(****) Wilka E218 Easy 2.0 NFC padlock review

At long last, my overpriced Wilka E218 Easy 2.0 NFC padlock has arrived. This is a review of the thing.

First of all, it’s definitely German. It’s a heavy, solidly constructed beast, and it comes with a staggering, almost comical amount of really serious-looking documentation. It’s also quite a bit larger than you’d expect from the photographs:

It’s so German in fact that it only comes with instructions in… you guessed it, German. If you speak German, it’s great. If you don’t, not so much. I can’t say the illustrations help much to understand what needs to be done with this device. Somehow Ikea and Japan do a better at that. But they’re adequate.

Luckily, if you’ve ever encountered similar battery-powered locks, it works exactly like all the others. They all work pretty much exactly the same way. This one is a bit different in that you have to present the programming card for each and every tag you enroll into the lock separately. Other locks let you enroll several tags at once, but not this one.

How does it work with implants?

Perfectly. Here you can see it in action with my IAR M1k, my flexDF2, my flexNT and my payment conversion. The latter presents some difficulty, but at least it works if I insist, which is more than can be said of all my other locks:

I really can’t fault it on the NFC side of things. It really works like a charm. No issues whatsoever.

What about the lock part ot it?

Well, that’s not so great: the padlock proper is average and it’s spring-loaded. At that price, I expected a ball-bearing locking mechanism. But it’s not all bad: it’s spring-loaded on both sides of the shackle, but the tolerances are tight enough that I can only shim one side but not the other - and certainly not both sides at the same time. That’s good.

So it’s an okay padlock. It ain’t no Abloy Enforcer, but it’s certainly 2 or 3 cuts above all the other super-shitty integrated NFC / RFID padlocks on the market.

As for the NFC go-go bit, it’s really only a special plug with an NFC unlocking mechanism on the outside. You can conceivably remove it from this padlock body and install it in another padlock, provided the plug is compatible. In fact, there’s a screw at the bottom of the shackle housing that lets you drop the plug / NFC cylinder combo from the padlock.

Unfortunately, that’s kind of my problem with all the Wilka and Wilka-like smartlocks: they all feature a separate NFC / RFID authentication-cum-unlocking mechanism outside the lock (or the padlock in this particular case), meaning one good wack with a sledgehammer or a bit of angle grinding to separate the smart bit from the plug and you only need a screwdriver or a pair of pliers to actuate the lock open.

I’ve said it before with all the locks and cylinders that feature a prominent self-contained battery-powered cylindrical wart hanging on the outside, and I’ll say it again with this padlock: the design is flexible from a manufacturing standpoint, but inherently flawed as a security concept. Good lock designs don’t put the entire security system outside for baddies to break off and bypass entirely. As such, I urge you not to use them to protect anything truly valuable.

Having said that, in the case of this padlock, I suspect the shacke isn’t much more solid than the smart wart. So at least it doesn’t promise anything it can’t deliver. Just don’t use it to secure the outdoor garage where you keep your Lamborghinis.

And finally, the price:

I hope you have some training in freediving, because it’ll likely knock the wind out of you and you won’t be able to catch your breath again for quite some time. In fact, if you do open your wallet to get one of these things, I suggest you buy a tube of Preparation H too.

The padlock and the required programming card set me back - I shit you not - 461.06 euros. That’s like FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY ONE POINT OH SIX EUROS ferchrissake!

Yes, I’ve been turning blue and slathering the ointment generously since I bought it a month ago, and I’m still not fully recovered. Those who know me know I’m not shy when it comes to buying overpriced smartlocks, but the sticker price of this one is all shades of ridiculous. Even by my standards, the price needs to come down 100 euros to be within range of “normal” overpriced.

Oh well, call me stupid…

One piece of advice: if you want to get one of these padlocks from our friends at Digiwell, ask them if they have the thing in stock first. If they don’t, they’ll turn around and order the padlock from Wilka before sending it to you, which adds several weeks of delay. But they don’t tell you that beforehand. I’m still a bit pissed off about that in fact. If they don’t have it, you may as well get it quicker somewhere else. They told me they’ll have some units in stock from now on, but it doesn’t hurt to ask before ordering.

To summarize:

:+1: Very well made, very professional-looking, very serious, very German.
:+1: Works flawlessly with all sorts of NFC implants.
:+1: Okay padlock - in fact, very good padlock by smart padlock standards, which admittedly isn’t saying much.

:-1: Flawed mechanical design (but it’s only a padlock).
:-1: A bit too German - a bit of documentation in English would have been nice.
:-1: Outrageous price.

4 Likes

Hahahah

I installed some rubber bumpers around the padlock in an effort to keep it nice and shiny and protect it from dings and scratches, and I mated it to an Abus 8KS110 chain of similar thickness - and presumably strength:

Here I’m trying it on my folding bike:

I reckon it makes a decently convincing bike chain. Possibly even moped or motorcycle chain, provided it’s not a very desirable machine and you don’t park it in the slums.

