A quarter of cycles reported stolen in Cambridge were not locked when they went missing. Most cycle locks are cumbersome and fiddly to use, with the result that bikes are often left unlocked while nipping into a shop to buy some fags or to place a bet. A bike rental company in Cambridge enjoyed a 33% reduction in theft of their hire bikes when they switched to using wheel locks with extension cables. The locks are yet to become widespread among individual bike owners, so Cambridge Police asked Fitzwilliam College Student Oliver Glover to evaluate the AXA ring lock.
Police: OK Olly, describe the lock.
Olly: The lock comes in two bits. The first is the so-called ‘integrated ring-lock’ which is a sturdy metal structure encased by plastic. This attaches to the seat stays of a bike and the hardened steel ring rotates to lock around the rim of the rear wheel, thus immobilising it. The second part is an extension cable to plug into the main lock, and is used to lock the bicycle to a bicycle rack or equivalent.
Police: Was it easy to fit? Did you need any tools?
Olly: This type of lock is mainly designed for Dutch-style road bikes. I use a sexed-up mountain bike at present, so at first I could not fit the lock. A bicycle shop helped me bend the hooks which are used to attach the lock to the rear forks. Installation was fairly easy after this, but the fit is not perfect. So it was a little tricky for a mountain bike, but should be easy for road bikes with narrower forks.
Police: Do you feel it is secure?
Olly: Yes. The main lock and extension cable are obviously very strong. The cable can be made to go through the front wheel plus a stationary object, protecting both wheel and bike.
Police: And do you use it every time?
Olly: When I am popping into somewhere, literally for a minute, and can still see my bicycle, I will only use the main ring-lock. Otherwise I use both.
Police: Would you recommend it to a friend?
Olly: If they use a road bike, certainly, without qualification. For mountain bike users, I would still recommend it, but would warn the friend that installation is a trifle tricky. The ideal thing would be for a version of the lock to be produced which is designed for thicker forks on mountain bikes.
Note: The AXA cycle lock is available at some local bike shops; prices are in the region of £25, including extension cable.