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Sub-1kg high security bike lock seeks funding on Kickstarter

Composite band claimed to resist cable cutters, bolt croppers and hacksaws

Top-quality locks do a decent job of stopping thieves but they tend to be heavy and awkward to use. Former aeronautical engineer and keen cyclist Professor Neil Barron is aiming to change that with Litelok, a sub-1 kg lock he's crowd-funding through Kickstarter.

Rather than protecting your bike with the traditional brute-force approach of a  heavy hardened chain or shackle, Litelok has a flexible composite strap called Boaflexicore, which has multiple layers of different materials.

"Each layer provides additional security, meaning it can withstand sustained attack from tools like cable cutters, bolt croppers and hacksaws," says Barron.

"The strap includes multiple innovative lightweight materials, each of which provides a different and additional layer of security against the various tools and the lock cylinder and mechanism is well protected by the innovative lock casing design."

The flexible strap is attached to a hardened steel lock mechanism - developed with UK lock maker manufacturer Henry Squire and Sons Ltd - that snaps closed without needing a key, a feature that will appeal to anyone who's fumbled to turn the key when using a conventional lock in an awkward spot.

Barron says: "In-house testing has proven that it takes well over five minutes to cut or break the strap and lock. This exceeds the highest level of security rating awarded by the independent testing and certification houses for security products."

The design also makes it easy to combine two locks to reach round an over-sized object like a lamp post. The first version has a 736mm strap, but Barron plans to offer different lengths in future.

Barron is looking for £20,000 to fund tooling, accreditation and the initial production run. Backing Litelok now gets you a lock for as little as £70 if you move quickly and grab one of the 180 early bird specials.

For more details, see the Litelok Kickstarter page.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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29 comments

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kcr | 8 years ago
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The first thing that occurs to me when I read composite strap is....

I'm sure they must have thought about that, but I can't see anything on the Kickstarter page about flame resistance?

It's about half the weight of my U-lock, which is a fair saving, and the flexible band might make it easier to lock to awkward railings or stands. Weight is not a killer issue for me on my commuting bike, however. Most of the time my lock just stays on the stand at work, and if I need to take it with me, I just sling it in my pannier.

(Sorry, I didn't read the comments properly and see that a fellow pyromaniac had already raised the same point!)

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lakeland bimbler | 8 years ago
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Perhaps I've missed my calling in life but I see this and instantly think ... blowtorch  17

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Matt eaton | 8 years ago
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The flexible design is interesting, but the weight is still an issue. Assuming sub 1kg means a little under 1kg (like my telly, which was 'under £500' at £499.99) it's still a fairly hefty bit of kit to be carrying around with you. Imagine stuffing a bag of sugar into your jersey pocket. If you're going to be strapping it to your bike as pictured it may as well be a D lock. I can also imagine the uninitiated bike thief being attracted to it as it certainly appears less secure than a D lock.

I'd probably be more interested in a medium security lock that was pocketable for coffee stops etc. using this technology. The product as pictured/described seems to be filling a very small niche.

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hectorhtaylor | 8 years ago
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Genius, Farrell - well done sir.

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farrell | 8 years ago
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Surely they're missing a trick by not selling these in waist sizes.

You could then just wear it as a belt, and whip it off when you need to lock up.

(If the designers are reading, you can have that idea, just chuck us a sample lock and we're golden)

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Al__S | 8 years ago
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If it gets Sold Secure Gold, I'm interested. Otherwise, I'm not. No lock is 100%, so back up of insurance needed, and insurance needs Sold Secure Gold.

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parksey | 8 years ago
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If they can actually get it independently certified, particularly Sold Secure Gold (which most home insurance policies would need it to be in order to be deemed "sufficient"), then I'd certainly be interested.

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photoben | 8 years ago
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The doubling up and one key two locks is a great selling point. However I'd like to see some independent testing before they get my money (which I'm very tempted to drop).

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bdsl | 8 years ago
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My traditional looking metal Kryptonite d-lock would be sub-1kg if it lost four grams.

