Non-bike bike gear reviewed: Linka Lasso smartphone-controlled chain lock

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Non-bike bike gear reviewed: Linka Lasso smartphone-controlled chain lock


I’d like to think that the only thing I need to live a car-free life is my bike and my enthusiasm. But it’s the extra gear that helps me stay as two-wheeled as possible. In this regular column, I take a deep dive into some of the coolest and most interesting gadgets and pieces of kit that make it possible to swap a car for an e-bike on a daily basis. This time, we’re checking out a fascinating smartphone-controlled keyless e-bike lock called the Linka Lasso.

That’s right, there’s no physical key shipped along with the Lasso, at least not of the metal variety. There is an optional SmartMotion key that works like a fob in a keyless ignition car, but for the most part, the lock is operated completely by your phone.

I tested two versions, the Linka Lasso 8 and Linka Lasso 10 Moto. They have the same locking mechanism, but 8 and 10 mm hardened steel links, respectively. The Lasso 8 is also shorter with 100 cm (39 inch) chain length, while the Lasso 10 Moto has a larger 140 cm (55 inch) locking circumference. Theoretically, the smaller chain would be fine for e-bikes, while the larger one is meant more for motorcycles, but I’d opt for the larger one on my e-bikes just to give me more room and freedom to lock more of the frame and/or wheels to secure objects.

They both have the same Sold Secure Silver rating, though the thicker hardened steel chain links on the Lasso 10 surely stand up to attacks for longer.

The general idea of the lock is that you use the accompanying smartphone app to unlock Lasso, meaning you don’t need to put yet another key on your crowded keyring. And if you’re the kind of person that only bikes occasionally and thus don’t walk around with your bike lock’s key on you all the time, you don’t need to remember to grab the key on the way out since your phone IS the key.

And to answer the question many of you already thinking, there’s a solution for when your phone’s battery runs out. During the lock setup routine, you have to create a secret code that you enter through the single push button on the lock, which unlocks it.

Granted, that solution is a bit cumbersome to use since there’s only a single button, and so it takes a lot longer to punch in a code than with a typical wheeled combo lock. But it’s not something you’d ever do unless your phone actually died while your bike was locked up, which I imagine is a pretty rare occurrence. If you’re like me, you starting sweating when your phone battery is under 50%. If you’re a psychopath like my wife that can giggle as your phone battery dips down to 2%, you may want to remember that secret lock code.

Using the lock for the first time is kind of mind-blowing. The first time you push a software button on your phone and hear your bike chain make a whirring noise then release itself, it kind of blows your mind. It’s a real “welcome to the future” moment.

That lock mechanism feels super solid, which it better, since it’s also housing the lock’s battery and electronics. A special little magnetic charging cable is included to charge up the lock, and you better not lose that little cable because of course it’s not the same cable as the one you use to charge your phone.

As cool as unlocking your bike lock from your phone is, the device also works with smartwatches. I don’t have a smartwatch, but the Lasso is compatible with many leading smartwatches which means I wouldn’t even actually have to pull out my phone to unlock it, if I had a smartwatch.

Obviously, unlocking via a smartphone is the main trick here. But the Linka Lasso is a lot more than just a smartphone lock. The same technology that allows the smartphone-based unlocking also opens the door to a number of other cool features.

First of all, the lock has an optional SmartMotion key, which is basically a proximity tag that you can put on your keyring. But it’s not a direct replacement for a physical key – meaning it’s not just a fancy electronic version of a cut steel pin that you still have to fetch from your keychain. You don’t swipe it or hold it up to the lock like an NFC card. It can stay in your pocket while allowing the Linka Lasso to unlock from the push button on the lock simply by recognizing that the tag is less than one meter (3 feet) away from the lock. That means when you have the SmartMotion key on you, you don’t even have to pull out your phone to unlock your bike. You simply walk up to the lock and push a button. It’s basically the same idea as keyless ignition cars that recognize the key fob is sitting in your pocket.

That makes the lock super fast to use. Instead of fumbling in your pocket for keys, unlocking the lock, and then fumbling to put your keys away, you simply walk up to the lock and push a button. It unlocks instantly since it reads the SmartMotion key in your pocket. The process takes literally two seconds. Most of us aren’t so stressed that an extra 20 seconds of key fumbling is going to ruin our day, but it does feel pretty nice to skip that step and just ride away from the bike stand in seconds.

Next, the connected nature of the lock allows you to actually share unlocking credentials with other people. For example, if my wife and I share a bike, we can also share the “key” to the lock by both being able to unlock it from our phones. Or if you leave your bike at a buddy’s place, you can give him access to unlock it. You can even pair multiple Linka locks, like their Dutch-style wheel lock, to your phone to unlock them all together.

I should also mention that it’s nice to see that the lock comes with a 5-year warranty. I sometimes worry about how well electronics will hold up when they’re built into things that get knocked around every day.

What’s the downside?

The first bummer of chain locks is simply that they’re heavy. The Lasso 8 weighs 1.8 kg (3.9 lb), and the Lasso 10 Moto weighs a hefty 3 kg or 6.6 lb. My current favorite lock weighs half of that and has a higher security rating, meaning the Linka Lasso doesn’t win on a per-pound basis. But then again, it does what other locks can’t on the technology side, so the trade-off is there for each person to weigh on their own.

Next, there’s the issue of battery life. They say that the Linka Lasso’s battery will last for two months if you’re using it with the app, or up to 5 months if you only use the proximity key. That’s pretty good, in my opinion, until you forget that you need to be charging it. As long as you set a reminder to charge it once a month or so, I think it won’t be an issue. But if you ever forget, you’ll be SOL until you bring a little portable battery charger out to your bike, at which point the lock will fire right back up.

The lock will also give you notifications that its battery is running low via the smartphone app, so in all fairness, it does its best to not let you forget about it.

They’re also not cheap, not by a long shot. The Lasso 8 is currently on sale for $149, and the Lasso 10 Moto is on sale for $179. Oh, and if you want that SmartMotion key, that’s an extra $25. You’re really paying for the features here, since while Sold Secure Silver is quite good, there are higher-rated locks for lower cost. So again, it’s not a dollar per dollar basis here, but rather paying for fancier features.

Oh, and it’s got that special little magnetic charging port, meaning if you ever lose that weird little charger, you’ll also be up a creek unless you head back to the Linka to get a replacement. That’s not a charger you’ll find at the corner store.

So while there are definitely some downsides, the Lasso has some major upsides that I haven’t seen in any other lock on the market. If it was Sold Secure Gold instead of Silver, I’d be over the moon. But as it stands, I think it’s a great second lock to add your security regiment. Because you’re definitely not locking your nice e-bike up with only one lock, right?!


Read more: The strongest and most secure folding bike lock in the world

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