Chain Bicycle Locks

I have been using an OnGuard Pitbull Mini LS U-lock along with an 7′ Kryptonite KryptoFlex cable  to secure my bike. The Pitbull purchase was driven by cost and I found it on eBay at a good price. The cable was purchased used as well. The recommended way to use a U-lock is to go around the seat tube and rear tire and an immovable object like a bike stand or street signpost. The distance between the seat tube and the rear tire on my bike is too wide, so I normally went around a handy part of the frame and the immovable object and tied off both wheels with the cable looped onto the legs of the U-lock. I have bolt-on skewers as well. I use a small Abus 1500 chain for a seat lock and for “no ride-off” protection only at my local grocer or the post office.

I recently refurbished a used bike for my son and want him to have a decent lock. We had an old U-lock around the house, but it was an old off-brand beater and just slightly better than a cable lock. I had been considering an alternate lock for my bike and bought a Kryptonite Keeper 785 chain lock to try, along with a cable for the wheels as needed and did a hand-me-down with my old lock.

chains
Abus 1500 lock on the left, Kryptonite Keeper 785 chain on the right

Chain locks are not rated as highly as U-locks, but I liked the flexibility and the cost of this chain, with the 32″ length to get round the frame and rear tire and larger fixed objects. I can use to lock two bikes at once and to secure my bike on the car rack too.

It’s all compromise and I think this option is  good enough for the areas I travel and the value of my bike. A snake pit of heavy duty chain and cable should annoy a thief enough to go elsewhere. I’m of a mind that if someone wants my bike bad enough, they will have the tools that will defeat any lock.  The favored tool of NYC bike thieves is a cordless grinder with a cutoff wheel and that will go through any bike lock. I did some web research and found a YouTube video where a guy went after this chain with an assortment of tools and it took several tries with a 36″ bolt cutter to defeat this one. I think the options to actually get the bike locked to a sturdy object offset the increased vulnerability. Weight and cost come into the picture too. The next lock up in the series was nearly twice the cost AND weight (6lbs vs 3lbs) and was only 3″ longer (35″ vs 32″). Another alternative was to buy a larger U-lock, also at increased cost and weight.

In a previous post, I wrote of my dislike of bike locks in general and I’m still on that wagon. It’s just a fact of life, but living with them is a pain. Carrying them while riding is really annoying and I came up with a way to stash this chain that works for me.

I was looking at Kryptonite’s frame bag for chain carry and also found their Transit Tube-R chain carrier, which is basically a plastic tube with Velcro mounts to carry your chain like a water bottle. I recently got a Monkee Cage that can handle a one liter water bottle and I got the idea that the chain might fit in a one liter Nalgene and sure enough, the chain stows in the bottle without a lot of fuss. I had it out for a 27 mile ride last week and it rode securely and quietly in the bottle mounted on the frame downtube with a low center of gravity. In the event that I need the water bottle space on a long trip, the chain can ride wrapped around a rack or  low in a pannier. Where U-locks are long and cumbersome, the chain is flexible and takes less space.

Kryptonite Keeper        Chain in Nalgene

monkii cage 1

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