Kryptonite Evolution Mini
The $60 Kryptonite Evolution Mini u-lock has almost become a fashion accessory in certain circles, poking forth from seemingly every other person’s back pocket. Function leads to fashion in this instance, with the pocket-size of the Mini being a key attribute of security, leading to a lock more likely to keep your bike where you parked it.
The construction of the mini is solid and simple; a 13mm hardened steel shackle slides into one end of the crossbar with a bent foot and keys into the other side where the lock cylinder is housed inside a reinforced cuff. Since one of the main ways a properly locked u-lock is compromised is via twisting with a long lever, the strategically small opening of the Mini makes it hard to fit a pry-bar inside when in use. The lock ships with three square keys including a lighted one you’re best off slipping into a drawer as a last-ditch extra – the metal of the key does not go through the keyring eventually leading to the plastic housing opening up and your actual key vanishing. It also includes a mount system that is fairly flimsy and some plastic bits over the lock that have long since worn away. It’s the lock that matters, 770g as shown.
While the lock cylinder uses a square key resistant to picking, it is overly prone to jamming in my experience. I’ve personally seen keys hopeless jammed in other people’s Evolution Mini, and I’ve had a few scary moments with my own that have luckily never left me hoofing it home. It is fair to mention that this seems to be a common complication with square key locks, as it’s easy to half turn such keys when only partially inserted, leading to the lock mechanism getting out of sync.
In most cities the Evolution Mini is plenty security to stay-put. Even in high-theft towns with professional bike thieves about where heavier duty locks are certainly warranted this model of lock is seen more often than not. It strikes a nice balance of strength in its design and construction to encourage thieves to move on to easier targets but small and light enough to actually carry. One valid complaint about the small design is that it can be a challenge to lock in some places. The same feature that lends it extra security can lead to some frustrating moments when things just don’t quite fit. Certain towns out there have recently made their parking meters a wider diameter, adding to the potential challenge. In practice I’ve rarely wished for a larger u-lock, not enough to ever carry one.
The pictured lock may not be perfect, but its scars show some 4 years of service and like the lock itself, each and every bike locked with it has been there when I returned. Paired with a cable for my wheels, this is my go-to lock at home and on the road.