The Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock is among the most versatile locks we reviewed. It combines the power of a U-lock with the versatility of a cable. While we acknowledge that cable locks are about the least effective locks out there, when paired with a U-Lock, it creates a considerable deterrent for most thieves. Its real perk is that the extra cable enables a rider to keep the front tire on the bike-- a real plus given that road bikes are moving to disc brakes and hydraulic disc brakes. This lock package performs nearly as well as our favorite models, and costs significantly less, earning our Best Buy Award. This is the ideal lock for the person who has a nice bike, lives in a low-to-medium risk area, and wants to lock their bike up and not be in visual contact with it for a while.
Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock Review
Cons: Slightly less secure than other U-Lock models, bulky
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Kryptonite Evolution includes two types of locks: a U-lock and a cable lock. Since you're reading this review, we're going to assume you know something about the security of cable locks--basically that they don't offer much security against a thief with just about any tool. But, that comes with a huge caveat depending upon your particular situation--and if that cable is paired with a pretty strong U-lock.
Put yourself in the mind of a bike thief: you want the greatest monetary gain with the least risk. So, if it takes five seconds to steal a bike that's $500, that's a win-win situation. However, if a bike that's $500 takes a few minutes to steal, you're more likely to lose out on that deal, especially if you're stealing a bike in a well-lit and trafficked area. And that's the power of the Kryptonite Evolution: with the cable, it adds another layer of inconvenience (a.k.a. time) that a thief will have to deal with if they want to swipe your wheels. And that is certainly worth something.
But, you know, if you're on a college campus at night, we're not really sure what an extra minute of inconvenience will buy you. The U-lock part of the setup is less secure than other U-Locks included in this review. The steel bar has a smaller diameter than some of the competition. Evidence of this comes from Kryptonite themselves — their anti-theft warranty protection for this lock doesn't apply to Manhattan residents (where bike theft crimes are very common), which isn't true for their New York Series locks. That said, this U-lock would have to be cut twice before a thief could free your bike, due to the dual-locking mechanism of the Evolution — a feature commonly found on the most secure bike locks.
Ease of Transport
Like the Kryptonite KryptoLok, this model comes with a mount for the U-lock, but you'll need to stash the cable in your backpack during transport. The mount included isn't a masterpiece on its own (same as the one that comes with the Kryptonite U-locks we tested), but it gets the job done well enough without any noticeable shake 'n' rattle. The mount sits streamlined with the bike frame, which we prefer over the mounts that are offset on the side of the frame.
Weighing 3.5 pounds, this model isn't really lightweight. Yet in comparison to some of the heavy-duty U-locks, it weighs a pound less. Our testers find this extra weight more noticeable in a pack than when mounted on a frame, but it's definitely appreciated either way on long commutes, especially when they include climbs.
All that being said, let's be real here: there's a world of difference between a U-Lock and folding or cable-type locks. The latter has the potential to fit into a pocket, a slick frame mount, or disappear in a backpack. U-Locks by their very nature don't fit into pockets and add bulk and weight to your frame. Given all of that, we give the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 kudos for keeping the weight down while still offering a versatile option for those medium risk areas.
Ease of Use
The Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 scored points in the Ease of Use metric because the cable eliminates the need to remove the front tire (in certain situations). This made the ordeal of fitting the U-lock around the tire, frame, and rack much easier to do. The lock mechanism works smoothly, and we appreciate the dust-cover to keep the lock functioning for many rides to come.
As the "U" has smaller dimensions than many U-locks we tested, we found it occasionally difficult to lock it up to an immovable structure, especially when trying to lock up the back wheel along with the frame. Bike racks were typically no problem, but some immovable structures (trees, fences, posts) were more problematic. Overall, we rarely had to really search for a place to lock up in urban environments.
This is where the Kryptonite Evolution Mini really shines. In our opinion, it out-performed all the other U-Locks without cables in this metric because you aren't forced to remove the front wheel in order to secure the frame and both wheels to a structure.
It's not the cheapest lock on the menu, but it's not the most expensive, either. If you're looking for a versatile U-lock that offers solid security for all but high-risk areas, this lock and cable combo is our favorite value piece of all models we reviewed. For what you pay, you get a lot.
We liked this versatile U lock and cable combo that combines security with versatility. While it's not as portable as other bike locks, it nonetheless offered a lighter weight option than other U-Locks on the market. In most low-to-medium risk situations, we suspect this lock and cable combo is more than enough to keep your bike safe — and your front tire where it belongs.
— Rebecca Eckland