Kryptonite Evolution Chain Lock (Series 4 1055 Mini) Review
Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 1055 Mini
4.40 lbs (2.00 kg)
21.5" (55 cm)
Other Security Ratings:
The Kryptonite Evolution chain lock is probably the highest security chain lock from Kryptonite that can still be described as truly portable.
I’m reviewing the Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 1055 Mini here because it’s the shortest, which also makes it the most portable, and (for me at least), the most usable too.
Why’s that? Well, keep reading and I’ll tell you!
I’ve been using the Kryptonite Evolution chain (along with its slimmer sibling the 955 Mini) for a couple of months, and as someone who was previously a u-lock aficionado, I’m surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed them both.
They won’t be for everyone though. So let’s look at how secure the 1055 Mini is. How easy it is to carry around. What it’s like to use on a daily basis. And what the alternatives are, if it’s not quite right for you…
How secure is the Kryptonite Evolution Chain Lock?
The Evolution chains have 10 mm thick, hexagonal chain links made from Kryptonite’s lowest grade (3T Manganese) chain steel. This is the same steel that’s used in the Sold Secure Silver Keeper chains.
And it’s the same steel that’s used in the less secure (but also Gold rated), Kryptolok chains. So the Evolution chains are the most secure chains that use this less secure steel (if you see what I mean)!
Because if we go up to the more secure Kryptonite New York chains, they’re using the 3T Hardened Manganese Steel for “maximum strength”.
This may well be to do with the distinction between portable and stationary chains. With the stronger steel used for the chains which Kryptonite view more for home use (like the New York range).
Anyway, that’s not to say the Kryptonite Evolution chains aren’t secure. Because they are! And the 1055 Mini is clearly much more secure than the 955 Mini.
But it’s not so much because of the extra 1 mm of steel in the chain, or the fact that the links are hexagonal rather than square (both hexagonal and square links are actually easier for used bolt croppers to cut, as any nicks in the jaws find good purchase on the edges of the chains!).
For sure, the 1 mm adds some extra security to the chain. But I think it’s the body that adds the most significant security boost to the Evolution chain lock. It’s considerably bigger and heavier than the body of the 955 Mini. And it uses a completely different, oval crossbar lock head.
This is reflected in the independent security ratings. Although both the Kryptolok and Evolution chain are rated Sold Secure Gold, the Kryptoloks have 2/5 from ART, while the Evolution chains get 3/5 stars.
So it’s a genuinely strong lock for high risk circumstances, that sits towards the top of the Sold Secure Gold rating.
But it’s not unbreakable! Even the strongest locks can be defeated with the right tools and enough time...
It’s true that chain locks are less vulnerable to angle grinders than u-locks. This is because the links tend to move around, so it’s difficult for the blade to get a consistent purchase. However, they’re certainly not immune.
Here’s a video of the 7 mm Keeper chain (made from the same steel as the Evolution) being cut in a few seconds with an angle grinder. Yes, he’s using a vice. But a thief can simply pull the bike away from the stand to tighten the chain.
And another 3 mm of steel, wouldn’t make much difference!
However all bike locks can be cut by angle grinders. Much more importantly, 10 mm chains can be cropped by even medium (24”) bolt cutters if the thief can use the floor for leverage.
But the good news is: all you have to do to combat this is keep the lock as far from the ground as possible (more on this later).
So while (like any lock), it’s not angle grinder proof, with the right locking technique you can certainly make it bolt cutter proof. And then the Kryptonite Evolution chain becomes a very secure bike lock indeed.
And if you need further confirmation, it’s also the LockPickingLawyer's bike lock of choice…
Is the Kryptonite Evolution Chain Lock easy to carry?
One thing to remember is that chain locks are heavy. And even the very short, 1055 Mini Kryptonite Evolution chain weighs 4.4 lb (2 kg).
This is about the same amount as 5.5 cans of Coke, which is fair bit of weight to be a lugging around every day. So how are you going to carry it, because chain locks don’t usually come with frame mounts?!
Well, although the Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 1055 Mini isn’t usually sold with a frame mount (unlike most u-locks), Kryptonite do make one that you can buy separately.
