LITELOK: Is this a game changer for bicycle security?

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.

26 thoughts on “LITELOK: Is this a game changer for bicycle security?

  • March 2, 2016 at 12:11 pm
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    I’m still waiting to receive my litelok after ordering it almost 3 months ago. Ok it was a pre order but I would like to have an answer when I will get mine now that it is in production.
    I hope that it will be a good lock that was worth waiting for.

    Luc
    Belgium

    Reply
    • May 26, 2016 at 9:00 pm
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      Luc,

      Have you received it yet? I ordered two yesterday 5.25.16, and emailed them asking when I could expect them here in NY, USA.

      Reply
  • May 1, 2016 at 3:36 pm
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    I got my Litelok a few days ago. I’m disappointed by the follwing issues, ordered by priority:
    1) The key does not work smoothly (neither of the 3 keys). Sometimes the key blocks halfway either while inserting or while turning it. This feels like “made in China” and not like a high qualitiy lock mechanism. That’s very annoying because I don’t want to lose my time while fiddling with the key.
    2) It requires both hands and a bit muscle power when connecting both ends with each other. You can’t them simply stick together like an U-lock because you have to *bend* the Litelok strap which is quite rigid.
    3) The coating is already dammaged after only a few usages. Some filaments come out and make loops. That’s ugly and may get entangled in sth.
    4) It seems that the Litelok becomes easily dirty. There are already some visible dark (grease?) spots on the boa green Litelok.
    5) The transport straps are ridiculous. It takes much more time to attach the Litelok with these straps than to snap in an U-lock into its plastic holder.
    6) Litelok is bulkier than an U-lock.

    Reply
    • May 1, 2016 at 7:18 pm
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      Oh no, that’s disappointing Mike!

      I did wonder about what sort of cosmetic condition it would be in after a few months on the streets.

      And if the key doesn’t work well and it’s more impractical than a u-lock, that’s not very good at all.

      Reply
    • August 3, 2016 at 5:07 am
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      agreed on every point – I am sure they are well intentioned but it’s become a PR exercise of “we all love our friend Litelok” to sell them before the truth gets out.

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    • August 21, 2016 at 5:08 pm
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      I just thought I’d comment here because Mike seems to have had many of the same experiences as myself.

      1) I have had no problems with the key. Mine is only one week old, but very fluid and solid key mechanism.

      2) Yes, it does require both hands to lock/unlock it, and usually even your knee or a post in order to provide enough pressure to make it straight enough for the bolt to slide in/out of the box. This is slightly annoying, to be honest.

      3-4) No comment because mine is still relatively new and has not become frayed or dirty.

      5) Yes, attaching to the frame is surprisingly time consuming. You have to sort of wedge it into the triangle, and then fasten three velcro straps. Probably the best thing litelock could do to improve this product would be to work on carrying options.

      6) Yes, quite bulky no matter how you deal with it. Definitely light, but quite bulky.

      Again, the compromise here is between bulk and weight. You sacrifice all the ease that comes with rigidity of a d-lock for something that always has constant pressure (when in a circle), or is giant (when stretched out).

      Again, I want to emphasize that – for me – aside from the fraying issue (which has not happened to me yet), all of these issues are small compromises compared to the significant weight reduction.

      Reply
  • May 17, 2016 at 2:57 am
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    When is shipping to Washington DC.?

    May 16, 2016

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    • May 17, 2016 at 5:44 am
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      Hi, You’re best off asking them directly. They’re quite active on Twitter or you can contact them through their website.

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    • August 21, 2016 at 4:59 pm
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      Total cost to me to purchase/ship to the DC area was £100, which in August, 2016 was about $130 USD. The shipping itself is £15, and the product is £85.

      Reply
  • May 26, 2016 at 10:44 am
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    Has anyone seen an independent review of the Litelok?

    Reply
  • June 6, 2016 at 9:24 pm
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    got my litelock Twin lock Herringbone set. I think they are easy to open and close and using the key is easy to lock or open the litelock. They are flexible enough to allow me to lock around the odd shaped fixed objects that a U-lock make impossible. Good job Litelock!

    Reply
  • June 13, 2016 at 6:28 am
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    Hi,
    LOL, try to cut the main LOCK mechanism (black pieces) of this lock with bolt cutter!!!!!! There is no Alarm, 21 century locks should have alarm to the phone!!

    Reply
  • August 21, 2016 at 4:55 pm
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    I have been using a litelock for one week for daily commuting. Total cost with shipping to US: ~$125 depending on exact exchange rate.

