An interview with TiGr: Makers of Titanium Bike Locks

John and Robert from TiGr locks
John and Robert from TiGr locks

TiGr emerged in 2011 with a Kickstarter campaign which raised over $100,000 for their lightweight, titanium bike locks.

By smashing their original $37,000 fundraising target they confirmed that there’s a huge appetite among cyclists for lightweight bike locks that can adequately protect our bikes.

They currently offer two different types of lock: a bow which will secure your bike and both wheels (without you removing the front wheel) and a mini which is one of the lightest locks around.

TiGr locks are incredibly innovative and provide some of the best security to weight ratios available today.

I caught up with Jim Loughlin from TiGr to find out more…

The Best Bike Lock: Hi Jim. I understand that yours is a family company. Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds? 

Jim: Yes, it is a family company. Robert, a Mechanical Engineer, founded Stanton Concepts more than 25-years ago as a platform to develop and market his inventions. Prior to Stanton Concepts he led product development and manufacturing operations for a lock manufacturing firm in Connecticut.

John joined his father in 2003 and is now President and Chief Product Designer. Prior to that John managed Product Development and Manufacturing Operations for companies in the Fiber Optic, Defence Contracting and Precision Manufacturing space. Bob and John have more than 15 patents for physical security devices, and more in development. Stanton Concepts licenses much of that IP to other firms.

Jim’s background is in Sales and Marketing for technology companies.

Where did the idea for TiGr bike locks come from?

We had been interested in the idea of using titanium for bicycle security for some time.

Making the most of the strength-to-weight and flex properties of Titanium were the primary design goals. Simplicity, minimal moving parts, minimal individual pieces, minimal steps in the production process are also very important to our way of thinking.

The basic bow-lock form springs from concepts we developed for truck and cargo security. We found that a flexible bow-shape worked well as a bike lock.

The strength-to-weight and flex properties of Titanium make the bow-shape and size viable. The TiGr coupling mechanism evolved through many design iterations and field trials. The USPTO has issued three patents on the TiGr concept so far.

Was there a specific problem you were trying to solve?

Actually there were 3 specific problems we wanted to solve: weight, storage and usability.

Bicycles are beautiful, highly evolved machines that are a joy to ride. We thought bikes and bike riders deserved something better than a big hunk of steel to lug around.

Why do you think no-ones come up with a Titanium bike lock before?

The obvious first thing that comes to mind is to simply replace the hardened steel components of a traditional Folding lock or U-Lock with Titanium components.

What makes the TiGr unique, break out design, is that the entire lock is reimagined. The TiGr concept takes advantage of Titanium’s benefits (strength, low weight and flexibility) in an extremely efficient package. The design requires minimal number of parts, a minimal amount of manufacturing operations. It is simple.

Are there different types of Titanium? If so, how do you choose the best type for a bike lock?

There are several grades of titanium. The grades vary in terms of; elasticity, hardness, etc. and cost. We experimented with different grades and various shapes. We chose the material and shape we thought provided the best balance of strength, weight, flexibility and cost.

We are very fortunate in that our Titanium vendor is nearby and is a global leader in expertise and supply of titanium.

U-locks often suffer from weather related corrosion that can cause the shackle stick to the cross bar so that the lock becomes unusable.

How much bad weather testing have you done with TiGr locks? Is Titanium less susceptible to corrosion than steel?

Titanium has superb corrosion properties; that is one reason why it works well in petrochemical applications and for medical implants. Some people have been using TiGr Locks everyday for coming on 6 years. Corrosion hasn’t been an issue.

What were the biggest challenges in the design and development stage?

Getting to a design we could manufacture in a small shop in an economical, scalable and sustainable way. The final (although it’s never really final) design is the result of many design iterations. Beta tester feedback was also a huge help.

What have been the biggest challenges since you launched?

Building brand awareness and earning brand credibility.

I’ve seen some criticism of the security to price ratio of TiGr locks. How do you answer that criticism?

