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There are a few categories of products for which one can say that one product, only one, is clearly better than all others that have the same purpose: bicycle padlocks are one of them, according to the expert’s opinion. Since their first prototypes were created in 1971, American Kryptonite locks have established themselves as the most secure way to lock a bike. They’re a type of “U” padlocks – even if for some, they’re shaped more like “D” or “N”, it’s based on your perspective – and they’re sturdy, pretty big, and relatively pricey, but also very tricky to mess with. They have been so appreciated over the years that they have also won an award from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, both for their appearance and for the engineering features of their design.
Both Wirecutter, the New York Times’ reputable review site, and various bike retailers that The Strategist interviewed suggest that a Kryptonite padlock is the best one you can buy: the one with the best value for money is the Evolution Mini 7 (Check on Amazon.com). It weighs about 3.3lb and it is 7 inches long and 3.27 inches wide.
It comes with a hardened-alloy wire that you can use in combination with the padlock to tie the front wheel of your bicycle, and with a hanger to keep it attached to the frame of your bike while you travel, and with 3 keys, one of which has a blue LED light: by registering the key on Kryptonite’s website, you can ask for a backup in case you lose one.
According to the reviews and experiences of those who have one, the hanger to hold the lock attached to your bike’s frame is a bit stiff at the beginning: it is difficult to hook the lock and then remove it. This is the main “flaw” of the product. The other problem with all “U” padlocks in relation to the most common chains or wires is that the smaller models are not large enough to be used with all the poles to which you want to secure your bike. However, the Evolution Mini 7 works well with all the bike stands and with the most common pole sizes.
You can get the Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 (Check on Amazon.com). For those who want an even safer padlock – but larger, heavier and pricier – there is the “New York Fahgettaboudit” series, so-called because it is designed specifically for the Manhattan area, where bike steals are very common and the thieves are very experienced: the New York Fahgettaboudit Mini costs (Check on Amazon.com).
In any case, keep in mind that no padlock is 100% tamper-proof and that even the best ones can be cut in a matter of minutes, with the right tools. The point is to know how far a thief will push himself in order to steal your bike (if it is really of great value, better not leave it on the street) and make it all the more harder for him. “U” padlocks make life quite difficult, but there are still some secrets in keeping your bike safe. The first is to lock the bike down using the frame, not the wheels or the saddle (and secure it to something, not to itself!). The other tip is to never place the padlock on the ground, giving the thief a comfortable worktop to try and cut it. Last but not least try to always use the length of the padlock to “hug” as many parts of the bike as possible. This video explains how, if it’s not clear: