ULAC Security


Uläc’s Anti-Theft Security Level System is a multiaxial, relative scale for assisting bicycle owners in choosing an appropriate lock with which to protect their property by deterring and stalling attempts at theft according to the consumer’s risk, context, personal needs and preferences. This system aims to comprehend considerations which may affect security potential (lock weight, size, composition and materials), and diverse considerations such as regional differences (differing criminal environments, differing cycling cultures), contextual concerns (time away from property, user’s applications) and personal needs (such as carriage and storage). As a designer and manufacturer for an international market, this system further intends to reflect the reality that there is no single “one size fits all” technical design for every user in every context.

This system, and a lock’s classification therein, is based on simulated and experiential assessments, as well as professional judgment, and evolves with changes in contextual circumstances, criminal tradecraft and updates in our technology, manufacturing and design. While no such system can serve as a guarantee or an acceptance of liability, it is intended to provide consumers with informed advice with which to choose a bicycle lock for their individual circumstances. 


This document is intended to describe the Uläc Anti-Theft Security Level System, defining where in this system any particular bicycle lock would be classified relative to others in the Uläc portfolio, based on lock design and properties and their consequent security potential. Because of the need to preserve the integrity of this system and the assessment process, certain specifics will not be discussed here. No part of this document should be understood to constitute a guarantee of security or theft prevention.


a. Lock

By “lock” is meant a personal security device, commonly referred to as a “bike lock,” intended to deter criminal attempts at theft of an owner’s bicycle by stalling such attempts as long as reasonably possible and preventing normal usage of the bicycle without significant effort on the part of a would-be thief.

b. Assessment

“Assessment” refers to the methods by which the security potential of a lock is empirically evaluated and through which are replicated the techniques typically seen, known and understood to be utilized in real-world criminal attempts against a lock used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

c. Criminal Attempt

The term “criminal attempt” refers to an instance in which a would-be thief attempts, especially using the tools and methods of the thief’s tradecraft, to neutralize, disable or destroy a lock with the intent to unlawfully take and remove a bicycle belonging to a lawful owner.

d. Security Context

By “security context,” this document means the intended usage, parking environment, time away from the owner’s bicycle and the owner’s visual and situational awareness of their property.

Uläc Anti-Theft Security Level Specification

a. Background

Uläc manufactures different types of locks including cable, karabiner, joint, folding, chain, shackle and alarm locks, each with its own characteristics and inherent security potential. Uläc’s Anti-Theft Security (ATS) Level System was developed around international industry standards and real-world situations to ensure the quality of its security products, and is constructed around ten levels, 1 through 10, with 1 being the category of those locks providing lighter security and anti-theft potential and 10 being the category of those locks which provide the highest security and anti-theft potential. The ATS rating advises the customer to select a lock depending on security context, personal needs, risk aversion and the value of their property.

As a pragmatic advisory for a consumer’s decision-making, the goal of Uläc’s assessment methodology is to determine each lock’s resistance to attack in a standardized and empirical manner. The ten ATS levels are defined by factors such as resistance to tools commonly used in lock-picking and destruction, as well as time required to pick, disassemble, destroy or circumvent the lock, cable, chain and other components. Higher levels, therefore, reflect higher degrees of complexity and risk for a would-be thief and, therefore, higher degrees of deterrence.

b. Rationale

The methods by which a lock is assessed include industry standard methods such as: wedge attack; torque attack; repetitive cylinder stress; tensile strength testing; impact; cutting; and drilling. The rationale behind placement in this system is based on the following considerations:

  • the environment in which a lock will be expected to perform (eg. a university campus vs. a busy urban street)
  • the owner’s expected time away from their bicycle (eg. an 8-hour job vs. a short coffee break)
  • the expected challenges (eg. an impulsive case of opportunity theft vs. an area’s crime rate or chronic pattern of professional theft) given the owner’s location and context
  • lock types, materials, weights, understanding that the security potential of a lock will differ from that of others where, for example, a combination lock is comprehended to be less secure than a key lock, or that a heavier lock is empirically more resistant to attack than a much lighter lock, especially where component materials are taken into consideration.

By placing a lock into an appropriate category based on the above considerations and others, a consumer is able to compare locks relative to one another and make informed decisions balancing the kind of security a lock can provide in a particular security context against their own preferences, needs, lifestyle and other concerns. For instance, a consumer who prefers a lighter lock may reasonably choose a lock with a lower ATS level if they know their usage of the lock will be confined to a setting where they will be able to easily observe their property and intend to be away from it for only a short time. If, however, the owner will be away from their property for a longer time in a setting where they will not have easy observation of their bicycle, a lock with a higher ATS level can be considered. Because ATS levels are relative to one another, the consumer can compare potential purchases accordingly. The graphic presentation of the ATS level on packaging, and the nature of the system itself, further reinforce to the consumer the relativity of security potential and directs their attention accordingly.

C. The Uläc Anti-Theft Security Level System

The ten levels of the Anti-Theft Security (ATS) System are defined as follows:

Levels 1 through 3: Locks which are most suited to deterring opportunity theft in contexts where the owner will not be away from their property, temporally or visually, sufficient enough to permit casual or impulsive theft. Common applications may include parking one’s bicycle outside of a coffee shop for a quick break (thus the term “café lock”).

Levels 4 through 6: Locks which, because of their design, composition and physical characteristics provide greater resistance to criminal attempts at theft by increasing (relative to locks in levels 1 through 3) the amount of time and effort required by a would-be thief, thereby increasing the risk incumbent in a criminal attempt.

Levels 5 through 10: Locks which provide the greatest possible resistance to criminal attempts at theft through heavier and thicker physical characteristics, the metallurgical characteristics of the component materials and complication of the locking mechanism. A customer who knows their usage will be largely in more severe security contexts and who has less concern for factors such as weight and size would be advised to choose a lock classified in this category. This category includes Uläc’s Sold Secure approved locks independently laboratory tested and assessed by the UK-based Master Locksmiths Association, working with law enforcement and insurance providers, for further assurance.

The gradation between levels within each of these three categories allows a consumer to balance their expected security context against their personal needs and preferences. For example, users in some regions, according to “bicycle culture” and other factors, prefer lighter locks, as do those for whom easy carriage is a necessary consideration. They may, however, need greater security potential than that provided by a lock, say, in levels 1-3. The ATS system would thus advise them to choose a lock classified no lower than level 4 and with the maximum size and weight appropriate to their individual situation.

As a system designed around multiaxial inputs (style, composition, physical specifications, lock type) relative to security, the following chart will present the way these various factors fit together to place a particular lock in the appropriate security classification.


 Standardized Bicycle LOCK Test 

Test Description Equipment Result
Repetitive Unlock + Lock cylinder test Actual hand operation Minimal 3000 times
Tensile index Industry standard tensile testing machine Varies by locks
Cylinder Impact 20 lbs. hammer Continuous attack for 3 minutes
Cutting Resistant Stanley handsaw Continuous sawing for 2 minutes
Cylinder Anti-Drilling Electric drill Anti-drilling
Key thrust Thrust meter N / A
Key cap torque torque force meter KGF/cm

 Neo Alarm Lock Test

Test Description Equipment Result
Water-resistant Water-resistant test box Minimal 8 hours
Vibration Vibration test platform Minimal 5 hours