Locks and Security Solutions for Electric Bikes

https://electricbikereview.com/guides/ebike-locks-and-security/ For this video guide, I met with Chris Nolte, the owner of Propel Bikes in Brooklyn, NY. He sells a wide assortment of u-locks, chain locks, cable locks, folding locks, and other security devices. Major cities tend to experience higher rates of bike theft and since electric bikes cost so much, it’s worth spending more on a lock and knowing how to use it.

Chris carries a lot of ABUS branded bike locks because they can be “keyed alike” with keys that match the locking core cylinders on the ebikes themselves. Usually, the battery pack is locked to the bike, and in this way, you can unlock the battery and the bike lock without having to carry around multiple keys. ABUS locks are designed in Germany and tend to cost more, but are made very well… they even have an electronic lock that sounds an alert if tampered with. Chris explained that right now, only Plus level locks from ABUS can be keyed alike. Another use case would be to save the key code and order replacement keys if you lose them, or perhaps loan keys to friends and family members. Most of the locks are numbered with strength ratings such as 9 or 15, but Chris did have a 20 rated u-lock which was designed more for use with motorcycles. It costs $300 while many other locks were in the $100 range. Some of the nicer city style ebikes will come with frame locks (also called cafe locks) that immobilize the rear wheel. There are chain locks now that can plug directly into the cafe lock, and Chris showed me one of them.

Chris explained that one of the most common ways that people overcome bike locks is with a portable angle grinder. Unfortunately, this sort of attack is very difficult to overcome. Chris recommended parking your e-bike where people are frequently around. For example, near a door man at a bar vs. in an alley where nobody is walking by or paying attention. If you used a u-lock with a chain that has protective material, it might take a thief longer to cut through and even require multiple batteries.

If you’re just eating lunch, a cafe lock and mid-toughness chain could work. If you have a fancy saddle or seat post, it might be worth purchasing a small chain or cable to secure the seat through the saddle rails (especially if you have a quick release seat post collar). Some people will leave a seat chain connected at all times, just looping through and connecting it to the frame triangle, seat stays, or a rear rack. Chris had some really small u-locks and he explained that they are easy to put into pant pockets and use quickly, just locking to a street sign pole. Another step in securing your electric bike is to use a Pitlock or other security hardware to replace skewers and seat post clamps. Another brand of security hardware is Pinhead. These use specialized keys that fit into pits or indentations in order to unscrew the bolt. ABUS has created a design that requires the bike to be tipped onto its side to unlock (and that usually cannot happen if a bike is locked in the upright position). Kryptonite has a locking hardware design where you have to flip the bike upside down. One other company is called Hexlocks which uses a magnetic design so people can’t just override the bolt. Another option is bicycle insurance from a company like Velosurance. Some insurance companies have exclusions for products with motors… so check with that. Apparently New York City now has a law where new buildings have to provide a bike cage for safe storage. There is also a law where buildings have to provide access for bringing bicycles inside places of work. Folding locks can be easy to mount to bike frames but some u-locks are small enough for pockets or to slip into your belt. Chris said that he will frequently use three bike locks when parking his bikes for over an hour (folding lock, a u-lock, and a chain). The extra weight of additional locks isn’t such a big deal when you’re on an electric bike. One of the things that’s neat about some of the fancier u-locks is that both bars will lock, so a thief would have to cut through both bars. Apparently Kryptonite has an insurance policy for their locks but it is void if the lock is broken with a power tool… which is one of the more common methods of theft.

One of the challenges that Chris raised about ebikes that use thru-axles is that there doesn’t seem to be a locking hardware solution on the market right now. Some thru-axles use a 9 mm skewer type of thing in the middle and this can be replaced with a locking skewer, but it requires some modification. Robert Axle Project might be a resource for those looking into locking thru-axles (because they build these special solutions for trailers).

