Urban Velo

ABUS Bordo 6100 Combination Lock Review

1b51a3d2d59aaab86c59c7c6802a4071There are three important items of equipment necessary to be a bicycle messenger. The first is the bike. Next is the bag, without which packages get damaged or lost. Third and most importantly is the lock, the leash for the bike while one retrieves and delivers packages. My perspective on bicycle locks is different than the average consumer. I live and work in one of the busiest cities in the world with a notorious reputation for bicycle thieves. I alternate between riding and locking my bicycle to poles, trees, and racks in all weather conditions year round.

I was recently awarded an ABUS Bordo 6100 folding combination lock as a prize for my team’s podium performance in a recent messenger race. I decided to test out this unique folding link style of lock as spending my work day wearing a heavy chain around my hips affects my ability to walk normally. The links on the chain sometimes weigh heavily on my thighs preventing me from riding at the best of my ability. I needed an alternative.

When I first looked at the Bordo I noticed an empty pod in the packaging. I thought my prize was missing keys. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was to vigorously remind the user that keys were not necessary for the lock. This feature is marvelous. In the past I have lost keys, dropped them down subway grates that line most streets in Manhattan or simply worn them out from long term usage.

photo copyThe Bordo comes with a carrying bracket that attaches to a standard water bottle cage mounts. It has two thick 1″ velcro straps for mounting to frames without water bottle bolts. I tossed the velco straps aside, using only water bottle bolts during installation.The compact size of the lock inside of the bracket enables it to be transported efficiently without awkwardly interfering with one’s legs during pedaling. The bracket has a rubber strip at the top of the bracket to keep the lock secure during transport. There is a square hole in the strip that corresponds to a notch on the outside of the bracket. It is simple to open and close with a firm tug of the rubber strip.

After removing the lock from the packaging, I noticed the weight was fairly substantial. I decided it was a good thing. More metal means a greater obstacle for thieves. After using a heavy chain for years its smaller heftiness would still be easier to haul around all day.

photoLeaving the house that first day of testing was a joy as I felt lighter in the saddle without the bulk of a chain lock around my waist. Changing my center of gravity made my daily commute over the Williamsburg bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan a treat. I wasn’t going to get passed by the aggressive commuters racing to the city.

During deliveries the lock easily went in and out of the bracket. As a messenger time spent locking and unlocking greatly affects one’s ability to make money. The less time one spends fussing with one’s lock, the more time they have for delivering packages. The more packages delivered, the more money one makes. While it took a few seconds longer for the locking process than a standard or mini u-lock, the unlocking part took a lot less. (I devised a simple number system to assist in the locking/unlocking transition.) It took a few days to undo the reflex of reaching for the carabiner with keys on my backpack every time I exited a building.

The combination can be created and changed simply by the user at any time. There is a four number code required for unlocking. Pushing a button on the side of the locking mechanism undoes and secures one side of the linkage. The six links of hardened steel have a coating that won’t scratch the paint on the bike. They are connected by solid rivets which enable them to flex around a variety of shaped stationary items. The advertised length of the lock’s links is 75 cm (approx. 30 in). This length is enough for locking a frame and front wheel to a small pole or bicycle rack.

For expediency between deliveries, I sometimes left the rubber strap undone. I don’t want to wear out the parts too quickly. Bicycle messengers and mother nature are hard on parts. Over rough roads and cobbles, the lock rattled a bit in the bracket. Reaching down to secure the lock with the rubber strap is as simple as grabbing a water bottle on the fly. The rubber must stretch for the hole to meet the notch. There is enough tension that the rubber strap will not come undone once attached. Because of the weight and grippy rubber compound of the bracket, the lock will not bounce out even if the strap is not secured around it.

The bolts on the bracket came loose after a few days of rough riding in the elements. I attribute this to the fact that the bracket has 1/3 to 1/2″ of rubber between where the lock is holstered and the frame. I used standard water bottle bolts during installation. The lock and bracket come as is. For future models, extra long bolts would keep the bracket in place more securely. I went to a friendly neighborhood bike shop to replace the bolts with longer ones. That night I also bolstered their retention ability with the velcro straps I placed aside during earlier installation.

There are two slots on both sides of the bracket closer to the frame which enable the user to install the straps over the bolts and under the lock for double the stability. There is ample extra strap in case of bicycles with oversized frame tubing. The straps also keep the bolts from unscrewing during bumpy riding.

There are a few drawbacks that offset many of its well engineered benefits. If left out overnight, a thief with lots of time could tinker with the numbers to find the combination. I would advise to keep your bike indoors at night or if you will be away for longer periods of time in isolated places. If you have multiple bicycles, you will need to buy an additional lock. Carrying the Bordo outside of the bracket ruins its great carrying design. One must also remember to shuffle the numbers after securing the lock lest a rogue quickly and easily ride away with your bike and lock in tact. The ABUS website recommends using two locks for securing any bicycle. Thieves are relentless worldwide.

Overall, I enjoy using this roughly $100 lock. The wonderful German made lock is efficient to transport by bicycle with a carrying bracket that is simple to install, and easy to lock. It is ideal for medium duty security or those who often find it difficult to keep track of keys. I would gladly recommend this as an option over the standard u-lock or a bulky chain.

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About Corey the Courier

Corey started riding as a messenger in 1990, making him one of the old school veterans still working the grind, now calling New York home. He got his beginning in Philadelphia and operated Vespid Couriers from 1998 - 2008, organized USA Cycling road races from 1996-2004, and had his hands in CMWC 2000, ESPI 2005 and NACCC 2006. An "accomplished" alleycat racer and fixture in the courier world, Corey currently rides for Elite Couriers in NYC and is sponsored by Bern Helmets and Boombotix.

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