Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On Guard - not!

I like the idea of having a combination lock on tour so there is no key to lose. I also want a strong, but reasonably lightweight lock since it will spend most of its life in a pannier. I don't lock my bike and leave it often on tour, but when I do I'd like a fighting chance it will still be there when I get back. I spotted this OnGuard lock at Urbane Cycles in Toronto last fall and bought one on my visit to Toronto in January.

It's called the Mastiff 5022C and seems beefy while not being ridiculously heavy. The combination dial was easy to set and use. I thought I had a winner!

Unfortunately after carrying the lock around downtown Toronto all afternoon I got it home and it literally fell apart in my hands as I was looking it over. As you can see I didn't even get the tag off it. Each side of the locking mechanism is held to the chain by a small press fit pin. One of these pins was a little too skinny and fell out. Better now than on tour I guess.

Urbane refunded me the purchase amount and since I wasn't able to get back to the shop I still have the lock. If somebody local can make use of the lock it is of no value to me, but I don't want to landfill it as the chain portion could be useful to someone. Who knows somebody more tool savvy then I am might be able to fabricate a bigger pin and make the lock functional. If you want it just email me and it is yours.

I want to close this post by noting that this is my only OnGuard product experience. It represents one data point and so should not be taken as a wholesale condemnation of OnGuard or their product line. I feel it is important to honestly report both positive and negative product experiences so we can all benefit from the resulting online information, but this needs to be evaluated in context. One defect doesn't really mean anything while several may indicate a general problem with a product or company.

If anyone has a suggestion for another combination lock that might work please leave a comment.


Steeker said...

Dude I told you not to buy that at the store, remember I said get the bigger chain one

runawayscreaming said...

Ha, ha! That's a funny story. Look no further than the country of origin of that lock.

I work in the notorious Vancouver downtown eastside (Canada's bloody worst neighborhood on earth) and the crackhead bike thieves are absolutely aggressive. They have tried to steal my bike while I've been riding it. My last bike was stolen when it was locked to the police station in broad daylight (they cut down the steel bar it was locked to).

I keep 55 lbs (two lengths) of hardened chain and four heavy-duty hardened padlocks on my downtown commuting bike (in a steel basket on the rear rack). The chain is the good stuff from a proper industrial supplier. The locks are not Chinese either. The whole crappy bike and good chains weigh over 100 lbs and it rides like a drunken brick.

A couple of times I've had to walk to work and I've taken one of the chains for self-defense (bad neighborhood really). The chain really saved me one night when some ne'er-do-wells tried to relieve me of my wallet with a switch blade knife. My jacket was sliced wide open but I got away mostly unharmed (thanks to cycling!).

I don't carry a lock while touring. A lock light enough for touring will not deter drug addicts or professional thieves. Sometimes a lock is a dead giveaway that you are not around and therefore an invitation for theft. I try to park in places where I can scan for bad guys before leaving it near a bunch of people who look like they could be the owner (like in front of a coffee shop).

So far, in a hundred thousand miles or so of touring, I've never had someone try to steal my bike (mind you, I don't go to the tourist areas or high bike theft areas like university campuses and so on).

I always keep my wallet and credit cards with me so if my bike does get stolen I can just laugh and take the bus.

Vik said...

Steeker - I have a heavy chain lock - doesn't help much for cycle touring though. I'm not carrying that much weight for occasional use.

David - I agree I would not leave my bike in a high crime area while on tour - locked or not. OTOH - occasionally leaving your bike is necessary and having something between a wimpy cable lock and a Kyrtonite NYC 15lb chain lock is nice.

Chris said...

doing some research on this as well, will keep you in the loop

Ottovelo said...

Looks like the abus bordo would be your sort of lock. Easy to store and there are combination lock models.

I like reading your blog a really lot!

rob said...

A few night ago, I was locking up my bike with an Onguard U-lock and it fell apart in my hands. I've searched on the web and found that this has happened to other people, as well - so I would definitely recommend people avoid Onguard locks. At least I got one year of use out of mine, but I'm off to buy a Kryptonite NYFU now - expensive, but at least I'm sure it will last.

Alex S said...

Had exactly the same problem with the lock, really annoyed as i thought i had found a great one, and had no use of my bike whilst i found a replacement.
Wonder if its a manufacturing fault or just the case with a few locks??