Comments

Focker Molocker says:

you could just take a lock and put it on the chain. It might screw it up, but at least you’ll get a good laugh if you see someone try to steal it

metamorphicorder says:

one suggestion is the bully pager alarm lock. its motorcycle intended ulock. it has a fairly sensitive tamper alarm in it that will go off when the bike is jostled. its pretty loud and has s warning whoop to give someone a chance if they accidentally bump it at the rack.
its not the strongest ulock ever made, but what it lacks in strength, it makes up for in smarts. it comes with a fob that will chime if the lock is set off. it has a range of 2000 feet. yes nearly half a mile.
its around 100 dollars.
its a heck of a lock.
the draw back though is that the shackle (u shaped bar) is smaller than most full size u locks. its designed to fit snugly around a motorcycle wheel and tire or just the wheels. it doesnt seem to be intended to actuallt lock the bike to anything but just around the wheel and use as an alarm. but its sufficiently strong to use as a primary lock if you can fit it around something.
the kryptonite 1415 lock and chain set is about $120 and the chain as shown by wayne winton is nearly impossible to cut with even very large bolt cutters.
it uses a mini ulock as the lock and the whole set weighs about 15lbs. its not for the ultralight people. the lock is nearly uncuttable also with anything less than a grinder and will be difficult to pick for most people and most thieves dont pick.
folding locks, cables, almost anything with the name master on it, harware store chains, even ‘security chains’ that are no name and made in china are pretty much useless in high theft areas.
they are almost all either pretty weak or the locking mechanism is easy to pick, or otherwise bypass. combination locks are almost universally worthless.
avoid them.
bosnian bill
wayne winton
lock picking lawyer
those are all channels that your viewers can look at as a resource for information on choosing good locks for thier bikes, valuables and homes.
caution, if you watch those guys open a lock with picks or bypasses like they were using the key or faster, it doesnt mean its a bad lock. they are very good at what they do and they make it look easy and they have the perfect tools and more or less laboratory settings they are working in.
but it give you a good idea of the quality of a lock.
also as to brand names,
all makers of any considerable reputation make a range of locks. so just because you see in a video that abus or kryptonite makes a good lock or a bad lock, it doesnt mean that all locks with that name are good or bad.
the 1415 mini ulock i above is a really decent lock and the chain is top notch. however it has some flaws. the lock mechanism for its type isnt particularly pick resistant and someone with the right tool and knowledge COULD pick it.
its not likely, but it could happen.
also the inner part of the lock is a plastic plug and the lock core itself is a cheaper metal than the lock body.
its possible that on some of the locks built like that, to use a plumbing torch to heat the lock until the innards fail.
the test i saw took 7 minutes which is freaking amazing but its still an attack that works.

a word about master locks.
dont. just dont. yes they are in many respects bullet proof or nearly so. but most bike thieves dont use guns to open locks, they use cutters, grinders, hammers, prybars pipes, torches, saws, and less often picks and other bypasses. master locks have been opend with a little as a few taps with a hammer. yes taps. tappy tappy tap.
ive seen one picked open with a zip tie.
master DOES make some decent or almost decent locks, but for the money you could get some kit made by people who actually care about what products they make.
remeber this, you may not always get what you paid for, but you will rarely get something you didnt pay for.
if you are riding ebikes its pretty likely you paid a decent amount for your bikes. protect them. some people say just get insurance and be done with it. you should get insruance, but what it doesnt cover is hassle and bother.
a decent starting bike is about 1500$. you should really put about 10 to 20% of that into locks for it. dont be sacred of the weight, you have a motor. if you have to carry it up stairs, get some panniers to carry stuff in. you can use a smaller chain to loc the bike up with and put the battery in the panniers and carry that up the stairs and then come back for the bike.
ive had an ebike stolen and it sucks. it was my fault. i had the wheel chained to the frame and my bully alarm armed but not anchored to anything. i was worried about ride offs but someone snatched it into a vehicle and took off. i had accidentally left the alarm fob at home that day.
it sucks. buy good security and use it. use it correctly.
another option is to stash a cheap prepaid smartphone on the bike hidden well in a pannier or otherwise attached secretly to the bike and have a tracker app on the phone linked to one or more other phones so you have at least s chance of finding your bike if it is stolen.
this went a bit long, but its an important topic ive done a lot of thought on.
Also its good to have more than one lock. its possible to lock the bike by the front or rear wheel of you have a couple chains or a chain and a lock AND a u lock by securing the wheel to an anchor point AND securing the frame and wheel together.
stay safe and keep those bikes where you park them.

