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SkunkLock Carbon Review: The first American Angle Grinder Resistant Bike Lock!

SkunkLock Carbon Review: The first American Angle Grinder Resistant Bike Lock!

Last Updated on June 7, 2024 0 Comments

After a couple of years of British dominance from Hiplok and Litelok, the Americans have finally arrived, with an angle grinder resistant bike lock of their own: the SkunkLock Carbon!

So how does it compare to the British locks?

It uses similar technology (carbon) to enact the same result (angle grinder disc destruction)! And it’s competitively priced, with further discounts available for those that need them most.

How good is it? Let’s find out…

The SkunkLock Carbon is a good choice for US residents looking for a generous sized, (relatively) low-priced, angle grinder resistant lock.

Summary

SkunkLock Carbon

SkunkLock Carbon

Cell
Cell

Check price:

Shackle thickness:

20 mm

Weight:

4.34 lb (1.97 kg)

Size (internal):

4 x 8.9"
(10.5 x 22.7 cm)

Other Security Ratings:

Cell

SkunkLock Carbon Pros

  • Competitively priced
  • Discounts for those in need
  • Big internal size = lots of locking options 

SkunkLock Carbon Cons

  • Not the most angle grinder resistant lock
  • No keyhole cover

How secure is the SkunkLock Carbon?

Unfortunately, SkunkLock have chosen not to have the Carbon rated by independent testing organizations such as Sold Secure or ART. This makes it difficult to confidently categorize the overall security level of the lock (beyond the results of my tests below).

And, in the UK at least, it also makes it difficult to get bicycle insurance, as many insurance companies stipulate that you must use a certain level of Sold Secure rated lock in order to be covered.

All that being said, the main attraction of the SkunkLock Carbon is its angle grinder resistance, and in my tests this was pretty impressive.

The SkunkLock Carbon is built in a slightly different way to the other angle grinder resistant bike locks I’ve tested.

SkunkLock Carbon shackle profile

SkunkLock Carbon has a hollow shackle filled with silicon carbide

While the Litelok X series has a layer of carbon fused to the outside of a regular steel shackle and the Hiplok 1000 series is entirely made from a graphene composite, the SkunkLock Carbon uses a hollow shackle and body that is stuffed with small fragments of silicon carbide.

This design is probably an evolution of the original SkunkLock, which also used a hollow shackle, but filled it with a noxious vomit inducing gas in order to repel any angle grinder wielding scrotes that cut into it.

In the SkunkLock Carbon, the fragments of silicon carbide are designed to disintegrate angle grinder discs as they are cutting through the lock. And in my tests they did this very well. Although not as well as other tests I have seen…

Time to cut

Hiplok D1000

Litelok X1

SkunkLock Carbon

Kryptonite
Fahgettaboudit

First side:

2:50 min
3 discs

1:10 min
1 disc

28 seconds 

1 disc

16 seconds
1 disc

Both sides:

4:25 min
5 discs

-

4 discs

1:01 min
2 discs

32 seconds
1 disc

I was able to cut through the 1 side of the shackle using just 1 disc, in 28 seconds. However, the effort took its toll on the disc, and it was completely destroyed cutting through the second side after a further 15 seconds. A second disc was able to get through the second side in another 18 seconds.

Here's a video comparing the angle grinder resistance of the SkunkLock Carbon to the Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini:

So 2 discs to cut through both sides in a total of just over a minute. But remember: that doesn’t include the time to change the discs.

Litelok X1 cut

It took twice as long to cut one side of the Litelok X1

This makes the SkunkLock Carbon less angle grinder resistant than the Litelok X1 (which took 70 seconds to cut 1 side), but much more angle grinder resistant than a regular high security lock like the Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini (which took just 32 seconds and 1 disc to cut both sides).

This is impressive. But nothing like as impressive as the Bennets test of the SkunkLock Carbon, where John needed 6 discs to get through just one side!

What is my explanation for this discrepancy? I’m not really sure. In the Bennets tests, John always uses a battery powered grinder, and he doesn’t anchor the lock in a vice (or any other immobilizer).

Whereas, I use a mains powered angle grinder and I tape the locks to a table, so there is no movement.

The Bennets tests more accurately represent how things would go down in the street. But my tests are designed to eliminate any variable that might interfere with the essential angle grinder resistance on the lock material, so it’s easier to judge which lock is fundamentally stronger.

