Best Bike Lock of 2022: Strong and Practical

Litelok X1 Review: Out Grinding the Angle Grinders?

Last Updated on November 13, 2022 0 Comments

So, it seems that "angle grinder resistant" bike locks are a bit like London buses; you wait nearly 10 years, and then three come along at once.

We’ve all known about the Hiplok D1000, for a while now. It was announced (with great fanfare) through Kickstarter back in 2021. But it’s only been available to buy directly for the last couple of months, and you may still have to wait awhile to receive it.

Meanwhile, Litelok have appeared out of nowhere (with no build up), and with not one, but two angle grinder resistant bike locks!

Litelok X1 boxed

Litelok X1: boxed

Of the two, the Litelok X3 is the most angle grinder resistant, and as such, is a direct competitor to the Hiplok D1000.

While the Litelok X1 is less resistant to angle grinders, but is positioned as the practical choice for most cyclists, offering a sensible balance between security, price and weight/usability.

Anyone who cycles in a US or UK city knows what a scourge, angle grinder powered bike theft has become in the last few years. Up until now, even the heaviest, most secure bike locks have provided just seconds of protection from any scrote with a power tool.

And as a result, gangs of thieves have been taking bikes from the streets, like "scrumpers" take apples from the trees. So anything that could stem this tide of thievery is a BIG DEAL!

I’m certainly excited by it anyway.

The first of the three bike locks I’ve got my hands on is the Litelok X1, and I’ve been using it for the last month to see how it performs, not just in terms of security, but also in terms of day to day usability.

Litelok X1 unboxed

Litelok X1: unboxed (the lock holster costs extra)

So let’s get into it, together…

For most people looking for an angle grinder resistant bike lock, the Litelok X1 will provide the best balance between security, price and usability. 

Summary

Litelok X1

Litelok X1

My score:

Check price:

Shackle thickness:

16 mm

Weight:

3.7 lb (1.7 kg)

Size (internal):

3.97 x 7.7"
(10.1 x 19.6 cm)

Other Security Ratings:

Sold Secure Motorcycle Diamond and Bicycle Diamond

Litelok X1 Pros

  • It destroys angle grinder discs!
  • It’s very secure (Sold Secure Diamond)
  • Great frame mount makes transport easy
  • Lots of locking options
  • Unrivaled security/weight/size ratio

Litelok X1 Cons

  • Not the most angle grinder resistant lock 
  • It’s expensive

How secure is the Litelok X1?

The Litelok X1 features a fairly standard steel shackle. But fused onto its surface, is a layer of ceramic composite material, which Litelok are calling Barronium (presumably after the founder Neil Barron).

Litelok X1 shackle diameter

The Litelok X1 features a 16 mm steel shackle with a ceramic composite coat

The core of the shackle provides all the standard protection that you’d expect from 16 mm of hardened steel. At 16 mm thick, it’s pretty much uncroppable, with even the biggest 42” manual bolt croppers.

And it locks into the crossbar on both sides, which prevent the leverage attacks that are commonly used to defeat cheap u-locks, and means it needs to be cut on both sides to get it open.

Litelok X1 double locking shackle

The Litelok X1 features a double locking shackle

Plus, it employs a pick and drill resistant cylinder that has a 4/5 rating from ART, the independent Dutch security rating organization. It's highly unlikely that any thief is going to try to pick your lock in the street, but this is reassuring nonetheless!

In this way, the Litelok X1 much like any other high security, thick shackled, steel u-lock, such as the Abus Extreme 59 or the Kryptonite New York Standard.

But the difference is: all the aforementioned locks can be cut by an angle grinder, much like a knife cuts through butter.

Angle Grinder Resistance

But if the Litelok X1 is attacked with an angle grinder, the 1 mm thick layer of ceramic composite releases tiny particles that gradually wear the grinder disc down, essentially turning the tables on the tool and out grinding the grinder!

So there’s certainly no “knife through butter” experience with the Litelok.

I tested what sort of difference this makes in real life by using a mains powered angle grinder to cut the Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit and the Litelok X1 in as close to laboratory type conditions as I could create in my backyard.

