Litelok Gold Wearable Review
Cons: Not confidently secure around waist, not adjustable fit
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Cycling is a sport that's really all about shedding weight: the lighter the bike frame (and the lighter the rider) the better. If you're a commuter, though, you've got to pack around a bike lock to keep those wheels safe. Most of the time, this means you've got to carry around an awkward and (most times) heavy lock that may or may not mount to your bike frame, or that will smash your backpack contents.
Enter the Litelok Gold, a lock that doubles as a belt and offers you pretty great versatility in terms of where and to what you can lock your bike while taking away the pain of mounting a lock to your frame or carrying your lock in a bag. It flexes to stretch around your waist, but is otherwise rigid, which our testers didn't find all that comfortable.
This lock receives a Gold rating from Sold Secure, a third-party lock security assessment company. For the weight, this is the lightest lock we have tested with this rating.
This lock easily withstood our attacks using a hammer, bolt cutters, tin snips, and wire cutters, just as we expected. It will eventually succumb to a hacksaw, but you'd have to be a pretty dedicated thief to cut through the Litelok with this tool — it can be done, but you're looking at a twenty-minute effort. It takes one cut to defeat with an angle grinder. The addition of power tools sped the process up considerably, but it still took 20+ seconds of sparks flying and that metal-burning smell to get through the lock, which is sure to grab some attention. For comparison, heavy-duty U-locks weigh a pound or two more but take about double the amount of time to cut through with an angle grinder. Also, many of the high-end U-locks require two separate cuts to free your bike from a bike rack, increasing the time required and attention to the crime. The Litelok offers above-average security, but also not the most of all locks.
Ease of Transport
In general, we appreciate wearable locks. Wearing a lock like a belt is a pretty cool idea, and we dug the fact that we didn't have to give up one (or both) of our bottle holders to install a mount for the Litelok Gold. Once the actions are familiar, many of our testers found that wearable models decrease the time spent messing with the lock when locking up and getting back on the bike. This model also has a reflective cover around its hardened steel core, allowing you to be seen when underway on the road. It's impressive that Litelok is able to produce such a lightweight lock with high security. The low weight feels better around the waist, but its rigidity didn't feel as comfortable as more flexible wearable locks we have tested.
We also love that you don't need a key to lock it around your body. On its own, this is an awesome advantage. To secure this model without locking it, a plastic buffer needs to be moved to cover the locking mechanism (to prevent it from fully locking and requiring the key). The lock actually snaps into place, and there's an additional elastic strap to keep the Litelok in place. It's very convenient to snap together and pull back apart, all without pulling the key out of our pocket.
Our only problem is that the theory is better than the reality. In practice, our testers discovered that the lock had a tendency to come "halfway undone" while riding (see images), which really felt like it was hanging on by a hair. This is nerve-wracking, to say the least, and because it requires both hands to secure the lock again around the waist. Based on our experience, we feel that this could be a potentially dangerous design flaw especially if your commute involves rough roads. We are glad to report that the lock didn't ever fall off our bodies during a ride, but we see the potential for this to happen, and it distracted us multiple times from focusing on the road and traffic. Furthermore, one of the toggles on the elastic band broke as well, which might not seem like a big deal, but if you're spending a considerable sum on a bike lock, nothing should break after three weeks of use, as it did for us. We were bummed that what makes this lock so attractive didn't work out for us in the real world. Improvements here would skyrocket this lock to one of our favorites ever.
If you're not into including a bike lock into your ensemble as a fashion accessory, the lock definitely becomes more awkward. It's actually quite rigid, and it doesn't pack down into a smaller shape, so trying to fit this in a bag can become an Olympic sport. The lock is sold with a simple pack for transporting the lock on your back, but we never used it, as it is unattractive and felt cheap. We would rather Litelok didn't include this little extra and pass the savings on to the consumer to help reduce the high price of this lock. It also comes with two straps to attach the lock to your frame or to strap it to a rack. Our recommendation: you might want to add some bungees to keep the lock secure. The two straps that came with the lock didn't really do the job sufficiently, according to our testers.
Ease of Use
If there's one word to describe the Litelok Gold, it would be "convenient." The ability to secure the Litelok to your body without using the key make putting it on and taking it off quick and easy. It also locks without a key. You only need the key to unlock this model. This was especially appreciated by our testers on days when they were running late. We are fans of any lock that speeds up the process of using it. The locking mechanism is smooth, and we didn't experience any jams over weeks of daily use. It comes with three keys, which makes us less anxious about losing one.
Our only quip here is that the Litelok's rigidity made it difficult to use in some situations. Unlike other locks that can flex on multiple planes, this one only bends one way. Additionally, the lock has a determined propensity to straighten itself out, which was annoying when our testers were trying to lock up their bikes. If we lost our grip, it would spring out of our hands and sometimes smack against our bike.
The Litelok follows the basic idea that the larger the space is, the more stuff you can cram into it. Unlike U-locks that offer a limited area (typically 11" x 5"), the Litelok offers a considerably larger diameter in which you can fit the front and bike tires along with your bike frame, which is the optimal configuration for security. This means you aren't necessarily limited to only locking your wheels to bike racks; the larger size of the Litelok opens other possibilities.
One caveat to consider before purchasing this lock is also the available sizes it comes in. As a wearable lock, you have to take into account not only if the lock will accommodate your bike, but if it will accommodate your waist. Smaller riders who order a smaller size will likely find this lock less versatile for this reason. Be sure to check the size charts to ensure the lock matches your waist, or resort to carrying this lock in an alternative manner.
While there is something to be said for the correlation between the quality of a product and its price, to us the latter still exceeds what the Likelok has to offer. It offers great security, but it also a couple of flaws that keep us from whole-heartedly recommending this product…for now. With a few upgrades and revisions, however, the Litelok could definitely be a top contender in this review. Mostly, we just wish they'd fix the latch so that it doesn't come loose from your midsection when you're pedaling. Maybe adding a bit of flexibility-- so that it can collapse in a bag or bend on more than one plane-- would also be useful. Of course, a lower price would increase this lock's value as well! But, if the above improvements could be implemented, even the high price could be worth it to many commuters.
The Litelok Gold Wearable impressed us with its security and portability. If you're constantly on the go, we liked how convenient this was to lock and unlock. However, if wearing a bike lock is just not your style or you don't fit the sizes offerings, this lock might not "fit" your needs (or, more importantly, you). The latch also needs some serious attention so that it stays where it's supposed to be, even if only for peace of mind.
— Rebecca Eckland