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Hands-on Gear Review
Cocoweb Armbar Combo Review
Cons: Awkward frame mount, won't last forever
Bottom line: For the price, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the security and security it offers.
Lock dimensions: 4.25" x 8" (14mm thick) with 5' x 12mm cable
Type of Lock: U lock and cable
The Cocoweb Armbar Combo surprised us. We didn't expect it to be easy to use, but it operates smoothly and on par with high-end models. We couldn't imagine it was secure, but it resisted defeat against all hand tools, only succumbing to the power of the angle grinder. Its versatility is great when you use the cable to lock up the saddle and front wheel without removing them, too. Our main complaint concerns the mount, which is inferior to other models. For $30, you don't get the key replacement or theft protection programs that come with models from Kryptonite, but you do get a legit U-lock that fulfills most biker's needs.
A comparable lock we reviewed is the more convenient Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 Standard U-Lock. It's easier to use and comes with a widely-accepted independent security rating. For a low price with more manageable portability, check out the INBIKE 8 Joint Folding Lock. The lock has less weight but is also less secure.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Cocoweb Armbar Combo is a mid to high-security, mid-size U-Lock with 14 mm of steel covered with PVC coating. A 5' braided steel cable accompanies the U-Lock. It retails at $29 and ships with a plastic mounting bracket and two keys.
The Armbar Combo doesn't have a security rating from reputable agencies like Sold Secure or ART, which the other U-Locks and chain locks in this review have. The steel shackle is a respectable 14 mm, while the Kryptonite Kryptolok and OnGuard Bulldog DT locks are thinner, measuring 13 mm. For its price, the security is great. It comes with a 5-foot cable of braided steel, which allows you to lock your second wheel and saddle (as long as the cable fits through the saddle stays) without removing them. However, our tests confirm that cables are snipped in seconds, which only protects from unprepared, opportunist thieves.
As predicted, the cable was snipped by wire cutters, yet it took more effort than expected. Bolt cutters sliced through the cable in a heartbeat, but our efforts with a hacksaw proved laborious, and we didn't get anywhere. The U-lock portion withstood attack from all hand tools with barely a scratch. The angle grinder defeated the lock in approximately 35 seconds, the same amount of time it took to cut through the ABUS Granit X-Plus.
The crossbar of the Cocoweb model features a dual locking mechanism, but unlike the ABUS and Kryptonite U-locks, it took just one cut on the "U" to defeat this lock. The severed pieces rotate enough to create a two-inch opening, which is enough to slide most bike frames through. This product doesn't come with a theft protection program like the Kryptonite models, which is essentially bike insurance if your wheels get stolen when locked up.
Ease of Transport
The Armbar Combo ran into trouble in this metric. The U-lock and key combine to weigh 2 lbs 14.3 oz, and the thick cable adds another pound. Add the 4.3 oz mount, and it's over four 4 lbs in total. It's one of the heaviest lock sets in our review, and while it's a far cry from the mega-heavy Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock, it didn't disappear in our backpacks.
We prefer to mount U-locks to the frame of our bikes, yet this mount proved frustrating. The mount comes with a plastic and a rubber insert to fit various frame circumferences and takes two screws (four included) to attach it to the bike. There are two positions possible for attaching the lock to the mount, which seemed to indicate some versatility with this combo. But, unlike mounts for the Kryptonite and ABUS U-locks, the included mount and lock from Cocoweb do not sit streamlined with the bike frame. It juts out to the side, no matter where you attach it. Installed on the main triangle of the frame, it rubbed against our pants and thighs. Connected to the seat post, we had to remove the rear light. This mount also took the longest to install, partly because we spent 15-20 minutes testing unsatisfactory placements. This isn't to say that the mount will not fit your bike's frame or seat post. Throughout our testing on multiple bikes, though, this was the toughest lock with a mount to install in a way that didn't impede pedaling or rear light mounts.
Lastly, the mount and the mount connector attached to the U-lock itself are plastic and susceptible to breaks if you drop your lock, bike, or, heaven forbid, crash. This bulky mount sticks out from the frame of the bike, increasing the possibility of mount breakage. If you prefer to carry the lock on your person, check out the innovative Hiplok Original: Superbright.
If you're set on this lock and have trouble mounting it to your bike as we did, consider purchasing a third-party mount.
Ease of Use
Our testers had no problems using this lock. The dual locking mechanism operates smoothly when inserting and turning the key, and we didn't experience any jams or stuck keys. The sliding dust cover offers protection from sediment and precipitation entering into the mechanism, but it's still a good idea to clean and lubricate regularly. Cocoweb does not offer assistance if you get your key stuck in your lock, unlike Kryptonite.
This lock comes with two keys, but if you lose both, you're out of luck. Cocoweb also doesn't offer a key replacement program. You can purchase a replacement crossbar with two new keys on the manufacturer's website for $10. To make use of this, though, you'll have to buy the replacement after you lose your first key, in case you lose your second key and can't remove the lock from your bike. This strikes us as wasteful and pricey. Furthermore, the thick cable didn't fit through the saddle stays of some bikes we used for testing.
The Armbar Combo is one of the most versatile locks reviewed. With a sturdy U-lock and the longest cable accessory tested (5 feet), it's easy to lock up the frame, both wheels, and even the saddle (provided the cable fits through the stays). Even on a bike with a large frame, there was plenty of cable to weave through the removable parts of the bike. It also secures panniers or bike cargo trailers. The other two U-locks with cables, the Kryptonite Kryptolok and OnGuard Bulldog DT, come with cable a full foot shorter.
Being able to lock up all parts of your bike brings some peace of mind. Be conscious, though, that cable locks are quickly snipped in scenarios involving bike thieves. Locking up your wheels and saddle with the cable is a poor choice for overnight parking or extended periods of time during the day in areas of high crime.
The cable is the weakest part of this lock. Always use the U-lock, not the cable, to attach your frame and a wheel to an immovable structure.
This lock from Cocoweb is a solid all-around choice for commuters whose daily cycle to work isn't on a Bianchi. It's ideal in areas of mid-level security concerns for non-flashy bikes. The deterrence the Armbar Combo provides should keep your bike from opportunist thieves. If you frequently lose your keys, though, seek a lock with a key replacement program like Kryptonite or ABUS.
It's hard to argue against the value of this lock. For $29, you get a solid, 14 mm thick U-Lock with a long and fat cable. It isn't the most secure U-Lock out there, but using it with the cable gives the appearance of someone who is serious about their bike security, which could be enough to deter potential bike thieves.
We were blown away by the Armbar Combo's performance per dollar spent on this product. Unless your bike is an expensive model, this lock is sufficiently secure for all rural and most urban environments. It takes power tools to defeat, is simple enough to use, and provides the opportunity to secure all removable parts of your bike without removing them. If your budget is tight, this product should be on your short list.
— Ross Robinson
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