Homeless in Vancouver: The higher cost of my peace of mind

My bicycle security system consists principally of a heavyweight six-foot chain and a mini U-lock.

It’s not a complex system but it does require some regular maintenance: oiling the lock and, when the time comes, replacing it.

Today I replaced my Master-brand mini U-lock. I went back to the same locksmith where I purchased it a little over a year ago and bought another Master mini U-lock—off the same wall-hook display.

It may have been one of the other ones hanging on that same hook when I bought the first one, like I said, a little over a year ago.

Anyway, it’s identical to the lock it replaces, except for the cost.

A year-and-some ago, the lock cost $24 plus tax. Today the lock cost $39 plus tax—a $15 increase in the sticker price.

With taxes, the new lock cost me $43.68. I don’t know what else to say about it except that it seems to be a steep increase.

But I have to be glad I could get one. I think it’s a good-quality U-lock.

Unfortunately, in my experience, no matter how well locks are made, they wear out. The act of locking and unlocking gradually grinds away at a lock’s internal components. Grit and/or water in the mechanism increases wear.

You should oil locks regularly, and, ideally, keep them away from water (easier said than done).

But all you can do is prolong their useful life. Basically, the more you use them—and the more they’re exposed to the elements—the faster locks wear until they wear out.

When the key starts getting hard to turn, that’s a sure sign to lubricate the lock, and not with WD-40, which can increase wear!

At the first sign that lubricating the lock doesn’t stop the key from sticking, replace the lock. That’s what I was doing today.

I had stopped using the old lock when it became unreliably sticky, and switched to a spare U-lock some weeks ago.

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Ishmael bubble
Wow. Riveting.
Rating: +3
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