We think a lot about locks in the store as you can imagine. A lock has to do a lot of things - it has to keep your bike from getting stolen, it has to be portable and not too heavy, it has to be easy to use, but not easy to break and hopefully it’s not too expensive. That’s a lot of stuff!
In NYC the lock of choice seems to be Kryptonite. When I got my first bike, I also picked up a Kryptonite as well, but as I used it it came up short for me. The Fuggedaboutit is so heavy my arm hurts when I lift it. The evo is better, but also really heavy. Having left my lock outside most of the year it also has gotten clogged with rust.
My biggest problem though is that the chain lock is in 3 pieces - the chain, the top piece of the lock and the body of the lock. What inevitably happens when I’m standing over my bike trying to lock it to a pole is that 1. I carefully arrange my bike next to the pole but it doesn’t fit so I have to move my bike closer. 2. As I try to move my bike closer my bag inevitably falls off my shoulder crashing into my elbow. 3. Then the chain part of the lock falls under my bike and the top piece of the lock ends up behind it. 4. I feel like a complete idiot as I try to locate all the pieces and start over. Not fun!
I figured that there had to be some better options out there. When I spoke to my distributors and friends in Europe, almost all of them unanimously came out in favor of Abus. What’s Abus?
Abus is the biggest lock manufacturer in Europe and has been around since the 30’s. Unbeknowst to me I had found another heritage brand!
While it’s packaging leaves a lot to be desired, the quality of the locks does not. Many of the locks are still made in their factory in Germany. They also have a factory in China that is a clone of their German facility that produces the lower end locks. I thought it might be helpful to outline some of the reasons that we like Abus.
After speaking with our friends at Abus I asked them to describe some of the technical ways that Abus is a great lock. I’m not the most technical person so I’m reprinting what they wrote:
Better Steel and Hardening Processes
ABUS sources high grade steel which in turn allows for the use of less material at a given strength, allowing ABUS locks to be superior in strength at a lower weight then other locks. Anybody can add material and make a lock stronger, it takes thought and engineering to make it lighter and stronger.
ABUS also employs a temper hardening process with its steel (versus case hardening). In short this is a multiple step process where the product is dipped into a hardening bath at various intervals. This is a similar process that is used to make Japanese swords it allows a very hard and sharp cutting edge and a softer spine for flexibility. For ABUS it means a very hard outer shell to resist cutting attacks and a softer more flexible inner steel to allow flex, resisting prying and twisting attacks. For example, “tool steel” is fully hardened all the way through. This makes it very hard to cut but also brittle, and brittle steel is vulnerable to cutting or twisting attacks, especially at cold temperatures and even ice-spray attacks.
Lock Mechanism and Key Cylinders
The highest level lock cylinder is “X-Plus” with more than 1.4 million key variations making it near 100% resistant to manipulation attacks, aka “picking attacks”. The “Plus” cylinder has over 250,000 key variations. For reasons of comparisons, many car keys have 10,000 variations and less.
- The “X-Plus” cylinder is on the 1060 chain, Bordo 6500, and the U-54, which can all be ordered “KEYED ALIKE” meaning with the same key.
- The “Plus” cylinder is on the 1010 CityChain, U-51, and the Granit Futura 64 Mini U-lock. Also, these can be ordered with the same key (“keyed alike”).
This process takes around 3-4 weeks for shipping time directly from Germany. The time to build the lock only a couple of days, since they are hand built in Germany.
ABUS matches the key cylinder to the security needs of their lock. ABUS uses their best key cylinder on their highest rated security locks and lowers the need for high picking resistance with other factors of the security of their locks.
The U-locks and top end chain locks employ what ABUS calls a patented “Power Cell” technology. This technology involves wrapping the lock mechanism around the shackle and using a significant angle in its closed position. This feature works with the same idea of a Roman stone bridge trapping the energy applied into the “cell” (onto the bridge) and increasing the resistance for pulling the more you pull. Their ABUS Granit X-Plus U-54 U-lock resists more than 8 tons of pulling force. The double locking cylinders are also independent of each other so defeating one Power Cell or the Key Cylinder does not release the other Power Cell.
The square shape allows for more material, more surface area to deal with, and very much is designed to resist twisting attacks. It is a square peg in a square hole, so more than any other lock even if one side is cut it will not be able to twist open.
Both versions of the Bordo, the skinnier 6000 and the beefy 6500 are made in Germany from high grade steel temper hardened to resist twist and cutting attacks. As always, the lock body holding the key cylinder and locking mechanism under the rubber coating is also made from hardened steel to reduce any weak point in the system. The nicest part of this top security product is the fact that you can fold up your lock and mount it on 98% of all bicycles in a split moment, while also increasing the radius of the lock when looking for a bike-parking spot.