LITELOK Review: Lightweight AND High security?
|Weight:||2.47 lb (1.12 kg)|
|Length:||29" (74 cm)|
|Width:||2.5" (6.5 cm)|
LITELOK is another new bicycle lock trying to disrupt the existing order with the latest advances in technology. How’s it going to do that you may ask?
Well, we know that high security bike locks are always annoyingly heavy. LITELOK aims to change this by using new materials and a construction that gives us high security at a light weight.
How successful are they? Well, I’ve been using the LITELOK for the past few weeks on my daily commute in order to find out.
So keep reading and I’ll discuss how secure LITELOK really is, how easy it is to carry around and use on a daily basis. And finally, what alternatives are available if it’s not the right lock for you.
How secure is it?
LITELOK looks (and works) like a big belt. The strap is made from very strong, (but very light) new material they call “Boaflexicore”. While the buckle is a substantial, rubber covered, steel mechanism that snaps together to lock with a 9 mm bolt.
Since the LITELOK uses a completely new type of material and construction, it’s difficult for us take an informed position on how secure it really is. In the hand, it certainly feels much tougher than I expected. But that doesn’t mean anything!
This should make it a high security lock, suitable for high risk situations. And normally this would be enough for me to recommend it. However, there’s a video on YouTube showing the LITELOK being defeated very easily.
The thief seems to be using a tire iron and by inserting it into the loop of the LITELOK and twisting it round just three times, he’s able pull the lock apart.
The (former) owner of the bike also posted a video of the compromised lock. This shows that rather than the locking mechanism failing, the cables within the strap were actually ripped from where they attach to the buckle.
Now as we know, no bike lock is unbreakable. But a thief should not be able to defeat a Sold Secure Gold lock so easily.
U-locks are also susceptible to leverage attacks like this. But there’s no way a Gold rated U-lock could be opened up by such a short length of metal, with such little effort and in such short time.
But the thing is, when I held the LITELOK in my hands, it felt really tough. It certainly didn’t feel like I’d be able to defeat it like this. So I decided to test it myself…
As you can see: I had no luck at all trying to bust the Litelok. Just twisting it around was a struggle to start with. And then when it loosened up a bit and twisting it became easier, there’s so much spring and flexibility that it’s difficult to imagine how you’d be able to tear the belt from the buckle.
(I also tried to crop through the locking mechanism using a 24″ set of bolt cutters after reading that the Sweet Home team were able to defeat it this way. But the jaws of my bolt cutters weren’t wide enough to get any sort of grip on the buckle. As I’ve mentioned before: this raises doubts in my mind about how these tests are carried out).
So what can we deduce from all this? Was the lock in the original video defective? Is the original video a set up, as others have suggested? I have no idea. And I don’t want to speculate. But certainly, the ease with which the thief was able to twist the lock around and the way it just springs open bears no relation to my experience with the Litelok.
What it does tell me is that Sold Secure were probably right and the independent testers remain the best guide to how secure a bike lock is. I know they’re not perfect but as a general guide I will continue to trust them over these videos (mine or anyone else’s!).
So how secure is the LITELOK really? The thing is, within the Sold Secure Gold rating there are different degrees of protection…
At the top sits the Abus Granit X-Plus 540 and the Kryptonite Evolution Series 4. We know they’re at the higher end of of the Gold rating because they also have 3/5 stars from ART who are a little more demanding in their testing process.
The point is that there are stronger and weaker Gold rated locks. Where does the LITELOK sit? We won’t know until it’s rated by ART. I suspect it’s not as secure as the 540 or the Evolution Series 4 (if for no other reason than a angle grinder will go through the Litelok much faster). But remember: it’s also much, much lighter.
So for me the LITELOK is still a worthy Sold Secure Gold rated lock. But I would urge the manufacturers to also have it tested by ART to further clarify its security credentials.
Is it easy to carry?
High security bike locks are always a pain to transport. And this is largely down to their weight. The heavier a U-lock gets, the more difficult it is for a frame mount to reliably hold it in place. And high security chains are just so heavy, their weight alone makes them difficult to carry.
So a lighter high security lock should already be at an advantage. The LITELOK weighs just 2.5 lb (1115 g). This is about the same as 3 cans of coke and is significantly lighter than most other Sold Secure Gold bike locks. And with the LITELOK, the transport options are really simple…
When it’s locked, the diameter of the circle is only 10″ (25 cm). So it’s small enough to fit into a backpack if necessary. And since it’s so light, it’s not going to trouble you too much on your back.
However locks get dirty and wet and you might not want them in your bag. Maybe you don’t even use a bag! So you need to be able to carry it on your bike too.
And the frame mount that comes with the LITELOK could not be simpler. It’s basically just two Velcro straps! When using these straps you have two options…
You can either tie both straps around your top tube and then wrap them around the unlocked LITELOK, so it runs the length of your top tube…
The natural inclination of the LITELOK is to be straight. As soon as you unlock it, it springs out to to lie flat. So this option works really well. Since it’s so light the straps have no problems holding it in place against your top tube. And while I was riding I never had any problems with it working loose.
Alternatively you can keep the LITELOK locked and use one strap on the top tube and the other on the seat tube to keep the lock in place. Again, this method worked really well for me. It can move around a little while your riding, but not to the extent that it feels insecure.
