Aside from security itself, portability and versatility are among the top criteria for bicycle locks for urban cyclists the world over. Existing solutions include everything from the classic pocketable U-lock—though ultra-portable locks inevitably compromise security for size—and the holster to more creative innovations such as the newfangled "bow" lock and even more unorthodox wrappable frame. Savvy urban cyclists now have yet another option, which sits on the rider's hip (instead of the hipster's ride?).
The Hiplok is essentially a chain lock with an adjustable buckle that allows riders to wear it as a belt—an instance of user behavior informing design. If this seems like a minor tweak, it's one that purportedly makes a big difference (Note: I personally have never rocked the chain-as-belt or -bandolier look, so I wouldn't know... though I imagine it can be a bit unwieldy):As the Hiplok can be carried independently, there is no need to take a bag with you just to carry your lock. Also, by transferring the weight of the lock directly to your hips rather than it being on your back and shoulders, you are more stable as a rider and transmit less strain on your body.
If you've ever worn a chain lock or flexible lock on your body, you'll know that you have to lock it in place in order for it to stay in position. This is not very safe if you, or somebody helping you, needs to take off the lock in an emergency situation. Due to it's unique design, Hiplok is never locked into a loop while it is attached to your body, and it remains fully adjustable and quickly removable at all times when being worn.
The Hiplok is the brainhipchild of industrial designers John Abrahams and Benjamin Smith, who (per the Hiplok website) "have a wealth of experience in developing bicycle, transportation, and consumer products for international brands." The two founded Plus 8 Industries Ltd. in their native London in order to produce and distribute Hiplok in March of this year (it made its stateside debut earlier this summer, at San Francisco's Mission Bicycles).
Abrahams and Smith relate that "when we came up with the concept of Hiplok, we knew we had a great product when we didn't want to ride our bikes without taking our prototypes with us."
I agree that it's a hassle to have to wear a bag just to carry a lock, and I'd rather not have another piece of metal attached to the frame of my bike, though I must admit I've never used a chain. Other features include a "large 3M reflective logo detail" and Sold Secure silver certification... not to mention a bit of street cred.
And even though the Hiplok is designed to remain as discreet as possible, I can't help but think that it would attract a bit of not-necessarily-unwanted attention... especially if the rider falls in the target demographic of freestyle fixsters, who happen to bust out a few tricks on the way to friend's house / coffeeshop / brunch, as in Hiplok's aspirational promo spot:
Who needs a helmet or handbrakes when you have a Hiplok?