Bear in mind that the 18 mm thick Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit was, up until recently, indisputably the most secure (and angle grinder resistant) portable bike lock you could buy…

OK, so there are a few points worth making here, because a thief in the street would have a different experience to me in this video.

For starters, they would be using a battery powered angle grinder, which are not usually as powerful.

Also, they wouldn’t have the luxury of a vice, so would either have to use one hand to hold the lock in place while the other controls the angle grinder, or find some other way to anchor the lock in place (e.g. pushing their body against the bike).

While this second issue would slow the thief down on both locks, it's much more significant with the Litelok, since, because it’s already harder to cut, any movement can throw the disc out of the groove, slowing you down further and increasing the wear on the disc (more on this next).

Finally, the most important point to make is that while the 70 seconds it took to cut the Litelok once, may not seem much longer than the 16 seconds it took to cut the Kryptonite once, that doesn’t relate to how long it took to defeat the locks.

Because in fact, I wasn’t able to defeat the Litelok.

Litelok X1 cut once

I cut the Litelok X1 once

As you can see in the video, I needed to cut it twice to get it open, and the first blade wore out way before I was close to getting through the other side of the shackle. This will be the same for everyone. And it necessitates changing the disc, which takes time and is quite disruptive when you’re trying to steal a bike.

But even once I’d changed the disc, I couldn’t get through the shackle again. The vice kept slipping, and maybe I was rushing a bit. Whichever, I ended up wearing through all the remaining discs I had (4), without cutting the shackle a second time.

Litelok X1: not cut twice

But I wasn't able to cut the Litelok X1 twice

This won’t be the same for everyone. I’d expect better technique with the grinder and a better anchored lock to yield more success, faster. But of course: many thieves won’t have better technique or a better anchored lock.

The point is that I would expect small differences in my “laboratory conditions” to make much bigger differences to the time it takes to actually steal a bike in the street.

So, finally, how secure is the Litelok X1?

It’s definitely the most secure bike lock I’ve ever tested. And that it manages this without being excessively heavy, bulky, massively expensive or incredibly unpractical, is indeed a BIG DEAL!

But you don’t have to take my word for it…

Independent Security Ratings

The Litelok X1 has also been tested by Sold Secure, the independent security rating agency. And I would urge you to give more credence to their findings than mine (or anyone else who claims to test locks on the internet).

Sold Secure gave the Litelok X1 a Bicycle Diamond rating, which is the highest bicycle security rating available.

Sold Secure Ratings

Sold Secure introduced the top Bicycle Diamond rating in 2020

But Sold Secure have also awarded the Litelok X1 a Motorcycle Diamond rating which has even higher criteria than the Bicycle Diamond rating.

So they think the Litelok X1 is pretty secure too!

The only other u-locks that have a Motorcycle Diamond rating are the Litelok X3 and the Hiplok D10000, both of which will actually be more secure than the Litelok (owing to extra layers of anti-angle grinder protection).

I am yet to test either lock, but I will guarantee that while being more secure, they will both come with a load of other compromises relating to their price, weight, and usability.

Which brings us nicely on to...

Is the Litelok X1 easy to carry?

Most u-locks come with a frame mount, so you can attach your u-lock to your bike while you’re riding around.

However, it’s not easy to design a universal frame mount that fits every type and size of bike.

And because of their weight and rigid shape, it’s also difficult to design a frame mount that keeps any u-lock securely in place while the bike is jiggling around. This is especially the case with the bigger, heavier u-locks, which is why a lot of those locks don't come with frame mounts.

Consequently, u-lock frame mounts have a particularly bad reputation, with people generally complaining about:

  1. How difficult they are to install
  2. How they don’t hold the u-lock firmly in place

In keeping with Liteloks general philosophy, they have decided to completely redesign the u-lock frame mount, introducing something they are calling the "Twist & Go" mount, which is included when you buy the Litelok X1.

Litelok X1 frame mount

Litelok X1 "Twist & Go" frame mount

The lock doesn’t come with instructions on how to attach the frame mount to your bike. Instead, there is a QR code (on the info card in the box), which takes you to a support page where there are two videos that show you how to attach the frame mount.

I’m not sure why the videos are hosted on VIMEO and not on YouTube, where most people are likely to search for this kind of information. And I presume that ultimately they’ll publish slightly better videos, as the current ones are pretty basic (no audio, incomplete info).