We are more concerned with the security to weight ratio. The TiGr mini weighs less than a pound and provides security equivalent to locks weighing more than twice as much.

The Bow-Lock versions can secure both wheels to a rack without the need of an additional device such as cable or locking skewers or an additional lock.

The vast majority of actual users we hear from tell us they value the weight savings and usability TiGr Locks deliver.

Titanium is expensive. We form and assemble every TiGr Lock ourselves by hand. Those things factor into the price.

TiGr locks were available in two widths, with the wider one being more secure. Can you explain why making them wider rather than thicker make them more secure?

The additional width provides increased resistance to bolt cutter and sawing attacks without decreasing flexibility too much or adding too much weight.

What would be the biggest challenges in making TiGr locks even more secure?

Making locks that are lighter and even harder to break at a viable price point.

I think it’s really important that bike locks are rated by independent security organisations. So I was really happy to see TiGr locks have been tested and rated by ART who are one of the best.

However, in the UK many insurance companies require that your lock is rated by Sold Secure. Have you considered submitting your locks to Sold Secure rating as well?

We plan to get certifications from rating agencies in all major markets including Sold Secure for the UK.

Is it important to have TiGr locks made in the USA (and if so why)?

It’s important to us. TiGr Lock is our baby, we take pride in bringing it to life in our own small shop and touching every piece that goes out the door. We like being able to respond directly to customer questions.

Being simple to manufacture makes it possible for us to keep production in-house. We may outsource more in the future, but at our current volumes the potential costs savings aren’t that great. Titanium cost doesn’t vary much from place to place.

Are there plans to make TiGr locks more widely available outside the US?

Yes. We want to deliver great customer/user experience for every user in every place. To do so on a larger scale outside the US we need local partners who both share our values and have the capacity to help make it easier for cyclists to find and buy our products.  We are working on it.

The bigger brands obviously have the advantages of economies of scale. Do you think as a smaller brand with small batch production you have any advantages over the bigger manufacturers?

We think being more nimble and more responsive to customers are some advantages that come with smaller size.

You’ve got the bow design and now the mini. Are there plans for more designs?

Yes, please stay tuned.

Great! Many thanks for your time Jim.


TiGr locks are available online through their own shop, through Amazon and from specific local retailers.

All currently available TiGr locks have been tested and awarded a 2/5 star rating by ART, the independent Dutch security foundation.

The ART tests are very demanding and a 2/5  rating is usually equivalent to at least* a Silver Rating from Sold Secure.

This means they all meet the minimum security requirements to be recommended by The Best Bike Lock.

* (The Abus Bordo Granit 6500 Folding Lock is Sold Secure Gold and 2/5 stars from ART)

 

Gone in 60 Seconds: A UK Bike Theft Documentary

This is one of the most interesting documentaries I’ve seen on bike theft. Filmed in London in 2007, the title refers to the statistic that in the UK, a bike is stolen every 60 seconds!

You can watch the whole thing at the end of this post. But what’s in it?

Gone in 60 Seconds Bike Theft Documentary

Well, loads of goof stuff. They steal their own bike several times with increasingly intrusive tools in very public places to show that no-one ever intervenes.  There’s a glimpse of the Sold Secure workshop where they dispatch some cheap cable locks very quickly. And they film several sting operations by the police and set up their own sting operations so they can track the stolen bikes.

Of course all the bikes in the sting operations are locked with cable locks. And all the thieves that steal the bikes are using very basic wire cutters that slice through those locks in a matter of seconds.

The lesson here as always: never use a cable lock to secure your bicycle!

Almax vs Sold Secure

There’s also another section which I remember caused some controversy at the time. Almax, who manufacturer high security, bolt cutter proof chains for motorcycles, attack some of the higher security bike locks with a pair of Irwin Record 42″ bolt croppers.

In the video, they cut through the Abus City Chain X-Plus (10 mm links), the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain (14 mm links) and the Squire MC4 Chain (13 mm links). As well as a selection of unidentified u-locks. (Why didn’t they identify the u-locks?). All in a matter of seconds.

