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  1. #1
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation: 2melow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    Good info on bike locks.

    This has been sitting in my email a while and figured many of you would like to read it before I press delete...I think it came from craigslist somewhere, then somewhere else...but it was answered by bike messengers of NYC. Great info for people who lock bikes in areas where bikes disappear - even when locked up with multiple locks. Enjoy.
    ================================================== ======

    Hermes: "In New York you'll need a lock that can lock your bike to a variety of objects as you never know what you're going to find to lock your bike to. Most experienced messengers use a chain of some sort with a very strong padlock, as this is, although heavy, the best, most versatile choice. A U-Lock will probably work, but simply has a higher chance of getting the bike stolen. In New York a lock is absolutely essential. In many other cities a messenger can simply lock the front wheel to the frame and lean it up against a wall (if they lock it at all). In New York if the bike isn't locked TO SOMETHING it will be gone. Sometimes the thing it was locked to will also be gone. Sometimes parts of the bike will be gone. One should be advised against becoming very attached to one's bike in New York."

    TONE: " Heheheh... This is a good question which I could probably hold a seminar on. Where shall I start. GET A KRYPTONITE three foot quad chain! Most bike shops have them for about $80 for messengers. If you know where to go, you can get them for $60. With the kryptonite chain usually comes a small horseshoe lock. I don't recommend using this. Sell the lock to a rookie, a non messenger, or a motorcyclist who can use it on their disc brake, WHATEVER. Buy an "American" lock or a "Multi-Lock". These are most popular among NYC messengers because they are relatively cheap ($20-$30) and versatile. Here are some pros and cons to various locks I know of (straight from the thieves guild!).

    American lock: They are relatively cheap. They can be left open while still having the chain wrapped around your waist for fast lock up. The keys are short and strong. The key plate is an hour glass shape which prevents drill bits from turning because they get caught up... however from what I have heard it can be broken into with a flathead screwdriver. A person can jam a flathead between the keyhole cylinder and the hourglass shaped plate and wedge the plate up. Apparently the pin, which holds the plate down, isn't all that. Once the plate is popped out the same screwdriver can be jammed into the keyhole cylinder and wrenched around until the cylinder itself becomes detached within or something. The result is the horseshoe bolt where your kryptonite chain is held just slides right out. The thief gets your bike and a free kryptonite chain. Of course if someone has bolt cutters a thief can cut right through the horseshoe bolt. Some thieves carry cut off bolt cutters and a pair of steel pipes. With this they can slip everything into a standard back pack. When they want to cut a lock they simply slide the pipes on either end of the cut off clipper's handles and then they once again have the leverage to snap right through your lock and ride away with your bike.

    Multi-Loc(k): Pretty much the same as the American lock except it is rectangular in shape. Another interesting feature of this lock is that the body of the lock extends to somewhat cover the sides of the horseshoe bolt of the lock. When the lock is closed with your kryptonite chain on it the extensions from the body of the lock create an obstacle to bolt cutters because the clippers can't get the right angle on the bolt of the lock. This doesn't stop the thief from cutting the actual chain, but most thieves would prefer to cut the lock and keep a free chain to sell. Multi-Locs also have the hourglass keyhole cylinder plate to prevent drilling and I think they can be kept unlocked like the American lock while wrapped around the waist for quick lock up.

    St. Pierre lock: These use to be issued with Kryptonite chains. They were slightly rectangular and triangular in shape. These are probably the BEST locks to use with a kryptonite chain. There's one MAJOR problem with them though. The keys are cheaply made. They can't take the abuse of a typical NYC messenger's lock up needs. All the pumping in and out as well as the turning with the key done by a NYC messenger eventually causes the keys to break especially during the winter when the cold weather makes the keys more brittle. I went through a number of keys. Luckily a few times I was able to get the broken part of the key out. Another time I couldn't get the broken key out and even two locksmiths couldn't get into the lock. I ended up riding around with two locks on my chain, one a "St. Pierre" and the other a "Master Lock". I haven't seen a St. Pierre in a while though, so they may have disappeared all together.