Litelok X1 video grab

The videos only show the option of strapping the mount to the seat tube

The videos only show one way to fit the frame mount (by strapping it to the seat tube). And there is no indication that you could also strap it to your top tube or down tube (although I’m presuming you could, if you have space).

And this is the thing: because the frame mount grips the crossbar (rather than the shackle), the lock extends a long way into the frame triangle. There are good reasons for this design, but it does mean there will be limitations on where you can put it on your frame.

For example, there are holes in the frame mount that allow you to screw it into the water bottle cradle holes in your frame. This would be my preferred mounting technique. However, on most standard bikes (including mine), there won’t be enough room for the lock if you do this.

Indeed, Litelok told me that this mounting method is intended more for cargo bikes and fat tire ebikes, where there’s more room for the lock.

Anyway, I was able to follow the video instructions on the support page, and despite it being a bit complicated and quite fiddly, I had the frame mount attached to the bike in less than 10 minutes.

The mount was fiddly to install but it took less than 10 minutes

I’m not going to give you a detailed explanation of how the frame mount works, as you’re better off just watching the videos. But essentially, you twist the lock to clip it into the frame mount:

Litelok X1 twisting into frame mount

Twisting the Litelok X1 into the frame mount

Once in there, the two C shaped plastic grips keep it tightly anchored in the mount:

Litelok X1 in frame mount

The Litelok X1 in the frame mount

And then you pull it towards you, before twisting again to release it:

Pulling Litelok X1 out of frame mount

Remember to pull the Litelok X1 towards you to get it out of frame mount

I’ve read some reports that said the clips are stiff and that it’s difficult to get the lock out of the mount. In my mount, at least, this wasn’t the case. You have to make sure the frame mount is really tightly attached to the bike, so it doesn’t move around.

And you have to remember to pull the lock toward you, before you twist it off.

But for me, the process of getting the Litelok X1 in and out of the frame was really nice and easy. And once the lock was in there, the beefy plastic clips held the lock tightly in place with no rattling or swinging around.

Litelok have come up with a system that’s easy to use here.

By gripping a substantial portion of crossbar (rather than the shackle), and keeping it close to the bike frame, this system is a clever attempt to mitigate the inherent difficulties that all u-locks pose to frame mounts.

Litelok X1 in mount, on bike

For me, the frame mount worked really well

My only worry is that it’s a system that depends on the flexibility of plastic. The clips need to flex just enough to get the lock in and out, but then bounce back and remain relatively rigid while they are gripping the lock.

What will happen over many hundreds or thousands of uses? Will the plastic loosen up to the extent that it no longer holds the lock tightly enough?

We’ll only start to find this out in the next year or so. But all I can say for now is that I like the way it works, and if it continues to work like it does now, I’ll be very happy!

I just wish the instructions on how to install the frame mount were easier to find and a bit clearer.

Update: one of the tiny bands that hold the tightening straps against the frame has snapped (it was possibly damaged during installation). This doesn't affect how the frame mount works in any way. But it's really annoying, as the strap now points untidily outwards:

One of the bands that holds the strap against the frame snapped very quickly

This is something that Litelok should fix, as further inspection suggests these bands were never robust enough to hold such a strong, springy piece of plastic in place.

Restrap Lock Holster

Of course, not everyone wants, or is able to carry their u-lock on a frame mount. They may not like the aesthetics. Or they may have other stuff attached to their frame, that leaves no room for a big old u-lock inside the frame triangle.

Luckily, for those people, Litelok have provided an alternative, the Restrap Lock Holster, which allows you to hang the X1 off your trouser belt. It is essentially a tough length of elastic (made from recycled materials), with a loop at each end to thread your belt through.

Litelok X1 Restrap holster on my hip

The Litelok X1 Restrap holster on my hip!

You can then shove the lock into the space between the strap and your belt, with the strap being just the right length to catch the crossbar and stop the lock falling through.

It’s a system that works well, in that it allows you to safely carry the Litelok X1 on your belt.

However, I didn’t find it easy to get the lock through the strap; the elastic is tight and by unavoidable design, the strap sits in on the back of your hip, where it's difficult to access. And don’t forget, the Litelok X1 is a heavy lock, so it tends to drag one side of your trousers down!

