The Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock is among the most versatile bike locks we reviewed. It combines the power of a U-lock with the versatility of a cable. While we acknowledge that cable locks are about the least effective locks out there, when paired with a U-Lock, it creates a considerable deterrent for most thieves. Its real perk is that the extra cable enables a rider to keep the front tire on the bike — a real plus when examining biking products on the market, road bikes are moving to disc brakes and hydraulic disc brakes. This lock is ideal for the person who has a nice bike, resides in a low-to-medium risk area, and plans to secure their bike and have visual contact with it for a while.Editor's Note: We updated this gear review on January 25, 2022, with additional sections to help you narrow down the possible contenders to one that suits your needs.
Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock Review
Cons: Slightly less secure than other U-Lock models, bulky
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Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock
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|Pros||Versatile, light (for a U-Lock), easy to use, value||Wearable design, solid security, easy to use||Secure, includes 5 keys, price is nice||Inexpensive, more secure than many in its price range, high quality||Lightweight, easy-to-carry, easy-to-use|
|Cons||Slightly less secure than other U-Lock models, bulky||Not lightweight, uncomfortable with some backpacks, pricey||Clunky mounting hardware, heavy||Locking mechanism stuck a few times, lackluster frame mount||Minimal security, can be compromised with the right tools quickly|
|Bottom Line||A versatile U-lock and cable combo that provides strong security at a favorable price point||The innovative design of this wearable chain lock increases this heavy lock's portability, which is great news for regular bike commuters||This lock provides great security and versatility at an affordable price, and while not our absolute favorite, it's pretty close||This inexpensive U-lock offers versatility and security that is likely to fit the needs and budgets of many cyclists and commuters||If you're in the market for a highly portable and lightweight lock but without much security, this one has your name on it|
|Rating Categories||Kryptonite Evolutio...||Hiplok Original: Su...||OnGuard Brute STD||Kryptonite Kryptolo...||ABUS Chain Lock 120...|
|Ease of Transport (25%)|
|Ease of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Kryptonite Evolutio...||Hiplok Original: Su...||OnGuard Brute STD||Kryptonite Kryptolo...||ABUS Chain Lock 120...|
|Measured weight (lbs)||3.5 lbs||4.3 lbs||3.6 lbs||3.2 lbs||0.5 lbs|
|Type of lock||U-Lock + cable||Wearable chain||U-Lock||U-Lock + cable||Chain|
|Primary materials/thickness||13mm hardened steel; braided steel cable||8mm hardened steel chain, 600D polyester sleeve||16.8mm hardened steel||12.7mm hardened steel; braided steel cable||4mm hardened steel|
|Locking dimension||U-lock: 5.6" x 9.4"; Cable: 4'||33.5" circumference, 2" width||7.5" x 10.5"||U-lock: 4" x 9"; Cable: 4'||43" circumference|
|# of keys included||3 keys (one with HID light)||3 keys||5 keys||2 keys||N/A|
|Tin snips||Cable: Yes; U-lock: No||No||No||No||Yes, requires two cuts to defeat|
|Bolt cutters, 36"||Cable: Yes, U-lock: No||No||No||No||Yes, but not very easily. Requires two cuts|
|Number of cuts to free lock||2 cuts||1 cut||2 cuts||2 cuts||2 cuts|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Kryptonite Evolution 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 a few 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: 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.
But, you know, if you're on a college campus at night, we're not really sure what an extra minute of inconvenience will buy you. The U-lock part of the setup is less secure than other U-Locks included in this review. The steel bar has a smaller diameter than some of the competition. 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. That said, this U-lock would have to be cut twice before a thief could free your bike due to the dual-locking mechanism of the Evolution — a feature commonly found on the most secure bike locks.
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 mounts that are 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, 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, mainly when they include climbs.
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-7 kudos for keeping the weight down while still offering a versatile option for those medium-risk areas.
Ease of Use
The Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 scored points in the Ease of Use metric because the cable eliminates 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.
This metric is where the Kryptonite Evolution Mini truly 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.
Should You Buy the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock?
We give the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 kudos for keeping the weight down while still offering a versatile bike lock. 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.
What Other Bike Locks Should You Consider?
We like this versatile U-Lock and cable combo that combines security with versatility. While it's not as portable as other bike locks, it nonetheless offers a lighter weight option than other U-Locks on the market. If your biking gear is expensive, though, it's better to go with maximum security, such as what the Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock offers.
— Rebecca Eckland
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