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.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Locks? There's an app for that!

     It's the holidays and there I was minding my own business when a sale popped up on my computer screen.  I had seen the Ellipse U-lock (Skylock) advertised since they began crowd funding a couple of years ago. It promises to be a geeked out improvement on bike security.
  It's a solar powered lock which can be operated from a cell phone and has a motion detector which notifies the owner of any unusual tampering.  Cool, but expensive.  A couple of hundred dollars sounds excessive but, I rationalized it by considering that I ride around on 3-5K bikes all day and a cable is  not the best choice.  They offered another 10% off for the holidays and I bit.  A few days after being charged there was no notice of fulfillment or shipping so I wrote and asked.  I was reminded of a notation on their website that orders taken in November would be shipped before the end of January.  I wrote back to inform him that the notation said January 2016 which had long since passed.  They said;  "OOps!  Thanks for pointing that out."   I had them return my money since that was the second questionable thing I found in their pitch.  The other was the software.  It's supposed to be compatible with Apple and Android Jelly Bean 4.4.  I use an Android phone and there is no "Jelly Bean 4.4"  it's 4.3.  The 4.4 version is nicknamed Kit Kat.  I wasn't too concerned at that because those operating systems are constantly upgraded and my phone should have all the necessary features.  "Should" is the important word here.  Somebody launching and marketing a  new technological revelation in cycling security "should" know what year it is.  Not only that, I wasn't talking to Waterford about a made to order custom bike, it's an accessory.  If they want to sell it they "should"  keep a few lying around in case somebody wants one.  I have severe misgivings over the quality of product produced under those circumstances.  Such is the promise of crowd funding; your customers assume the risk while you get the profit.
     The experience did motivate me to continue my search for a better alternative than the cable and ring locks I had been using.   My arsenal of security ranges from extremes.  I have a cable lock, a cable I use in conjunction with a ring lock, and the extreme "better be ready for a wrestle" Abus Bordo Link Lock (which weighs about 5 1/2 pounds).  

I had tried the Kryptonite U-Lock pictured, but found a couple of things about it I didn't like.
The keys kept breaking.  It was no problem getting them replaced, but it happened over and over, and  it was also difficult to use.  Being as narrow as it is, it barely fit around the substantial tires and frame of the Hunq.
 I finally trashed it.
    I was unhappy with the geeks and dissappointed by my experience with Kryptonite and looked at Abus locks to see if they would continue to make me happy.  I didn't want to compromise security and wanted something lighter and easier to lug around than the Bordo.  I parsed through their array of U-Locks until I found the Granite mini 54.  Nicknamed the "San Francisco Lock."   It is made a full 1" wider than other U-Locks to fit around the fat parking meter stands in The City.  It has a weird square shackle that is tough to saw and almost impossible to cut with bolt cutters, and has a security rating as dependable as the New York Forgetaboutit while weighing less than half as much.  
I couldn't find one at a local LBS and found that QBP was out of stock when I tried to order one.
So, I was stuck with the internet rather than patronizing local merchants.
It took a week to get it from a vendor in England who offered the best price.
It arrived as gloriously as a lock can make an entrance.
Two keys and the requisite code card for ordering replacements.
One of the keys has a nifty led light which won't help you find your way home 
but might save a few frozen moments at a dark place. 
 I'm not asking for my money back over that useless frivolity,
but I have learned not to park my bike in dark places.
The extra size, although only 1", proves to help tremendously in the real world.
I couldn't have gotten the Krytonite lock anywhere near that position.
I could lock the wheel and frame together but not around a bike stand.
 Despite the extra width the lock still fits neatly into the hip pocket. and
if you are a genuine retro grouch using a Pletscher rack, 
they provide a handy clamp for carrying them around.
So far I am pleased with the decision.  Thanks to Ellipse for inspiring me to action.
Maybe someday they will get their act together.
Until then I will not have a gadget to wake me up and tell me somebody is fiddling with my lock,
but I will sleep better knowing my babies are as save as I can make them.


  1. Nice review. I have an Abus Bordo Granite. MIne is the kind that uses a 4-digit combination. Love it.

    1. I like my Bordo combo lock also, I just don't like the extra weight.