U-shaped locks not secure

Jared Roddy

Certain U-shaped bike locks that have been the industry security standard for 20 years are no longer so secure.

That’s because a 30-second video available on the Internet shows how the expensive locks can be quickly picked with a Bic pen that can cost as little as 10 cents.

The flaw was initially discovered on Kryptonite Evolution 2000 bike locks, but James Freitag, store manager at Erik’s Bike Shop, said other brands of locks are also susceptible.

Specialized, Master Lock and Harley-Davidson brand U-shaped locks all suffer from the same design flaw, he said.

Freitag said the news is spreading quickly. He said he figured it was only a matter of 24 hours before most people knew about it.

Kryptonite spokeswoman Donna Tocci said in a statement that the design still provides “an effective deterrent to theft,” but the company is developing new products using a pen-proof, disc-style cylinder, according to The Associated Press.

“The world just got tougher and so did our locks,” the statement read.

Varsity Bike Shop store manager Jameson McGuine said the implications will go well beyond bicycle locks, too.

“It’s all about the tubular key,” McGuine said. “A lot of lock companies use the same system, and it took 20 years to figure out how to beat it.”

The AP reported that the tubular-key, U-shaped locks are being pulled off shelves in some stores. But Freitag and McGuine said their employees tried to pick the locks, and not all of them are flawed.

“We’ve had about 30 percent success based on like five locks,” Freitag said. “We were able to pick two of them.”

McGuine and his crew could only pick two of their locks, but he said the flaw is present in approximately 60 percent to 80 percent of them.

“It’s just selected locks that have the tumblers set in a certain way,” McGuine said. “Certain locks are affected and others aren’t.”

Both McGuine and Freitag said the stores will continue to sell the locks while they await a press release from Kryptonite, due out Saturday.

Students who use Kryptonite locks said they were dismayed to find their investment so easily bested.

“It’s irritating,” first-year student Liz Kohl said. “They tell you this is what you should buy, but I’m nervous about it now.”

English junior Melody Storms said she bought a Kryptonite lock after her bike was stolen when it was locked with a much cheaper device.

“I’m not mad at the people who make the locks,” she said. “It’s just too bad the Internet is letting everyone know how to pick them.”

-The Associated Press contributed to this article.