As we already know: any chains with links less than 16 mm can be cropped with the best bolt cutters, the right technique and enough weight behind them.

But that’s a very specific combination and the suggestion from Almax at the end of the piece that “any cyclist that buys any of these locks we’ve tested today are not safe”, irked many involved with bike security, with Kryptonite offering their own response.

And you can read more of the opinions of some of the people involved in this test here and here.

The facts:

Irwin Record 42″ bolt croppers do cost over $400 / £300. And as you can clearly see in the video: to crop these chains they need to be close to the ground so the thief can use the floor for leverage. Lastly, have a good look at the blokes doing the cropping: they’re not exactly lightweights!

So yes, some professional thieves will use these bolt croppers. And if your chain is too close to the floor and the thief is heavy enough and knows what they’re doing, you will lose your bike if it’s locked with these chains. But there’s a good few “ifs” here.

My view:

If you want a bike lock that’s guaranteed to be bolt cutter proof, it needs to be at least 16 mm thick. It could be an Almax chain. It could be a Pragmasis chain. It could be an OnGuard Brute or a Kryptonite New York Standard u-lock.

But not everyone with a 42″ pair of bolt cutters can cut every bike lock that’s less than 16 mm. So think about your circumstances, think about the realistic risk to your bike based on those circumstances and make your choice accordingly.

In fact, I’ve written a useful guide here to help you choose the right lock for your bicycle according to your circumstances.

I’ve gone off track here a bit. Back to the documentary…

Brick Lane: A Theives Bazaar

There’s a nice bit where they go down to Brick Lane market in East London to find loads of stolen bikes openly on sale in a thieves bazaar.

I used to live around there and it was notorious and completely blatant. It was quite common to see kids fighting amongst themselves as one thief came to reclaim a bike that they’d stolen but that had subsequently been stolen from them by another thief!

I don’t know if it’s still going on as I haven’t lived in London for a while and the area has been massively gentrified. But if it’s not happening in Brick Lane it will only have moved somewhere else.

Boris Johnson: A prat

The other thing that caught my attention watching it again today was Boris Johnson, a keen cyclist and a man who has consistently shown himself to care only for himself, complaining about our “atomistic society” and bemoaning the fact we don’t watch out for each other anymore. Prat.

Anyway, the documentary:

 

 

LITELOK: Is this a game changer for bicycle security?

Update (April 30th 2017):

I’ve now got hold of a LITELOK and have been using it for the past month. Check out my full hands-on LITELOK review here.

Litelock Flexible Lightweight Bike Lock

Sometimes it seems like barely a week passes by without the launch of another Kickstarter funded bike lock from yet another trendy startup company.

And the promise is always the same: we will solve all your bicycle security problems with our clever ideas and the latest cutting edge technology.

There’s always a slick video. There’s usually a smart phone app. And more often than not, I’m left slightly baffled and a little bit disappointed.

Why? Because they either solve problems that don’t seem that significant. Or add layers of technological complexity that will inevitably unravel in the real world. Sometimes they manage to achieve both of these things.

And they always seem to marginalize the most important part of any lock: the security. In most of these projects the security level of the lock almost feels like an afterthought. When it should be the very highest priority.

Because lets face it, a bike lock must protect your bike from theft. If the lock is defeated and your bike is stolen, no amount of innovative design features will save it from being utterly, utterly useless.

And of course, we all know that along with security comes weight. The two are inextricably linked. The more secure a bike lock is, the heavier it is. It’s unavoidable. And this is one of the greatest problems with bike security: in order to adequately protect your bike, you have to lug round a very weighty and very inconvenient bit of metal.

So when I first read about the LITELOK, I was understandably dubious. A light bike lock that is also secure? It’s impossible. Isn’t it?

Litelock Flexible Lightweight Bike Lock

Well, apparently not. Using a new, super tough, super light material they call “Boaflexicore”, the LITELOK defies expectations. Not only does it weigh less than 1 Kg, it’s also been awarded the very highest Gold security rating from Sold Secure, the independent lock testers.

