Interesting chain lock, took me a second to figure out how to use it

6 Best Door Chain Lock Reviews

Not all of the units are equal. While some are durable and hard to break into, some are mediocre and can break pretty easily, which are not worth the money. To make sure that you do not end up with the mediocre ones, we have huddled a list of the ones that we believe are worth spending money on. The list goes something like this:

The best bike lock

With a dual-locking hardened 13 mm shackle, an included cable, and a free year of anti-theft protection, the Kryptonite New-U Evolution Mini-7 is a good deterrent at a reasonable price.

Buying Options

$78* from Amazon$5 from REI

*At the time of publishing, the price was $73.

Video

Best chain for the money

If you need more length in your lock and weight is of little concern, the 10-pound Fahgettaboudit Chain is really tough.

Buying Options

$187* from Amazon$170 from Backcountry

*At the time of publishing, the price was $170.

How To Pick Locks: The Simple Way

The simplest way of lock picking is a method called “raking”. As we have discussed in the Lock Picking Tools section, this method uses a rake tool.

Raking is about moving all of the pins at once. The method does not depend on a deep understanding of what is happening in the lock. That is not the same as not needing any understanding of how a lock works.

This means that you do not need to understand what is happening precisely in the lock as you manipulate it. But you need to know the different steps in the process. And if this is not working, what you need to do differently.

Step 1 – Insert the tension wrench and apply tension. (Making sure it is rotating in the right direction).

Step 2 – Insert rake into the keyway.

Step 3 – Pull the rake in and out of the keyway.

Step 4 – Move the rake up and down in the keyway.

Step 5 – Repeat steps 3 and 4 for no longer than a minute or two.

Step 6 – Turn the tension wrench to see if the lock is open.

Step 7 – If the lock does not open, remove tension, change the amount of tension, and start again.

The process is pretty simple, with not much skill involved. However, there are mistakes you can make.

Mistake number one is the amount of tension you are using. And the second mistake is that the lock will not open with this type of simple lock picking. You might need to use the hard way of lock picking.

Beginner Lock Pick Set

If you are looking for your first lock picking set, my recommendation is the GSP Ghost Pick Set.

It provides you with an excellent selection of lock picks and tensioning tools—all of which are in surgical grade 420 stainless steel. The lock picks also include plastic molded handles that will keep the picks from digging into your fingers.

If the GSP Ghost lock pick set doesn't tickle your pickle, I would highly suggest looking for a set that has a similar setup!

Before we move on I do wish to note that it's far better to own a few high-quality lock picks than it is to own a bunch of crappy ones. Buy quality and stay far away from Amazon lock picking sets!

See Also: Where To Buy Lock Picks: Ultimate Buyer's Guide

If the lock you are trying to pick has a wide-open keyway, you can easily get away using bobby pins or paperclips.

For those techniques, consider checking out the following guides!

You now have your lock picking tools, it's time to get down and dirty!

Lock Style Orientation

How the lock is secured can greatly affect how you will have to approach the lock picking. As stated earlier, deadbolts, door knobs, and padlocks can all be pin tumbler locks. And each one is going to have their own issues.

Padlocks

Padlocks will often be loose on a chain, which means you will need to be able to pick them in hand. Lock picking in hand can take some practice as you try to find the right positions for holding your tools and the lock.

Not every padlock can be disassembled, so you may not have the option to pick it as an exposed core. And if you do not have a vice, there is not any simple way to mount the padlock.

Exposed Core

Many lock pickers enjoy taking the lock core out of the padlock or deadbolt. This means that you will have the bible and plug without any other type of cylinder housing.

With an exposed lock core, you are not getting the real feeling of what it is like to pick the lock in the wild. But if you are picking locks without any care for practical lock picking, this is fine.

It is also a method of removing some of the noise and just focusing on the lock picking aspect of the lock. You can start by picking the exposed core and then try picking them in their natural housing.

