Guest post from LFGSS from member Will Melling.
Do not use Hiplok if pregnant it says in the miniature booklet that accompanies this product. Ok, thanks for the warning. It also says, more applicably for a 46 year old man, that it should not be worn round the neck. The latter you might think is purely a legal covering note to ward off the stupid and litigious after they have nearly choked themselves in a bizarre bicycling accident but the first warning? It actually might be more relevant to both sexes than it appears.
What is the Hiplok? Or Hiplok. The manufacturers don’t seem entirely sure if the the should be there or not. A bit like (the) Tate modern. It is, says the almost unreadably small-print brochure “The world’s first bike lock specifically designed to be worn on the body” (their emphasis). Basically it is a bike lock chain in a machine washable sleeve that you can fasten around your body – but not your neck – with the built-in velcro strap. It is a lock designed to go round the hips and, you suspect, designed to be seen as hip. Spelling lock without the c is a big hint.
The micro sized instructions go in to almost comic detail about how to attach (the) Hiplok round yourself but in practice it is simple and quick. It can get a bit twisted up but despite weighing 1.8 kilos you easily forget it is there though it takes a bit of practice not to get the locking part (which they rather bizarrely call a ‘non-scratch shroud‘) positioned where it does not dig in to your flesh. The shroud is a lump of plastic covering the barrel. It looks like a large triangular lump of cheese and in my case that cheese was a lurid green color. A black version is also available if you are worried about your hip lock clashing with your hip clothes.
Having locked your bike the friendly Hiplok guide suggests you “go do your thing”. Again, it’s all about being hip. They even let you know “Our story” which starts with the revelation that “we like to ride bikes”.
The Hiplok is rated Sold Secure Silver. You do not have to be a security insider to realise that there is a Sold Secure Gold rating and that Gold is always better than Silver. Or ‘first loser’ as it is known at (the) Olympics. The world’s tiniest instruction booklet states that the lock provides “moderate to high range security protection” and that in “high crime and inner city areas” two locks should be used. One of these, I would suggest, should be a Gold rated one so turning up with double Hiploks round you is not ideal. Even if you wear them slung jauntily over both shoulders like new-age bandoliers.
The Hiplok did not replace my D-lock but I did use it when I was going to leave my bike somewhere that I considered low risk ( I live in Hackney in London where there are probably fewer low risk places to leave a bike than there are at a bike thieves convention). As a second lock it was a relief not to have to add to the weight in my bag.
What really deterred me from using it more often was the worry that if I did fall off my bike then having 4 lbs of metal chain around my hips might seriously increase my chances of getting hurt. For this reason I have never carried a D-lock on my belt or in my back pocket. I am not quite at the age where a fractured hip might be the beginning of the end but why take the chance? Which brings us back to the warning for pregnant women; is it is bad for them because of the risk of the lock digging in to them if they have an accident? And if so doesn’t it follow that you do not have to be up the duff for the same digging in to occur? Albeit with only yourself and not an unborn child to think about.
The pint-sized instructions do warn you to “ensure the Hiplok is fastened correctly to avoid any potential hazard to yourself or others” but I think that mainly means tighten it up enough so that it does not slip down past your hips and land in the chain or fly off as you speed along and lasso a passing policeman. They say nothing about whether or not wearing a Hiplok is a potential hazard for your hips.
When the Hiplok was discussed on the London Fixed Gear and Single Speed internet forum (https://www.lfgss.com/thread61551-2.html; warning, almost certainly contains bad language and a lot of ill considered opinions) someone representing ‘the Hiplok team’ turned up to join in the debate. He, or she, was asked about this very point and replied “We have developed and tested the product over a two year period and have put a lot of thought into reducing the possibility of any potential injury due to the use of our product. Of course as with all products you can buy, the final choice and decision to buy and use a product in a certain way lies with the consumer”. That, to me, is not an answer. Do they think there is a potential risk or not? What testing have they done on this aspect and what were the results? I did think about testing it myself by strapping it round me and throwing myself to the floor, like the heroine in a Victorian melodrama, but better sense prevailed.
The (the) Hiplo(c)k has it uses. It’s maybe not the revolution in easy to use bike security that the makers claim but I did find it handy at times. When I could stop fretting over the risk of a minor fall leading to a stay in hospital. You can decide for yourself on whether or not it provides the level of security you need and if the potential for injury is significant or not. I just wish the people making this lock, with all their skills at branding and their apparently sincere love of cycling, were a bit more forthcoming on the latter.