Bike Lock Review: What’s Pretty, What’s Practical and What Really Works

The TiGr Titanium Bow-Lock can easily be strapped to the top bar of your bike for transportation.

Bike Lock Review: What's Pretty, What's Practical and What Really Works

By Claire McFarlane

When it comes to bike locks, it’s hard to figure out which ones best suit your needs and which ones are the most functional, especially without being able to try them out first. So, I decided to do the legwork for you. I test drove three locks that are new(ish) to the market, the Knog Party Combo, the ABUS Bordo and the TiGr Titanium Bow-Lock to figure out if these unconventional designs have any advantages over their traditional, and much-trusted, U-lock counterparts.

The Knog Party Combo lock really does look like a party happening around your bike. It's super cute and comes in a wide array of attractive colours. It also has the advantage of being fairly light and fold-able, which makes for easier storage while travelling to your bike parking destination. However, after I set the combination on the lock (I used a number that was significant to me so it would be easy to remember) and after I tested the combination to make sure it worked properly, I used it to lock up my bike while I went to work. Once my workday was over, I walked over to my bike only to find that I couldn’t get the lock open. I even had some of my co-workers try to unlock it (so that I knew it wasn’t just me), all with no luck.  After having no option but to take the subway home and back into work the next morning, I had the nice men at Cyclemania cut the lock for me. I was also slightly distraught by how easy it was for them to cut it; they didn’t even need a saw, just a pair of lock cutters to get through the braided metal core of the lock.

Although the idea of not needing to fumble through your bag in search of your keys every time you need to lock or unlock your bike (I don’t think I’m hardcore enough yet to have my keys on a rock climbing hook attached to my belt loop) seems ideal, I wouldn’t want to use the party combo to lock up my bike for long periods of time. I also would not rely on it if there was no other form of transportation (like the subway) available - I would not want to be stranded without my bike again, especially if there were no other transportation options in the area.

The ABUS Bordo is a very heavy duty looking lock, which is perhaps what it should look like when it is one of few things you really need to make sure you and your lover (your bike, of course) have a successful and long-term relationship. I was slightly concerned about the lock’s practicality at first because, to be frank, it looks a little clunky and is fairly heavy. However, it does come in a case that you can strap to your bike, which makes travelling with it a lot easier. The lock has a long arm that folds out so that you can wrap it around your wheel, frame and whatever you’re locking your bike to, reducing the amount of things that can be stolen off your bike. Added bonus (especially for Torontonians): The flexible arm has the ability to facilitate some trickier bike parking situations without requiring a 10-minute trial and error session that you would experience with a mini U-lock. Although I found that it was sometimes a bit tricky to get it unlocked, I did manage to liberate my bike every time I used it. I felt very secure using this lock.

The ABUS Bordo in its carrying case

Although it did take me a few minutes to understand how the TiGr Titanium Bow-Lock works, its innovative and modern looking design provides a nice contrast to some of its counterparts. While not in use, it can be strapped to the top bar of your bike frame using the two Velcro straps that come with it. This is particularly useful in my case because it covers up some of the not-so-attractive rust and chipped paint on the frame of my bike. The "bow" comes in three different lengths, short (46 cm), standard (61 cm) and long (76 cm) as well as two different widths, 0.75'' (1.905 cm which I tested) and 1.25" (3.175 cm). The longest would allow you to lock up both wheels on a larger mountain or hybrid bike, and the standard length would allow you to do so on a smaller road bike. Although I think the Bow-Lock looks really cool and has a locking mechanism that works well, I found it a bit awkward to use and to try to get around a standard ring-and-post (iconic Toronto-designed bike stand). That said, I was able to make it work despite its inflexible nature. It also looks very secure - which, I believe, in itself, is a deterrent to bike thieves.

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One response to “Bike Lock Review: What’s Pretty, What’s Practical and What Really Works”

  1. The TiGr Titanium Bow-Lock is worth more than the Raleigh bike it’s protecting 🙂 It does look good and sturdy but you could get 2 bike Kryptonite U-locks for around the same price.

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