Just as there are a variety of types of bicycle locks, so there are a variety of ways in which riders carry them. U-locks can be thrown into a backpack or pannier, clipped into a mounting bracket, or just left to dangle from the handlebars, while cable or chain locks are often jauntily looped around the rider's torso, like a shoulder bag. The makers of the Hiplok, however, claim that their product has all of those approaches beat – it's designed to be worn like a belt.
The bulk of the Hiplok is a heavy-duty steel chain, covered in a nylon sleeve. Attached to one end of the chain is a combination belt buckle and padlock. In "lock" mode, the last link of the other end of the chain simply goes through the hasp of the padlock. In "belt" mode, a length of webbing that extends past the non-buckle end of the chain is threaded through the buckle, allowing everything to be cinched tight around the rider's waist.
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It's a niggling point, but a quick-release buckle would have been a nice touch, so users could just set the tightness once, then forget about it.
So, why is a belt lock supposedly better? For starters, say the creators of the Hiplok, you won't have to bring along a backpack just for carrying your U-lock, the weight of the lock won't cause strain on your back and shoulders, and you won't have to mar your bike's appearance by attaching a frame mount. When riders wear chains or cables locked across their torso, they add, there is a risk that rescue personnel won't be able to easily remove them in the event of an accident.
It would be interesting to find out, however, if the belt starts to dig into the hips after a while – or conversely, if it eventually works its way down until it's riding too low.
The Hiplok weighs 1.8 kg (4 lbs), and comes in five color combinations. It is available online for GBP 69.99 (about US$114).
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