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Hands-on Gear Review
Hiplok Original: Superbright Review
Cons: Heavy, more expensive, size dependant, obnoxious lettering
Bottom line: The innovative design of this wearable chain lock increases this heavy lock's portability, which is great news for regular bike commuters.
Lock dimensions: 1.5' long x 2"
Type of Lock: Chain
The Hiplok Original: Superbright provides an innovative way to take your lock with you when on the go and wins our Top Pick for Commuters Award. The unique design allows a cyclist to wrap the chain around his/her waist, adjust it to fit, and comfortably carry the theft deterrence on their person. The nylon sheath that protects your bike frame and components from the heavy chain (the lock weighs over four pounds) has a strip of reflective material to make you visible on the road, too. This wearable design makes it easier to transport the weight than most U-locks, which weigh down backpacks. The lock itself is easy to use with a curved key that inserts into and opens the locking mechanism like butter. Its inherent flexibility also makes it more versatile for locking up to oddly-shaped structures. This model is a user-friendly, mid to high-level security lock with a cyclist-first approach to design and function.
Among the field of competition, the excellent performance of the Hiplok Original wasn't enough to come out on top overall. Where this model offers superb portability, the Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock is more secure and preferred in areas of high crime. And if you are looking for the beefiest of beefy chains, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock also provides top-notch security and versatility, but you can't carry it around like the Hiplok.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Our Top Pick for Commuting consists of an 8mm hardened steel chain with a 10mm steel shackle (that doubles as a buckle.) It has an outer nylon sheath with reflective material that covers the chain and a piece of velcro that is threaded through the buckle and back on itself, allowing the Hiplok to be worn around your hips while riding. This lock costs $99.
The Hiplok Original received a Silver Award by Sold Secure (an independent English testing organization) and is rated "Medium/High Risk" by Hiplok. Our tests aligned with these ratings. The padlock on this piece could not be smashed or pried apart. The plastic covering on the padlock had the look of something one could use brute force on, but that wasn't the case at all. We tried to use a hacksaw (and patience) to cut through both the 10mm lock and the 8mm chain but the hardened steel is super hard, and after minutes of sawing we gave up. Bolt cutters proved to be ineffective as well. Even our favorite folding lock, the ABUS uGrip Bordo 5700, succumbed to some hand tools.
So far so good, right? Thus far, this bike lock measured right up to the U-Locks tested, and even has a one-up on U-Locks in that thieves cannot use crowbars to pry open the heavy duty chain (cheap U-Locks, if secured incorrectly with extra space inside the lock, can be compromised with a pry bar). However, the U-Locks outperformed the Hiplok when we took the angle grinder to their steel. Whereas it took us 40+ seconds to grind through the New York Standard U-Lock once, and another cut to free the bike, the Hiplok shackle succumbed in a scant 17 seconds. It requires just a single cut to let loose of the bike or bike rack. Even with this news, we still gave the Hiplok a high score in this metric because at the point that a thief is using a powered angle grinder, the chances are high that he or she is going to get the bike.
Ease of Transportation
This category is where this product deserves kudos for design and ingenuity. Bike locks increase in weight as they go up in security, which has the unfortunate side effect of making them annoying to transport. So, higher security usually equals a cumbersome bike lock. The people of Hiplok, however, came up with the idea that their locks should be worn to transport. We liked the way this piece became a hip belt and distributed its weight around the center of gravity. The designers at Hiplok also included a fat strip of reflective material on the outside of the nylon sheath for extra nighttime visibility. We dig that.
A massage therapist that wore the Hiplok around for a day felt strongly that the same amount of weight (about 4 lbs) put into a backpack would cause more muscle fatigue in the lower back than this chain worn slung around the hips. This alleviates the problems of being heavy and not having the ability to be attached to your bicycle that the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock Mini has. The owner of a Hiplok could still toss it in a bike pannier or basket, but not having to wear a backpack to transport your lock is a major plus. One consideration that we wanted to test was the wearability of the Original: Superbright when it got wet. The nylon sheath was resistant to water but not pleasant to wear without a jacket, so we considered that when scoring. Overall, our reviewers were super impressed with this product and thought that it proved to be a great everyday bike lock. If your top priority is ease of transport, though, our favorite was the lightweight and compact ABUS uGrip Bordo 5700.
Ease of Use
When using this piece, it's obvious that someone put time into thinking things through regarding both transport and ease of use. The designers streamlined the padlock/buckle into being well-functioning and smooth at both its jobs. Even the keys (this model comes with three) were designed with ease of use in mind. They are curved, and our testers agreed that this improves the process of opening and closing the lock.
Compared to the simplicity of cable locks like the OnGuard Akita 8041, the Hiplok requires a few more moments of fiddling the chain through the wheel and then wrapping it around the frame. Compared to the standard fare of rattling the U-Lock crossbar into the "U" each time you lock up, the Hiplok is pretty simple. Its 2' of chain allow you to lock your bike up to nearly anything with relative ease. As far as U-locks go, the bent foot design of the Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 makes it a cinch to lock around a frame and wheel.
This category was hard to judge for a few reasons. For normal-sized frames, the Hiplok is only going to cover one wheel and the frame. If you want to lock both wheels, you have to remove the front wheel and position it next to the back wheel. While this is a pain, this chain lock performed this feat much better than U-locks like the New York Standard and even the larger ABUS Granit X-Plus 540 due to its larger area inside the lock and its flexibility. We were able to lock up a mountain bike with fat tires in this described manner, which was impossible with the folding and U-locks.
This chain is useful in a garage to secure loose items, and could even be used for dirt bikes and motorcycles. The Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock, due to its length, proved more versatile. You don't need to remove the front wheel to lock the frame and both wheels with that model.
The reviewers here at Outdoor Gear Lab agreed that our Top Pick Award winner makes for a great commuting lock, which means a great everyday lock. It is burly enough to instill confidence in leaving your bike on the street day after day and solves the problem of how to transport a heavy lock around. The Superbright version of this lock includes a reflective strip to make the rider more visible on the road. The sheath can also be replaced if it becomes worn, supporting the idea that this lock is made for the everyday convenience needs of a bike commuter. Waist sizes range from 24" (worn a little lower on the hips) to 44".
With the Hiplok, you are paying for the well-designed product that you want to buy. It hits the hundred dollar mark, but it's well worth the money if you plan on using it often. If you own a bicycle that is your means of transportation or is expensive, think of the money spent as insurance.
The Hiplok Original: Superbright is a unique chain lock that we enjoyed reviewing due to its design integrity. The people of Hiplok sufficiently tackled the question of how to make a lock secure and comfortable to ride around with. We hope that this lock makes its way around the waists of many a happy commuter and that is why we gave it the Top Pick for Commuting award.
— Ross Robinson
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