Andy Martinez says:

Never leave a 3k or
5k bike outside it will be gone in less then a minute people , no joke just search on YouTube and watch

Bigwingrider1800 says:

i very supersized there isn’t a code electrically .park the bike lock it up put in a code and the motor will fight the rider. you have to pick it up and that would be heavy tough to do

jrichardson6 says:

Nice piece of casual RACISM at the beginning … ps don’t waste your money on the big locks u can cut through them with an angle grinder in less than a minute whether they from Germany or China. https://youtu.be/4XTYEcQAurs

Jason Smith says:

Good vid but damn how close is the camera to that guy’s face ?

Rotormatic says:

Good point on an alarm lock at 6:47. But instead of waiting for an Abus product, I got an Urban UR6 disc disc lock with 120dB motion alarm for some $50. It clamps to disc rotor sizes up to 180mm. Motion alarm works perfectly.

Disc rotor locks are also hard to cut. They are way down low on the bike, they are small, boxy convex in shape and they would rotate or swivel around while being cut making it dangerous to the thief and the bicycle he’s trying to steal. Not to mention, A thief would have a 120dB+ alarm blaring into his face while making any attempt a motion alarm disc lock.

Another advantage of a motion alarm is it will also activate if anyone tries to steal parts off your bike (seat, wheels, etc) and would likely go off if the thief is trying to angle grind or pry bar off your other locks!

Bigwingrider1800 says:

grinder will cut all easy

grantspassage says:

I just bought an E-bike from Propel. 0[
I appreciate these Videos. Thanks…

Tyorli says:

felt uneasy had to stop watching, way too close to his face lmao

Go Ahead Make Our Day Scooter &Peanut says:

Another great review. Now, does anybody make a exploding bike seat to ruin a thiefs day.

OrangeHex says:

Abloy 362 lock + Almax chain = Best you can get – but heavy

ferkemall says:

You are not going to stop the determined guy with a grinder/cutter but you can slow it down if they are pickers ,I got a stainless roller shutter lock with a stainless barrel to unlock it you press the lock pin down I cut off the exposed part so if your picking your going to need 3 hands OK not perfect but as yet my bike is my bike !/UK

Pam Candas says:

Most bike locks are useless. Some shown in this video are effective, e.g. ABUS, some newer Kryptonite models.
Here’s a recent test summary showing strengths and weaknesses (most are easily picked or pried open … and that can be quicker than using the key! : )
|https://youtu.be/BxIbAFnmsIQ?t=12m10s
Here’s a great lock (I don’t have this one.)
https://theforeverlock.com/products/v-2-cable-lock-black
Be wary of “smart” locks (bluetooth, keypads, gps) … they’re mostly junk and statistically ineffective.

Kelly S says:

“might be challenging” for a thief to break. For $300….better be more than “might”. I use a two lock system when out of the house, and a huge heavy motorcycle chain lock when at home (bike stored on patio). I also have GPS tracker hidden on the bike, so hopefully it’ll get recovered quickly if stolen.

Na S says:

The best lock for NYC is a brompton because you can take it inside.

The second best lock are the bikes next to yours that have a cheap cable lock.

Nigel Knapton says:

Here in the UK you can easily get bike insurance but they will specify “Sold SecureGold” standard locks. e.g the Abus X plus folding lock. The lock that comes on the Delite as Standard is Sold Secure Silver standard.

Lawney Malbrough says:

A bike lock is only as good as the caable it’s connected to. Bolt cutters will cut most cables in no time at all. I do use one though whneever I park my bike. Locks keep honest peole honest. If you park where people can see your bike thieves are less likely to try cut your cable or lock.

