Avoiding the Bicycle Thief
The best locks to protect your wheels.
Portability/Ease of Use: 8.5
OnGuard Beast 3-feet 7-inch Chain, $89.99 Pertinent Thickness: 12 mm Links Weight: 9.5 pounds Free Anti-Theft Warranty: $3,501 for one year
The Beast lives up to its name—it weighs almost 10 pounds and can take a serious beating. Unlike less hefty locks, the hacksaw and the bolt cutters barely ruined the finish on the chain. However, I did wound the Beast with the hammer. My battering dented the padlock and made it impossible to open without a screwdriver.
Apart from stowing it in a bag, my only options for transporting the Beast were to wear it as a belt or shoulder it bandolier-style, both of which were uncomfortable due to the weight. The padlock's small shackle comes completely free when you turn the key, and to lock it up you need to keep your hands on the lock, both ends of the chain, and the shackle, which I kept dropping. The design may make for a stronger lock, but the Beast was hard to control.
Portability/Ease of Use: 3.5
Kryptonite New York Chain With EV Disc Lock 3-feet 3-inch Chain, $79.95 Pertinent Thicknesses: 10 mm Links, 13 mm shackle on mini U-lock Weight: 6.1 pounds Free Anti-Theft Warranty: $3,000 for one year
The New York Chain lock is much easier to use than the Beast. The two ends of the chain are held together by a tiny U-lock, which, unlike the Beast's padlock, doesn't separate into two pieces. It's tough, too: I didn't think this little lock could handle a full-fledged beat-down, but it shook it off and continued to work like new. I appreciated the added flexibility that comes with a chain lock—they can fit around wide things like lampposts—but I was a little disappointed with its portability. While it's definitely lighter than the Beast, it's still a load to carry. Take this for a test ride before you buy.
Portability/Ease of Use: 4
OnGuard Brute STD U-lock, $69.95 Pertinent Thickness: 16 mm Shackle Weight: 4.5 pounds Free Anti-Theft Warranty: $3,001 for one year
The Brute is the toughest-looking lock in the bunch and one of the toughest-acting. I gave it everything I had (almost kneecapped myself with the hammer), but I only did cosmetic damage. Sawing on the 16 mm shackle for five minutes only got me about 3 mm deep. At that rate, it would have taken me more than 35 minutes to cut through. It falls short, however, in proper mounting hardware: It comes with the same bracket as the 2.4-pound Bulldog, which doesn't hold up since this monster weighs 4.5 pounds. While the Brute is mean enough to scare off real bike thieves, portability—or lack thereof—weighs it down.
Portability/Ease of Use: 5
Scott Elder is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.