Bicycles

This bike lock stinks – but that's a good thing

The Skunklock in its native habitat
The Skunklock in its native habitat
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The Skunklock has a deterrent-containing interior chamber that runs throughout the length of its hardened medium-carbon steel shackle
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The Skunklock has a deterrent-containing interior chamber that runs throughout the length of its hardened medium-carbon steel shackle
The Skunklock in its native habitat
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The Skunklock in its native habitat
The Skunklock's deterrent will irritate the thief's eyes, cause them to have difficulty breathing, and may even make them vomit
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The Skunklock's deterrent will irritate the thief's eyes, cause them to have difficulty breathing, and may even make them vomit

If you look at the bike lock in the above photo, you'll see that it's black with white stripes. It's no coincidence that that's the same coloration as a skunk. And, just like a skunk, the Skunklock will make a big stink if anyone messes with it.

Although it looks and (mostly) works just like a regular U-lock, the Skunklock has an interior chamber that runs throughout the length of its hardened medium-carbon steel shackle. Sealed within that chamber is a pressurized legal-but-noxious "unique chemical deterrent."

Under regular use, that chemical stays inside the lock. If the shackle is cut into and the chamber is breached, however, the deterrent gets out. It then creates a cloud of very unpleasant-smelling gas which will irritate the thief's eyes, cause them to have difficulty breathing, and may even make them vomit. Additionally, it's claimed that the chemical will permanently permeate their clothing, ruining it.

The Skunklock's deterrent will irritate the thief's eyes, cause them to have difficulty breathing, and may even make them vomit
The Skunklock's deterrent will irritate the thief's eyes, cause them to have difficulty breathing, and may even make them vomit

They could conceivably just return to the lock-cutting task once the gas has cleared, but the idea is that they'll instead move on after having drawn so much attention to themselves. There's also the hope that upon initially seeing the word "Skunklock," they'll be wary enough of the lock that they'll just leave it alone.

And no, it can't be refilled with more deterrent.

The lock is currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign, where a pledge of US$99 will currently get you one – assuming it reaches production, that is. The planned retail price is $150.

Sources: Skunklock, Indiegogo

9 comments
Winterbiker
I like this concept, but there may be a problem with collateral damage. The stink may land on things other than the thief, meaning that other bikes or bike racks, parking meters, etc could be affected. Who would pay for the clean-up?
MerlinGuy
"it's claimed that the chemical will permanently permeate their clothing, ruining it." Uhhh... And gets all over your bike also. So it saves your bike by ruining it! Who has these horrible, un-thought out ideas?
Bob Flint
Not to mention accidental leakage...
CharlieSeattle
Simple to bypass. Follow rider home to where he parks bike outside. 1 am on a dark night, mess with lock at a distance to set it off. Come back at 3 am after skunk gas has dissipated and steal the bike.
StWils
Does not go far enough. Add Ipecac, (causes vomiting), and a fluorescent pink dye. And the durability problem will largely take care of itself since hard metallic surfaces will not absorb much. The whole point is that soft living materials such as the punk cutting your bike lock WILL absorb lots of an aromatic ester, (the skunk scent), ipecac, and a reasonably durable pink dye. The normal weathering effects will take care of hard surfaces while some pinhead will have a difficult unpleasant several weeks while his coating "weathers" away.
Madlyb
Brilliant idea, but because it announces itself, means that the thief can mitigate using a bag to cover the lock during the cutting effort. Still opportunity for leakage, but a lot better than just a straight cut.
ljaques
So the thief wears an impermeable bunny suit (painters/lead abatement $8), grabs your bike, loses the suit, and makes off with the bike. Not very much of a deterrent. Does this stinky goop also take the paint off your bike, eat the tires, ruin the seat, etc?
MikeFlynn
Looks like they have a FAQ, they covered some of the concerns brought up (skunklock.com/faq). Seems like they provide instructions on fully disinfecting your bike after a theft, and looks like the spray goes in the direction of the cut toward the thief not elsewhere. I mean they probably wouldn't get away with something legally speaking if it permanently ruined your bike, it would probably be lethal, just common sense thinking. Was worth the read...
StWils
Yesterday, in my haste, I overlooked some research done by the US Army about twenty years ago into non-lethal deterrents. Specifically, there is a material that when wet become extremely sticky. Add that one to the list as well. The same project also produced an alternative that was extremely slippery and was intended to be an additive for police water cannons. Another material would turn an entire pond or running stream into a gel thusly causing selective localized flooding. However, for this item I think the super sticky crap is best tool to use! What a great mix! Pink Dye, Skunk Scent, Ipecac, (to put some malcontent into the correct frame of mind), all gelled together with a somewhat durable stickiness!