Ride a bike long enough and you’ll likely experience that pit-in-the-stomach feeling of returning to the rack where you left your bike only to find little else but a snapped cable. Bike theft is a serious issue, and unfortunately an all too common one. But you don’t have to stand idly by worrying about your bike while thieves patrol the streets. The right lock can go a long way towards keeping your bike yours, and provide some much needed peace of mind.
If you’re still locking your bike with a cable lock, save yourself some heartache down the road and make your next purchase something far more substantial, like a U-lock (sometimes called a “D-Lock” because it also looks like the letter D). Recently, we’ve been locking up our commuter bikes with the OnGuard Pitbull Mini DT U-Lock. Rated an 85 out of 100 on OnGuard’s security rating scale, this $58 lock falls on the more substantial end of the brand’s offerings, and is a big step up from the basic protection of braided-cable locks. For extra strength, the Pitbull Mini DT’s locking mechanism locks the cross bar to the shackle on four sides, providing resistance to pulling. At 14mm/.55 inches, the hardened steel shackle also provides maximum cut resistance. And the key cylinder is resistant to picks and drills for further security.
The included 4-foot cable is nice to have for locking the wheels in addition to the frame, but we view it as a backup solution. If you have to leave a bike unattended in public for extended periods of time, we would recommend a second U-lock for the rear wheel.
As a bonus, should your lock fail, OnGuard offers an anti-theft protection program for bicycles valued up to $2,251, as well as a variety of other vehicles up to $751. You have to register your bike with the program within 15 days of purchase, and there are a lot of rules and conditions to read over and be aware of, but it’s nice to have.
Though billed as a “mini” lock, this U-lock falls more in the middle of the size range of locks, hitting on a happy medium between the longest locks available, which can be cumbersome to carry, and ones that are too small to be of much use. It measures about 8 inches tall and about 7 inches at its widest point. It’s big enough that you can lock a front wheel and frame to most bike racks, but not so big that it gives would be thieves extra leverage to pry open the lock. And carrying it is simple thanks to its size. It fits comfortably into the mesh outer pocket of some backpacks, or can be thrown into any bag. The lock also includes a quick release bracket which can mount to multiple places on your bike so it is always on hand.
A nice touch is the Micro-light key which has a single LED that provides just enough illumination to make opening the lock in the dark easier. The lock comes with four additional non-light keys as well. And we also like the extra rubber coating on the lock which protects your bike from scratches, and also makes the lock easier to hold in cold weather.
At $58, the OnGuard Pitbull Mini DT U-Lock definitely is not the cheapest option available, but it provides extra peace of mind—and it’s a lot cheaper than getting a replacement bike.