Review: Kryptonite Evolution U-Lock with Cable

Cheap Locks Offer False Security

Kryptonite Evolution bike lock U-lock

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It's easy to buy a cheap lock. You can go to Wal-Mart or wherever and get a low-end lock for ten bucks or less. These are typically a thin chain with flimsy tumbler lock that will take even the most bumbling thief less than 30 seconds to get through. In many cases, if there is a legitimate chance of your bike being stolen, these kinds of locks are worse than none at all due to the false sense of security they offer.

A step-up would be a cable lock like the Word-Lock bike lock (which uses letters instead of numbers in its combination) but even that isn't much of an improvement. Let's face it: if you've got a bike that's worth locking up, it's certainly worth spending a few more bucks to be sure that the bike will actually be there when you get back. And we had the opportunity to check out the Kryptonite Evolution as a higher-end option for securing your bike.

Kryptonite Evolution Lock Will Keep Your Ride Secure

There are two main types of locks that you can use to secure your bike. A cable lock, where a thick braided wire "rope" is looped through your bike and around some stationary object and then locked in place. Or a U-lock, where a U-shaped piece of steel goes around your bike frame and some solid object like a post or bike rack, then locked in place with another metal piece that secures on the bottom of the U.

With the Evolution lock and accessory cable option, Kryptonite actually blends both of these types of locks to create a method of securing your bike that is more flexible -- adapting to any situation -- and more secure since you can use the two types at the same time to effectively double the protection on your bike.

With the Evolution lock, Kryptonite uses as its base a U-loop fashioned from 14mm hardened steel, designed to resist bolt cutters and leverage attacks, where a would-be thief can essentially pry off the bottom of the U, wedging something stronger inside the U-loop to bust it loose.

Many riders wanting to lock quick and dirty will use the U-lock only and it generally works fine if you can find exactly the right spot that'll allow you to run the U-lock through the front wheel, around a stationary object and then through the frame. It's solid and reliable, and generally can be counted on to keep your bike safe.

However, by building a cable lock system into that base, the Evolution U-lock allows for an extra dimension of flexibility and protection, giving you not only an additional layer of locking/security, but with a generous 4-foot/120 cm long cable, also allowing you the ability to tie up in an infinite number of places that a U-lock just won't work, such as around a tree. Also, this extra cable length allows you to secure your front wheel and/or any accessories you may have mounted, such as bike bags or panniers.

Kryptonite offers a number of sizing options for its Evolution lock. The standard size is 4 inches wide x 9 inches long (10.2cm x 23 cm).

In addition to an "extended" version with a longer U-loop, there is also an Evolution mini, coming in at a dinky 3.5 x 5 inches/ 8.9 x 12.7 cm. However, unless you know where you're going to be locking up each day, and are certain that this little lock would fit, I'd suggest taking the regular or LS over the mini just to account for all the other situations where you'll likely need the extra reach.

Other nifty features? How about a high-intensity LED light built right into one of the three keys. That'll help illuminate your bike when you're riding at night. Plus a smartly designed bracket that mounts on your bike to help with carrying the lock when you ride. Finally, Kryptonite offers a key registration system, so in the unlikely event that you lose all three keys, you're not totally hosed by being stuck with a now-useless lock.

The downside There are a couple factors you should know when considering this lock. First of all, it's heavy. When you have both the U-lock (3.75 lbs/1.7 kgs) and cable (5 lbs/2.3 kgs), you'll be toting an additional 9 lbs/4kg. However, that's just a factor of locks and it's not unique to Kryptonite. Generally, the lighter (and thus more expensive) your bike, the heavier the lock you want. There's an old joke that a 40 lb bike needs a 1 lb lock, and a 10 lb bike needs a 20 lb lock. And a truth is that if you're in an urban environment where you need to lock up a bike, a nice heavy U-lock can also come in handy for self-defense purposes. Also, the locks are relatively pricey. A basic Kryptonite Evolution U-Lock costs $60 and up on various online outlets; the cable (usually sold separately) will cost an additional $8-10. However, Kryptonite rates this lock 8/10 for security and further warrants its use against loss to the tune of $2,250 for a replacement bike in the US & Canada and £1,100 anti-theft protection for bikes in the UK. So you can look at this as cheap insurance against the pain and hassle of trying to replace a bike that's been stolen, particularly if it's one that you've really dressed up and made your own.

Features and Specifications: Kryptonite Evolution

  • Available in two u-lock sizes: Standard or LS
  • 14mm hardened steel shackle resists bolt cutters and leverage attacks
  • Hardened double deadbolt design gives additional protection against twist attacks
  • Reinforced cuff over hardened crossbar and cyclinder protects high security disc-style cylinder
  • Includes EZ Mount transportation system which allows for versatile carrying
  • Protective vinyl coating
  • Sliding dustcover protects and extends cylinder life
  • 3 stainless steel keys – one lighted with high intensity LED bulb & replaceable battery
  • Standard Kryptonite Evolution Lock: 4” x 9” and 3.75 lbs
  • LS: 4” x 11.5” 4.10 lbs
  • Cable: 4' (120cm) KryptoFlexTM Looped Cable - 12 mm flexible braided steel


Final opinion: The Kryptonite Evolution lock is more expensive than the low-end, cheapie bike locks you can find on the shelves. But there is a reason for that. This lock will generally hold under just about any circumstance. Granted, a determined thief will find his way through any lock given enough time, but this is a powerful deterrent, particularly when combined with the cable lock to give you flexibility where you lock up and how many layers you can put down. It's nice and heavy and secure and in our assessment, definitely worth the money.

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Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.