How does it compare to other locks? At first glance it seems to offer all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of it’s competitors…

The LITELOK is closest in form and function to cable or chain locks. These are practical and easy to use. But most cable locks are close to useless when it comes to actually protecting your bike and chain locks are notoriously heavy. And while the other major alternative U-locks, can provide a high level of protection at a reasonable weight, their rigid shape means they’re not always so practical to use.

Sounds promising! But let’s look at some real world comparisons. You can compare the weights of security ratings of a whole load of U-locks here and chain locks here.

Compared to chains, both the Kryptonite Keeper 755 Mini and the Hiplok Lite are about the same length and weight as the LITELOK. But both of these locks only have a Sold Secure Bronze security rating. And there’s a big, big difference between Bronze and Gold. In fact, I don’t recommend locks that are rated Sold Secure Bronze to anyone.

And the lightest chain lock that offers a Sold Secure Gold rating is the Abus CityChain 1010 85 which is twice as heavy as the LITELOK. (It’s also slightly longer, but only by 4 inches.)

Talking of length, the LITELOK is admittedly, not very long. In fact at 29″ / 73.6 cm, it’s pretty short. But you can actually join two of them together to double the usable length if you really need to.

Against U-locks, which are generally lighter, you might think the competition would be closer. But the lightest Sold Secure Gold rated U-lock I can find (with a verified weight) is the Abus U-mini 401 Yellow. Not only is it still slightly heavier than the LITELOK, it’s also a mini u-lock which makes it significantly less practical to use.

So yes, it does seem like the LITELOK may well have found that hallowed ground where a high degree of practicality is not undermined by poor security.

But this isn’t a proper review. Let’s save a full appraisal of the LITELOK until it’s been released and real people start using it in the real world. When real thieves start to tackle it with real tools. Because a Sold Secure rating is not the be all and end all. Let’s see how the thieves rate it.

However I am genuinely optimistic, even excited by the prospects of this lock. The people behind it seem to have done everything right so far. They’ve tackled a genuine problem. They’ve had their lock certified by an independent tester. And there’s no smart phone app in sight!

So I really look forward to giving it a full review once it is released. In the meantime, if you need great lock RIGHT NOW, check out my guide on how to choose a lock.

A confession: I keep my bike in the street overnight

Update (July 1st 2016):

They stole my back brake cable last night. I didn’t realise until I came to the main road at the top of the hill outside our house. Luckily, they didn’t steal the front cable too!

Never leave your bike locked up in the street overnight. That’s what they say anyway. When you start to learn about bike security you’ll see this piece of advice over and over again.

Our bikes outside

And it’s always very definite. There’s no room for negotiation. Never leave your bike locked up in the street overnight.

And of course it makes a lot of sense. Leaving a bike out all night gives the thieves free reign to practice their dark arts. They’re able work under the cloak of darkness and can be pretty confident that at 4 am neither you nor anyone else is likely to disturb them for a good long while. And we all know that any lock can be defeated if you give the thief enough time…

So what sort of nutter leaves their bike alone in the street in the dark for hours on end? Recently I came across this post from the brilliant Lovely Bicycle. She writes about turning an old Dutch transport bike into an “outdoor” bike, that’s left permanently outside. The reason is very clear: convenience.

Her’s is a very heavy, unwieldy bike, difficult to carry through doors and up stairs. In fact, it’s not designed to keep inside. As she mentions in the post: with all the delicate parts protected from the weather, it’s designed to be left outside for long periods of time. And of course it’s far more convenient keep a bike outside all the time. You’re surely going to use it more often.

So this is what she decided to do. She bought a sturdy Kryptonite lock, and chained the bike to some railings at the back of her house. Voila. A permanently outside bike.

At the end of the post, she accepts that keeping a bike outside is not for everyone and suggests that we should weigh the convenience against how uncomfortable we are with the security (and probably the weather) issues.