Litelok X1 Restrap holster wraped

The Restrap holster is available separately for £15

While the Restrap Lock Holster is fine for what it does, the weight of the Litelok X1 means that it’s not an ideal solution for long journeys and many people will find that slipping the lock into a backpack or pannier (where they’re available), is an easier and more comfortable option.

The Restrap Lock Holster is not included when you buy the lock. Which makes sense as it’s probably a niche choice.

How much does the Litelok X1 weigh?

It’s worth mentioning here that weighing in at 3.7 lb (1.7 kg), the Litelok X1 is definitely not a light lock.

Weighing the Litelok X1

The Litelok X1 weighs 1712g

It’s about the same weight as 4.5 cans of Coke. And this is hardly surprising: it’s built around a 16 mm solid steel shackle.

However, it’s lighter than many of the other bike locks in the Sold Secure Bicycle Diamond category. And don’t forget: not only is it more secure than all of them, it’s close to a standard size, so you won’t compromise your locking options (more on this later).

For example, the Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit is 20% heavier at 2.06 kg (and it’s a mini u-lock). The OnGuard Brute Standard is 24% heavier at 2.12 kg. The Abus Extreme 59 260 is 58% heavier at 2.7 kg. And the Kryptonite New York Lock M18-WL is 61% heavier at 2.76 kg.

Which is about the same weight as 4.5 cans of Coke!

In a practical sense, out in the street, where thieves are going to be targeting these sort of locks exclusively with angle grinders, the Litelok X1 is more secure and offers you far more protection than any of these, much heavier locks!

So while the Litelok is reasonably heavy, which is going to mean some inconvenience in terms of carrying it around, it’s far less inconvenient than other high security locks, all of which are less secure than the Litelok X1!

And at least there are a number of ways you can carry it around. For most people, the provided frame mount will be the best option.

And if you don’t like the belt strap, then unlike other high security u-locks, it’s not so heavy that throwing it in a backpack is going to be a big inconvenience. More on where to put a bike lock when riding.

Is the Litelok X1 easy to use?

While the angle grinder resistance will get the headlines, it’s how easy the Litelok (or any lock), is to carry around and use on a daily basis that will ultimately determine whether your purchase is a success or a failure.

And in terms of usability, I didn’t get off to a good start with the Litelok X1.

Playing around with it, out of the box, unlocking it was OK. But when I tried to lock it, I found that the key often wouldn’t turn fully, so I couldn’t actually lock it. Closer inspection revealed that the problem was the rubber layer that covers the shackle...

Litelok X1 sheath diameter

The shackle is covered in a 3 mm thick layer of "eco rubber"

The body and shackle of the Litelok X1 are covered in a plant based eco rubber, which is far more environmentally sound than the petroleum based rubbers that are used on most (if not all?) other bike locks.

This rubber covering is designed to protect your frame from scratches. But unfortunately, in my case, either the rubber was a little too thick on the section of the shackle that is inserted into the crossbar, or the rubber extended too far down the shackle.

Whatever it was, it was preventing the shackle from going all the way into the crossbar. Which stopped the key from turning. A strong wack with the palm of the hand would usually sort it out, but that really wasn’t a viable solution.

Litelok X1 shaved coating

Shaving the rubber off the ends of the shackle made it fit better

Luckily, shaving little bits of the rubber off the end of the shackle with a knife quickly solved the problem. Once I’d done that, the shackle fitted snugly and the key turned freely. Everything was then super smooth.

I don’t know if this issue is related to the eco rubber (which is a little bit rougher than synthetic rubber) or a glitch in the manufacturing process. Either way, it’s something that should be easy for Litelok to fix.

And to be perfectly honest, for me at least, the benefits of having a more environmentally friendly covering, far out weigh the inconvenience of a little rubber whittling!

Once I’d fixed this issue, I was able to start using the Litelok in the street.

What are the dimensions of the Litelok X1?

In terms of its dimensions, the Litelok X1 sits somewhere in between a standard size u-lock and a mini u-lock. Internally, the lock measures 7.7” (19.6 cm) long and 3.97" (10.1 cm) wide.

