TagCargo Bike Roll Call

Testing the Abus Bordo “folding” lock

Testing the Abus Bordo lock

Abus Bordo 6500 Granit X-Plus 85cm locked around my WorkCycles Fr8’s frame, front wheel, and the standard Chicago bike rack (a u-rack).

Updated May 2016: After having two keys break inside the lock, I can no longer recommend it. While Abus replaced the first lock for free, I didn’t bother asking them to replace the second lock because I felt the problem would happen again. The keys broke, in part, because of the way I turned the key, as the lock rested, putting a lot of pressure on, and bending, the key. I did it like this so I could detach the lock with one hand. I now recommend chain locks because they fit around all kinds of fixed objects. Abus locks are still really good quality. I’ve been using this Abus chain lock for two months and I like it – it won’t have the key breakage problem because I have to grab and hold the lock before I can insert the key.

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I’ve been using the Abus Bordo 6500 Granit X-Plus lock for my Fuji Royale fixed gear bicycle for about three weeks now. Previously I had been using a Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 Standard u-lock. The Abus Bordo lock style is very hard to describe; Abus calls it the “foldable lock”. It has a small block for the locking mechanism, and 6 rotating and connecting bars (“links”). One bar is fixed to the locking block, and the last bar gets hooked into the other side of the locking block. (They have the unique ability to be locked to another Bordo, in a chain of them.)

I’m not a lock designer, nor a bicycle thief, so I cannot talk about the advantages or disadvantages of this design over another lock design (like the ubiquitous u-lock, the style I’ve been using for six years). I can tell you its advantages on use: it’s a lot easier to use than a u-lock as it makes possible additional locking situations. The 6 flexible bars (or links) means you can wrap the lock around a variety of bike rack sizes and shapes, through two bikes, or through your bike’s frame and wheel (which is annoying to do with u-locks).

It took me a few days to find the fastest way to lock my bike with the Bordo and I think I’ve found it. Unlock the locking block and let all of the 6 bars drop towards the ground. Then thread the first one through your wheel (no handling necessary), grab it from the other side of your bike, pull it around the fixed object to which you’re locking, and pull it towards the locking block. It takes the same or less time to lock with the Bordo than with a u-lock. U-locks are difficult to get through a front wheel and frame unless the bike rack is empty and you’re the first one there, meaning you get to decide how to place your bike against the rack’s metal tubes.

Testing the Abus Bordo lock

I can fairly quickly lock with a Bordo by slipping the open link through the wheel spokes first, then around the fixed object. Then with both hands I grab each end of the lock and insert the open link into the locking bracket, shuffling them around the bike frame until the open link can reach the locking bracket. The Bordos are covered in a rubber-feeling plastic that protects your frame’s cover/coating.

The specific Bordo model I’ve been using is the Granit X-Plus 6500, which weighs a little more than the standard model (see weight specifications below). It comes with a carrying case that straps to any tube on your bicycle. There are two ways to mount the case: temporary and semi-permanent. With the temporary method, you wrap the velcro straps around the seat tube (reduce the chance for theft of the carrier by wrapping zip ties on it). By having it attached this way, you can move it to another bike in 30 seconds. The semi-permanent method lets you screw the case into braze-ons on the tubes, typically ones meant for a water bottle cage.

My new bike, a WorkCycles Fr8, provides me a new opportunity to test the folding lock’s abilities. The Fr8 has very wide tubes and large wheel rims and tires. I suspect that my Kryptonite u-lock won’t be able to wrap around the front wheel, frame, and the fixed object to which I’m locking. I tested the Bordo: it can definitely hold the front wheel, frame, and fixed object, but only if I’m really close to the fixed object. I haven’t tested the u-lock yet.

For people who are concerned about weight, they are as follows:

  • Abus Bordo 6000 75cm, 1.03 kg
  • Abus Bordo 6000 90cm, 1.22 kg
  • Abus Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500 85 cm, 1.58 kg
  • Kryptonite Evolution Series 4, 1.70 kg

The top-of-the-line Abus Bordo still weighs less than the Kryptonite Evolution Series 4. Kryptonite’s New York Standard weighs 1.97 kg. See the full product line up on Abus’s website and see Kryptonite’s line up of u-locks.

This review shouldn’t be taken as a dis-recommendation of the Kryptonite u-locks. I like them – I have three – and they may have prevented theft of the various bicycles I’ve used for 6 years; the lock in combination with other factors prevented theft, which can’t be known unless my bike was monitored 24/7 (in other words, have no idea if anyone’s tried to steal my bicycles). The Bordo lock’s sole disadvantage is its price: $100 for the short version, and $117 for the 15cm longer version. The Granit X-Plus is $153. My personal bike locking strategy is to buy the most expensive lock you can afford and to make your bicycle harder to steal than the bikes you park next to. The Bordo should do that.

My only gripe about the lock is the velcro strap on the carrier: it’s long and sticks out to the side a little and scratches my leg on every pedal. I used a zip tie to hold it down; I would prefer a kind of slot to insert the extra velcro to keep it out of the way.

Abus was a sponsor of the 2012 Cargo Bike Roll Call, donating a Bordo 6100 combination lock to the raffle. They gave me a second lock to test, a Bordo 6000, 75cm. However, I gave that lock to Brandon Gobel and I was given the lock I’m using in this review by Harry (Hans) of Larry vs. Harry. Here’s Brandon’s short review:

I like this lock for its compact size and light weight, while maintaining strength. It takes longer to lock, unlock and put in the frame holster than a mini u-lock, though. [For comparison, the Kryptonite Mini weighs 0.98kg and the lock Brandon is using is 1.03kg.] I carry the mini u-lock in my back pocket so it’s slightly more convenient. However, the Bordo is much more versatile, and you can wrap it around objects that are larger than the typical Chicago bike rack.

Testing the Abus Bordo lock

This photo of a Kryptonite mini lying on top of the Bordo 6000 75cm shows the open areas of each lock. The Bordo has a significantly larger open area and weighs less. 

Both of us are also using an Abus brand rear-wheel lock. Mine came with the WorkCycles Fr8 while Brandon’s was a gift from Harry. We both appreciate the piece of mind and ease of use of the rear-wheel locks. See all photos in the Abus lock review gallery.

 

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Cargo Bike Roll Call equivalent across the pond

The Cargo Bike Roll Call equivalent in Nijmegen, Netherlands, is called Bakfietsdag, or “box bike day”. The city is pronounced “nigh-may-hen” and is the home of a very awesome bridge that only carries trains and bikes.

Photo by Daniel Farrell. All other photos by Jan Beeldrijk.

See the full set of photos from my friend Jan’s photostream. I met Jan in Utrecht, and we rode our bikes from the Utrecht train station, through town, to nearby Houten, and then back to Utrecht. We visited the Spoorwegmuseum, too!

I am planning for the second annual Cargo Bike Roll Call. I held the first at West Town Bikes in September 2011. It’ll again be at West Town Bikes (Division Street and Campbell Street), but I’m aiming for June and I hope to have a street closure permit so we can (legally) take up more space this time. The police were friendly in our encounters last year, asking us to keep the beer inside and then asking us to stay in the parking lane and parkway. But this party is only going to get bigger.

I like this Long John’s design: instead of the cargo area being above the “forward” or “cargo tube”, it’s on the sides. I don’t know what advantages of disadvantages this has. You can also tell this bike was “homemade”. Another kind of Long John-style cargo bike is the Larry vs. Harry Bullitt, also spotted at Bakfietsdag.

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