In the comments, I was a bit surprised by the amount of negative feedback directed at the security aspect of this decision. But of course, as I mentioned above, the accepted truth is that you should never leave your bike outside overnight. So maybe I shouldn’t have been. But perhaps my surprise is is rooted in my own experience…

Because I leave my bike outside all the time too. And my girlfriends and my sons bike as well. We leave them locked to the same bike stand, out in the street opposite our apartment block every night. Why? Well, it’s the same basic reason that Lovely Bicycle gives: convenience.

Theoretically, I could bring my bike into our building, lug it into the lift and then carry it through the apartment to our small balcony every day. As could my girlfriend and kids. But what a pain. I ride a bike for the freedom it gives me. I don’t want to be so constrained, so completely inconvenienced by the possibility that someone else wants my bicycle.

So we leave them outside. Same place. All night. Every night. And have we had any problems? Well, err yes there’s been quite a few as it goes…

The first bike I bought here, was such a ridiculous machine, a circus clown would have been embarrassed to ride it. I didn’t think anyone could possibly want it. So I bought an equally cheap, equally ridiculous cable lock to protect it. And of course the bike was stolen the very first night I left it outside.

Clown Bike
My first outside bike looked a bit like this. I thought no-one would want to steal it. I was wrong.

The second bike to disappear was my girlfriends. It was a crappy old machine as well. But this time we’d bought a thick, armored cable lock to secure it. This one lasted a good few weeks. Maybe a couple of months. But eventually we came down in the morning and only the lock was left, in two parts, lying defeated on the ground.

So this is when we got more serious. Each bike is now locked with a decent chain lock and a decent U-lock. They’re not super fancy locks. But although Barcelona is rife with bike thieves, they’re not very sophisticated. No ones running round with 42″ bolt croppers or hydraulic bottle jacks. Anyway, we’ve had no trouble with the bikes since we got proper locks.

Our outside locking technique

The bike components however, are another matter. We’ve had several seats stolen. Part of my brakes. My handlebar grips. And a bell. At one point the thieves seemed to be treating our bikes as their own orchard, picking and choosing parts as and when they fancied them.

But you live and learn. You find out what works and what doesn’t. I now ride a bike without handle bar grips! My bell is super-glued in place! Not only are the seats secured with old bike chains, the quick releases are replaced too. And there’s epoxy putty in the hex sockets. And in fact, we haven’t had any problems for a long while.

Now, many people might read this and think it’s just not worth the hassle and the heartbreak. For them maybe it’s better to keep their bikes inside. And that’s fine. That’s the point Lovely Bicycle was making at the end of her post: it’s not for everyone. It depends on your own priorities, on your own circumstances.

But the important thing is this: don’t be afraid to go against the grain of accepted opinion. Successful bike security is more than just preventing your bike from being stolen. (Although obviously that’s the most important thing!) It’s essential that whatever security methods you employ don’t compromise the way you want to use your bike.

Successful bike security is more than just preventing your bike from being stolen. You have to find that “sweet spot”, where your bike is safe but you’re not inconvenienced.

You have to find that “sweet spot”, where your bike is safe but you’re not inconvenienced. We’ve found our sweet spot now. We lost a couple of bikes and a load of components in the way. But I’m pretty sure that when we come down in the morning, our bikes will still be there, the seats will (probably) still be there, and we can be off on our way with no hassle.

And that’s really what I want for this website. I want to help people find their sweet spot. Whether that’s inside or outside. A lock or locks that suits their budget. A locking method that’s easy, painless. And a system that adequately protects their bike while they use it exactly how they want to use it. And preferably I’d like people to find this sweet spot before they lose any bikes!

I’m not sure whether Lovely Bicycle still keeps her bike outside. The original post was from 2011. It would be great to get an update. But I know we’re not the only ones. So let me know if you keep your bike outside, or even worse outside in the street!

Of course, most people don’t. But everyone should be looking for their own sweet spot. Have you found yours? Did you lose any bikes on the way?

