it down. One may not guess it from the size of the operation, but to this day ABUS remains a family owned company based in the small town of Wetter, Germany. The stereotype of German manufacturing holds true with spotless facilities and precision machinery throughout, a mix of state of the art computer controlled production and ancient factory machinery humming along. ABUS creates much of its own tooling, maintains tight control of the metal alloys used throughout, and keeps a well stocked test facility to ensure their locks live up to their own standards, and the various metrics set forth by countries throughout Europe and around the world.
Markus Reeh is the Test Laboratory Manager, and it is his duty to (scientifically) destroy whatever locks pass through his hands. The jaws of the myriad bolt cutters in the lab are scarred, the hammers and punches dinged, the prybars tweaked. Many a lock has met its demise at his hands in the test lab, both from common street level brute force attacks and more methodical testing on sophisticated hydraulic machines able to pull, twist or otherwise force any lock into two pieces.
Freezing locks with liquid nitrogen or Freon canisters is more fable than street tactic, but nonetheless tests are carried out at room temperature and after a chilling deep freeze far more thorough than any spray attack. The warning to “only touch the plastic” was made clear before handling, no need to prove the tale of Flick and the frozen flagpole. Mechanisms are set to pull a u-lock with the force of a small truck and more until the shackle alloy reaches yield, or twist until the lock mechanism releases. Hydraulic jaws cut the shackles that even the largest bolt cutters can’t tackle. It’s an impressive operation to ensure quality and that given lock standards are met, enough so that other manufacturers and independent testing organizations have been known to lease it out for their own evaluations.
German manufacturing has a reputation for a certain attention to detail and level of precision, and the ABUS manufacturing and test facility lives up to the lore. In some ways it is disheartening to witness the work and testing needed to keep up with ever evolving attacks, but theft can have powerful motivations. Locks thus occupy a long chapter of human history, and today are a bigger business than ever.
View a full ABUS factory tour photo gallery at www.urbanvelo.org/abus-factory-tour