Litelok X1 dimensions

Litelok X1 dimensions

This makes it just less than an inch longer and wider than the popular Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7. But while it's just over an inch shorter than all the Kryptonite Standard u-locks, it’s almost the same width.

I really like this size.

Litelok X1 around back wheel

Plenty of room for the frame and the back wheel

I found it gives me all the practical benefits of a standard size u-lock. I had no problems locking my bike to any of the bicycle racks in my city (in several different ways).

Litelok X1 higher on back wheel

Plenty of room for different locking methods

And I was even able to use a thicker traffic light pole (to secure the frame only).

Litelok X1 on traffic light

I could even fit around a traffic light

But the slightly smaller length also gave me some of the benefits of a mini u-lock, in that the reduced weight and bulk made carrying and handling the lock a bit easier than a standard size u-lock with a 16 mm shackle.

By the way: there is an argument that leaving the Litelok X1 loosely locked around your bike is the best way to use it. The idea is that this will cause more movement when the angle grinder is trying to cut it, which is likely to cause more damage to the disc.

I'm not entirely convinced by this argument, simply because it shouldn't be too difficult for a thief to move the bike a bit to anchor the lock better. I think a better general tactic is to try to make the lock as inaccessible as possible (not always easy). More information on how to lock your bike.

Strange keyhole cover

One unusual feature of the Litelok X1 is the keyhole cover. Rather than something that you need to manually slide back and forth to cover and uncover the keyhole (like those commonly found on Kryptonite locks), it uses a cover that splits in the middle when you push the key against it.

This is similar to the keyhole covers used on Abus and OnGuard’s locks. But while those brands use a metal mechanism, with two bits that separate as you push the key in, Litelok use a silicon cover with a slit in the middle.

Litelok X1 key hole

The Litelok X1 keyhole cover

I think the idea behind this type of keyhole cover is that it removes one step (moving the cover) when you’re trying to unlock your bike, so making the process quicker and easier. However, I’m not the biggest fan of these type of keyhole covers for several reasons:

  1. You could push any dirt that’s on the outside of the lock, into the mechanism when you insert the keys.
  2. If these covers break, they are likely to block the keyhole (this has happened to me before)
  3. They stop you looking into the lock mechanism (if for example you’re trying to realign the discs)

Luckily, if you’re paranoid like me, you can simply pull this silicone cover off!

It’s actually debatable whether keyhole covers are much use anyway, with one argument being that they are likely to trap condensation which can then freeze (making the lock unusable), in colder conditions.

I haven’t got any cover on my old Kryptonite Kryptolok and have never had any problems. Just make sure to regularly clean and lubricate your bike lock every six months or so, and you should be able to prevent it ever sticking.

Keys and Warranty

You get two keys with the Litelok X1. And of course, if you register the lock on the Litelok website or keep a note of the key code (inscribed on the key shaft), you’ll be able to order spares should you lose them.

Litelok X1 keys

You get 2 keys and a key code (for spares)

The Litelok also comes with a three year “no quibble” warranty (you must register the lock with Litelok within 30 days of purchase to qualify). This will cover any mechanical faults with the lock during this period.

Litelok’s Eco Credentials

Litelok make a big deal of their eco credentials (and why not?). All their locks are made in their own, UK based (South Wales) factory, which is partly powered by solar panels.

And they state that they try to use as much recycled materials in their products as possible, and to ensure that their products are themselves easily recyclable.

One example of this is the plant based eco rubber that’s “sourced from 80% non-food grade crops”, increasing their ability to recycle waste, and which covers the Litelok X1 to protect your bike from scratches.

Litelok X1 crossbar holes

The Litelok X1 is covered in a plant sourced eco rubber

Manufacturing and sustainability is a complicated subject, and it’s difficult for me to make any useful judgement or comment on this.

However, it seems pretty clear to me that manufacturing their locks in the UK (rather than in China, as Hiplok do), is likely to cause less environmental harm (as well as being economically beneficial to the local community).

Litelok X1 box open

There wasn't a single scrap of plastic in the packaging!

Moreover, I can definitely vouch for the packaging. The Litelok X1 comes in an unbleached cardboard box, with not a single scrap of superfluous plastic. In fact, I don’t think there was any plastic, at all!

