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Kryptonite locks picked with a pen
Company says design flaw not limited to bike locks and is working on a replacement plan.

September 17, 2004: 1:52 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The U-shaped steel bike locks that cyclists have relied on for years to keep thieves at bay just had a gigantic hole blown through their reputation.

The New York Daily News reported Friday that an Internet video has surfaced showing how to pick the one of the most secure locks known to cyclists: stick the non-writing end of a Bic pen into the cylinder-shaped key hole and twist. Voila! Free bike.

Although the trick apparently works on many locks with tubular cylinder technology including vending machines and some ignitions, it's the bike industry's best known locksmith, Massachusetts-based Kryptonite, that's feeling most of the heat.

The company confirmed the weakness with CNN/Money on Friday and said new lock technology, one involving a disk-style cylinder instead of tubes, will be rushed to the market as an upgrade to the company's Evolution and KryptoLok series, the lock models rendered vulnerable by the pen. The company's latest model, the New York Lock, already uses the disk construction.

What's not clear is who's going to pay for this upgrade. Donna Tocci, Kryptonite's public relations manager, said the company was working on plan and details would be released next week.

Tocci wouldn't say if the plan involved a recall or rebates on new locks for current customers, but did say "I think people will be happy with it."

Which is in contrast with the current mood of some customers.

"We are going to try and get our customers replacement locks ASAP, whatever Kryptonite chooses to do," the owners of Washington D.C.'s City Bikes were reported saying in, an online industry newsletter. "I have not been impressed with Kryptonite's response or from the postings of people who have talked to them directly. In my mind there is no excuse for losing your bike to a guy with a Bic pen."

Kryptonite also said this is the first the company is hearing of the problem. But according to, a British journalist discovered the pen trick back in 1992. The newsletter said versions of the story eventually appeared in several publications and on a BBC consumer rights program.

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