Mounted

When a lock cannot be moved, such as in the case of door knobs and deadbolts, lock picking can become a little more straightforward. It is like working with the lock in a vice.

You can mount standard locks in planks of wood or faux doors. This is perfect when you are trying to improve your locksmith skills.

However, locks that are installed upside down can throw some amateur lock pickers, as they struggle to use bottom/top of the keyway tension with a different lock orientation.

Second Lock

Now that you have chosen your awesome new lock (hooray!), we got bit of a moodkiller (boooooo!) – just a tiny one, though: in most occasions, you should have not one, but two locks to protect your bike sufficiently.

Anyway, no big need to worry. Second locks tend to be a category weaker (and cheaper). They serve a couple purposes: securing the other wheel, deterring thieves due to “double protection” and amateur thieves due to skills limited to one type/brand of locks. (That is why it is highly advisable to have two locks of different brands, ideally completely different types – e.g. U-lock and a backup folding lock.)

And that should also be your additional criteria for choosing the right (second) one. You’re now all boosted with knowledge about locks, aware of your priorities, so it shouldn’t take more than couple minutes to pick the second one. Your sweet ride will be grateful.

Pro tip: if you’re Dutch, you for sure know the local top choice for secondary security: ring locks. Unless you’re securing a racing bike, we’d recommend checking that option out. They’re cheap, hardly beatable on street and super comfortable to use ? As they say, if you love it, better put a ring on it!

SHOP RING LOCKSSHOP RING LOCKS

Chain Lock Length vs Weight

One of the advantages of chain locks (over u-locks) is that their (generally) greater length gives you a wider range of objects to secure your bike to.

However, the longer the lock, the greater the overall weight. And chain locks get very heavy, very quickly.

Even the lighter chains are often too heavy to carry comfortably in a bag on your back. It’s true: they can easily be attached to your luggage rack, carried in your basket or wrapped around your seat post.

However, in order to minimize the extra weight, you should generally choose the shortest length that enables you to lock your bike where and how you want to.

Be careful though, some of the short ones are really short! Before you commit to buying a chain lock, measure out a length of rope and test that it’s long enough to use wherever you normally lock your bike.

Having said all this, you will just have to accept that a chain lock is always going to be heavier than a u-lock that provides equivalent protection…

Is Lock Picking Easy?

It is also often thought that learning how to pick a lock requires some Zen-like focus. That you must sit quietly in some candlelit room for hours upon hours to find any success at picking a lock.

But, in fact, it is quite the opposite.

Lock picking is easy to learn and apply, and in a short amount of time, you can learn all the basic lock picking concepts and techniques. While some locks are more difficult to pick than others, a fundamental understanding of lock picking can help you pick the majority of the locks used today.

A Chain You Can Wear

Hiplok Gold

The Hiplok Gold is a 4.8-pound bike chain that doubles as a belt. There's no need to carry it in a bag or wrap it around the top tube of your frame. As long as your waist measures between 30 and 44 inches, just adjust it to fit your body and wear it while you ride. When you're ready to lock your bike, the chain attached to the belt is quite secure. . The bike lock itself is 33.5 inches long—a little short, but it should work in most situations.

$130 at REI $129 at Amazon

Build Your Own Vibrating Lock Pick

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As you get more into lock picking you’ll be tempted to buy some of the cool toys out there. Skip the $100+ vibrating lock pick sets and build your own from around $10 worth of parts—principally an Oral-B vibrating tooth brush.

The Best Affordable Lock

Kryptonite KryptoLok Standard

The KryptoLok's U-bar isn't quite as thick as my other favorite locks, which means it wouldn't take as long for a thief to cut through it, but it's almost as secure. For $35, it's a great deal for a U-lock, which is my favorite type of bike lock, and at only 2.9 pounds it's also relatively lightweight. It comes with Kryptonite's Transit FlexFrame bracket, which lets you mount the lock to your bike's frame for easy transportation around town. I'm not a fan of the fabric mounting straps, as they can loosen over time, but at this low price any mounting bracket is welcome. Most of the more affordable locks don't come with one at all.

