Security and Locks for Electric Scooters

11/16/2020

Security and Locks for Electric Scooters

Micromobility has already helped solve several modern transportation issues, and may reshape the way we get around in the near future. But small electric vehicle owners are still plagued by an ancient problem. Electric scooters present new security challenges, and their proliferation has ushered in a new epidemic of vehicle theft. It should go without saying that if you’ve made an investment in a high-quality personal electric scooter like the Unagi Model One, you’ll want to go the extra mile to protect it.

Luckily, Unagi is ultra-portable, with an easy, one-click folding mechanism and lightweight, high-grade materials. The single motor version weighs only 23 pounds and the dual motor only 26 pounds, setting it at an advantage to major e-scooter competitors like the Ninebot Max (weighing over 41 pounds).

When it comes to portability, the three-dimensional footprint that a vehicle takes up is another critical characteristic, and the Unagi makes a point of emphasis here too. In most cases, you can actually click an Unagi scooter closed and take it with you to school, work (even effortlessly putting it under a desk), the grocery store and your home. You can also sometimes just roll it beside you and pop out the kickstand.

However, not every place will accommodate a folding scooter. For those that need to leave their steeds outside, built-in security features are quickly developing in the lightweight electric vehicles industry to deter theft. These can include locking steering columns, brake locks, keyed ignition, and other features that prevent thieves from rolling or driving the scooter away. Other enhancements can include tracking and security alarms. These features are currently rare for scooters (both the Xiaomi M365 and Ninebot-Segway models don’t have them), and you can be certain that Unagi will be exploring cool anti-theft features potential in the future.

However, a bad-actor simply picking up the scooter and carrying it away is still a threat, regardless of the extent of anti-theft software or hardware. If you really want to keep your scooter secure, the best thing to do is lock it to an immovable object in a well-lit, moderately trafficked area. Avoid known high crime areas and try to lock it within view of security cameras and other deterrents.

What kind of lock works best? That will depend on a number of factors, including your budget, the type of electric scooter you own, and the level of security you might need. Let’s take a look at a few of the options. Many of these may already be familiar. Scooter-specific locks are rare, but many locks originally designed for bikes will get the job done.


Electric Scooter U-Locks

U-locks have been around for long enough that everyone recognizes them as an essential accessory for bike messengers and other cyclists. They can also double as scooter locks, provided they are small enough that they cannot be slipped over the handlebars or will fit between the spokes of a wheel. (For an Unagi scooter, the U-lock should have an internal diameter of roughly 4 in. by 6 in. or 10cm by 15cm.) The advantage of these heavy-duty locks is that they fit around a variety of different shapes--although note that for scooters, you will usually want a longer U-lock over a shorter one. In Unagi’s case, most U-locks placed around the front of the frame can’t be slipped over either wheel.

U-locks can notably be used on their own or in combination with cables or chains, and they slip easily in a back pocket or a backpack.

Kryptonite makes some of the strongest and most reliable U-locks on the market, and many of them include additional chains or cables for more security. Their New York Fahgettaboudit Mini lock has a security rating of 10 out of 10, with a hardened cut-proof steel shackle, double deadbolt, and a lifetime warranty. You can pay less for a cut-proof U-lock from Sigtuna, which has similar features, an 85/100 security rating, and comes with an additional cable, though it does not come with Kryptonite’s lifetime warranty and theft insurance. This lock is much larger, however, and may not be suitable for many e-scooters. There are also U-Locks with combinations instead of keys.


Electric Scooter Chain Locks

If you live in a high-theft area and need serious security, a chain lock can be an option, but bear in mind that such locks, usually consisting of a heavy steel chain and padlock, can add several pounds to your ride depending on their size. Chain locks can also be vulnerable to bolt cutters if their links are under 16mm thick. (Links 16mm or greater can only be cut with a power saw.) One good option for a chain lock comes from Terra Hiker, whose keyless, 5-digit combination lock eliminates the need for keys and keeps your electric scooter safe with 100,000 possible combinations.


Electric Scooter Cable Locks

Cable locks are popular because they are lighter weight and more compact than the above options. They are not, however, nearly as secure as U-Locks or chains and are fairly easy to cut through with the right tools, so they should only be used in low-crime areas. They can be key or combination locks, or simply a cable with two looped ends through which a padlock or U-lock is inserted. A cable lock like the Bell Watchdog, made of alloy steel with a 4-digit combination, is easy to carry and easy to store, features that might outweigh premium security for many riders.


Electric Scooter Disc Locks

Disc locks, originally designed for mopeds and motorcycles, essentially slip around the scooter’s wheel and freeze it in place so that the vehicle cannot be moved. Like built-in security features, a disc lock will not prevent a thief from picking up the scooter and carrying it away, but disc locks can be combined with other kinds of locks for added security, and many disc locks, such as Kryptonite’s Kryptolok, will sound an alarm if the scooter is moved or tampered with. Since disc locks are typically made for wider wheels, they may not work with every scooter, but they can be suitable for electric scooters with wider tires.


Electric Scooter Folding Locks

For the most portable, compact option, you cannot do better than a folding lock. While these will not stop a pair of bolt cutters, they will fit in your pocket. A quality folding lock like Foldylock will typically feature components made of hardened steel. Foldylock’s rivets will stand up to a hand saw and its cylinder and other components can’t be penetrated by a drill.

These are just some of the locks that can work for keeping your scooter safe. As a general rule, however, we don't recommend locking your Unagi and leaving it unattended, especially in high-traffic areas like New York City or Los Angeles, given its lightweight, compact size. When in doubt, take advantage of its unique, compact foldability and lightness, and carry it inside with you to your favorite restaurants or stores.


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