Smart thieves can use science to break your bike lock

Everytime we lock one our of precious bicycle friends outside, we take a risk. While even a dinky lock will ward of casual opportunistic criminals, they are often no match for the dregs of humanity. Angle grinders, bolt cutters, jacks, and even pens have all been used to steal our faithful wheels. Turns out your average liquid nitrogen equipped chemistry teacher can also wreak some havoc, although many manufacturers claim their mid to high end locks are freeze proof.

Since your average scum of the earth bicycle thief (I don’t care if they’re people too) is probably an opportunist and doesn’t frequent popular science or carry liquid nitrogen….Your two wheeled steed is still as safe as ever parked outside. I’ll continue to awkwardly bring my bicycle with me everywhere I feasibly can.

How do you lock your bikes up or do you always keep your rig within sight?

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pixiechamp - 09/24/12 - 1:07pm

I would like to see a thief try that method while the lock is on a frame.

Jake - 09/24/12 - 1:18pm

Why would you guys post this? Even if the average bike thief doesn’t frequent PopSci, they might still frequent bikerumor and the fewer people who know about this the better. Probably take this one down.

royalewithcheese - 09/24/12 - 1:20pm

A lock made of an austenitic steel will withstand freezing as the fcc crystal structure doesn’t suffer low temp embrittlement like bcc steels

Chris - 09/24/12 - 1:30pm

I can’t stand people who bring their bikes everywhere with them. It’s not appropriate to wheel your bike down the aisles of the grocery store. I had some a**hole ruin a pair of dress pants when be brushed against me with his bike because he was too scared/lazy to lock the bike up (like I did with mine!) Worse part was his bike was just a beat to hell Surly. D*bag didn’t even apologize when I called him on it, simply said “My bike is worth more than your pants” like that somehow makes it acceptable. Entitled a**wipes like this that make me realize why so many motorists hate cyclists.

RUSTYDOGG - 09/24/12 - 2:03pm

Its just a neat bit of science. Cordless angle grinder I believe is tool of choice. Fast too. If a thief wants your stuff bad enough he will get it unless your eyes are on it every second. Bike low jack maybe??

Chainletters - 09/24/12 - 2:09pm

Chris, I’m really sorry to hear about your L.L. Bean khakis, bro.

Dr.Unk - 09/24/12 - 2:22pm

They forgot to show the part where they dipped the whole lock in liquid Nitrogen… a standard theif tool for sure.

Colin - 09/24/12 - 2:58pm

This method has been around for a long time. It was all the rage in Boulder a few years ago. Although it was used on the locking cylinder and breaking the pins and the springs inside and jiggling it til it popped open.

Hateseverythingontheinternet - 09/24/12 - 3:20pm

Chris, were they the wrinkle-free style? If so, I’d be upset too.

Gillis - 09/24/12 - 4:00pm

It’s simple, if you have a bike worth stealing then don’t lock it anywhere you can’t keep an eye on it.

Caliente - 09/24/12 - 4:35pm

@chris I’d be pissed of some jacka** was a jerk to me too.

warthog - 09/24/12 - 4:47pm

instead of being a smartass, think about what Chris said in these terms. How would the jerk that ruined his pants feel if his logic were reversed on him? For instance, if someone ran over his bike and didn’t care about destroying his property because their car was worth more than his bike?

MarkB - 09/24/12 - 6:10pm

Yeah, heard about this method back in 2001, from a buddy/co-worker; he didn’t elaborate all that much, but I think the constant ‘blacksmithing’ would draw some attention….

Oddly, the only bike-theft victim in the family is my now 20-y-o nephew; at 10, he had his new freestyle taken off the front steps, about 10 SECONDS after he laid it down to go see what Mama wanted (the thief picked it up and stared him down, DARING him to say/do something). Then, at 17, he borrowed Mama’s bike, locked it up at K-Mart (cable through the frame and around a post); came out a little while later to no wheels.

He’s talking about getting another bike, about a $200 model; I won’t let him get it unless he can afford a good U-lock to go with it.

Rico - 09/24/12 - 6:17pm

Here’s a guy using a bump key on a much more sophisticated ABUS lock. In German; just watch. And worry.

nh - 09/24/12 - 6:48pm

@Dr.Unk I was thinking the same thing as you. Definitely looks like they used liquid nitrogen before the second scene in the video.

Bogey - 09/25/12 - 12:18am

@Chris, if they were pleated pants you shouldn’t have been upset. Your comment had nothing to do with the video so don’t be upset about the comments.

Joe - 09/25/12 - 1:15am

@bogey actually his comment was in response to the end of the original article where it said people should bring the bike in with them.

Ajax - 09/25/12 - 1:46am

Just get a used car or motorcycle alarm. Its cheaper than the top-of-the line Kryptonite or other type of lock.

Joe2 - 09/25/12 - 1:54am

try that on my faaagetaboudit 18mm U Lock

e - 10/08/12 - 8:19am

I lost my key to my long hasp kryptonite once. How did I free my bike? I positioned the scissor jack from my car between the parallel arms of the hasp and I cranked it until the lock just broke in half. Much quieter than this and it went pretty fast.

frances - 08/03/13 - 10:40pm

i lost the key to my bike and i lock it up on my porch and have a u lock on it so whats the best way to get it off? i dont have a grinder

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