Origins: "Kryptonite" — the name summons up images of strength and invulnerability, the qualities we associate with Superman, the superhero from the planet Krypton. (Kyptonite is, of course, the one substance that can vanquish even the Man of Steel's super powers.)
No wonder, then, that a lock manufacturer might choose the name Kryptonite for their brand of product — "Our locks are unpickable and unbreakable," the name says. Unfortunately, what Kryptonite is to Superman, Bic Pens are proving to be to Kryptonite brand locks.
A couple of widely-circulated video clips and demonstrations have shown how easy it is to open the Kryptonite company's Evolution and KryptoLok series of locks with an ordinary pen. (The locks can be picked this way because the pen used is the right size to fit into the keyhole, and it is both rigid enough to maintain its general shape yet malleable enough to mold into the right contour to function as a key.) The pen technique was reportedly discovered as far back as 1992 but was recently publicized quite widely through a discussion of it in the bikeforums.net community. (The technique also works on other brands of locks with tubular cylinder technology, not just bicycle locks but also vending machines and some automobile ignitions.)
Kyptonite has admitted the weakness in their locks and said they will be replacing the vulnerable tubular cylinder series with ones using disk-style cylinders instead.
Last updated: 15 September 2004
Kerber, Ross. "Cyclists: Bike Locks Easy Prey for Thieves." The Boston Globe. 16 September 2004. Polgreem, Lydia. "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Lock." The New York Times. 17 September 2004. CNN/Money. "Kryptonite Locks Picked with a Pen." 17 September 2004.