Not only is this more environmentally friendly, it also makes the packaging far easier to open!

Compared to every other bike lock I have ever reviewed, which all used huge amounts of pointless plastic in their packaging, this is a big difference. So kudos to Litelok for the effort here.

My final thoughts on the Litelok X1

It’s easy (and quite reasonable), to have a pop at companies that make videos showing unrealistic bike theft scenarios, to try and generate traction for their “disruptive”, new technologies.

Every new bike lock that I’ve covered has suffered the wrath of the cycling community in this respect.

But the truth is: it’s these small companies that are trying to push things forward.

Angle grinder theft has been a serious issue in our big cities for several years now. And yet the big lock companies (despite their vast resources), have made no attempt to do anything about it. A conspiracy theorist might think it was deliberate!

So it finally came down to Litelok and Hiplok to shake things up.

The Litelok X1 feels and works just like any other 16 mm thick, high security u-lock. It’s just much more difficult to cut with an angle grinder. And since this is the number one technique that thieves will use to defeat high security u-locks, this extra resistance gives the Litelok X1 a massive edge.

Litelok X1 cut but not defeated

I wasn't able to defeat the Litelok X1 (with 4 angle grinder discs)

In fact, I would say that if you’re looking for a new bike lock, and you cycle in a city, in the US, the UK or some of the bigger European centers (or wherever thieves are using angle grinders), then your decision just got a lot easier.

Because if you’re riding a bike that thieves are likely to target (and you can afford their prices), it should now be a simple choice between the Litelok X1, the Litelok X3 or the Hiplok D1000.

For maximum security against angle grinders, then the Litelok X3 or Hiplok D1000 will be the best option, albeit more expensive, heavier, and more difficult to transport and use on a day-to-day basis.

But for a nice practical balance between security, price and usability, for the moment at least, the Litelok X1 has no competition!

Alternatives to the Litelok X1

While I don’t think there are any direct competitors to the Litelok X1, if it’s not quite what you’re looking for, then there are always alternatives.

Looking for something more secure?

Hiplok D1000

The only other angle grinder resistant bike lock that you can buy at the moment is the Hiplok D1000.

The D1000 uses a different material to repel the angle grinders. But it’s actually more resistant to angle grinder attack than the X1.

Litelok have another model coming out, called the X3, which will ultimately compete with the D1000.

The D1000 is 11% heavier than the X1. And it’s also 1.5” (4 cm) shorter and 0.4” (1 cm) narrower, so it’s more of a mini u-lock, with dimensions and weight very much like the Fahgettaboudit Mini.

The D1000 is also significantly more expensive than the X1. But if you’re looking for the ultimate in angle grinder resistance, and you're willing to pay more and make some compromises in terms of usability, it’s a great option.

Looking for something cheaper?

OnGuard Brute Standard 8001

Despite being the cheapest angle grinder resistant bike lock available, the Litelok is still expensive compared to most other bike locks.

If you’re looking for a high security bike lock on a budget, then it’s always worth considering OnGuard, who seem to make some of the best value for money bike locks around.

The OnGuard Brute Standard 8001 [Amazon] is similar in size to the Litelok X1, being less than an inch bigger in either direction. 

It also features a slightly thicker, 16.8 mm, double locking shackle and the same Sold Secure Diamond security rating.

It certainly won’t withstand an angle grinder attack like the Litelok X1. But on the other hand, it will probably cost you less than a third of the price.

Litelok X1 Specs

Litelok X1 Check Price

Litelok X1

My score:

Check price:

Shackle thickness:

16 mm

Weight:

3.7 lb (1.7 kg)

Size (internal):

3.97 x 7.7"
(10.1 x 19.6 cm)

Other Security Ratings:

Sold Secure Motorcycle Diamond and Bicycle Diamond

This page contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. You will not pay any extra. More details here.


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About the author 

Carl Ellis

I've had bikes stolen in London, New York and Barcelona. Yep, I was a serial, international, bike theft victim. In 2015 I decided to stop the rot. And not a single bike's been stolen since! Brakes, yes. Bells, yes. But they're another story. Everything I learn, I document on this website. More about my story. Contact me. LinkedIn.

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