Lawney Malbrough says:

I just store my lovk in the saddle bag when It’s not in use. It came with a fram holder attachment and I did use that for a while, but wrapping th able around the frame all the time became too much truoble. Now I jst ciol up the cable an ddrop it in the bag. Saves effort.

Dave Butler says:

Aren’t riding ebikes in NYC illegal?

Rotormatic says:

Court, at 7:03 in the video, do you know of any alarm locks that notify by phone? I have one that uses a radio but the range was so small it was practically useless — I don’t use it anymore.

A smartphone linked motion alarm that has any dependable real-world use would have to use a cellular network with a monthly service fee unfortunately. Still then it might not reliably notify every time if it in a location with weak cellular service or the battery is dead.

L' Karlos says:

Thanks for the video Court I really need this. I went to see Sam at electric bicycle center and got me the populo electric bike and I sure need a lock for the bike.

ssmatsusaka says:

Anyone sells Pee Wee Herman’s Bike Locks?
Just go far enough so you can watch your bike. I will start to carry bolt cutters. Cut their frickin thumbs off.

BE MINDFUL of consurvation says:

Dude you talk too much in this interview the owner of the store was trying to tell you something and you cut him off many times why do you do that this ain’t the only video you do that in but I want to hear what he’s got to say I want to hear your questions and I want to hear his answers until he’s done talkin then you can ask the next question but you’re cutting him off and then you keep going on something that he’s waiting to give you more information about the product that you don’t know anything about

Younes Tenn says:

I want to buy 100 E bike

charlie - uk says:

There is a tendency to shoot very close to peoples faces. It’s a bit disconcerting. Perhaps maintain a bit more distance, between the camera and subject being filmed. Thanks for the lock review…

Frank Steen says:

Nice job convincing me NOT to live in NYC.

room-360 says:

The good thing with ABUS is the Twin Set – you get 2 locks with 4 identical keys. 🙂

But you need to order it – it is mostly not in the shops.

Paul T says:

“A 40 lb bike doesn’t need a lock, a 10 lb bike needs a 30 lb lock”?!

InStars says:

Is there a GPS that can be built inside e-bikes battery and use it’s power?

ferkemall says:

If you have to use a grinder with the right disc it takes apps 28 seconds most other locks 15 seconds or less depending on what size croppers you using !

As someone once said security is just a matter of time !/UK

Stephen Kasapis says:

Great Info thanks . can you do a special on rack Panniers and back please

Frederik Hanssens says:

Hey, talking about accessories.. A few months ago I bought gloves (Northwave Arctic Evo 2 Full Finger Gloves) for riding my ebike during the winter. With these gloves I still end up having cold hands when it’s freezing. Do you know if there are gloves available that are sort of winterproof? I’m hesitant to buy new ones because I’m not sure if more expensive ones will do the job. Thanks in advance.

David Klein says:

If I may share a technique I’ve developed ,sadly from losing many bikes. First, there,s the 30 second rule…if you make it take longer than 30 seconds bike thieves will move to easier prey. This is exspecially true at bike stand areas with many bikes.
Mainly though ,I,d like to add to the guy in the video saying he uses 3 locks…very good! But here’s my upgrade. Yes, 3 locks but use Three Kinds of Locks! Each type of lock u bolt, cable, chain is most vulnerable to different tools. By using all three kinds of locks at once the scum most likely need a variety of tools and thats to cumbersome. Its not perfect but even if they,re very good it slows them enough for the 30 second rule to kick in!!! Hope this helps!
DEATH TO BIKE THIEVES

Droning On Water says:

Which bike are you showing with the locks. I want this bike

Paul T says:

If leaving out of sight, a 5kg motorcycle chain and 1kg padlock – really, wrap around top tube while cycling. I also always use an alarmed (shock sensitive) padlock on the front wheel, locked onto the seatpost when cycling.

TomaCukor says:

Didn’t know these wheel protectors were availble by big companies. They look quite mature as a concept. So whats the point of using cables for the wheels if there are quickrelease skewers avalible?

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