Carrying 4 pounds of U-shaped steel rod on your bike in a way that is convenient, secure, and rattle-free has few great solutions.
You don't have to take my word for it, just go look at the reviews for bike locks on Amazon. One of the most common complaints isn't about the lock, but with how the lock attaches to the bike. All locks I know of come with some type of plastic attachment to mount the lock with, but usually in the main triangle of your frame (an otherwise valuable space), and are often rattly or just poorly designed.
"There HAS to be a better way!"
Well, last summer I went looking for the best way to store my U-Lock and eventually found this great handmade product:
I was impatient and in a DIY mood, so instead of pulling the trigger on the leather holster, the inner-tube version was born!
This system has gotten a lot of compliments in its 9 months of service, so I thought it was about time to officially document how to make it.
If your seat doesn't have eyelets but you still want one of these holsters, you can get some screw-together saddle loops. OR, in the spirit of DIY, find a way to make it work without the loops! I'd love to hear about that.
How to make an inner-tube u-lock holster
Note, "left" and "right" are from the perspective of facing the back of the saddle, as seen in the majority of the photos.
Cut some inner-tube, wrap around something in the middle of your seat stay
The lengths aren't super-critical as long as you error on the long side; you'll have a chance to cut them down later. Having them offset as shown *is* important though.
Thread the long/right side of the tube through both saddle loops, starting with the left loop.
Going behind the first thread, put the second/left side of the tube through the right loop.
Going behind is important!
For the final version, I ended up reversing this knot so the leftover rubber faced inward, giving it a cleaner look.
Make the holster loop (but don't tie it)
Test the holster loop length by inserting and securing the lock, then tie it off
It might take a couple tries to get it the right length.
Also, bring your attention to the random-seeming screw in my brake cable hanger (visible in some of the earlier pictures). Originally I set this up when I had the cantilever cable going through where the screw is, performing the critical function of enforcing bottom of the "V" shape you see in these photos. After re-routing the cable out of this area for different brakes, the holster tubing had nothing keeping it from sliding sideways and turned into more of a "U" shape, resulting in the bottom of the lock coming loose and banging around. The screw is for maintaining the bottom of the "V" so that can't happen. You'll probably have to come up with a similar hack if you don't already have something bisecting your seat stay.
Review of the inner-tube holster
This isn't just a DIY article, it's also a ~2000mi review!
So, how did it do?
- User friendly
- Secure (as in your lock won't fall out)
- Rattle proof
- Weather proof
- Allows seat height/angle changes without holster adjustment, which is probably less true if made of materials like leather.
- Costs nothing
- "Green" (reuse is better than recycling, by a lot)
- Relatively difficult to install. Not too difficult, but more so than other ways of carrying a lock.
- Extra difficulty swapping seats once installed
- Requires saddle loops found mainly on touring saddles
- Precludes the use of a saddle bag
- Main holster loop is "sticky" until the rubber wears in (a week maybe?)
If this was an Amazon review, I'd give it 4.5 stars.
It's secure, easy to use, and probably even "in style" for Seattle since people pay top dollar for locally made bags and wallets using recycled rubber. It's not without it's drawbacks, but I'm calling them "drawbacks" rather than faults.
In terms of durability, 2000mi isn't really enough to say anything definitive, but so far, so good. Early on the tube developed some slits around the saddle loop knots from rubbing the corners of the loops, but they haven't progressed in over a thousand miles. If any single section of tube were to snap, I still think the lock would be held on by enough other sections that there wouldn't be a single point of failure. In other words, you'd likely notice your holster was broken before your lock got dropped on the ground.
That's it! I don't blog for profit, so please send a pic if you made one :)