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Lobster Lock Preview

The Lobster Lock is an innovative new bike lock that owes it’s name to the way that it’s two arms envelop your bike (and whatever your bike's secured to), much like the claws of a large, hungry crustacean!

However the folding arms aren’t the most interesting thing about this lock. The most interesting thing is actually the way that the lock is always fixed to your frame.

Let me explain…

I suppose the Lobster Lock is a bit like a hybrid between the frame locks that are so popular in mainland Europe and the folding locks, popularised by Abus.

Lobster Lock mounting

The Lobster Lock screws into the holes intended for you water bottle

Like a frame lock, the Lobster Lock remains permanently attached to your bike. In the Lobster’s case, it’s simply screwed into the holes in your frame that are intended to be used with a water bottle cradle.

Once attached, the idea is that it’s never removed. Because…

Lobster Lock unfolding

Unfolding the Lobster Lock

Like a folding lock, it has cantilevered steel arms that fold out from the body, to extend and then fasten around your frame, one wheel, and an immovable object. So you never have to take the lock off the bike.

I got hold of a sample model to see how it works in practice…

Using the Lobster Lock

Locking your bike up incredibly quick and easy. You simply pull up at a bike rack, unlock, pull the arms out, fold them around and through the wheel and refasten. It’s an very elegant process.

Lobster Lock in a bike rack

It was really easy to use on my bike on a Sheffield Stand

And in my tests, the locking circumference was big enough for me to secure my bike to all the bike racks in my area and some of the street signs and lampposts.

However, there a couple caveats here. Firstly, it won’t be compatible with every bike. So, my bike has 2 bottle cradle spots. One on the down tube and one on the seat tube. Ideally I’d be able to use both for the Lobster Lock.

The one on the down tube would be used to lock the front wheel (and frame). The one on the seat tube would be used to lock the back wheel (and frame). However on my bike, there wasn’t enough space to attach the lock to the down tube.

This isn’t a big issue, as I can’t imagine any bike where it wouldn’t fit on the down tube.

Lobster Lock around front wheel

Loads of space on my bike

However, if there’s a big distance between your down tube and your wheel, which there is on some mountain bikes, then the arms may not be long enough to reach around your wheel and the bike rack.

It’s difficult to give you any guidelines that would enable you to work this out yourself. So I’d recommend that if you get in touch with Lobster Lock personally if you have any doubts about whether it’s compatible with your bike.

How Secure is the Lobster Lock?

We can’t be certain how secure the Lobster Lock is at the moment, as it’s yet to be tested by either Sold Secure or ART.

However, since folding locks are rarely high security (there’s only one folding lock with a Sold Secure Gold rating), I would say it would be Silver or Bronze.

Apparently it is going to be tested though, and if it gains a Silver rating it will be suitable for use as a primary lock for lower risk circumstance. However if it gains a Bronze rating it will be best used as secondary lock to secure one of your wheels.

Lobster lock on Sheffield bike stand

If it's rated Sold Secure Silver you may be able to use it as a primary lock in low risk situations

I think it would actually work really well as a secondary lock, since it’s so easy to get around the wheel and also so easy to carry around.

There’s a few other things worth mentioning when it comes to security…

First of all, you may be thinking “why can’t a thief simply unmount the lock from the frame and walk away with the bike?”. I asked myself the same question when I initially saw it was attached to the frame with regular hex bolts.

But when locked, the arms of the Lobster Lock create a closed circle, so even if a thief does this (and you could always use hex key blocking bolts like those from Hexlox or Pitlock to prevent it), as long as it’s secured around an immovable object, they wont be able to take the bike.

Secondly, this is the second iteration of the Lobster Lock. The previous version used a wafer locking mechanism which was pretty easy to rake open with a few strips of metal from a soft drink can.

Lobster Lock 2.0 features a disc detainer mechanism

Lobster Lock 2.0 uses a disc detainer mechanism which is significantly harder to open without the keys and requires specialist tools. Here’s a video of the Lock Picking Lawyer who highlighted the initial issue, explaining everything…

One doubt I do have, is how well the plastic frame mount will fare under attack. While the 5 mm hardened steel arms may well resist a vigorous assault, they're attached to the frame mount with a plastic hinge.