In my next post, I’ll give you my hard won, top tips for keeping a bike permanently outside in the street!

Liberate yourself with a beater bike!

My every day bike is what some people would call a “beater bike”. What’s that I hear you cry? Well, a “beater” is usually an old, cheap, tatty looking bike that’s so unattractive that no-one would ever steal it. And even if someone did steal it, you wouldn’t care. Because it’s so ugly you could never love it. And it’s so cheap you could replace it without upsetting your other half.

A typical beater bike

That’s the idea anyway. In reality, even beater bikes are stolen if they’re not properly secured. I’ve had bikes that a clown would think twice about riding, stolen the first time I left them outside because I “secured” them with a crappy cable lock. As always, the opportunist thief will take anything they can get.

And this idea that you don’t care about your beater bike doesn’t work for me either. I love my beater and I’ll be gutted if it’s ever stolen. In fact, without getting too weird, I think it’s very difficult for anyone to ride the same bike every day and not form a close relationship with it.

And I ride mine every single day. It gets me to work and back. Rain or shine. I ride it to the pub. I ride it to the club. I ride it to the shops. I ride it every opportunity I get.

My beater bike

It’s certainly not a handsome bike. It’s covered in scratches and gathers more every day. And when the components wear out, I buy the cheapest replacements my local bike shop’s got. But I keep the tires pumped up and the chain well oiled. So most of the time it’s a nice ride. It doesn’t turn any heads, but it gets the job done without any worry or fuss.

That’s the beauty of a beater. It just works. And you don’t worry about it. And this is an incredibly liberating feeling for anyone who’s only had “nice” bikes before. Because if you’ve got a nice bike, you’re always worrying about it. You’re worried about it getting scratched. You’re worried about it being stolen. Maybe you’re even worried about it getting wet!

And this worry often limits how you use it. You won’t take it here because it might get damaged. You won’t leave it there because it might be robbed. So you don’t use it. Or you use it less. Or you use it, but won’t leave it too long. And of course you can’t concentrate properly while it’s out of your sight!

With a beater there’s none of that. Take it anywhere. Leave it anywhere. This means you use it more. And this is what bike riding is all about for me. Using it everyday. Using it for every possible journey. Without any stress.

And if you get a good lock there’s very little chance of it being stolen. I leave mine in the same place in the street all night, every night. It’s secured with a decent U-lock and a half decent chain lock. I’ve had the handlebar grips stolen, the seat stolen and various parts of the breaks stolen. But never the bike. It’s just not worth their hassle it seems.

So here’s to the humble beater bike. The understated workhorse of the streets. Getting thousands of us where we want to go every day. Long may you ride…

Hipster Bike Lock: The Shinola Chain

Shinola bike lockI’ve just found the ultimate hipster bike lock! It’s a 7 mm steel chain, secured with a brass padlock, made by Shinola in Detroit. Both the chain and the padlock are encased in a Horween Essex leather cover which is available in three colorways: black, natural and orange. And it costs, wait for it… $285!

It does look fantastic. In fact, I think I’d rather wear it round my neck than waste it on my bike.

But while the leather sheath should adequately protect the paintwork on your custom fixie, the chain and particularly the padlock will not protect the bike from a tooled up thief. An average sized set of bolt cutters will slice through that padlock shackle like a knife through butter. But you will look good and feel smug until your bike is robbed.

It’s so pretty and so expensive, maybe we’ll start to see thieves stealing locks and leaving bikes. But until then, you’re probably best off with a chain lock that’s rated Sold Secure Silver or better.

 

 

Kickstarter Project 1: Seatylock Review

I think Kickstarter is great. And since there’s always loads of bike lock projects on there, I thought it would be a good idea to cast a discerning eye over some of them.

First up is Seatylock. It’s not available to the public yet so a full Seatylock review will have to wait. But that’s not going to stop us speculating on what it might be like…

Essentially it’s a bike seat that incorporates a folding lock. The lock itself is very similar to the Abus Bordo. But in this case the lock is permanently attached to the bottom of the saddle.

