star on Crimewwatch!
SO WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?
Well for a make of lock with some decidedly secure pretensions, (I use their armoured cable with a padlock myself), the keys are at the heart of the problem it would seem.
I further suspect that it's the key with the little LED torch attached that is the main culprit as it's longer than the two other spares supplied which are shorter and stockier. It further stands to reason that a bike lock is going to be exposed to the elements, despite the sliding cover over the lock. I certainly wouldn't use it without further lubrification if it started to feel the slightest bit tight. I can't help wondering if they wouldn't have been better advised to use those circular 'castle turret' kets instead of something that is obviously seriously weakened by the complex machining it make it pick-proof.
SUPPOSE YOU ACTUALLY GET A GOOD ONE
Included, along with three keys (one a mini torch) you also get a quick release bracket for your bike. In my experience, you need a 'man's' * frame to give you a triangle big enough in which to fit the bracket, bearing in mind that it's going to hold the lock as well. Having said that, the triangular part of my Dahon hasn't even got enough room with the drink bottle installed.
(*No, not slightly paunchy with two chins - the bike, the bike!)
I certainly don't want to put anyone off protecting their property, and the 'D-Lock' shape is a good deterrent, but bear in mind that because of its rigidity, it can really only be expected to secure the frame of the bike (and maybe one wheel) to a lamp post. David Cameron please note: not to a bollard, they'll just lift your bike over the top, and to think, you're in charge of the country, heaven help us.
For maximum deterrence run a strong cable or chain in and out of your wheels before attaching to the U-bar of a D-Lock. Nothing is 100% safe. Probably your best bet is to have a worse bike than the unlocked one next to you!
Ironically, Kryptonite should in theory be a top name in their field, and if you're prepared to check the lock every time for locking and more importantly, unlocking, before you actually immobilise your bike with it, you'll probably be OK.
Alternatively, if you must lock your bike with one of these, make sure my mains lead will stretch!
I'm not sure how their life-time warranty scheme would react to being sent the two dismembered parts of a lock that's had to be cut off. It might be interesting to try............next time it happens and with 20 of them that I know of, it probably won't be long!
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure I'd want a replacement.
JUST A ONE-OFF?
You'd like to think so, wouldn't you? However, along with the withering opinion I've lodged both here and on the www.amazon.co.uk web-site, I seem to be among shall we say a vocifereous minority all moaning about the same thing....keys that break off