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Hiplok Gold bike lock review: A big, heavy, chain that’s easy to use

How do you make a chain that weighs more than 2kg convenient to use?

Hiplok Gold Chain Lock
(Image: © Josh Ross)

Our Verdict

There’s no magic, more hardened steel means a more secure lock. The problem is that more steel also means a heavier, harder-to-use lock. The Hiplok Gold finds a way to balance the two opposite challenges and makes for a convenient and secure urban lock, it’s not cheap though.

For

  • Comfortable to wear and no locking required
  • Reflective exterior adds safety when lock is worn and protects bike frame
  • Includes three coded and replaceable keys
  • Sold Secure Gold rating means lock can withstand attack with hand tools for longer than five minutes

Against

  • Price is high
  • No mechanism for securing extra waist strap material

When it comes to researching, there are some things that end up being deep rabbit holes, and bike security is one of the topics that ranks high on that list. Start researching and it can quickly consume you with endless choices and considerations; the process might feel like a full-time job, but for us, it literally is. We have the time to do the research and we've built relationships with experts who can answer questions when we have them. Recently we've leveraged those resources to put together recommendations for the best bike locks on the market. With that done, we got a little more focused and put together another list covering the best ebike locks available. 

If you check both lists, you'll find there are a number of crossover products, because as crowded as the bike security market might be, the best products have a way of rising to the top. One of those products is the Hiplok Gold chain lock. Now that we've had a chance to spend more time with the lock, we are ready to discuss it in more detail. If you are looking for a balance of high security and ease of use, keep reading to see if the Hiplok Gold chain lock fits your needs.

Hiplok Gold Chain Lock super bright reflection

Depending on the lighting, the Hiplok Gold in this 'super bright' colourway will almost glow. Headlights will always cause the brightest reflection. (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Design and aesthetics 

The fundamental problem with all bike locks is that the bigger and heavier you make them the more secure but less usable they become. In the case of the original Hiplok, the solution to this was to take a pair of designers and let them do what designers do, solve problems. Cyclists have been wearing chains around their waists since before Hiplok's founding in 2011 but Ben Smith and John Abrahams made it safe. The Hiplok Gold is essentially the same product but the security has had an upgrade. 

Like the Hiplok original, the Hiplok Gold is a bike chain with provisions for wearing it without locking it. The chain itself uses 10mm thick hardened steel to form links, there's 85cm of locking length and at the end is a padlock with a 12mm thick shackle. It's this padlock design where the innovation really starts. 

Instead of a standard padlock, there are two main differences. The outer housing isn't flat but rather curved like a belt buckle. Locking and unlocking it requires using one of three coded - and replaceable if registered - keys but there's an extension that sticks out past the keyhole. If you want to boil down the design to its basic innovation, this is it. A padlock with a curved exterior and an extension. 

The extension is a simple metal bar connecting to the other side of the chain via a plastic latch. The other side of the clip is a buckle with nylon webbing threaded through it, and this webbing bridges the gap between the buckle and a sheath covering the exterior of the chain. These small innovations create a belt that's adjustable for waist sizes between 30 and 44 inches and doesn't require a key when wearing. While earlier versions of the Hiplok Gold used the sheath only as a cover, this latest version has it as part of the structure. It hasn't lost its aesthetic considerations though. 

Currently, there are options for a black version or the super bright that we have. Choose the super bright and one side is still black but the other is grey until it gets hit with light. Under light, the grey turns into a bright white that almost looks like it's a powered light source. If there's some reason you need to remove it, unscrew the pair of bolts holding it on and it will slip off the chain. 

Security

The Hiplok Gold chain lock uses a chain formed from 10mm thick hardened steel. The lock portion, referred to as the shackle, uses 12mm thick hardened steel. The lock also carries a Sold Secure Gold rating which means that it's been independently and professionally tested. Specifically, the Gold rating means it will take longer than five minutes to defeat the lock using hand tools including large bolt cutters and hacksaws. 

One thing you might notice is that the Sold Secure Gold rating does not include testing with a portable angle grinder. The specifics of Sold Secure testing are somewhat secret for security purposes but also because it regularly changes based on what thieves are using. What's clear though is that the Gold level does not include angle grinder testing and if you are curious, this lock will not resist an angle grinder. 