Maybe the specific design of the SkunkLock Carbon (with silicon carbide fragments inside a hollow steel shell), produces more variance in the resistance according to whether there is movement when cutting or not?

SkunkLock Carbon on back wheel

In the street, it will be difficult for a thief to stop the lock moving around

The important thing to remember is that in the street, a thief will be using a battery powered angle grinder and will not be able to prevent movement, so the time will inevitably be longer than my time here.

Even more importantly: a thief will not be able to steal your bike without changing discs at least once. This is because although there was some movement in the shackle after one cut, I wasn't able to make enough space to slip the lock off a bike rack.

And this is a big deal, because there are very few bike thieves that will be prepared to change angle grinder discs in the middle of a theft.

SkunkLock body profile

The body is also full of silicon carbide and difficult to cut

Apart from the shackle, I also cut through the body of the SkunkLock Carbon, which contains the same silicon carbide fragments. It took much longer than the shackle, as the sheer bulk of the body made it difficult for the discs to reach past a certain point as they wore down.

In the end I used up another 2 discs in over 2 and a half minutes, not including disc changes, to cut through the body.

SkunkLock Carbon shackle thickness

The 20 mm shackle is bolt cutter proof

Apart from angle grinder resistance, the 20 mm shackle makes bolt cropping impossible and because it locks on both sides a leverage attack is unlikely to work (although the hollow construction might be a weakness here).

SkunkLock Carbon double locking shackle

SkunkLock Carbon double locking shackle

The SkunkLock Carbon employs a disc detainer core, which provides ample protection from lock picking. However, bike thieves don’t really pick locks in the street, so this isn’t really an issue anyway!

So all in all, the SkunkLock Carbon is another welcome addition to the small but inevitably growing group of angle grinder resistant bike locks. My tests suggest that it sits at the lower end of the group (in terms of resistance), and I really wish they had submitted it for Sold Secure rating.

But the SkunkLock Carbon offers far more protection from angle grinder attacks than a regular lock and, as we’ll see, it has several other things going for it that might make it a better choice over other, similar locks.

Is the SkunkLock Carbon easy to carry?

The SkunkLock Carbon is a heavy, bulky lock. It weighs 4.34 lb (1.97 kg), which is about the same as 5.5 cans of Coke. And it’s 11.6” (29.5 cm) long and 7.0” (17.9 cm) wide, which makes it the longest and nearly the widest of all the angle grinder resistant locks.

Weighing the SkunkLock Carbon

Weighing the SkunkLock Carbon

This bulk and weight makes it a challenge to carry around on a bicycle. And like most heavy-duty bike locks, it doesn’t come with a frame mount.

So you’re pretty much limited to throwing it in a backpack or a pannier. Or strapping it to a luggage rack. Or buying one of the third party frame mounts. Read more on where to put your bike lock when riding.

This is not such a big deal, as to be honest, most of the frame mounts for heavy locks don’t do a great job and I usually end up carrying the lock in a bag anyway. You will feel the weight of 5.5 cans of Coke, but there are much heavier bike locks around.

SkunkLock Carbon in bag

I had no problem fitting the SkunkLock Carbon in my saddlebag

With the SkunkLock Carbon, it’s probably more about the bulk than the weight, as it’s so big. I was easily able to fit it in my saddlebag, so I had no worries there. However, you should consider how you will carry yours before you commit to buying it.

Is the SkunkLock Carbon easy to use?

While the SkunkLock is undeniably big and heavy, compared to some of the other angle grinder resistant bike locks it has a unique and really attractive weight to size ratio.

SkunkLock Carbon internal dimensions

SkunkLock Carbon internal dimensions

The internal locking space is 4” x 8.9” (10.5 x 22.7 cm) which is possibly the biggest of all these angle grinder resistant locks. It’s certainly the longest. And this means it gives you more locking opportunities, being especially suitable for bulky ebikes, cargo bikes, motorbikes etc.

And despite this, it’s not that heavy. The closest lock in terms of size is probably the Hiplok DX1000, with an internal locking space of 4.4 x 8.07” (11.2 x 20.5 cm). But that weighs 5.73 lb (2.6 kg), which is 32% heavier than the SkunkLock Carbon.