Plastic hinge

The plastic hinge could be broken in an unsuccessful attack

There’s a good chance that this hinge will break if exposed to any stress and although that wouldn’t result in the theft of your bike, it would make it difficult to use the lock again as it’s intended.

Having said that, I haven’t heard any reports of this actually happening!

Wrapping Up

A lock that’s permanently attached to your frame but that is also able to secure your bike to an immovable object is a nice evolution from the standard frame locks we’re used to, and great idea from Lobster Lock [Amazon].

Using a folding arm system works well, keeping the lock tidily out of the way while your riding, but providing enough locking circumference in a bike rack to be genuinely useful.

And it’s a super quick and elegant locking experience if your bike is compatible.

Lobster Lock on front wheel

It's a nice idea!

How well the Lobster Lock stands up to attack in the street, both in terms of it’s security and it’s durability remains to be seen, and it’s great that they’re going to get it tested by Sold Secure or ART.

So once it’s been rated, I look forward to testing it for longer and writing a much more detailed and comprehensive review!

2

Litelok Core Preview: Lightweight Diamond Rated Security?

With the introduction of Sold Secure’s Diamond rating in 2020, the top tier of bicycle lock security got a lot more exclusive. Diamond rated bike locks represent the most secure bike locks you can buy.

And as we know, with greater security comes greater weight and also, to some extent, less practicality. So it’s no surprise that Diamond rated locks are some of the heaviest and unwieldy locks around.

However, Litelok are about to step into the fray with a new offering, the Litelok Core, which promises Diamond rated security, at a weight that’s not excessive and with various lengths that will give you loads of locking and carrying options.

So I got hold of a pre-production model to see how it’s likely to work out in the street!

Litelok Core Unboxed

A 100 cm Litelok Core

The model that I’ve been testing is the 100W, a wearable version that has a 100 cm (39”) circumference and which weighs 2 kg (4 lb).

Unfortunately, the 100W was slightly too big for me to wear around my waist, so I couldn't test that, but the wearable version will come in three different sizes, which means you should be able to find one that does fit!

I’ve previously tested the Litelok Gold Original and the Litelok Silver wearable. However, I’ve never used the Litelok Gold Wearable which seems to be the closest in terms of form and function to the Core. So there were a few surprises.

Once the Litelok Core has been released to the market, I’ll test it fully and write a comprehensive review. But here are my first impressions after using the pre-production model for a few days...

1. It’s very secure

I don’t have to take a crowbar or a giant set of cable cutters to the Core to know this. Sold Secure have already done it and they’ve awarded the Core a Diamond rating. This puts it in rarefied company.

Currently there are very few bike locks that make the Diamond grade. And they’re the most secure locks you can get.

2. It gives you loads of locking opportunities

The 100 cm locking circumference is massive. Often when I’m out testing locks, it’s a struggle to find places other than bike racks where I’m able to secure my bike. With the Litelok Core it was a struggle to find places I couldn’t lock my bike.

Litelok Core around a fat streetlight

I couldn't find a street sign that I couldn't lock my bike to!

I was able to get the Litelok around every lamppost, traffic light, street sign and telegraph pole in my area.

3. It’s easier to use than previous Liteloks

With the Litelok Original, the tall, “belt like” band could be difficult to get through the spokes of your wheels. The band of the Litelok Core is more “rope like” in shape. So it’s shorter, making it much easier to pass between your spokes.

Litelok Core around 2 bikes

Locking two bikes in a busy bike rack was pretty easy

Plus the way that it’s pre-shaped into a hoop (unlike the Original), and can be locked without the keys (by simply clicking the ends together), means that it’s much quicker and easier to get it secured around your bike.

4. Lightness is relative!

When you pick up a 100 cm Litelok Core, “wow, that’s a really lightweight lock” is not the first thing that comes to mind. That’s because at 2 kg (4 lb), it weighs slightly more than 5 cans of Coke.

But what you need to remember is that a Diamond rated chain lock that offers a similar locking circumference will be almost twice as heavy as this, making it completely unpractical for mobile security.