$35 at Amazon $35 at Walmart

What is the Chain Key Lock?

The chain key lock has two main components, as do most mechanical locks – the lock and its corresponding key. Most locks feature a slot in which to insert a straight key. The lock releases when the key cuts line up with the pins inside the lock, freeing the cylinder to turn and operate the bolt. In order to accommodate the straight key, the slot must go straight into the lock, as well.

With a chain key lock, the slot into which you insert the key is not straight. It curves to one side and then the other, similar to a moving snake’s body. All these curves serve a function. They make the lock virtually impossible to pick or bump.  That’s because the curves prevent the pick or bump key from going into the lock far enough to work. This raises the question of how the actual key can go into the lock, and that’s where it gets interesting.

2. Choosing the right type of lock

There are huge differences in lock prices. Obviously, there is a lot of brand marketing, innovations play a huge role in price-making, the aforementioned security ratings and finally, prices correlate with the type of the lock. In all this mess, lock types are probably the best anchors. (Unless you’re looking for something extremely specific – for instance as low weight as possible for whatever price – then you’re better off with a specific search among innovation projects.) Not all locks have a fair price, but if you choose conscientiously, it is undoubtedly and absolutely an investment worth its cost. Just consider the situation you buy a poor lock and get your bike stolen. Aside of buying a new lock (probably a better one anyway), you will also have to buy a new bike – which is never cheaper than a solid lock. So you’ll be losing much more money anyway.

Budget

Ok, so you’re convinced buying a good lock is a smart investment. But how much will you actually need?

We say at least €30, but depending on the security level you want, it can get much nastier. Average peace-of-mind protection in the Netherlands for a regular €150 second-hand bike would be somewhere between €50 – €70. With any budget above this, you can start being picky (although the toughest or most innovative locks of all will cost you even more than that, up to €140). However, in general, for anything above €100 you can even start get creative with combinations.

For instance, you can get a heavy “stationary” chain for your overnight home parking, compact U-lock for locking your ride on the go, and a back-up ring lock to double up the protection. Hypersecure combination of locks even for better bikes in riskier places altogether for €130. Just ideas thrown around.

For options including prices check out our bike accessories store.

Let’s organise our thoughts a bit. These are the basic types of locks you can buy:

U-locks (or “D-locks”) Chain locks Folding locks Wire locks
Stahlex Beugelslot 448 Starry CityCat 120 cm ABUS Bordo GRANIT X Plus 6500 Kryptonite KRYPTOFLEX 1518 Key Cable

vs. convenience of use

Each one of them offers different advantages. U-locks are a great combination of security and price, but are harder to move around comfortably, and even slightly harder to lock (you need a thin post close to your frame). Chain locks, especially the thicker ones, are in general very hard to beat and quite easy to lock, but also very heavy (especially the thicker ones). Folding locks are awesome to transport, and easy to lock, but usually are the most expensive options. Wire locks are cheap crap that may be light, but DO NOT protect your bike.

Here’s a bit more extensive assessment of why (not

Here’s a bit more extensive assessment of why (not) to buy each of the lock types:

PROS CONS
U-Locks In average the cheapest option.

Awesome price/performance ratio.

Light.

Bit harder to lock – you need a post that fits into the shackle.

Some are tougher to transport (no good anchor to bike frame).

Chain Locks Simple to fasten around anything.

Easier to transport than U-locks.

Trade-off between light and safe. Lighter ones tend to be easy to beat.
Folding Locks Very light and easy to transport.

Simple locking – similar to chains.

Usually the most expensive options.

Not all of them are bolt-cutter-proof. Get a certified one.

Not a very wide choice.

Wire Locks Do not consider wire locks as primary protection. Seriously, for safety of your own bike.
Other Innovative Locks Usually address a specific issue of other locks (for example weight/safety ratio).

They look awesome.

