This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Locks, improvements, and more locks

       Since I have a two new bikes on the agenda for winter projects, I wanted to get a couple more ring locks. If you are not familiar with them, ring locks are a frame mounted lock which has become very popular for city bikes in Europe.
They mount to the seat stays and provide a quick and simple lock to secure the rear wheel removing the chance for a thief to ride off with your bike.  It does work.  I saw a teenager try to mount my bike when it was parked in front of the local brewpub.  Once he realized it wouldn't roll, he went running off a little confused, frightened and embarrassed that his friends were laughing at him.    Another time, I found my bike in a different position at a bike rack when I emerged from a grocery store.   Again, somebody had tried and been discouraged. Everybody I know who has used these, love them.  While not providing a real visible deterrent, they provide real security from a casual thief, the most common kind.
    Unfortunately these have been slow to catch on in the US and it is very hard to find them.  I only know of three internet dealers: Velo-Orange and Clever Cycles and Cantitoe Road who carry them in the US.  One LBS, Zoocity Cycles, here in Kalamazoo has started carrying them because Jamis and Schwinn are releasing frames with bosses for mounting bolts on the seat stays.   If anybody knows of another source, I will be glad to spread it around.
     There are two brands out there that are popular, Abus and AXA.  The Abus version is in the photo above, below is the AXA version:

There are only a few differences, the AXA version is more expensive (abt $50) , has a place to add a supplementary cable to lock the bike to a stationary object and it holds the key in place when the lock is open. When you lock  the ring into place
the key releases and goes with you.  It's not a bad idea, because you won't forget your key when you leave home.  As you can see the steel ring is far too substantial for bolt cutters and since most bike thieves don't carry cordless grinders with them, the bike can only be carried off which is a rare situation in most cities.
    While I was shopping for the ring locks I ran across this new "chain" from Abus called the Bordo.

It's a very substantial series of links attached to a cylinder lock.  It is a huge improvement over the cables out there which, while providing a visible deterrent, provide no real security.   Any kid with a bolt cutter can cut a cable in seconds, and the typical cylinder lock
provide a contact point for an experienced thief to feel the tumblers working and decode your combination.  The Abus cylinder is released by a button when the combination is in place:
this provides some separation between the latch and cylinder making it much harder to find the combination with out trying hundreds.  The Abus "chain" folds up neatly and fits a provided holster for carrying on the frame, either with velcro straps or with a mounting plate which mounts to the water bottle bosses.

The only problems I see with this unit is weight, if you count grams you won't like this, it is heavy and the latch for the holster comes apart quite easily.  It can be replaced simply but losing it is a possibility.
Aside from the small problem with  the holster latch, I like this a lot.  It is easily as secure as a U-Lock, is larger and easier to use, and the fact that it folds into a holster makes it a world more convenient.  I will be switching this from bike to bike whenever I feel I need more than the Ring Locks.


  1. Which ring lock do you prefer? The Abus or the AXA? I've been shopping around and some feedback would be helpful.

  2. I like the Abus better. The AXA has a weird attachment system and the plastic case gets out of line and causes the ring to stick, It was really annoying. The Abus seems more reliable and better made.