After two of my friends had their bikes stolen in the same week, paranoia set in. I ditched my old U-lock (the kind you could pick with a ball-point pen) and started looking around for the strongest lock I could find without resorting to a heavy-duty (and heavy) chain.
The first one to catch my eye was the all-titanium TiGr. The TiGr drops something new on would-be bike rustlers. With its strap-like bow design, it doesn’t look like other bike locks. It doesn’t use the traditional barrel cylinder of other bike locks. And most importantly, you can’t cut it, snap it, bend it, or pick it like other bike locks.
Titanium is very strong and incredibly light, so while the eighth-of-an-inch-thick TiGr stymies a saw for around twice as long as a standard U-lock, it weighs far less — 15 ounces for the .75-inch-wide lock, and 24 ounces for the 1.25-inch-wide model. Compare that to 3 or 4 pounds for the lightest U-locks. To stow it, you clamp it to the frame along the sides of the top tube and secure it with a pair of Velcro straps. A clear PVC skin keeps the bare metal from scratching your bike frame.
Titanium is not only super-light and super-durable, it’s also super-expensive.
So when John Loughlin decided he was going to try to make a better bike lock out of the stuff, he started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds. The pledges poured in, eventually reaching 288 percent of the $37,500 goal.
“The properties of the titanium were really well suited to the mechanism,” Loughlin says in a phone interview. “It has really good elastic properties.”
To show off its ruggedness, Loughlin took to YouTube, posting videos of himself attacking the lock with a hacksaw, an angle grinder, bolt cutters, and a car jack. In each instance, the TiGr beat a standard U-lock.
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But that was informal testing. How does the TiGr stand up to the industry-standard ART Foundation tests? Loughlin’s company, Stanton Concepts, is submitting a TiGr for its second round of third-party testing. The resulting ratings and certifications will be posted on the lock’s product page as soon as they are available. In my time with the TiGr, I concentrated more on usability than security, mostly because ART’s group of testers has more collective knowledge about compromising locks than I do.
The bow-like design is meant to hug the frame when it’s secured, making it harder to squeeze a jack (or other spreading mechanism) inside the lock. The bow design also makes it easier to transport, since the TiGr stows nicely along the top tube. It fits most, but not all, bikes. Also, the Velcro straps that keep it in place can constrict any brake and derailleur cables running along the top tube, depending on how your bike is set up. The TiGr is flexible enough to bend through skinny 700c rims to tightly secure both wheels and the frame to a public bike rack. With fat mountain bike wheels, I was only able to secure the frame and one wheel.