Tex-lock Review: A Textile Bike Lock?
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I first became aware of the tex-lock a couple of years ago. But back then it had no independent security ratings. And the idea of a lock made from fabric with no clear measure of how secure it was didn't fill me with confidence!
A little later a video emerged of someone sawing through the tex-lock in a matter of seconds and I felt vindicated in my decision not to review it.
But the guys (or more accurately girls) at tex-lock were not deterred. They redesigned the lock and have now released tex-lock 2.0 which includes a 6 mm steel chain core.
No-one can saw through the 2.0 tex-lock in seconds! And to back that up they've also got solid security ratings from both ART and Sold Secure (the idependent testing organisations).
This is more like it I thought! Now it's worth reviewing. And I've been testing the tex-lock for the last couple of months to see what it's like to use every day...
How secure is the Tex-lock?
So the big thing about the original tex-lock was that it was a bike lock that was entirely made of a particularly tough blend of textiles. A modern rope lock almost!
And for sure, it was very difficult for the most commonly used bike theft tools to defeat. Bolt and cable cutters would get gummed up in the fabric. And there was nothing for hammers and pry bars to attack.
However as that video showed, a hacksaw could cut through it relatively easily.
So for version 2.0 they ran a 6 mm hardened steel chain through the middle of the tex-lock to re-enforce it!
And in doing this they completely transformed the lock. It went from being a revolutionary textile lock to a chain lock with a revolutionary textile sheath. And this is how we need to judge it.
So there are certainly no 6 mm bike chain locks that are rated Sold Secure Gold. Or Sold Secure Silver. In fact, if they do have ratings, 6 mm chains (like the Hiplok Lite) are usually Bronze.
This is because 6 mm chains can be cut relatively easily with bolt cutters. And I don't recommend Bronze rated locks for any circumstances.
But we're forgetting about the textile sheath that covers the chain. This is what differentiates the tex-lock from other chain locks. And this is what a thief will have to get through before they can even start to attack the chain.
Now, getting through the textile sheath is not going to be super difficult, but it will take time. And for maximum efficiency, a thief would need to use one tool for the sheath and a different tool for the chain.
The more tools and more time a thief needs to defeat a lock, the less likely they are to bother. And so the lock is more secure. This is backed up by the independent security tests...
ART has given the tex-lock a 2/5 rating. And Sold Secure have given either SIlver or Gold ratings depending on which part of the tex-lock we're talking about...
These differences become even more important when we look at the different ways we can use the tex-lock...
Is the Tex-lock easy to use?
The tex-lock itself is essentially a length of steel chain, encased in a very thick textile sheath with hardened steel eyelets at each end.
In order to secure your bike (or anything else), you'll need to use it in conjunction with the larger X-lock or smaller U-lock that tex-lock also supply.
To use the tex-lock, you thread the smaller eyelet through the larger eyelet to make a lasso. This lasso can go around one part of your bike (eg the front wheel).
The rest of the tex-lock will go around the immovable object that you're securing the bike to. And then the smaller eyelet is attached to the U-lock (or the X-lock) and your frame.
Used this way, you're protecting one wheel and the frame. But most importantly: it's the textile covered chain that's securing your bike to the immovable object.
If a thief wants to steal your bike they only need to cut through the sheath and then the chain. And this means your bike is secured with a Sold Secure Silver level of protection.
Which is fine in low-risk circumstances. But if you need a bit of extra protection in a higher risk urban area you can do much better. If you have the X-lock. And your area uses Sheffield bike stands.
This is because the X-lock is just wide and long enough to go around a standard Sheffield bike rack and your frame.
Used this way, you can still protect one wheel and the frame. But it's the X-lock that's securing your bike to the immovable object.
And if a thief wants to steal your bike they will have to cut through the 12 mm, hardened steel shackle...
Which would be much harder. So this means your bike is secured with a Sold Secure Gold level of protection.
And this brings us to the thing that I most liked about the tex-lock: it's versatility.
In higher-risk situations, (where you might be locking your bike in an area with lots of bike crime or for longer periods), you can use the X-lock on the frame and the chain on the wheels. Bear in mind that you'll be limited to using bike stands though!
In lower-risk areas, you can also lock your bike to lampposts, railings, and even massive trees, by using the chain to secure the frame.
