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how safe is your bike

How safe is the lock of your bike? That’s probably a question that concerns everyone who owns a bike. For Frank’s locks, I have to say not very safe. Why? Maybe because I saw him buying his 3rd bike 3 weeks after he got to Shanghai… Are the thieves too good or was Frank not careful enough? Well, to get to the ground of this problem, Frank and I did some lock picking ourselves. We bought some locks and tried to get them opened without the key.

The result is amazing. Here is a list of the common locks and their security:

  • Cable locks, which are pretty popular in China, can be easily opened within 1 minute. Very thick ones may take up to 5 minutes. (See this video on Frank’s Website) How to do that? It’s very simple, just cut through the cable wire. For cheap locks (less than 10 Yuan) you only need a screwdriver. See me opening such a lock in the video below. For those 5 Yuan lock users of you, no tool is needed at all, just pull a little harder and the lock will break.
  • Rear Wheel locks, the one every bike has, seems a little bit more safe, taking us first time lock pickers about 15 minutes to get open. But it could have been opened easily in 1 minute with the appropriate tool you can construct. For those interested: You simply need a modified pincer to pinch the pins (the little bronze dots on the hull of the locks) in. After that, you can simply use a screwdriver to open the lock.
  • Bolt locks, which Frank and I prefer, can’t be cut open with simple tools. So their weakest point is the lock. So don’t go cheap with the lock, because a cheap lock can be broken easily. My first one cost 22 Yuan. Frank got the same one. His got picked. The reason? The lock was too weak. They tried to pick mine, but fortunately mine somehow jammed. Lucky me or else my bike would have been stolen, too. Well, the bad thing is that it took me 5 minutes to open the lock with the correct key because the damn lock jammed! It was a simple one-pin-side lock pointing to the center. To open that kind of lock, you only need to drill a hole in the lock, let the pins fall out and open it is. Franks second lock was a two-pin-side lock which pointed sideways. It is a little harder to open, but still open able. After my lock got picked, I got myself a heavy motorcycle lock, which I can’t make out what is going on inside, but several people tried to pick it already (I can see the marks they left), but they all failed and the lock never jammed and is still easy to open with the correct key.
  • Other kinds of locks. Don’t think your lock is safe, it isn’t! Just go to Google, search for bicycle lock picking and see for yourself.

So now I follow the tactic to have a strong secure lock, whereas Frank uses a new tactic: Get the cheapest and ugliest bike and the cheapest lock. No one will steal it because it is too ugly and if, then you didn’t loose much because you got the cheapest bike and the cheapest lock.

Of course there is another way. We thought about it a while ago. We pick every single lock on campus. Then, anyone can just take any bike and go somewhere. If nobody needs to buy a bike then nobody will buy stolen bikes and then nobody will steal bikes. This is very utopic and will probably never happen, but I think it is worth a try.

Download this video (Right click, save as)

2 Responses to “how safe is your bike”

  1. james thompson:

    i lost both keys to my motor cycle lock it looks like a little plus sign can i get a replacement?

  2. Qian Qin:

    just use a drill as the “key”. it’ll open faster than you can imagine.