If you HATE taking off your front wheel, adding a cable lock to a U-lock might be a solution for you.
The Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 really includes two types of locks: a U-lock and a cable lock. Since you're reading this review, we're going to assume you know something about the security of cable locks--basically that they don't offer much security against a thief with just about any tool. But, that comes with a huge caveat depending upon your particular situation--and if that cable is paired with a pretty strong U-lock.
Put yourself in the mind of a bike thief: you want the greatest monetary gain with the least risk. So, if it takes five seconds to steal a bike that's $500, that's a win-win situation. However, if a bike that's $500 takes five minutes to steal, you're more likely to lose out on that deal, especially if you're stealing a bike in a well-lit and trafficked area. And that's the power of the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7: with the cable, it adds another layer of inconvenience (a.k.a. time) that a thief will have to deal with if they want to swipe your wheels. And that is certainly worth something.
The Kryptonite Evolution Mini withstood all tools but our burly angle grinder, which requires two cuts to pry it away from most racks/structures. That, plus a few more seconds to snip the cable, adds up to a pretty good deterrent, but not the most protective of all.
But, you know, if you're on a college campus at night, we're not really sure what an extra few seconds of inconvenience will buy you. The U-lock part of the setup is less secure than other U-Locks included in this review. Evidence of this comes from Kryptonite themselves — Their anti-theft warranty protection for this lock doesn't apply to Manhattan residents (where bike theft crimes are very common), which isn't true for their New York Series locks.
The Evolution Mini-7's accompanying cable truly isn't much of a deterrent to potential thieves. Our testers were through the cable in 8 seconds using these cable cutters. With the larger bolt cutters, it took us 42 seconds, and with wire cutters almost a minute. While few might do that for a wheel, it's a sure bet someone will do that for a whole bike.
Ease of Transport
Like the Kryptonite KryptoLok, this model comes with a mount for the U-lock, but you'll need to stash the cable in your backpack during transport. The mount included isn't a masterpiece on its own (same as the one that comes with the Kryptonite U-locks we tested), but it gets the job done well enough without any noticeable shake 'n' rattle. The mount sits streamlined with the bike frame, which we prefer over the mount on the OnGuard Bulldog, which is offset on the side of the frame.
Weighing 3.5 pounds, this model isn't really lightweight. Yet in comparison to some of the heavy-duty U-locks, like the Kryptonite New York Standard, it weighs a pound less. Our testers find this extra weight more noticeable in a pack than when mounted on a frame, but it's definitely appreciated either way on long commutes, especially when they include climbs.
The Evolution Mini-7 is a tough U-lock, but it's small enough to fit into a large purse or messenger bag.
All that being said, let's be real here: there's a world of difference between a U-Lock and folding or cable-type locks. The latter has the potential to fit into a pocket, a slick frame mount, or disappear in a backpack. U-Locks by their very nature don't fit into pockets and add bulk and weight to your frame. Given all of that, we give the Kryptonite Evolution Mini kudos for keeping the weight down while still offering a versatile option for those medium risk areas.
If we were relying only on the U-Lock to secure this mountain bike, we'd need two of them, since the dimensions aren't that large. The cable, though, snakes around the front wheel of the bike, which is plenty for those pit-stops or coffee-breaks when you're out and about.
Ease of Use
The Kryptonite Evolution Mini scored points in the Ease of Use metric because the cable eliminated the need to remove the front tire (in certain situations). This made the ordeal of fitting the U-lock around the tire, frame, and rack much easier to do. The lock mechanism works smoothly, and we appreciate the dust-cover to keep the lock functioning for many rides to come.
As the "U" has smaller dimensions than many U-locks we tested, we found it occasionally difficult to lock it up to an immovable structure, especially when trying to lock up the back wheel along with the frame. Bike racks were typically no problem, but some immovable structures (trees, fences, posts) were more problematic. Overall, we rarely had to really search for a place to lock up in urban environments.
You can also ditch the cable. Here, the Kryptonite Evolution Mini is more than enough to handle the wheels and frame of this road bike.
This is where the Kryptonite Evolution Mini really shines. In our opinion, it out-performed all the other U-Locks without cables in this metric because you aren't forced to remove the front wheel in order to secure the frame and both wheels to a structure.
The Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 has a little bit of everything: versatility, strength, U-lock and cable. The question remains: does it offer enough security for you?
This is the ideal lock for the person who has a nice bike, lives in a low-to-medium risk area, and wants to lock their bike up and not be in visual contact with it for a while. This might be a great opinion for an elementary or middle-school student who rides their bike to school and whose school has a specialized area for its student's bikes. The student will have the peace of mind that their bike is totally safe, while not having to take the front wheel on and off. This is also a great option for smaller college campuses with low crime rates or small rural communities. This is not the lock we'd recommend for high-risk areas, for leaving your bike for extended periods of time (that cable can be cut in nothing flat) or for someone who really wants a portable lock (U-locks, by their very nature, are not very portable).
This lock might also be appealing to you if you have a bike that is following current industry standards, meaning: it has disc and hydraulic disc brakes--which is awesome for the way the bike itself handles but totally sucks when it comes to removing the front tire and placing it alongside the back one (which is the best practice for ensuring your bike isn't stolen when you lock it up.) These newer bikes have through-axles, which require an extra tool to loosen and tighten the axle.
Our testers were happy to trust this lock during the day in most areas of Reno, NV.
At $73, it's not the cheapest lock on the menu, but it's not the most expensive, either. If you're looking for a versatile U-Lock, this might be just for you. If, though, security is your top priority, we suggest upgrading to the Kryptonite New York Standard Lock (which won our Editors' Choice Award) or the Kryptonite New York Fahegttabouthit Mini. Granted, these other models of U-Lock will require you to take the front wheel off; but if that's the price of security, that's something you better be willing to pay.
If you don't mind a larger (but lighter!) U-lock, we urge you to take a strong look at the Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard — it's a very similar lock in many ways, except its price is significantly lower!
Maybe it's overkill? But adding a cable lock to a U-Lock does up the number of seconds a thief has to stay trying to free your bike. And that-- especially in well-lit and highly trafficked areas-- is well worth the price of the lock.
We liked this versatile U lock and cable combo that combines security with versatility. While it's not as portable as other bike locks, it nonetheless offered a lighter weight option than other U-Locks on the market. In most low-to-medium risk situations, we suspect this lock and cable combo is more than enough to keep your bike safe — and your front tire where it belongs.
If you're in a pretty safe place, then this is more than enough to give you peace of mind that your bike is safe from the snatch-and-grab thieves.