Kryptonite lock


Kryptonite lock

The Kryptonite lock is an Ingersoll Rand-owned brand of bicycle lock for securing a bicycle to a pole or other fixture, when the owner wants to leave the bicycle in a public place. It was named after kryptonite, the fictitious substance that can thwart the powerful comic-book hero Superman. The basic design, made of hardened steel of circular cross section bent into a U-shape with a removable crossbar, has been emulated by numerous other manufacturers, and adapted with variations in size and shape for other applications, locking motorcycles for instance.The Kryptonite lock was developed in 1972. Before then, the only comparable security available was from a chain, which could weigh almost as much as the bicycle itself. (A common humorous observation in bicycle magazines at the time was that the total weight of bicycle plus chain was constant regardless of cost, since owners of more expensive, lighter bikes would buy heavier, more secure chains.) Inexpensive chains or cables were easily cut using commonly available tools. Indeed, local hardware stores would often sell chain cut to length with simple bolt cutters. The first Kryptonite lock model was made of sheet metal cut and bent to shape, but the company soon went to the now universal circular cross section.

History

In an early test of the Kryptonite lock, a bicycle was locked to a signpost in Greenwich Village in New York City for thirty days. Thieves stripped the bike of every part that could be removed, but the lock resisted all attempts to break it. The innovative U-shaped design of the Kryptonite lock was subsequently adopted by several other manufacturers, with varying degrees of security. U-locks can often be seen holding naked rusty bike frames without pedals, gears, or wheels to bike racks.

Vulnerability

Until 2004 Kryptonite locks used the tubular pin tumbler locking mechanism. In 2004, videos circulating on the Internet demonstrated that some tubular pin tumbler locks of the diameter used on Kryptonite locks could be easily opened with the shaft of an inexpensive ballpoint pen of matching diameter. Trade website BikeBiz.com revealed that the weaknesses of the tubular pin tumbler mechanism had first been described in 1992 by UK journalist John Stuart Clark [http://www.bikebiz.com/news/23471/The-pen-is-mightier-than-theu-lock "The pen is mightier than the... u-lock"] , BikeBiz.com - accessed 18 July 2008] . For an article in New Cyclist magazine he teamed up with a bike thief to show how easy it was to break in to the majority of bicycle locks then on the market. One of the methods he revealed was the ballpoint pen method. His article led to follow-ups in bigger circulation bicycle magazines and a BBC TV consumer rights programme also carried a feature on the pen method. Some UK trade distributors of bicycle locks using the tumbler mechanism withdrew the products from the marketplace and introduced locks which were more pick-proof. Following BikeBiz.com's report about this 1992 knowledge of the pen method the lock-picking video received widespread attention by the mainstream media and after a few days of negative publicity the company responded with a lock exchange offer. However, lawyers in the US and Canada had already launched class actions against the Kryptonite Corporation, citing the 1992 revelations on BikeBiz.com Kryptonite Corporation later settled the claims out of court despite the fact the 1992 magazine article had not featured a Kryptonite lock and Kryptonite employees said they were unaware of the 1992 article.

References

External links

* [http://www.kryptonitelock.com/ Kryptonite lock manufacturer's website]
* [http://thirdrate.com/kryptonite/ Benjamin Running's original collection of lock picking videos and press coverage received]
* [http://www.bikeforums.net/video/ Videos of Kryptonite locks hacked by a Bic pen]
* [http://www.bikeforums.net/video/npr-interview.mp3 NPR interview with Benjamin Running, discoverer of the Bic pen lock exploit]
* [http://www.intuitive.com/blog/debunking_the_myth_of_kryptonite_locks_and_the_blogosphere.html "Debunking the myth of Kryptonite Locks and the Blogosphere"] Dave Taylor, intuitive.com (retrieved 29 Oct 2006)
* [http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2004/09/64987 "Twist a Pen, Open a Lock" - Wired.com article] (in English)


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