    Before I begin, I will say that this is my favorite bike lock that I’ve ever used, but there are several things that I see as potentially important for people to be aware of when considering this product vs. others. We all know that no one truly likes bike locks (except, perhaps, Carl, etc. who run this blog – and thank you for that!), and the better they are at their jobs, the more annoying they are. The litelock is really not an exception to this rule, but the trade-offs are somewhat different than the typical trade-offs between weight and security. Here the major trade-off is that it is bulky.

    The difference in weight between this lock and a New York D-lock is noticeable to me even on short (2-3 mile) commutes. No question – it’s light.

    The litelock website shows the lock clipped to the top bar of a bike lengthwise. My 54 cm Trek commuter is too short for this – the ends of the lock hang off and interfere with the tires, wires, and turning. It can fit (in a circle-shaped lock position) in the front triangle, but it must be wedged in there fairly tightly and makes accessing the water bottle difficult. It takes more room in a backpack than a d-lock, and really has to go in the main compartment of a bag. It is not very flexible, and there is no way to make it small for transport.

    The main issue with the bulk is that it is wide and therefore cannot loop through the rear tire without applying constant pressure on at least two spokes, and my guess is that this will cause the spokes to bend over time. So I lock my back tire with a cable, just like front one, and use the litelock just on the frame. If you had nicer wheels with fewer spokes, this would not be a problem.

    It is big enough to lock around many things that a d-lock cannot. I would not call it “flexible” though. Lock mechanism is, so far, fluid and solid – some amount of pressure is needed during locking and unlocking in order to make it “straight” so that the bolt can slide into the box.

    If you are going to be carrying around a lock all the time, then this one wins on weight, but compromises on bulkiness. If you are going to put it in a backpack, it’s great. If you want to clip it to a frame, it has the advantage of not having any chance of moving during riding (like d-locks sometimes do), but takes up a lot of space on the frame no matter how you do it.

    Reply
    • August 22, 2016 at 11:15 am
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      Great detailed review! Thanks so much for this Earl.

      I wonder if they’ve thought about doing a “mini” Litelok, in the same way that TiGr have done a mini Titanium lock. So this would be just long enough to fasten the frame, or the seat tube and the back wheel to a bike stand. It would be considerably less bulky. But I suppose reduced flexibility might be an issue.

      Reply
  • August 29, 2016 at 12:56 pm
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    Sounds like a decent option but the bulk is hard for me to consider it. I carry around a D lock and a cable for the wheels and while it’s a little heavy it works. I’d be more interested in a slightly less secure but smaller, more flexible version of this product. Maybe wouldn’t be “gold” security standard but good enough for short-stay stops in fairly safe areas which where I tend to be.

    Reply
    • August 29, 2016 at 5:25 pm
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      Yeah I’ve been thinking along the same lines.

      Reply
  • October 7, 2016 at 8:52 am
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    Hi,

    just received my Litelock, and if I am rather happy with the product, I am very surprised at the simplicity of the lock mechanism (and the keys delivered).

    IMHO, any decent “key picker” could just open that lock with a simple picking tool. I don’t have that skill, but really the keys (and the lock mechanism that I can see inside) are of the simplest form !

    As Sam mentionned, I am curious too to see someone trying to cut through the black plastic pieces to see if it was secured.

    A lock will only be as tough as it’s weakest part… so I hope Litelock will quickly act upon our requests here or their marketing efforts may quickly be ridiculed by a “how to force a litelock” video.

    Reply
    • October 7, 2016 at 11:05 am
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      Interesting points Nicolo, thanks!

      I would presume that Sold Secure would have tested both the mechanism and the black pieces. And that if they’d been found wanting, the lock wouldn’t have received a Gold rating.

      How are you finding it in terms of usability? This is where a lot of other people seem a bit disappointed.

      Thanks
      Carl

      Reply
  • October 31, 2016 at 9:47 am
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    Ermmm on the photo of you locking the bike up if somebody unscrewed the wheel the could pull it straight out, lock it up to a different part of the frame

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    • October 31, 2016 at 12:07 pm
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      Hi Alex,

      Are you sure you’ve commented on the right post here? Which photo are you talking about?

      Reply
    • November 28, 2016 at 8:55 pm
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      Pfff good find Max. That’s a bit worrying to say the least!

      Leverage attacks like this are really common and many u-locks can be defeated in the same way. But what’s surprising and worrying in this case is that the Litelok was defeated by such a short length of metal.

      With a good u-lock a thief would usually need to use a much longer length of metal. A piece of scaffolding for instance.

      It looks like he was using the handle of a hammer here!

      Reply
      • December 22, 2016 at 7:39 pm
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        By how far his hand are apart, my guess would be something like a tire iron.

        Reply
        • December 22, 2016 at 7:47 pm
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          Yes I think you’re right David

          Reply

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