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CanAmSteve | 8 years ago
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Look at the bulk of the thing - I'll take a steel D-lock, thanks. And that weave is going to grow moss in our climate.

But a thinner version would be interesting as an alternative to cable locks. I suspect, though, that they've already tried that and found it unable to withstand cable cutters.

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thesaladdays | 8 years ago
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Until some clever person invents a lock that kicks thieving bastards squarely in the plums with full force and then cuts off their hands, I think I'll take as few chances as possible and stick to D-locks and secure parking facilities. Really sad that reality is what it is and we have to go to such lengths  14

Still, kudos for innovation, and I hope it does work to deter as many opportunists as possible.

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qwerky | 8 years ago
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Locks are not the be all and end all of security. They are one layer in the security onion. To be honest I'm not sure the quality of your lock really matters, so long as its able to withstand someone giving it a good yank.

The first layer is physical access. If you don't lock your bike up in public then its not likely to get stolen.

The last layer is insurance, but make sure you go for a reputable company.

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Johnny Crash | 8 years ago
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This is interesting but the main problem is that it doesn't look particularly strong so will invite attacks. These may not be successful but could result in bike damage.

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ronin | 8 years ago
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Of the four bikes I've had stolen, one was stolen with cutting equipment. It was secured in a multi-storey car park in East/Central London (this was about ten years ago).

Secured near the security guard's shed, upon returning I inquired if he had seen anyone taking my bike, he replied "yes, but I thought it was their bike so I didn't say anything"!

I'd want a tazzer built into it then I'd take a dozen  4

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pants | 8 years ago
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if it can withstand cutting attempts as well as a good d lock I would be interested, even to carry this as a extra on top of what I have now.

It would probably be a good idea to have the product name highly visible on the lock, as someone above said because it looks easy to break into people will give it a go, it might deter thieves if they know it will take as long to break into a good regular lock.

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chokofingrz | 8 years ago
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It may resist attacks as well as a traditional D-lock, but since it looks like it's made of fabric, surely every passing thief is going to want to have a try? In other words its novelty value could attract unwanted attention, unlike a boring black D. I'm still interested, but not convinced I need another £70 lock.

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Rdpearsonuk | 8 years ago
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Not sure where I saw it but there is a recent video with an "ex" bike thief explaining how he used to steel bikes and the tools used. The fact is that those people desperate enough and audacious enough to use battery powered grinders and cutters in public (as was demonstrated without anyone attempting to stop or disrupt them) are never going to be stopped.

I've taken to leaving my bike unlocked with my guard-child attached to it!

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Sipullan | 8 years ago
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Kitkat. I think that for the extra £15 you get to use both with the same key. If you buy two singles I assume you'll need two keys. I guess some might prefer that, to save the £15 but I'd imagine someone forking out well over £100 for their lock is more like to shoulder the difference for the ease of 1 key.

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dafyddp | 8 years ago
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It annoys me that security isn't tackled at source by bike manufacturers - just like any other vehicle. I appreciate there's been a few independent manufacturers playing in this space, but the big manufacturers are just burying their heads and framing bike theft as someone else's problem. At the very least, embedded GPS tracking should be standard with ideas like concealed hub locks and integrated locking points framed as major selling points.

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dafyddp | 8 years ago
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It annoys me that security isn't tackled at source by bike manufacturers - just like any other vehicle. I appreciate there's been a few independent manufacturers playing in this space, but the big manufacturers are just burying their heads and framing bike theft as someone else's problem. At the very least, embedded GPS tracking should be standard with ideas like concealed hub locks and integrated locking points framed as major selling points.

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muppetteer replied to dafyddp | 8 years ago
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It annoys me that security isn't tackled at source by bike manufacturers - just like any other vehicle. I appreciate there's been a few independent manufacturers playing in this space, but the big manufacturers are just burying their heads and framing bike theft as someone else's problem. At the very least, embedded GPS tracking should be standard with ideas like concealed hub locks and integrated locking points framed as major selling points.