    Kryptonite mini horseshoe locks: These are/were standard issue with Kryptonite chains. When Kryptonite first started to change from St. Pierre locks to their own locks the locks were ok except for two factors. The cylindrical keys, which, granted are incredibly hard to pick the locks of, would wear down with the typical NYC messenger's usage. In particular a little metal knob on the key which guided it into the lock to align it with the tumblers and keep the key in the chamber while turning would break off. This made the lock practically useless. I also heard rumors from numerous sources that if you hit the lock at a specific position with a hammer or other directed heavy object it would jolt the locking pin/mechanism enough to bounce it and enable the horseshoe bolt to open up without a key. For a while I haven't heard about this, but I have also heard from numerous sources that Kryptonite redesigned their lock. I have also heard that since the redesign about 20% of the locks jam up and won't open.. sometimes with the chain wrapped around a bike or a person's waist and even with the key stuck in the lock itself. One messenger I know was forced to slide the whole chain off his waist and had to cut through the lock bolt with a hacksaw, so that he could still use the chain. Luckily he didn't lock the chain too tight in the first place.

    Kryptonite Quad Chain: It's heavy like any other three foot chain, but the square link design (quad chain) makes it harder for bolt cutters to get a good angle on the chain. Just like a krypto chain is essential for an NYC messenger so are bolt cutters to an NYC thief. Quad chains force a bolt cutter's blade to put pressure down on at least one corner of a chain link. A thief risks denting the blade of his cutters by trying to clip a quad chain. I have found that Krypto Quad Chains are most comfortably held around the waist. This way if you do have to rumble with a driver you don't have to fumble with your chain either in your bag or wrapped around your bike's frame. Another advantage of the chain is that you can lock up to more than just a thin pole. You can also lock up multiple bikes and even use the chain for other uses.

    Standard U-lock: These are the easiest for a thief to break through. Basically a metal pole, a 2x4, or any crowbar can be slid between the bike frame and the pole within the "U" then wrenched/levered until the lock is twisted around and popped right off. It takes less than a minute for anyone to get through these. Recently I have heard of one particular brand of U-lock, which is more resistant to theft. A source of mine told me when attempting to crank the lock off with a metal pipe the U-lock kept twisting around. It ended up looking like a pretzel, but the bike was still there. I'm sorry to say I do not know the brand name of this lock, but apparently the metals used in this lock are more malleable and flexible which makes them resistant to the cranking technique of U-lock theft. In this case instead of your lock popping off the U just keeps twisting. I don't know how resistant to bolt cutters this lock would be, but I imagine the U would be thicker than a standard chain link. One great thing about U-locks is that they are light and easy to carry.. particularly in the rear pocket. I still wouldn't recommend them for NYC messengers though.

    Euro Locks: I have no idea what the names of these locks are, but that's what I call them because they are popular in Europe where apparently thieves don't exist. These locks are actually mounted on the bike frame around where the breaks would be and are shaped like a "C". Inside there is a bolt which rotates or flips out of the "C" and goes through your wheel to the other side of the lock. This locks the wheel so no one can ride off with your bike. This of course does not prevent a thief from carrying a bike away, and in New York it is just too easy to get lost in a crowd or walk around a corner, etc. Don't bother with these locks. They are cute and useful only in Europe.

    So after this course you should understand just about all the ins and outs of bike locks for New York City. Again to simplify things.. just buy a krypto quad chain and an American or Multi lock. If you are worried about the hourglass cylinder plate being screw driven out then just check the plate occasionally for looseness. It might just be that the plates get loose which allows the thief to get the flathead under the plate.
    Front Range Forum Moderator

  2. #2
    inner peace to make peace
    Reputation: TrailNut's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    K. NY Fahgettaboudit lock

    I just purchased a Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit lock with 11mm hex chain that comes with a thin looking New York Disk Lock (seems like the weak link). We also have four U-locks.
    “Everyday is a good day,” from the Blue Cliff Records, Yun-men (864-949 AD).

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