Gear recommendations: Since this Abus lock is discontinued, my current favorite lock is the Seatylock Mason U-lock that has all the traits described in this post and is a Sold Secure Diamond lock that gives you security at a great price point and unbelievable weight. I wrote a standalone review on the Seatylock Mason U-lock for more information.
Don’t forget to grab the Seatylock mount too if you want to secure it to your bike like I did. It also comes in larger sizes than the one I reviewed.
If you’re still interested in this Abus Mini 40 lock, check out the Abus website and click the Buy Local Now button to see if there’s a shop nearby that may have the lock.
If you’ve made it here, you’ve realized that cable locks don’t keep your bike safe from real thieves. Yet, not all U-locks are created equal. They still have their weaknesses. Here I’ll cover some important traits you should have in the next U-lock you use. I’ll do this by by going into detail on my the Abus U Lock Mini.
My Badass U-Lock (Abus U Lock Mini – $$) – This lock is an excellent example of what features you want in a solid U-lock. I’ve used it for years on the streets of San Francisco and it continues to keep my bike safe into 2023 and beyond. This guide can still be used to make sure any lock you buy has these important traits.
Photos & Videos by Andrew Finch featuring my locks and bikes.
1. Double-bolting shackle (most locks in 2023 have this these days)
On a single-bolting shackle, one end of the U gets locked, while the other end is just a curve held in place by the structure of the U. With one cut, the curved section will fall out because nothing is holding it in place. On a double-bolting shackle, both ends of the U-lock are secured. If a thief is able to cut through your lock once with a double-bolted shackle, they would not be able to squeeze your bike frame through the lock. They would have to cut it TWICE to remove a piece of the lock. A double-bolting shackle is not only more secure, but it makes it easier to insert the U into the lock. You can place it straight in instead of having to twist and turn it.
Most new U-locks are all double shackles, but if you find an old U-lock with a curved end, don’t bother using it it in a high risk location.
2. Small U Size
This refers to the length of the U part of the lock. A smaller size makes the lock more secure against tools like a car jack. Thieves can sometimes put tools in the locked area (not the lock mechanism) and leverage it open. If the U size is small, it’s more difficult to get one of those tools in the space left after you’ve locked your bike. It also makes your lock harder to maneuver around if the thief is trying to move it to an easier to cut position. The downside of this means it can be more difficult to lock your bike up if it’s not properly positioned, but most bike racks, parking meters, and poles it will work fine. Check out my Tips on using a small U-lock to see if this is for you. If not, I recommend a bigger lock in the Troubleshooting section.
3. Soft on the Bike, Thick on the Eyes
This lock is 14mm with a 1mm hard rubber coating on it. The main purpose of this coating is to protect your bike frame and other things the lock may touch, but also makes it look thicker. This means a potential thief will probably mess with the bike next to yours and not yours 🙂 This is an underrated quality of good U-locks, you just have to scare off the thieves with your badass looking lock!
This extra coating also helps to reduce noise and rattles when your lock contacts your bike frame or anything else. I enjoy having a quieter lock.
4. No Weather Cover (usually not a problem on locks in 2023)
I wrote this section when I was annoyed at the old Kryptonite locks with those plastic covers that always seemed to get in my way. While I still have never had a problem with my Abus lock getting weather damage (5+ years), I have traveled to more places around the world where the weather is much less forgiving than California, and therefore a weather cover might be more useful in these places.
I really like the Seatylock weather cover that is spring loaded and automatic so I don’t have to think about it. I still think the Kryptonite Evolution weather covers mostly just get in my way, but maybe someone who lives in a harsher environment will have more to say about this.
If you do get some rust or a sticky lock mechanism, just lube it with some chain lube and it’ll be good as new.
5. Easy to Grip Key
The Abus key is flat and wide (and so is the Seatylock Mason key), so it’s easy to grip with your fingers. Some bike keys are awkwardly shaped or smaller, making them that much harder to use. Unfortunately the Kryptonite keys in 2023 are still this shape!
6. Lighter Than Many Other U-locks
Coming in at 2.16 pounds, that’s more than a pound lighter than most other U-locks of a similar security level.
There are other locks that can provide most of these qualities, but at the very least I recommend you get a U-lock at least 13mm thick with a double-locking shackle. Those are the most important traits. This is the minimum size that prevents a thief from using a large pair of bolt cutters on your U-lock! With these thicker locks, a portable angle grinder would be required, making the theft loud, bright, obnoxious, and hopefully not worth their time.
As you may have noticed, I don’t recommend a cable for your wheels, this is because locking skewers or nuts are the way to go!
How do I attach a U-lock like this to my bicycle?
Unfotunately, this U-lock doesn’t come with a bracket like the ones most Kryptonite locks come with. Fortunately, you can buy one for yourself and add it to this Abus U-lock! I reviewed that bracket in another post.
The small U size on this U-lock isn’t going to work for me
Check out my Tips on Using a Small U-lock. If you still think you’ll have trouble or really want to lock your wheel + frame in the U-lock, try this longer Abus U Lock. A bit more expensive, but a solid choice for more space inside the U. It has a fancy square shaped steel bar that makes it stronger even at a mere 13mm and 3.43 pounds.
But I really like Kryptonite and all my friends tell me it’s the way to go
Kryptonite has since made the Kryptonite Evolution 5″ that is about the same as this abus lock. They also have the slightly larger Kryptonite Evolution 7″ that is a tad bigger so you can fit your wheel in it, but still not too big. I would still recommend to buy separate wheel locking devices to make locking more convenient.
And of course there’s the big kahuna, the Kryptonite New York lock and the even bigger Fahgettaboutit, of which both I think are a bit overkill. They have thicker shackles at 16mm and 18mm, which also makes them significantly heavier. Honestly the extra 2-4mm of thickness doesn’t add much security. Once a thief has to use an angle grinder instead of bolt cutters, it’s negligible to go through the extra thickness. I don’t think the extra weight (and price!) is worth it.
My lock is jammed, and I can’t seem to unlock/lock it
If you don’t get the key all the way inside before you turn, it may not work. You just have to make sure you jiggle the key when you first put it in to make sure you get all the way down into the lock before you turn. Sometimes I like shine a light inside the lock and I can see which tumbler is out of place. Here’s a good post on a jammed lock if you can’t get it to work.
Bicycle Insurance (Buy Lemonade)
For maximum peace of mind when locking your bike outside, you can insure your bicycle on your home/renters insurance policy! I use Lemonade insurance to cover one of my bicycles for about $3.50 a month extra. You’ll want to get “scheduled personal property” coverage, or “extra coverage” as Lemonade calls it. This allows you to claim your bicycle easily with a $0 deductible, and it’s still covered even if your bike is stolen out on the street. Chances are your standard home or renters insurance has a deductible that’s above the value of your bike, and that won’t help you at all.
Lastly, no matter what you do it’s possible that bad things still happen, and you should be mentally prepared for this situation (insurance helps!). The first time locking up your bike will always be the hardest to trust, but it gets easier! Proper locking technique and locking equipment go a long way, and insurance can help quell the rest of your worries!
The point of buying all these heavy duty locking equipment is so you can ride your bike to everything and not have to worry about it not being there.