I became supremely tired of keeping track of the keys, unlocking the U-lock, finding a suitable sturdy metal bar, and re-locking the u-lock - especially in the winter when the lock was cold and my hands would freeze.
So here's a way to get all the benefits of the appearance of the U-lock, without the hassle.
The idea is similar to this: Homemade U-Lock
Step 1: It's Everywhere, and Free
They drape, discarded, over the high-theft-area bike racks.
They fill dumpsters at your local bike repair shop.
I got 22 of them from my local campus police's bike auction.
They cut off the locks and sell the bikes.
The locks were in a big pile, conveniently cut near the joint, and free.
I walked away with an armload.
After that, all you need is superglue, some magnets, and rocking good tunes.
I like "Ghostwriter" by RJD2.
The Smiths are good, too.
Step 2: Assemble
Step 3: Golden Locks!
I feel that if anyone was going to go to the effort to steal one of the bikes I ride, they've already got it. This is just to filter those who see "unchained bike" from those who really want it.
Works well enough.