If a bicycle was locked with a Kryptonite U-shaped lock two weeks ago, it was probably safe. Now, it’s not.
What were once regarded as the most difficult locks to break into have now been rendered junk after Chris Brennen, a computer security specialist from San Francisco, posted a video of himself breaking into his own U-shaped lock with the empty shaft of a Bic pen on Bikeforums.net. Apparently, the malleable plastic molds itself into the shape of the lock and opens it nearly as easily as the proper key.
More than a quarter of a million people have downloaded the video so far, according to the site. The site has added videos of all the popular high-end versions being picked by their owners.
Cylindrical locks manufactured after August 2002 are the most susceptible, according to Alex Doty, the executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
“If you can take your Bic and insert it into the key hole of your lock, get a new lock,” Doty advised. “If you can’t, it’s probably safe.”
Doty said those with unsafe locks should bring their bicycles indoors with them, if possible, until they get a more secure lock. He also recommends a hefty padlock for people who have a chain or cable that they used to connect with a vulnerable U-shaped lock.
Kryptonite’s Web site says it will offer customers who purchased their higher-end locks during the past two years a free product upgrade. Those locks include: the Evolution lock, KryptoLok lock, New York Chain, New York Noose, Evolution Disc Lock, KryptoDisco or DFS Disc Lock. The company did not give a date for when that might happen.
To those awaiting a free upgrade to purchase the newer version that Kryptonite is promising to release soon, Doty advised, “You need to figure out what you’re going to do between now and then. Also, they are going to fly off the shelves – a lot of people are going to need a new lock.”
Many bicycle shops are no longer selling the faulty locks, which range from $30 to $100, though they are still on display at Trophy Bike shop at 3131 Walnut St. due to limited storage space.
“But we won’t sell them,” said employee Daniel Niedziocha. “We’ve been selling a lot of the old locks to people who had the locks that can be picked,” he said, referring to the Kryptonite U-shaped locks made before August 2002.
Niedziocha also said that Kryptonite recently sent a notice to bike shops that said they are “working on the problem.”
Lisa Litzinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.