Seatylock

To use it, you simply unlock, unclip and remove the saddle from the special mount, unfold the 3 ft (1 m) steel lock and attach it round your bike and an immovable object. A video would probably explain this much better than I can, so have a look a this promotional film from Seatylock themselves.

Seatylock in use

At first glance this seems like a really good idea. The lock is permanently integrated into your bike so there’s no chance of you forgetting it. It sits very discreetly under your seat so it doesn’t spoil the aesthetics of your bicycle. And in this position, under your center of gravity when your riding, the extra weight should be almost unnoticeable. It also very neatly solves the problem of rampant seat theft. No one can steal your seat if your seat is your lock!

But if we want to make a more considered assessment of the Seatylock, what do we need to look at? Well, since all locks offer a compromise between three qualities: price, practicality and security, lets have look at how the the Seatylock might fare in each of these areas.

Practicality

For bike locks, practicality means two things: how easy it is to carry about and how easy it is to use. Since in this case the lock is tucked permanently under your seat, it should be very easy to carry around. There’s no frame mount that may or may not fit your bike. And then may or may not work loose and rattle. And then may even even fall off. With the Seatylock it’s all very neat and tidy.

But how easy it is to carry is also related to its weight. The Seatylock weighs either 1.3 kg or 1.4 kg, depending on which type of saddle you get (more on this later). Seatylock claim that this is less than the weight of 90% of decent seat and lock combinations available today.

It’s difficult to check whether this is strictly true or not. But you can easily compare it to the weights of other U-locks and chain locks. And… 1.3 kg is not heavy by any means. It’s equivalent to around three and a half cans of coke. And as the people at Seatylock say, you won’t notice that sort of weight when it’s under your saddle.

How easy is it to use? Well in the this video it looks really simple. Seatylock claim it takes less than 30 seconds to unlclip the seat, unfold the lock and secure your bike. While thirty seconds would be roughly three times longer than it takes me to secure my bike with my U-lock, it’s not prohibitively long. And considering the benefits mentioned above, it seems an acceptable length of time to me. For others maybe not. And removing and then replacing your bike seat every time you lock your bike may become a real drag for some people.

I’m much more concerned about how flexible the Seatylock is in terms of different seat posts and seat types. They claim that the universal adapter means it fits any bike on the market with a normal saddle. And they offer a variety of different adapter connectors for commonly used seat posts.

But it will only work with saddles from Seatylock. At the moment you are limited to a choice from two: a wide “Comfort” saddle and a more sporty “Trekking” saddle. While these come in lots of different colour combinations, I worry that this limited range will put people off. However they do say they are working on new saddle models so hopefully the choice will improve.

Security

Security is always my biggest concern with any new type of lock. Especially when it comes from a company with no past experience of producing locks. Seatylock helpfully provide a video of their lock being attacked using several common bike thieving techniques. And of course it survives them all admirably.

But I remain skeptical. The Seatylock is very similar to the Abus Bordo which isn’t the most secure of locks itself. And Seatylock certainly doesn’t have the same pedigree as Abus. What’s more, since they don’t have a whole range of other locks to compare it to, when they say it’s secure what does that actually mean? It begs the question “how secure?”.

For me the best thing any new lock company can do is to get it’s locks rated by the independent testing organisations like Sold Secure and ART. This is what Hiplok did. And now I can confidently compare their locks against the locks from other companies. I know how secure a Hiplok is. But I don’t really know how secure a Seatylock is. So until we have reliable third party security ratings for the Seatylock I’m afraid the jury is out!

Price

You can pre-order the Seatylock now for $90. But the final retail price will be $129. It’s not cheap. But don’t forget you’re buying a lock and a seat!

In fact, you can buy the lock without the seat. It’s called the Foldylock and is $95. This is around the same price as the very similar Abus Bordo 6000. But more expensive than OnGuards folding lock.FoldylockSo if the lock that comes with the Seatylock is the same as the Foldylock and the Foldylock is as good as the Bordo 6000, then $90 is a pretty good deal! And even $129 is not too bad. But whether it’s as well made and secure as the Bordo is not yet clear. We will have to wait and see.

