Urban Velo

Hiplok Wearable Bike Lock Review

The Hiplok perhaps epitomizes the co-opting of courier style for more mass-consumption, but unlike disc wheels on the street or deep anodized drops for grabbing coffee the Hiplok actually makes sense. I was initially impressed with the idea, even if I dismissed it as not for me. That is, until I actually had one at my disposal—I’ve been using this lock for around town trips for a couple of months now, and the Hiplok now resides on a hook near my front door for quick use. Chains are handy sometimes, and the Hiplok makes it easy as it gets to use.

Bike theft has pretty well always been a problem, especially in big cities. Perhaps sometime in the 1990s with professional thieves targeting nicer bikes couriers began using oversized chain and motorcycle disc lock combos, carrying them around their waist for easy deployment. This works, but bare links tend to pinch clothing and skin, and locking the chain around your waist isn’t ideal in case of emergency. While the cloth covers now common on bicycle specific chain locks solve the pinching problem, wearing locks around your body has been a hackjob of leaving the lock open or using a carabiner to latch it together like a belt.

The Hiplock combines a specially made lock housing and a nylon sleeve with a reflective Hiplok logo and an integrated, heavy duty hook and loop belt to quickly adjust the length and secure it in place. The lock has an ABS outer shell that is curved to sit comfortably across your body, and has a simple belt fixing loop near the keyhole. Wearing the Hiplok is comfortable and secure, and adjusting it from the 26″ minimum to 44″ maximum belt length is as easy as can be. While a u-lock in the back pocket is even faster (if you have the right size lock and pockets) the Hiplok isn’t springing free over a pothole or curb. The lock includes four keys, so you have no excuse for losing all of them.

In terms of the lock itself, the chain is made from 8 mm case hardened links with a square profile to deflect most bolt cutters, or at least make it that much harder to cut through as compared to round links. The lock itself has a 9 mm steel shackle and a small profile making prying attacks fairly difficult. The lock mechanism uses the now ubiquitous flat kay that allows a million different combinations, and is more pick resistant than conventional or round keys even if in my experience (though not with the Hiplock in particular) more prone to jamming due to user error. The lock weighs 4 lbs, roughly twice what a quality mini u-lock weighs, but not nearly as much as what some of the Superman-repelling chains from the competition weighs in at, though admittedly with larger diameter links and lock shackle. My armchair estimation of theft deterrence gives the Hiplok high marks unless I’m missing a fatal flaw with the lock mechanism—if a thief is breaching a lock like this they are likely using power tools or such large bolt cutters that no lock will stop them. If a professional thief wants your bike, consider it gone no matter what you are using. For what it is worth Hiplok does not offer a theft insurance guarantee like some other manufacturers, though I’ve always assumed I’d never be able to qualify for a settlement anyway. From my perspective I’m willing to lock up any of my bikes more or less anywhere I’d go with the Hiplok.

After a few months of use the reflective logo is beginning to crack and peel off of the nylon sheath, which I expected given the flex and wear the sleeve receives. I honestly like how the lock feels on the bike and how it functions locked up—it’s comfortable and not locked to me while riding, and I’m confident in the security if offers when I leave my bike behind. I do wish the one end of the chain was affixed to the lock shackle in some manner, or even integrated into the lock itself, as it needs to remain in the correct orientation for the Hiplok to wear comfortably, but sometimes in more complicated locking scenarios I’ve unwittingly removed and replaced the lock in the wrong direction or to the wrong end of the chain. Otherwise, into it. The Hiplok is available for about $100 in a few different color combinations. See more details and order direct at www.hiplok.com

8 Comments

  1. ClayJune 12, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Clever lock, and a good review.

    Move to the PNW and then we’ll talk about how much disc brakes make sense.

  2. bradJune 12, 2012 at 11:28 amAuthor

    Disc wheels and disc brakes are two different things. I’ve been running disc brakes for a long time, don’t need to convince me.

  3. ClayJune 12, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I have only marginal literacy.

  4. doclvlyJune 12, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    sweet review, I was wondering about this lock. Id like one for travel and as a back up lock. Would you trust this as much as the fagedabout it chain/lock? would you use this in NY?

  5. PaulCJrJune 13, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Big deal! I’ve been doing this with a Kryptonite NY FU chain lock for years. The NY FU chain has never felt uncomfortable wrapped around my waist.

  6. jimJune 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Nice idea. Maybe if it wasn’t a gigantic wearable screaming billboard for HIPLOCK…

  7. mikeJune 20, 2012 at 5:05 am

    i see theres a stealth version with black on black logo too, less billboard…

  8. A Few Tips On Locking Up. Part 1 of 3: Choosing A Lock |June 25, 2012 at 9:38 am

    [...] So what about these really cool chain locks that really cool kids wear? Chain locks, while very useful in big cities, are overkill here in Provo. They are heavy, cumbersome, and usually dent/scratch up your bike. Riding with a chain lock feels like always having to put on a pair of special shorts or shoes just to go ride; it works really well, but is never really easy or natural. My good friend Jordan rides with a chain lock here in Provo, which in true Jordan fashion he made himself, and he really likes it. So if you feel you really need that type of protection go for it. I recommend you either make your own, or go with a HipLock (great review here). [...]

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