Via Velo U Lock with Cable Review
Cons: Small size isn't as versatile, weak for a U lock, our order did not come with a frame mount
Manufacturer: Via Velo
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Our Analysis and Test Results
While there's a lot to be said for a lock that's light and lean, this one suffers when it comes to security. Compared to other U-locks, this one struck us as slightly easier to break into and even showed considerable wear after we subjected it to a beating with a hammer, where other models survived relatively unscathed.
To be fair, the lock survived the hammer, the tin snips, and our 36" bolt cutters, but was compromised within seconds of encountering the angle grinder power tool. Interestingly, the "weak point" for this lock was its shackle. A single cut through it with the angle grinder was quick, and no additional cut was necessary to free the bike.
Ease of Transport
Despite being advertised and apparently often sold with a frame mount, the model we purchased did not come with one. While this U-lock isn't super heavy, being forced to stuff it into a bag or buy a third-party mount caused us to score this product low in this performance metric.
Since this lock didn't come with a frame mount, we bought the Huldit frame mount for this lock, and everyone agreed — it works great. We actually love this frame mount for many U locks we tested.
The U lock itself is lighter than most of its class, weighing just over 2 lbs. The accompanying cable is considerably longer and heavier than others we tested in this review. At 5'10"--at least a foot longer than other cables included with U-locks in this review-- there's a lot of leeway for your to wrap up your additional wheels, seat, handlebars, etc. Granted, it takes seconds to snip through a cable, so depending where you're locking up your bike, this may or may not factor into your decision. And, in terms of ease of transportation--that's an additional foot of cable you'll have to wind around your seat post or put somewhere when you're pedaling to your next destination.
Ease of Use
We though the Via Velo lock fell somewhere in the middle of this metric. It's not like solving an algebra equation to use the lock, but the locking mechanism wasn't the smoothest of the bunch, either. We tended to notice this more due to the lock's size (trying to squeeze two wheels, the bike frame and the bike rack was like trying to squeeze into skinny jeans after too much pizza) and if the two sides of the U don't align with the lock perfectly, you're out of luck.
The Via Velo doesn't have a dust cover over the keyhole. If you plan on mounting this lock into the bike frame, you could potentially get more road debris in the lock without a dust cover, making it more difficult to use.
The lock comes with three keys, which offers you some peace of mind in case you lose one (or two.) None of the keys has a light on it like some other U-Locks on the market, which is sort of a bummer if you tend to lock or unlock your bike at night.
With a shackle that'san inch or two shorter than other standard-sized U-locks (which tend to be around 11" long), it's more difficult to lock up both your front and rear tire and bike frame to a bike rack. This is especially true if you have a thicker frame (like a mountain bike) or the bike racks in your neighborhood are of the thicker variety.
We were often unable to lock both wheels to the bike rack even on our commute bikes with skinny tires. This is a serious detriment, especially for riders who are locking their bikes in high-risk areas. Granted, the added length on the accompanying cable--which is two feet longer than most cables that come with U-Locks--can add some versatility points to the Via Velo. As we stress throughout this review, however, don't rely on the cable lock to secure your bike frame. It's also up for debate if the cable lock is a good idea for securing the front wheel.
We recommend that you take into consideration where you will be locking your bike when selecting a lock. The Via Velo might be fine for you if you have a smaller frame and you are not locking to a thick bike rack. However, if you are riding a larger bike with thick tires and plan on locking to a tree, this is definitely not the lock for you.
For its price, the Via Velo performed ok. Every bike lock will succumb to power tools, and for the price, we thought this little lock did just about as well as we expected it would. Where it failed to impress us was its versatility and the lack of a frame mount. If we had received a frame mount with our purchase, it would have boosted this model's score. Without it, it was tougher to transport while also being one of the weakest U locks we tested.
We wish the focus of this lock was less on the length of the cable it comes with, but more on the size of the U-lock itself. While we appreciate U locks with lower prices, this one missed the mark in a few areas where others in its price range didn't.
— Rebecca Eckland