Summary

I think the Seatylock is a nice idea. Combining your bike seat with your bike lock in this way can solve several common issues. You’re never going to forget you bike lock. You’ll never have any problems with dodgy frame mounts. You’ll never complain about the ridiculous weight of your lock. And you’re seat will never be stolen.

However I’m still unsure how secure it is. And until we have security ratings from independent testers or we start hearing stories of stolen bikes, we just won’t know. I’m also a little bit concerned about how practical it will be for some people to keep removing and replacing their bike seat every time they stop. And I’m slightly more concerned about whether the limited choice of bike seats will put a lot of people off.

So, a mixed bag really. Although they met their funding target in November 2014 and you’ve been able to pre-order for a while, they’ve been making some improvements that have caused some delays and the first batch will not be released until around September 2015 I think.

I really hope it’s a success because I think it’s a great idea. And once it becomes available I would love to write a full Seatylock review. If you have ordered one of these locks please let us know what it’s like when you receive it and start using it.

In the meantime, you’re probably best off with a decent chain lock or U-lock. And check out our tips for keeping your seat safe as well!

 

Bike Theft: The 10 worst places

We all know that bike thievery is rampant. In both the US and Europe. But have you ever wondered which are the very worst places for bike theft? Here’s a handy little table that answers that vet question…

Bike Theft: The Top Ten Cities

In the UK:In the US:

  1. Central London

  2. Kingston-upon-Thames

  3. Cambridge

  4. Bristol

  5. York

  6. Oxford

  7. South West London

  8. Brighton

  9. Portsmouth

  10. Nottingham


  1. Philadelphia, PA

  2. Chicago, IL

  3. New York City, NY

  4. San Francisco, CA

  5. Tucson, AZ

  6. Portland, OR

  7. Denver, CO

  8. New Haven, CT

  9. Cambridge, MA

  10. Austin, TX

Why these cities? I think it’s pretty straightforward. These are generally the places where cycling is most popular. These are the cities with the highest number of bikes and the highest proportion of the population cycling regularly…

Bike Usage: The Top Ten Cities

In the UK:In the US:

  1. Cambridge

  2. Oxford

  3. York

  4. Hackney (Central london)

  5. Gosport (Portsmouth)

  6. Exeter

  7. Islington (Central london)

  8. Ham & Ful (Central london)

  9. Richmond (Southwest London)

  10. Lambeth (Central london)


  1. New York City, NY

  2. Los Angeles, CA

  3. Portland, OR

  4. San Francisco, CA

  5. Chicago, IL

  6. Washington, DC

  7. Philadelphia, PA

  8. Seattle, WA

  9. Houston, TX

  10. Minneapolis, MN

What does this mean for us? Well, if you live in one of these places you obviously need to be especially careful with your bike security!

But it also suggests that wherever you live, if there’s lots of cyclists, there’ll be lots of bike crime. So if you look around you and see loads of people on bicycles, there’s probably loads of people you can’t see that want to steal those bicycles! So make sure you’re protecting your bike properly. This means buying the best bike lock you can afford and making sure you know how to use it.

The great thing is that getting a decent lock and using it properly will make a real difference. I came across an interesting article when I was researching this post. Essentially it illustrates how effective simple bike security can be…

The top ten US cities for bike theft list comes from Kryptonites own research. For years New York had topped the list as the very worst city in the US for bike crime. However, in recent years it has started to slip, settling at third in the last list that Kryptonite released. How come? Well, according to this article it was just a case of the people of New York wising up. They’ve realised that they need to spend a bit of money on a decent lock, learn how to secure their bike properly and lock it every time they leave it. It’s as simple as that.

And it’s as simple as that for everyone else too. Find a lock with the right level of protection for your area, make sure it suits your lifestyle, learn how to use it properly and use it every time you leave your bike. The chances are your bike won’t be stolen!