One thing that concerns me is that the padlock looks unusual enough to attract nogoodniks in its own right. And as we know, the key to bike security is unobtrusiveness. This padlock definitely ain’t discreet.

The other thing that concerns me is that the bike and the padlock left in the street are half again the cost of the bike alone :slight_smile:

1 Like

That’s my problem with this lock. I almost bought it once when I had enough money for stupid stuff, but why when I have a bike that aint worth half of it.

And if my bike would cost more I’d want another lock.

Yep. Sound reasoning. But I also plan on using it on my velomobile, which is 24x the price, and it would make sense for me in that application because stealing a velomobile isn’t really a thing for a variety of reasons, but inconsiderate people moving it sometimes is. And you know, just for extra peace of mind when I park it somewhere I don’t know, even if I usually manage to find secure parking spots.

The other application I have in mind is for use on lockers in swimming pools and gyms. The problem with that is that most such lockers use coin-operated locks and don’t let you use your own padlock. So I’m currently trying to design some kind of universal attachment that would let me use the padlock on any locker. Not sure how that’s gonna go.

I forgot to share what I came up with.

So the problem I had to solve was: how to attach a small locker key to the padlock, and the padlock to some bar, pipe or fixture of some kind in the changing room of gyms and swimming pools, in a somewhat secure manner so I don’t have to lug the key around while I use the facilities.

The obvious solution would be to slip the key onto the shackle and close the shackle around the fixture. The trouble with that is, the shackle is 9 mm and much too wide for most keyring holes.

The other obvious solution would be to lock the key in a box, lock the box with the padlock, and somehow the padlock around the fixture at the same time. But I just don’t fancy the idea of carrying a friggin’ key box around with me in my backpack.

So this is what I came up with: I call it my “matryoshka padlock”. It’s essentially a teeny tiny secondary padlock nested inside the big Wilka padlock - just like Russian dolls :slight_smile: The locker key fits onto it, and leaves plenty of room around the main shackle to lock the padlock around the fixture.

It’s plenty secure enough for a changing room and it weighs a grand total of 15 grams. Check it out:

Another great product from ROSCO Inc.
:vault_boy_thumbs_up:

Believe it or not, this little device makes the Wilka padlock actually useful as a padlock :slight_smile:

75% of the times I get it out of my backpack for is to use it as a demonstration unit, to show people what an implant-controlled lock physically looks like. The remaining 25%, I use it as a lock at the swimming pool and at the public sauna twice a week. So more often than not, it’s a showpiece - and a good one at that - but it’s also a useful padlock in its own right, something I wasn’t sure it would be when I bought it.

I left my Brompton locked outside the house with the Wilka padlock yesterday and tried to recover it this morning in -15C weather. The padlock went beep but it took three tries, and then it didn’t release because it was frozen solid with frozen condensation inside the spring-loaded mechanism.

So, I have my doubt about the -20C rating in the manufacturer’s specs: the electronics seem to go flaky well above that temperature (or maybe the battery does, but it’s brand new so I doubt it) and as I expected, a ball-bearing locking mechanism would be better.

A fine padlock for indoor use. But I won’t trust it outside in the winter, that’s for sure.

This also happened with the quickock padlock I had… battery failed to provide enough power at close to 0C

Sounds like grounds for a refund if you wanted it.

The temperature rating is pretty important where you are.

The bonus of living somewhere temperate, I NEVER look at temp limitations, its just not something that affects me

Nah… I never intended to use this thing outside. I tried it for the hell of trying it. Nobody will steal my Brompton even if I left it unattended and unlocked outside the house for a full year here :wink:

Thing is, things start to get dysfunctional below -20C. More and more things go funky below -25C, and below -30C I just don’t expect anything to be reliable unless it’s be specifically designed to operate in those temperatures. Below -35C, all bets are off: even Kalashnikovs start jamming at those temperatures.

This dainty delicate German NFC padlock just starts to misbehave early in low temperatures, is all :slight_smile:

Here’s the Matryoshka Padlock v2: stronger all-steel construction, straddles one or both “legs” of the main padlock’s shackle for more locking room or more strength (not that it’s ever gonna let go of the key even with only one side locked :slight_smile:) And unlike v1, it’s self-contained, so there’s no bits to lose:

Honestly at this point, if you want to steal the key, you’re better off sawing the key’s bow itself :slight_smile:

I don’t think that there would be a large market for that, but your design is really great.
Nice work.
I can’t really tell from the video but having some idea of your background the craftsmanship appears equally impressive

That is honestly just a piece of steel with 3 holes, a cutout milled in the middle and 30 seconds of not-very-careful sanding. It didn’t take me an hour to make. But thanks :slight_smile:

Yes I imagine not very many people need an adapter to lock a small key to an oversize padlock. But in my case, the padlock is the constant that everything else need to work around / with.