Urban Velo

ABUS U-40 Mini

The guys at Abus are seriously passionate about locks. When they found out that I have been using one of their cable locks for over 12 years, they got very serious and explained that even though I was using it when locking my bike in low-risk areas, I needed to start using their latest technology.

Enter the Abus U-40 Mini, a high-security, mini U-lock. The U-40′s temper-hardened steel is coated with a soft shell that not only prevents it from scratching your bike, it makes the lock look thicker and more theft-proof. But when it comes down to it, it’s the steel and the lock technology that truly keep your bike safe.

Many locks on the market are case hardened, is a process in which the steel to be hardened is dipped into a hardening solution for a pre-determined time—the longer it sits in the hardening bath the harder it gets. This steel is very cut resistant, but it’s also somewhat brittle, which isn’t good for a lock. So Abus uses temper hardening, a multi-step process where the steel is dipped at different intervals into a hardening bath, and let rest in between. The multi-step process is more expensive and time consuming but renders a steel that is very hard (cut resistant) yet more malleable to allow the lock to flex without breaking. Abus says, “This is perfect for a lock where you need it to resist torsion attacks without breaking. Our U-54 can resist over 2000 nm, or the force of 4 Porsche engines of twist force and still return to neutral and function. All at –80 degrees!”

Abus went on to explain that the lock cylinder of the U-40 mini is highly pick-resistant due to the high number of key variations—250,000 to be specific. “We have a machine that processes the key cuts which automatically kicks out any key combination that has more than two of the same numbers in a row. For example, a 2,2,2,6 is an easy lock to pick as it does not have big variances in the cut, while 1,6,2,4,3 is a much more resistant key cut. This, again, is an extra step that ABUS takes, but we find it imperative.”

Finally, the double locking shackle secures both sides to the lock body. What this means is that should a thief want to cut the lock off, they would have to cut the shackle twice in order to separate it.

I knew that many ABUS locks are made in Germany, so I was surprised to learn that the U-40 is made in Asia. However I’m assured that their Asian factory has had an Abus sign on the door for 35 years, and that they shipped all of the machines and tooling there (along with German engineers to set them up). So Abus feels that they’re able to maintain an exceptional level of quality control over all our products, regardless of the country of origin.

The Abus U-40 retails for $65, comes in red or yellow and includes four keys. Check out www.abus.com

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  1. Brendan KevenidesMay 29, 2012 at 8:57 am

    In places like Chicago and New York thieves aren’t trying to twist or pick locks open. They’re cutting them, often (believe it or not) with angle grinders.

  2. bradMay 29, 2012 at 9:04 am

    For sure. Cordless angle grinders are less than $100 and make quick work of any lock on the market. You’re still better off with more lock than less.

  3. ClayMay 29, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    The moving parts/joints/etc. will break in any lock long before the steel itself is broken, regardless of the type and amount of leverage applied. This seems like a needless extra step unless, like brad implies, the tempering would cause considerably more effort for would-be lock cutters. I doubt it does.

  4. Ghost RiderMay 30, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I’ve heard (but I may have misunderstood the process) of using “dendritic steels” in locks to foil angle grinders. The toothlike grains of the metal destroy the cutting wheel or somesuch.

    Anyhow, Abus makes some damn good stuff — I’m surprised the brand is not more popular in the U.S.

  5. Chrissy JMay 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    In my bitter experience thieves have used bolt-cutters to remove my U-locks, so anything that makes it harder to cut a lock silently has to be a good thing. And filling the space within a lock makes it harder for a lever or jack to be used, something Abus are addressing by making the lock shorter. I’d buy one, if I hadn’t already purchased a new chain lock.

    Only a rabid guard dog (or six) will prevent someone with an angle grinder, though.

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