The shortest, lightest Litelok Core will be the 75 cm (29”) Flex-O. It’s not wearable at this length, but it weighs just 1.6 kg (3.5 lb), making it one of the lightest Diamond rated locks currently available.

In fact, only the Abus Granit X Plus 540 and the mini Pragmasis DIB are (just slightly) lighter, and neither of those will allow you to lock your bike in the same places that even the smallest Litelok Core will open up.

Wrapping Up

I’ve tested a lot of bike locks and the Litelok Core has really impressed me. Diamond rated security at this size and weight is unheard of, and the Core will bring much needed practicality to the top tier of bike locks.

Diamond level security at this size and weight is unheard of

Once it’s released to the market, I’ll test the final version for a longer period of time to get a better idea of what it’s like to use and carry around on a daily basis.

But the pre-production model certainly seems like it will be a great choice for those that need to very highest levels of security, without sacrificing the number of places they’ll be able to secure their bikes.

10

A Combination Bike Lock: Is it really less secure?

A combination bike lock

The short answer is: yes! Locks that you open with a code are generally less secure than locks that require a key. But why is this and does it mean we should avoid combination bike locks altogether?

Well, not necessarily. Let’s look at this in more detail…

So, just to be clear: combination bike locks are the ones with a several dials of numbers that you turn around to make a combined code that opens the mechanism. There are usually 3, 4 or 5 rings so the code is 3, 4 or 5 numbers long.

These locks are popular because you don’t need a key: as long as you can remember the code you can always unlock your bike. And you can also give the code to family or friends so they can share the use of the lock and therefore your bike too!

Just try every combination!

3 number combination bike lock

3 dial locks are very quick and easy to crack

The first problem with these locks is the limited number of combinations. With 3 dials there are just 720 unique codes. So with averagely nimble fingers, which could test one number per second, that’s a maximum of just 12 minutes to test every combination. And of course: the correct code isn’t likely to be the last one a thief tries!

4 number combination bike lock

4 number codes take much longer to crack

However with 4 dials there are 10,000 possible combinations. So the same nimble fingers would take almost 3 hours to test every combination. And in reality, testing one a second for nearly three hours while hunched over a bicycle in the street is just not practical. It would actually take much longer, even if the thief had the patience and nerve to persist.

So while it’s true that combination locks can be opened without any tools at all, by someone without any skill at all (beyond counting), if you’ve got a 4 (or more) dial lock then it’s very unlikely that anyone’s going to defeat your lock in this way.

Unfortunately however, the finite number of codes isn’t the only weakness of combination locks…

Or pick them without any tools!

Cheap combination locks are very easy to decode. The way to do this (and I’m not revealing anything new here), is to create tension by trying to pull the the lock apart (in the same way as you’d open it) and then slowly rotating the dials in turn until they seem to click into place…

More expensive combination locks try to thwart this method with “false gates” that give the impression that you’ve found the correct numbers when in fact you haven’t. However they can often still be decoded with a bit of skill…

But the thing to remember is that virtually no bike thieves have the patience and skill required to pick the more challenging combination locks. And in the street they won’t be able to position the lock in a way that makes even attempting to decode the lock practical.

In fact they are most likely to tackle a decent combination lock in the same way they would attack a decent keyed lock: with brute force.

Cheap Cable Locks and Combinations!

I’ve written many times about how you should never use a cheap cable lock to secure your bicycle. They can be cut in seconds by a small, basic tool that every bike thief carries.

And the thing is: many cheap cable locks use cheap combination mechanisms. So this idea that all combination locks are crappy is reinforced because they’re used on genuinely crappy cable locks. However, it doesn’t mean that all combination locks are crappy!

Wrapping Up

So, yes it’s true: combination locks are less secure than keyed locks. But if you get a decent one with 4 or 5 dials and features that resist the most basic decoding techniques, then in the street, in most instances they are going to offer the same levels of protection as a decent keyed lock.

With that in mind I have compiled a list of some of the better combination locks below. They are all either Sold Secure Silver or equivalent, which is the minimum security level I recommend in a bike lock.

This means they’re suitable for lower risk circumstances (check my full bike lock guide to determine your risk level).

There aren’t any Sold Secure Gold combination locks, presumably because it would be very difficult to make a coded lock that is truly high security.

