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I am curious about this, and I don't see this question anywhere on here, nor via Google.

I want to know if a double loop cable can stand up to wire cutters, because they don't seem like something a cable cutter couldn't defeat.

Maybe I'm wrong, but before I lock my expensive bike up at a Walmart for some quick shopping, I'd like to at least know that someone's not going to come along with cable cutters and successfully take my bike.

By double loop cable, I am referring to the cable that has a loop at each end, so as to be combined with a padlock or U-lock. The one I have is tiny, only measuring...

Forgive my measuring tactics here, I am using a penny, which is approx. 19mm. The cable's "cross-sectional diameter" is about 1/5 of that, so I estimate the CSD of the cable is roughly 4mm. I'm skeptical on whether this cable is safe, whether this cable is standard-sized, and whether DL cables can even stand up to manual cutting tools.

Thanks for any information provided.

  • 1
    I know it's not really the point of your question, but Wal-Marts usually have a ton of security cameras in their parking lots and are probably one of the safer places to park your bike. – jimchristie Oct 15 '14 at 1:11
  • The problem is that Walmarts often provide really poor places to lock your bike to. They use some mini foldout thing here which is designed to lock only your front wheel. The better location would be to where the cart returns are, but those have other problems (such as cars). – Batman Oct 15 '14 at 1:21
  • Ask your insurance company if they will pay out if using that (or any other lock). Keep asking till they say yes, use that lock. I am somewhat defeatest - if I leave my bike locked up, it is only mine if its there when I come back. – mattnz Oct 15 '14 at 2:22
  • @jimirings huh, I hadn't thought about that. But at the same time, I live in a town where the people don't really give a sh!t about anything but themselves and their own property. If a bike thief comes along, they'll probably know about this general attitude, and be able to steal it, despite being on-film. Granted, the police force is more decent than the way New York's finest is portrayed on film. Still, people here are jerks :/ – Braden Best Oct 15 '14 at 3:16
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    Is your question how to lock your bike or the one in the title? Your comments suggest it's the duplicate. If it is, please edit accordingly or just delete the question. – Móż Oct 15 '14 at 3:24
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Short answer: no.

I've cut a 10mm stranded cable using normal straight-jaw wire cutters in under a minute. 4mm I expect I'd cut in one go, in whatever time it took to put the side-cutters onto the cable plus a second. The 10mm cable I cut with sidecutters because that's the tool I had handy, so I just nibbled a bit of the plastic cover away and then cut one strand at a time using the very tip of the jaws. It was mildly tedious, and the leverage was all wrong for the first few. Once I'd cut about a third of the strands I could work two or three uncut strands into the jaws a bit more and cut them more easily.

As you point out, a stranded cable is trivial to cut with the right tool, and even a very heavy one (more than half an inch thick) can be cut with hand tools in a couple of seconds. Small versions of those cutters look like any other pair of pliers and a good set will cut most bicycle cable locks in seconds. A heavier set looks like bolt cutters and are usually rated to 3/4" or 1" cables. Or you can buy battery powered versions of those for more money.

cable cutting tool

An armoured cable is harder to cut because there's steel segments surrounding it, and usually they're an inch or so in diameter specifically so you need a physically larger tool to cut them. But the segments can usually be crushed by a bolt-cutter style rope cutter and then the internal cable cut.

The other obvious answer is a disk grinder. They're loud and obvious, but these days battery powered grinders are cheap and readily available. And they're quick - under a minute, likely under 10 seconds for most cables.

Most bike thieves will have one or more of these tools available, and the trouble with the pocket-able plier shaped ones is that they're very easy to carry just in case.

  • FWIW I do use a lock like this, but as a secondary lock to my D lock. I use it to attach my bike to things when I can't get the primary lock around them, making it reasonable to carry a mini D lock everywhere. And my cable is a ~6mm thick one, it's just to discourage people from carrying my bike away if they have no tools. – Móż Oct 15 '14 at 2:55
  • Thank you for the answer! I think Batman's answer is also very informative, but I can't yet decide which answer to 'accept'. So I'll let it sit until tomorrow to allow for other answers, updates, developments, etc. For now, both of you can have an up-vote. – Braden Best Oct 15 '14 at 3:09
  • As for my locking method, I've decided upon this: I'm going to get a better U-lock (I heard the square ones are really strong and have better resistance to tools), two of them, and use one to lock the rear wheel and frame to something sturdy, and then I'm going to use the cable to attach to the U-lock, run through the rear wheel, seat post, frame and front wheel, then lock the front wheel to the frame with the other U-lock. At least then, if the bike thief manages to cut the cable, they'll only be able to steal the seat post, provided they also have a set of Allen (spelling?) keys handy. – Braden Best Oct 15 '14 at 3:10
  • Or use locking quick release skewers as they're lighter and easier to use than a second D lock. – Móż Oct 15 '14 at 3:21
  • I'll look that up, thanks! And as for the question, I've decided to give your answer the accept. Batman's answer is very informative since it introduces Hal, but your answer is straightforward, to-the-point, and more relevant to the question. – Braden Best Oct 15 '14 at 3:34
2

Generally you need a decently hefty one for some resistance. A 4mm diameter one should be pretty much trivial to cut through.

Something like

enter image description here

which is about 10 mm in diameter is a bit better (in conjunction with a good U-lock or chain lock protecting the rear wheel+frame), but it also depends on how well the cable inside is constructed.

The smart thing to do is to carry around a good U-lock and lock the rear triangle of the bike with the rim to the rack, and secure the front wheel as well. Pitlock type skewers can be helpful too.

Also see this youtube video:

  • For what its worth, my typical strategy is 2 (strong) U locks [Kryptonite New York Lock for the rear wheel+frame, Fahgettiboutit for the front wheel]. Seat is not quick release and is cheap, so I don't particularly bother with locking it typically, even though maybe I should. – Batman Oct 15 '14 at 0:19
  • Yeah, my current strategy is to lock the rear wheel and frame to something solid via U-lock, and then take the front wheel, as well as any easily-removable accessories, with me. – Braden Best Oct 15 '14 at 0:43
  • Whereas I mostly go with U-lock to secure frame and rear wheel, and one of these cables to secure the front wheel. But while I live in a relatively-high-bike-theft area, I do not own a high-end bike, so I'm less of a target. And I'm picky about where I'll secure it and for how long. – keshlam Oct 15 '14 at 3:54

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