This is what should be happening. And for the price of some bikes, its crazy this doesn't happen.

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BSausage | 8 years ago
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Somewhat silly comment Mr Peow. Clearly nothing can withstand a massive set of bolt cutters unless it weighs more than the bike itself. This is an interesting concept.. At the moment it's just a trade off between weight and security.. Maybe this breaks that, maybe not, it will be interesting to see..

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pullmyfinger replied to BSausage | 8 years ago
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BSausage wrote:

Somewhat silly comment Mr Peow. Clearly nothing can withstand a massive set of bolt cutters unless it weighs more than the bike itself. This is an interesting concept.. At the moment it's just a trade off between weight and security.. Maybe this breaks that, maybe not, it will be interesting to see..

The inventor claims it will stop bolt cutters. He didn't say "itzy bitzy tiny" bolt cutters. And if you think thieves don't carry around huge cutters like the one in the video, then YOU'RE the one making silly comments.

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Chuck replied to pullmyfinger | 8 years ago
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pullmyfinger wrote:
BSausage wrote:

Somewhat silly comment Mr Peow. Clearly nothing can withstand a massive set of bolt cutters unless it weighs more than the bike itself. This is an interesting concept.. At the moment it's just a trade off between weight and security.. Maybe this breaks that, maybe not, it will be interesting to see..

The inventor claims it will stop bolt cutters. He didn't say "itzy bitzy tiny" bolt cutters. And if you think thieves don't carry around huge cutters like the one in the video, then YOU'RE the one making silly comments.

I think his point is that traditional D locks can also be broken by a big enough set of bolt croppers, so it's a bit unfair to say that this is pointless if it isn't totally unbreakable.

I think it looks pretty interesting, although there would probably need to be a bigger weight saving over a D-lock than there seems to be for me to seriously consider one.

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pullmyfinger replied to Chuck | 8 years ago
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Chuck wrote:
pullmyfinger wrote:
BSausage wrote:

Somewhat silly comment Mr Peow. Clearly nothing can withstand a massive set of bolt cutters unless it weighs more than the bike itself. This is an interesting concept.. At the moment it's just a trade off between weight and security.. Maybe this breaks that, maybe not, it will be interesting to see..

The inventor claims it will stop bolt cutters. He didn't say "itzy bitzy tiny" bolt cutters. And if you think thieves don't carry around huge cutters like the one in the video, then YOU'RE the one making silly comments.

I think his point is that traditional D locks can also be broken by a big enough set of bolt croppers, so it's a bit unfair to say that this is pointless if it isn't totally unbreakable.

I think it looks pretty interesting, although there would probably need to be a bigger weight saving over a D-lock than there seems to be for me to seriously consider one.

Chuck, stop using logic and reason when refuting me. I hate that.

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kitkat | 8 years ago
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Looks good but the pricing confuses me, you can buy 1 for £70 (early bird) or a two pack for £155. If you want join them together wouldn't you just by two singles?

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Peowpeowpeowlasers | 8 years ago
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Lol, their page shows someone trying to cut it with only a small pair of bolt cutters. Would it withstand these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VC3hFr8p2ck

...of course it won't. Litelok, show us a video of your product withstanding the bolt cutters used in that video and perhaps I'll put some money in the pot.

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Lungsofa74yearold replied to Peowpeowpeowlasers | 8 years ago
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+1 Mr Sausage - well put. Big stumbling point will be price - at likely £100 or more - that will put a lot of people off. Shame, as it looks a good idea if works.

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Colin Peyresourde replied to Peowpeowpeowlasers | 8 years ago
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Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

Lol, their page shows someone trying to cut it with only a small pair of bolt cutters. Would it withstand these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VC3hFr8p2ck

On the basis of the video you'd need at least 2-3 cyclists/drug addicts applying their weight on the end of those bolt cutters…..or one gentleman in his Sky Team Kit (tongue firmly in cheek).

I would say this looks pretty good, though it's not as light as it first looks.

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