How I lock my bike and why it doesn't matter

Posted on Jun 1, 2023

Thanks to the YouTube algorithm, I recently got into lockpicking. YouTube is full of channels like Lockpicking Lawyer and Bosnian Bill that teach how to open locks without the keys.

After binge watching probably hundreds of videos, I decided that it was time for me to give it a shot and pick some locks, so I ordered some picks and got to picking.

I started with regular pin tumbler locks like this one:

yale 5 pin

I learned how to open this lock very quickly very effectively, so I moved onto more difficult pin tumbler locks and got some nicer picks. But when I ordered the fancy picks, I saw that the store that I was buying from also sold a special pick that unlocks a different type of lock called a disc detainer lock.

disc detainer lock and key

I mean, look at those keys! Surely those are super secure, right?

I did some research and found out that a large amount of the locks sold by Kryptonite use disc detainer style locks, and since I also like bikes and already owned a few Kryptonite bike locks, I decided to buy the pick to see if I could pick these too.

disc detainer pick

When the pick arrived, I struggled to pick my Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 lock, but after a few hours of trying, I eventually got it open. I then moved onto my older Kryptonite Evolution Mini 5 lock, and that one was also open within a few hours.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I spent about £600 on Kryptonite locks, only to find that I can open most of them with my pick in about one minute.

picked kryptonite disc detainer locks

Look mum no keys!

Naturally, I thought that it really wasn’t a big deal that these can be picked fairly easily. After all, I live in London, and most bike thieves here are pretty fucking dumb. They don’t know how to pick locks, they know how to use angle grinders, so I thought that the best course of action would be to start locking my bike with two different kinds of locks, one chain and one d-lock, and then an extra cable for the saddle. Like this:

locked bike

Here, the frame and the rear wheel are locked to a lamp post with a Kryptonite Evolution 1090 chain, and the front wheel is locked to the frame with a Kryptonite NYC Standard lock. The cable for the saddle is missing, but it would be a Kryptonite 4’ flexible cable attached to either of the locks that goes under the saddle bars, such that it cannot be removed. Also it would be ideal if both locks were stuck to something immovable, but this lamp post was the only thing I found this particular day.

In my opinion this bike is pretty well locked and I was sure that a thief would probably not bother with it in plain daylight, as they would have to cut the chain and then the D-lock to ride away with it.

Why none of this matters

I found this video on YouTube. If you don’t want to click on it or can’t watch it, it is a video of a few criminals stealing bikes by cutting the locks in plain daylight, in front of a bunch of people in an area of London where I spend quite a lot of time.

After watching this, I thought that the only way to actually be able to lock your bike outside is to simply make it not a risk. Bikes get stolen all the time and a determined thief would get through the locks I put on my bike above if they wanted to, and blatancy seems like the norm these days.

A solution

So what do you do? Take the tube? Ew. Of course not. After I watched that video I just insured both of my bikes.

I found an insurance company that insures both of my £1200 bikes for about £10 a month. The excess is £25 for theft and they have pretty good reviews. The only limitation is that I can only leave the bike locked outside for up to 18 hours at a time, but that suits my needs just fine.

I know this is a very boring ending to an article about lockpicking, but after assessing the threat I have come to the conclusion that my bike will most likely get stolen eventually. If they don’t manage to cut through both of my locks, they’ll just cut whatever I attached it to.

So I just insured them and called it a day. There’s nothing you can do. Someone will take your bike, don’t let it ruin your day.

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