Header

Model

Metal

Width

Weight

Cans of Coke

Height

Width

Security
Rating

Kryptonite Kryptolok Combo

13 mm

2.30 lb
(1.04 kg)

2.5

8.0 "
(20.3 cm)

4.0 "
(10.2 cm)

Cell
Kryptonite Keeper Combination

7 mm

4.5 lb
(2.04 kg)

5.5

47.2 "
(150 cm)

Cell
Sold Secure Silver
Kryptonite Keeper Combination

9.5 mm

5.85 lb
(2.65 kg)

7

35.4 "
(90 cm)

Cell
Sold Secure Silver
Kryptonite Keeper Combination

9.5 mm

7.35 lb
(3.33 kg)

8.5

47.2 "
(120 cm)

Cell
Sold Secure Silver
OnGuard Bulldog Combo STD

13 mm

2.43 lb
(1.10 kg)

3

9.06 "
(23 cm)

4.53 "
(11.5 cm)

Cell

13 mm

2.15 lb
(0.98 kg)

2.5

5.52 "
(14 cm)

3.55 "
(9 cm)

Cell

13 mm

3.12 lb
(1.42 kg)

3.5

9.46 "
(24 cm)

3.55 "
(9 cm)

Cell
Squire Hammerhead Combi 230

13 mm

3.77 lb
(1.7 kg)

4.5

9.06 "
(23 cm)

4.13 "
(10.5 cm)

Sold Secure Silver
Squire Hammerhead Combi 290

13 mm

3.92 lb
(1.78 kg)

4.5

11.42 "
(29 cm)

4.13 "
(10.5 cm)

Sold Secure Silver
Squire Snaplock 210

12 mm

1.81 lb
(0.82 kg)

2

8.27 "
(21 cm)

4.09 "
(10.4 cm)

Sold Secure Silver
Squire Snaplock 260

12 mm

2.14 lb
(0.97 kg)

2.5

10.24 "
(26 cm)

4.09 "
(10.4 cm)

Sold Secure Silver

The Foldylock Clipster: even easier to carry!

I’m a big fan of the Foldylock Compact. It’s light, easy to use and offers very reasonable Sold Secure Silver levels of protection for medium risk situations.

Folded Foldylock
Folded Foldylock Compact

It’s also very easy to carry. The frame mount that comes with the Foldylock can screw directly into those holes on your down tube that are designed for a water bottle cradle. This will hold your lock in place securely while you ride around and then release it quickly and easily when you need to lock up.

Foldylock attached with water bottle screws
Foldylock attached with water bottle screws

But some people don’t like frame mounts! They’re not the prettiest addition to your bike. And maybe you don’t have room for one anyway? Maybe you’re already using your water bottle cradle holes to carry a water bottle? Or maybe you don’t have water bottle cradle holes at all?

I know I don’t. So when I tested my Foldylock I used (the included) velcro straps to secure the lock to the frame of my favorite beater bike. And although they work fine, the unused lengths of strap flapped about in a slightly annoying way.

Foldylock attached with Velcro straps
Foldylock attached with Velcro straps

So I was very happy to hear that the Foldylock was now available in a variation called the Clipster. The lock itself is identical to the original Foldylock Compact. But it includes a built in clip that you can attach to your belt, pocket, bag (or anything else it will fit over).

Foldylock Clipster on belt

It also comes with a thick elastic band to go over the bottom of the lock to stop the bars moving about while your riding.

Foldylock Clipster
The Clipster folded up

The great thing about the Clipster (and this is something which I didn’t really think about until I started using it), is that, even though the original frame mount was really easy to use, the time it takes to lock and unlock your bike is still significantly reduced when you carry your lock clipped to your belt.

Fold up, clip on. Clip off, unfold. Super easy. And super quick.

So not only will your bike be unencumbered by yet more detritus (the frame mount), you’ll also have a smoother, faster locking experience. What’s not to like?

See my full review of the Foldylock Compact for more details on how secure this lock is and how it compares to other locks. If you like the look of it, the Clipster is available from both the Foldylock website and Amazon.

And if your still unsure about how to choose the best bike lock for your individual circumstances, check out my easy step by step guide here.