SkunkLock Carbon vs Hiplok DX1000

SkunkLock Carbon vs Hiplok DX1000

My point is: if you need a lock with a lot of internal space to use on a bulky bike or in unusual locking scenarios, but you don’t fancy carrying around a huge amount of weight, then the SkunkLock Carbon will be an attractive option.

In terms of daily use, I found the SkunkLock Carbon pretty good. The shackle is covered in nice soft silicone. The body is covered in a smooth plastic. And there is very little rattling noise when they are both joined together.

SkunkLock Carbon around traffic light

I was even able to get the SkunkLock Carbon around a traffic light

The generous internal dimensions meant I had no problems locking my bike wherever I wanted. I was even able to secure it to a lamppost, which I am not able to do for most of the u-locks I test.

SkunkLock Carbon around top bar

A thief could cut through the stand and ride off with your bike

One word of warning though: make sure you lock your bike in a way that prevents one of the wheels turning. Otherwise, a thief could cut through whatever the bike is secured to and ride away on it (as in the photo above).

SkunkLock Carbon keyhole

There is no protection from the elements for the keyhole!

One thing I don’t like is the lack of keyhole cover. There is just a roughly cut hole in the plastic casing, which looks a bit cheap. More importantly, it means there is nothing to stop street dirt and grime getting in and potentially clogging up the mechanism.

But while there is no keyhole cover, you do get the fairly standard 3 keys and a code card for ordering more!

Conclusion: Is the SkunkLock Carbon worth it?

The SkunkLock Carbon is one of the cheapest angle grinder resistant bike locks you can currently buy (check price on Amazon). It’s usually the same price as he Litelok X1, and they are both significantly cheaper than the other options.

But it’s still expensive compared to a regular lock. And a lot of people just won’t be able to afford it.

And that’s why the nascent “Skunk Your Bike” program is so refreshing to learn about. This is basically a program created by Skunklock to give people that need bike security the most (but are often the least able to afford it), a discount on SkunkLock products.

According to the Skunk Your Bike Terms and Conditions document, people that qualify for discount tokens include:

  • Students (over 18)
  • Young people (under 18)
  • Seniors (over 65)
  • Frontline Workers (eg emergency response workers)
  • Low Income Households
  • Unemployed (6 months or more)
  • Disabled people
  • Armed Forces and Veterans
  • Bicycle Advocacy Groups
  • Bicycle Delivery Riders

It’s not clear what the value of the discounts will be (and you will of course have to provide proof of your status), but this is a really great initiative, and if you belong to one of these groups then it’s certainly going to make the SkunkLock more attractive (where before it might not even have been possible).

If you’re not in one of these groups, then I think the Litelok X1 probably provides better value, as in my tests it had more angle grinder resistance, and it also comes with a half decent frame mount (see below).

SkunkLock Carbon on front wheel

Lots of internal space = lots of locking opportunities

But all in all, the first grinder resistant bike lock from an American brand is a good option. It’s not the most resistant lock I’ve tested, but by forcing a thief to make at least one disc change, it passes the most important test.

If you’re in the US and you qualify for a Skunk Your Bike discount, then it’s almost certainly a great choice. If you’re not, or you don’t, then while it might still be a worth looking at, there are alternatives…

Alternatives to the SkunkLock Carbon

Looking for something more secure?

The most obvious alternative to the SkunkLock Carbon is the similar priced Litelok X1.

In my tests, it was more secure (it took around the same amount of time to cut one side of the X1 as it took to cut both sides of the SkunkLock Carbon).

The Litelok X1 also has a Sold Secure Powered Diamond rating (the highest), which is useful if you want to add an insurance policy. And a reasonable frame mount, which gives you more transportation options. And a keyhole cover!

I do prefer the silicone shackle cover of the SkunkLock Carbon to the sticky eco cover of the X1 though. And the bigger internal dimensions of the SunkLock Carbon will give you more locking options.

Also, bear in mind you may have to wait a while to receive a Litelok X1 (as there always seems to be shipping delays) and there may be import duty to pay if you’re in the US.

Of course, it works both ways though: if you’re outside the US you may have to wait for a while to receive the SkunkLock Carbon, and it may be subject to import duties!

SkunkLock Specs

SkunkLock Carbon

SkunkLock Carbon

Cell
Cell

Check price:

Shackle thickness:

20 mm

Weight:

4.34 lb (1.97 kg)

Size (internal):

4 x 8.9"
(10.5 x 22.7 cm)

Other Security Ratings:

Cell

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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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