The sexily named Transit Tube-R Bicycle Chain Lock Carrier [Amazon], is essentially a big plastic canister (into which you shove the chain), that will screw into the holes meant for your water bottle cradle or fasten around your frame with Velcro straps.
It’s pretty big, so make sure you’ve got enough room on your frame. But although I haven’t used it myself, it gets good reviews and they seem to suggest it’s robust enough to last several years. So it’s an option!
Of course another option is to just throw the Kryptonite Evolution chain in a bag. The great thing about the 1055 Mini is that it collapses down into a pretty compact package, so it won’t take up a lot of room in any bag.
The equivalent of 5.5 cans of Coke will be notable in a backpack but it won’t make any difference to your ride in a saddlebag or pannier I suppose.
A final option is to simply wrap it around your seat post. Again, the 955 Mini is so short, that this works really well. You get a nice tight fit, with very little movement as you’re riding, at least in an urban environment.
And the thick nylon cover keeps everything pretty quiet and will prevents any scratches to your frame (not that the frame I’m using in the photos isn’t already pretty scratched!).
But this is my preferred option and it’s so easy, I actually find it preferable to using a u-lock with a fame mount. No ugly plastic attached to my frame. No flapping Velcro straps. And no worrying about a heavy, unbalanced u-lock eventually rattling or working loose.
Is the Kryptonite Evolution Chain Lock easy to use?
When you’re trying to secure your bike, the manoeuvrability of your lock will largely determine how quick and easy (or otherwise), that experience is. So chain locks are great because they’re so flexible.
It’s even easier when the mechanism is incorporated into the end of the chain, (like on the Kryptonite Evolution chains and Kryptolok chains), simply because there are less things to hold on to (i.e. there’s no separate padlock).
Bigger, thicker chains can get a bit cumbersome to get around your bike due to their bulk and weight. But that’s not an issue with the 1055 Mini, as it’s so small!
The size of the 1055 Mini has disadvantages as well though. It measures just 21.5” (55 cm) long. And that gives you very little internal space when it’s locked.
I measured it against some of my mini u-locks and found the internal locking space somewhere between the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-6 LITE and Mini-7.
However this comparison is a little misleading, because the flexibility of the 1055 Mini means that in the street, it actually gives you the same locking opportunities as a standard size u-lock.
So you’ll have no problem getting it around your frame and one wheel in a bike stand. And it will also go around your average size street sign and lamppost. It was only with the fatter lampposts and bulkier street furniture that I found it wouldn’t fit.
Which is exactly the same as my experiences with standard size u-locks!
Locking technique is super important with chain locks. That’s because (as discussed above), the closer they are to the ground, the more vulnerable the are to bolt cutters.
So while you’ll see many guides that advise locking the back wheel and the seat tube (or even the front wheel and the down tube), I think this will usually leave the chain in a position where it can be cropped.
Instead, you could wrap the Kryptonite Evolution chain around your top tube. This will keep it as far from the ground as possible. However, neither of your wheels would be secured with this method.
And the good thing about the 1055 Mini is that because it’s so short, you can wrap it around your seat stay and rear wheel (protecting your frame and wheel), and it will still be far enough from the ground to make a bolt cutter attack almost impossible.
Of course that still leaves your front wheel unprotected! You could use a second lock, a supplementary cable lasso, or security nuts and skewers to address this. There are tons of options.
In fact, there are too many ways to protect both your wheels and seats to go into here and it’s worth reading about them all in more detail. The important thing is: you’ve got to find a system that’s both secure and practical for you!
You get three keys with the Kryptonite Evolution chain locks. And the bigger one contains an LED light that will help you see what you’re doing in the dark.
Unlike the Kryptolok chain locks, the Evolution chain locks have a sliding keyhole cover. This will keep the worst of the street grime out of the mechanism which should reduce sticking and prolong the life of the lock.
Whether your lock’s got a protective keyhole cover or not though, the most important thing is that you clean and lubricate it every 6 months or so to stop the bike lock jamming!
Kryptonite Evolution Chain Lock Summary
As someone who’s always chosen u-locks for portable security, I’ve very nearly been won over by the Kryptonite Evolution chain!