Most expensive options.

Usually not rated by ART or Sold Secure – doubtful strength.

Now take a moment and think of:

– What kind of bike do you have? Is it a racing bike (so you’ll probably appreciate a light, compact lock) or a city commuter which can carry a bit heavier lock?

– How often do you use the bike (lock)? If you lock the bike 4+ times a day, you may appreciate a simpler system, and if you travel to various locations where there isn’t always a bike rack ready for you, you may want to buy other than U-lock. On the other hand, using commuter bike three times a week, U-lock might be a great quality/price tradeoff for you.

– Where do you temporarily park/leave the bike overnight? City center/university campuses or larger city streets in general require safer options – strong U-lock or chain should be your choice, even if you should leave that lock on the spot and have another (lighter) one for commutes.

– How much are you willing to invest into protecting it?

Just answers to those questions should give you an idea of what lock type you will probably need, and how comfy you can eventually get. And so comes the time of…

Why Picking a Lock is Easy

Like every other security measure, the more widely available and mass produced it is, the less secure it is. In order to mass produce anything, you need to standardize it — that’s just simple economics. You can create more of a thing if you create a standard process and a piece of machinery that makes it. 

This is a cornerstone of manufacturing that dates all the way back to the industrial revolution. By building a machine that pressed and stamped metal into a specific shape, they were able to produce a much higher volume than if a human were doing the stamping and pressing themselves. It was (and still is) cheaper and faster.

In order to standardize a product like a door lock, you’re literally limiting the number of key combinations that are possible to unlock it, which makes it easier to open. 

As Anthony and Jon discuss in the video, it’s entirely possible that you and your next door neighbor could end up with the same house keys if you purchased locks from the same batch. And if that’s the case, how many people in your city could have the same house key as you? That doesn’t sound too secure, does it?

Of course, people breaking into your home aren’t likely to have keys, but the fact that the locks are so standardized makes them very easy to pick or bump. Once you learn how to pick a lock, you can pick pretty much any standard lock you come across. 

You can see in the video that Anthony is able to open a standard lock in under one minute whether he’s using the lock bumping technique or a standard pick set. Aside from the fact that this information is terrifying, it also highlights the limitations of normal household security measures.

Notice also that if you purchase a new doorknob and deadbolt set from your local hardware store, the same key opens both locks. We can tell you with certainty that neither is difficult to pick, but why make it easier for people by giving them a duplicate lock? 

Upgrading Your Security with Locks You Can’t Pick

Because our locks aren’t made the same way as mass produced locks you’d find at the hardware store, they simply don’t have the same problems that those types of locks have. For example, there’s no way you can pick our locks — not through lock bumping or a pick set.

As Ricky demonstrates in the video, some intruders (perhaps with less patience or desire to hide their crime) prefer to drill through the lock to gain quick entry. While drills are louder, they’re not out of the ordinary and do not signal to anyone that a crime might be occurring. Neighbors may think someone is building or repairing something on their own property.

As a part of Anthony’s work as a locksmith, he sometimes has to drill through locks, but when Jon shows him the FBS door at Premium Kitchens, he has to admit that even if he tried to drill it, he wouldn’t even know where to start.

And it may go without saying, but FBS keys cannot be duplicated. You can’t walk into a hardware store and ask for a copy of our keys — they don’t have the equipment. Every key we make is specifically created for your lock. 

For convenience purposes, we can have master keys made that will open every security door in your home, but you can still have keys made that only open specific doors.

If you’d like to take keys out of the equation entirely, we can do that, too. We offer motorized locks that work with facial recognition software and fingerprint scanners so you don’t even have to think about keys anymore. (This is particularly exciting when your hands are full and you don’t want to set down all your stuff to open the door.) 

If biometrics aren’t your thing, we can also use proximity sensors that you can keep in your wallet or on your keychain that will work in the same fashion: you get close enough to the door and it opens for you. We’d say it’s like magic, but it’s not — it’s technology. 

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