When the lock’s not attached to the frame the straps can tend to flap about a bit if you have a thin frame and I found that slightly annoying. But you can always trim the straps with a pair of scissors if you need to!
All in all, the easy transport options are one of the best features of the LITELOK. Whether it’s in your backpack or strapped to your frame, the lightweight construction means that carrying it around on a daily basis is not going to trouble you in any way!
Is it easy to use?
The LITELOK is undoubtedly lighter than almost every other Sold Secure Gold bike lock currently available (the Abus Mini 401 Yellow is the only lock that I can find that’s lighter and it’s a mini lock!). However it doesn’t feel that lightweight when you first get hold of it!
What I mean is: it feels really tough. And in many ways that’s a good thing. The strap is really stiff and hard. And the locking mechanism is quite bulky (in fact this is where the majority of the weight lies). This is important as it gives you confidence when you’re using it and is likely to scare many would be thieves away.
However, the stiff strap and the bulky buckle can also make locking your bike up a bit more difficult. As well as being stiff, the belt is quite wide at 2″ (5.5 cm). So getting the buckle and the strap through your spokes to lock your wheel and your frame together can sometimes be a little bit of a struggle.
And once you’ve got the lock around your bike and the immovable object, actually clipping the buckle together can take a little more effort than you’d imagine due to the stiffness of the belt and it’s natural inclination to be straight.
Having said that, you soon get used to threading it through your bike it and the buckle gives a very satisfying and reassuring click when you snap it together!
In terms of locking options, the LITELOK is just 29″ (74 cm) long which is not massive, but actually gives you a fair bit more internal space than you’d get with a standard sized U-lock (or indeed the Bordo 6500).
Not only does this highlight just how light the LITELOK is (23% lighter than the lightest Gold rated lock that offers similar internal space). When combined with the flexible shape, it also means you’ll be able to lock your bike in loads more places than you’d be able to with a standard sized U-lock…
For example I can now lock my bike to lamp posts that were totally inaccessible with my standard sized U-lock!
But if 29″ is just not enough, you can actually join two LITELOKs together to double the length. And if you order them together, both sets of keys will open either lock.
You get three keys with the LITELOK. I found them pretty easy to use. (Note, you don’t need the keys to secure the lock, you just snap it together). And they come with a key code that you can use to order replacement keys in case you loose them in the future, (although I don’t think this service has been introduced yet).
So even though the LITELOK is a bit more tricky to get around my bike (or more specifically through my wheels) than I was expecting, it’s relative flexibility, the extra internal space and the fact I don’t need to use the keys to lock it, actually make it pretty nice to use.
Just like the TiGr lock, the LITELOK is something completely new. I like it a lot. But it won’t be the right lock for everyone. So here’s a list of the things I liked and the things I didn’t to help you decide…
+ High security
I don’t think Sold Secure have made a mistake here. This is a Gold level lock. So it is suitable for high risk situations. However, the problem with new technologies is that they’re largely untested on the streets. Time will tell. But meanwhile, I’d like to see it tested and rated by ART as well.
+ Super light
In fact, it’s considerably lighter (23%) than the next lightest Sold Secure Gold rated lock that offers a comparable amount of internal space.
+ Easy to carry
Partly a result of it’s light weight, partly a result of the way it lies straight, it’s easy to attach to your frame and once there it doesn’t move about. So it’s really straightforward to carry around on a day to day basis.
+ Lots of locking options
The flexible shape and generous internal space give you loads more locking options than a standard sized U-lock.
– Tricky to get around your bike
The stiff, wide belt can sometimes be difficult to get through your spokes and around your bike.
– Quite short
Sure, it gives you more internal space than a standard sized U-lock or the Abus Bordo 6500. But if you’re comparing it to a chain lock it’s actually pretty short.
I really enjoyed using the LITELOK. It’s a lot tougher than it looks. It gives me loads more locking options when the bike racks are full. It’s really easy to carry. And it’s incredibly light for a high security lock with so much internal space.
So if these things are important to you, then I recommend you take a good look at the LITELOK.
Alternatives to the LITELOK
Of course if it’s not quite right for you, then as always, there are plenty of alternatives…
Looking for something more compact?
The closest alternative to the LITELOK is probably the Abus Bordo 6500. It provides a similar level of protection (Sold Secure Gold and 2/5 ART stars). It has almost as much internal space. And it’s about the same price.
However, the Bordo folds down into a very compact package that sits tightly against your frame in rubber mount that screws into the holes meant for a water bottle holder. I’d say it’s also more flexible than the LITELOK.
Having used them both, I don’t think that one is easier to use or better than the other. They’re just different. Bear in mind though that the LITELOK is almost 30% lighter!
Looking for something longer?
If you’re looking for something longer and you’re not prepared to buy 2 LITELOKs, then you’ll need to look at chain locks.
The Abus CityChain 1010 is a Sold Secure Gold chain lock available in several lengths. The 43″ (110 cm) will give you loads more locking options than the LITELOK. But be aware it also weighs twice as much.
However it’s the only 9 mm chain lock with a Sold Secure Gold rating so it has a good strength to weight ratio and is great option if you just need that extra length.
Looking for something cheaper?
And with the money you save on the lock, you could buy separate wheel protection, so you only have to worry about locking your frame to the bike rack!
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|Weight:||2.47 lb (1.12 kg)|
|Length:||29" (74 cm)|
|Width:||2.5" (6.5 cm)|