You couldn't do this with a u-lock and cable combination as the cable is just not secure enough. And although you could do it with a u-lock and regular chain combination, a 120 cm Sold Secure Silver rated chain will be prohibitively heavy!
The tex-lock on the other hand is light enough to make this a realistic option. Although it will depend on which configuration you choose...
The tex-lock chain is available in three different lengths (and weights):
- 80 cm (790 g)
- 120 cm (1050 g)
- 160 cm (1300 g)
And then you can combine the chain with two different locks:
- U-lock (6 cm shackle, 450 g)
- X-lock (14 cm shackle, 640 g)
I have been using the 120 cm chain which I have combined with both the U-lock and the X-lock.
For my needs (some high-security situations), I much prefer the X-lock as it gives me that option of either locking the frame with the X-lock or the chain depending on where I am or how long I'll be leaving my bike.
I found the locking experience with the tex-lock very easy. The textile sheathed chain is really flexible and soft and it's easy to thread around your bike and connect to the lock. Much easier than the thin but stiff cable lassos you get with some u-locks.
The X-lock is a tight fit around a Sheffield stand but it does work and the lack of extra internal space only increases the security by preventing a thief from inserting something that could be used in a leverage attack.
Locking your bike with a u-lock and a chain obviously takes longer than just using one lock for your frame and alternative solutions for your wheels. And in a busy bike rack, it could get quite stressful.
However, other than that, using the tex-lock was a pretty painless experience and I especially appreciated the versatility of the different locking options.
Is the Tex-lock easy to carry?
The more bike lock there is, the more challenging it is to carry. And there is a lot of tex-lock to carry (despite the small size of the X-lock and U-lock).
However, because the textile covered chain is so soft it's quite easy to carry over your shoulder like a bandolier!
Tex-lock also sell a frame mount that enables you to hang the lock under your saddle. The mount consists of two parts. A magnetized clip that fastens to the bigger eyelet at the end of the actual chain. And a plastic holder that's clamped to the rails under your saddle.
You simply coil the chain up, thread the small eyelet through the larger one, and secure with the lock. Then the magnetized clip will easily jump into the holder under your saddle when it's held close.
The lock is held securely in place by a clip that's triggered once the magnet's in place. So don't worry: it's not the magnet that's keeping the lock attached to the saddle! To remove the lock you need to push the clip in and pull the lock from the magnet.
There's also a little velcro covered belt that you can tighten around the whole thing to reduce any swaying movement when your cycling around!
This frame mount works well enough. The rails on my saddle don't seem to be standard size so fastening anything is always a bit of a bodge. But it still worked well despite being forced out at an angle.
And the lock was definitely securely fastened into the mount: it's not going to fall out. But it does take a little longer than I'm used to to get the lock on to the bike. And I'm not sure how well the belt would prevent swaying on really rough terrain.
But the good thing is that again you get choices. You can throw it over your shoulder. Or you can use the frame mount. It also fits into a bag easily: it curls up nicely and isn't too heavy.
I've got to admit, I was surprised by how much I liked the tex-lock. The whole "bike lock made from textile" thing is a bit of distraction.
This is chain lock with an innovative textile cover that not only gives it a security boost, it also makes it much more pleasurable to use (than your average chain).
What I most liked (in the configuration that I was using) was the versatility the lock gave me...
When I was concerned about security I used the X-lock to lock my frame, and the chain to protect my wheels.
But if I was just popping into a shop for a minute, I didn't have to search around for a bike rack. I could just throw the chain around the nearest lamppost, safe in the knowledge that it would be enough to protect my bike for that amount of time.
The versatility was also apparent in the way I carried it around. Most of the time I simply carried across my shoulders like a bandolier.
However, if for whatever reason (eg it's wet or dirty) I didn't want to wear the lock, I could use the discrete frame mount that hung the lock under my saddle. And there was very little movement as I rode through the city if I did.
So I definitely think the tex-lock is a security option worth considering. You need to be careful about which configuration you choose though...
If you want to maximize security you need to get the version with the X-lock and use that to protect your frame and the chain only to protect your wheels. Make sure there are Sheffield bike stands in your area though as the X-lock won't fit anything bigger.
If (or when) your circumstances aren't high risk, you can safely use the chain to secure your bike. And this will give you tons of locking options.
As long as you're clear on the right way to use the tex-lock you'll find it an incredibly versatile and easy way to secure your bike safely!
Tex-lock Specs Summary
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