Being a chain, it’s super flexible, so it’s much easier to get around your bike and whatever you’re locking it to than any u-lock (or even a folding lock).
With the Kryptonite Evolution chains, this ease of use is amplified by the way the mechanism is integrated into the end of the chain.
And this practicality is further compounded with the 955 Mini Kryptonite Evolution chain by its shortness and (relative) lightness, which make it super easy to manoeuvre.
For sure, the short length gives you less locking opportunities than some other locks. But in my experience, anywhere I could use a standard size u-lock, I could also use the 1055 Mini.
And it’s a very secure lock too. The 3/5 stars from ART puts it at the higher end of the Sold Secure Gold rating, and makes it a suitable lock for high risk circumstances. Just remember to keep it well away from the ground!
Whether this is the right lock for you may well come down to how you’re going to carry it. There’s no frame mount included (although you can buy one separately). And it’s a heavy lock.
If you’re happy throwing it in a bag or wrapping it around your seat post then this is a fantastically practical and secure choice!
Alternatives to the Kryptonite Evolution Chain Lock
The 1055 Mini won’t be for everyone of course, and the great thing about bike locks is that there’s always plenty of alternatives...
Looking for something more secure?
If you’re after a more secure, portable chain lock, then that’s a bit tricky! 10 mm chain links are just about the limit for portable security.
More than 10 mm, and chains start to get too heavy and bulky to carry around on a daily basis.
However, the Kryptonite New York Noose 1275 [Amazon], will be just about portable for some people.
It’s got 12 mm links made from Kryptonites superior, 3T hardened manganese steel. And a separate padlock with a 14 mm shackle.
It’s only 30” (75 cm) long. But that’s still longer than the 955 Mini, and the noose system means you can almost double the usable length!
It’s also very heavy though. 6.95 lb (3.15 kg) makes it the same weight as 8.5 cans of Coke!
So for me, this makes it a lock that you’d mainly use at home and then bring out on your bike for particularly high risk circumstances. And it would also work really well with electric bikes or trikes.
Read my full review of the New York Noose 1275 where I explain how the noose system works in more detail!
Looking for something longer?
However these may be too long and too heavy to be practical. So how about the Hiplok Gold [Amazon]?
It’s 33.5” (80 cm) in length, and crucially, it can be worn around your waist like a belt!
This means it remains easy to carry despite being longer and heavier.
It’s got 10 mm links like the Kryptonite Evolution chains and it’s also rated Sold Secure Gold.
And when I was testing the Hiplok Gold I found the 80 cm length was enough to lock my bike to even the fattest lampposts and street furniture.
So if you want a chain lock that offers you more locking opportunities but that’s still easy to carry around, the Hiplok Gold is definitely worth a look! Check my hands on review of the Hiplok Gold.
Looking for something lighter and easier to carry?
The Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 955 Mini is nearly 12% lighter than the 1055 Mini. But it’s less secure and you’ve still got the same transport issues.
So how about the Abus Bordo 6500 [Amazon]? It’s 12% lighter too. And it's also less secure. But as a folding lock, it does give you completely different transport options.
Collapsed down it’s even more compact that the 1055 Mini. So it’s easy to throw in a bag.
But it also comes with a fantastic frame mount that screws into the holes meant for your water bottle cradle (or fastens round your bike with Velcro).
Folding locks sit really close to the frame, so they’re really stable when you’re riding. You wont get any of the frame mount issues you might have experienced with u-locks.
The 33.5” (85 cm) Abus Bordo 6500 85 will give you a few more locking options than the 1055 Mini, but in my tests I didn’t find it quite as easy to use.
And despite it having a Gold rating from Sold Secure, it only has 2/5 stars from ART, so it sits towards the bottom of that rating. It’s NOT as secure as the Kryptonite Evolution chain.
But if you don’t need that security level and you’re looking for something lighter and (subjectively) easier to carry, without sacrificing usability, it’s a good option. Check you my hands on review of the Abus Bordo 6500.
Kryptonite Evolution Series 1055 Mini Specs
Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 1055 Mini
4.40 lbs (2.00 kg)
21.5" (55 cm)
Other Security Ratings:
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Last Updated on January 4, 2021 by Carl Ellis