Urban Velo

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.

14 Comments

  1. Exxon JuanDecember 10, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Quick tip, put a drop of lube in the keyhole once a year or so. Keeps things from jamming up quite nicely. I’ve got one going on 5yrs of service and never a problem.

  2. Quicker TipDecember 10, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    The keys don’t appear to be unique enough, a friend was able to open my lock with his key. I use an OnGuard Bulldog Mini LS now.

  3. bicycleboyDecember 10, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I use graphite in lock cylinders it’s less prone to picking up dirt due to it being dry.
    also I’ve found a lot of on guard locks broken around Boston and Cambridge, I’d stick with Kryptonite

  4. jimmyDecember 10, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Got to say I’m more of a fan of the OnGuard Mini as well as OnGuard’s guarantee policy is a bit more attractive from what I remember. Could be wrong… wouldn’t be the first time.

    Whatever though – if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it, right?

  5. bradDecember 10, 2008 at 5:06 pmAuthor

    Funny that a few people mention the OnGuard Mini… A couple of OnGuard locks just arrived at UVHQ last week and will get a review as time moves forward.

  6. StreamhaldoDecember 11, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    My Krypto Evo just locked up on me last week with the key jammed in and bent up in the lock… it is worth mailing it in to get a replacement? Ironically, I’ve already replaced it with OnGuard Mini

  7. unixd0rkDecember 11, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    i’m gonna have to second exxon juan’s post. i find i have to lube my lock about once a year. i just use a squirt of generic silicone-based lube.

  8. RaiynDecember 11, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    @Jimmy,
    I dealt with Krypto during their BiC pen issues and I’m sold. Onguard, while a fine company (parent company is Todson who also have Topeak under their umbrella) simply can’t live up to the standard the Kryptonite has set for customer service and response.

  9. jimmyDecember 11, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Raiyn, Yeah I really have no idea like I said. Luckily I haven’t had to report anything regarding my locks while the last bike I had stolen was taken from my garage – I have however taken to locking them up in there as well.

    Glad to here they took care of you though.

  10. Ghost RiderDecember 11, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I’m with Raiyn…while I love and use OnGuard products as well as Kryptonite…Kryptonite has set the bar in terms of standing behind their products (even in the face of a massive and embarrassing recall) and their customer service is impeccable.

  11. bradDecember 11, 2008 at 9:23 pmAuthor

    I can also attest to Kryptonite standing behind their products during the aforementioned recall. I had a mini u-lock back before the recall that was replaced with the one reviewed above.

  12. tommyDecember 3, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Just get a chain and a phat pad lock, problem solved. The keys for u locks are crappy and thats why you see those locks abandoned on every other meter in Chicago. Unless you graphite the lock every season, you are going to jam up.

  13. t.aMay 3, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Where were you buying this for 60$… ?!

  14. Jake invicFebruary 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Tommy- you just get a chain and phat pad lock and a thief just gets…no,already has boltcutters that will cut through his choice of chain or padlock in about 3 chomps or less than a minute! I chose the mini bulldog as its really just as effective as the Krypto but cheaper.

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