Singletrack Issue 122: Charlie And The Abus Lock

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Charlie the Bikemonger spends time with an abus lock.

abus lock charlie the bikemonger singletrack magazine

I have got to tell you about my first encounter with this lock. Well, not actually the lock, but a man in a full-on foam outfit walking around the Eurobike trade show in bitching heat dressed as one of these locks. But he didn’t look like a lock – he looked like a tall black ribbed thing. I asked him what he was, but he was not allowed to speak so he pointed at the lock display. So if he can’t speak, how does he alert people when he suffocates in his own sweaty steam? It was a brain-melting 35°C out there at Lake Constance. I wonder what the staff turnover is like? But this lock is not just a bizarre bit of retro costume marketing… it’s also pretty bloody amazing. What’s more, Singletrack gave me one to test.

So this lock has a motion detector and an alarm. Which is damned handy as it will attract the attention of passers-by, and – at 100dB – it will also irritate the thief. The lock features two rather clever positions of ‘locked in’, so when it’s packed away the arm-y bit is only halfway in. In this position the alarm is not live, so you can ride around without it going off. This setting is also handy for when you want to use it as just a lock with no alarm. However, when you jam it all the way in you have a screamer of a bike lock.

abus lock charlie the bikemonger singletrack magazine

When in the alarmed position, you get a few seconds to set it up before the alarm is activated. It will give you a couple of reassuring bleeps so you know it’s set up. If some rapscallion bike bandit takes a fancy to your pride and joy and moves the lock, even a wee bit, it will start to beep for a few seconds to warn them off, but not activate the full alarm – a sort of electronic ‘naff off and nick someone else’s bike’. More motion will get the alarm going with an irritatingly high-pitched 100dB of ‘bike rape alarm’. The motion sensor works in three dimensions. This means that movement in any direction will trigger it. However, it is limited to three-dimensional reality and won’t work in the theoretical concept of a fourth spatial dimension. Well I don’t care about that, just so long as it works in Boscombe (feel free to substitute in your local iffy neighbourhood).

Now, there is this theory that all bikes weigh 50lbs. If you have a dead light, carbon cross-country race feather worth a shedload of money and weighing 20lbs, you will need a 30lb lock to protect it. Whereas a 49lb cheap crapper of a bike – hell, you can secure that with a 3-gram zip tie or an old shoelace, as no one wants it. So charged with the task of testing this lock, I have screwed with that 50lb theory and used it on a 250lb old Honda XR400 dirt bike that has no ignition. If you can kick-start this motorbike, it’s yours. Having said that, it’s a turbo bitch to kick-start.

This lock is really easy to live with. This somewhat mighty bit of kit weighs in at only 1,600g, so not super heavy. However, one really neat feature is the compact size at around 26x6x4cm. It also comes with a bracket for frame mounting. What’s more: if push comes to punch, it’s also hefty enough to smash the teeth out of an assailant.

abus lock charlie the bikemonger singletrack magazine

I am so damned happy with the long-term prospects for this lock. You see the battery has a two-year life. And not only are the keys replaceable, they also have a really bloody clever “plus cylinder” that allows you to have one key for several Abus locks. It’s made by Germans and they tend to not dick around on long-term quality.

I cycled away from Singletrack Towers along the canal on some neat singletrack – a holly bush stabbed me in the eye – to a pub in the middle-aged hipster capital of the north, Hebden Bridge. I whipped the lock out of its box. Locked my titanium bike up and walked away to get a pint, satisfied that my bike was just about as secure as it could possibly be… unless those pesky fourth-dimensional space mutants want to ride it. And I will just forget about the plight of the poor bloke sweating his balls off in the weird lock costume.

Update: Living in a van for the summer, and using the local beach as a bathroom with daily swims to wash away the workshop sweat and grime meant that the lock led a life in the bottom of a bag with seawater and sand. I activated the alarm while fumbling around in my swimming gear, and could not turn it off, no matter what position the key or arm was in. I popped the lock in my bag and wrapped it in a towel to muffle the alarm a little. This creates a suspicious look: part-suicide bomber, part-shit rave. Back at the workshop, a very simple strip down that didn’t require tools, just the key, revealed that sand was jamming a red latch, and the alarm was back in business minutes later.

Overall: Rather good. Don’t jam it with sand and crap.

abus lock charlie the bikemonger singletrack magazine

Comments (1)

    I find this guy’s videos weirdly compelling – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs8uyPsDaw0 shows him making relatively light work of this lock’s burlier sibling.

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