There's actually more to the story though. The Kryptonite NY Fahgettaboudit uses a shackle that is 18mm thick, it happens to be one of the most well-known high-security locks on the market and has been for years. There's been a lot of testing against it with angle grinders, and it takes around a minute to cut through with a mains-powered grinder and the lock in a vice. That means two minutes with an angle grinder would defeat it and that's relevant to the Hiplok Gold as a point of reference. 

Chains have some advantages though; namely, you can lock a chain tight to the frame of the bike, and in this case, it's very difficult to cut the chain without cutting the bike. The Hiplok Gold lock isn't all that long for just this reason. Keep tight to the frame and it's not impossible to steal but it's more secure than most options. 

If you are looking for a truly angle-grinder-resistant option, take a look at our Hiplok D1000 review.

Performance

Is there anything more important than security when it comes to a bike lock? The answer is perhaps less clear-cut than you might think. As discussed, there are locks that are highly secure but so hard to use that no one does. On the other hand, a lock that's super convenient but provides little security isn't a great choice either. We’ve covered the security of the Hiplok Gold in the section above, now it’s time to discuss the rest of the user experience.  

The first thing you really need to wrap your head around is that the systems for belt wearing and locking are completely separate. The lock is a fancy padlock but it gets used like a padlock when locking the bike. Start by removing the belt clip from the lock completely then remove the lock from the chain. Thread the chain through the rear wheel, the frame, and around your chosen anchor and finally connect both ends to the lock before locking it. It would be a simple mistake to confuse yourself when in a hurry but it would leave your bike unlocked and an easy target. 

As a belt, the Hiplok Gold is heavy but completely functional. You'll notice 2.2kg around your waist but it's for urban riding and commuting and it's not an issue. It never falls down or feels uncomfortable. The only issue for me is that getting it to fit comfortably means I have the adjustment almost completely cinched up. There's quite a bit of a tail and no clever way to deal with it. Truly it's not a serious problem, it's easily tucked in, but it's such a clever design that this one small detail stands out. It's also worth mentioning that sweat, dirt, and oil will discolour the super bright material and it can be difficult to get clean again. I haven't experienced an issue on the Hiplok Gold but after years with other products using the same fabric, it happens. 

When it comes to locking, things are just as positive. There's plenty of room to lock the rear wheel plus a thicker anchor, like a sign post, and the frame triangle. I've even managed to lock both my bike and my son's bike to the same post. It's not something I'd recommend but it's also not impossible. Also, the cover keeps the chain a little more comfortable against your body and it's plenty thick enough to keep the chain from marking your bike. 

Verdict

I don't like to lean on price as a negative and that's never truer than when reviewing a lock. It's almost never worth saving a small amount of money if it's going to mean a stolen bike. Still, the Hiplok Gold is a pricey lock and in terms of value it may not match up against the security of a lock like the Pitbull Onguard and the 14mm shackle it offers. Pricing is the only real drawback to the Hiplok Gold. 

As long as the extra money is in your budget, you do get a higher quality lock in the Hiplok Gold. It comes with three keys but the codes make them replaceable if lost and there's a ten-year warranty if the lock cylinder gets sticky. The super bright cover is great for riding after dark, there's no frame mount to break, and Sold Secure Gold offers security for most situations. If you like having more flexibility in how you lock your bike paired with the ease of use that comes with wearability, the Hiplok Gold is a great choice. 

Testing scorecard and notes
AttributesNotesRating
SecuritySold Secure Gold is a high level of security and it means third party testing but there’s no insurance offer. Insurance offers don’t always pan out but it would be nice to at least see it offered. Also, Gold security isn’t the highest offered and unless carefully locked an angle grinder will still win the day.8/10
Build QualityFor most people what ends a lock is moisture degradation of the lock cylinder. There are no reports of that being an issue and if it is, the ten year warranty should cover you. Replaceable keys add peace of mind. Every touch point feels great.10/10
Ease of useThere’s enough length to capture a sign post, a rear wheel, and the frame triangle. The wearable feature is great. 10/10
ValueAlthough you get great build quality and warranties, you do pay more and if you only want security for less money there are other options.5/10
Overall rating83%

Tech Specs:  Hiplok Gold  

  • Price: £94.99 / $129.99
  • Weight: 2.4kg
  • Chain Thickness: 10mm
  • Shackle Thickness: 12mm
  • Locking Length: 85cm
  • Waist Size: 30" - 44"
  • Security Certification: Sold Secure Gold

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