There are as many different locking sizes and styles as there are methods to secure your bike with a lock. We will discuss the purpose and styles of locks and give you a review of the best bike locks for your security needs.
A bike lock can be a chain, a cable, folding steel or a U-lock style. Each style has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to your bike’s security.
In a hurry? The test winner after 8 hours of research:
KRYPTONITE U LOCK
Why is it better?
Last Updated: January 4, 2019
By Max Shumpert: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding bike locks available for those who are interested in bike security. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best bike locks currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.
KRYPTONITE U LOCK
OnGuard 8019L Chain Lock
ABUS Granit U Lock
Abus Bordo 5700 Folding Lock
Master Lock 8413DPF
Our Recommendations For The Best Bike Lock
Without further ado, let’s dive into our recommendations. Here, we’ve provided 5 of the best bike locks on the market and reviewed each one carefully.
ABUS GRANIT X-PLUS
German engineering at its finest. The Abus Granit X-Plus is the most robust and highest rated U Lock on the market. Comprised of special tempered, hardened steel, the shackle, case and supporting elements are near impenetrable.
The lock will adjust to fit bike tubing diameters of 15 to 33 millimeters. The lock comes with 2 keys, one of which has an LED light to aid in low-light unlocking. Abus also supplies an X-Plus card that makes ordering replacement keys a breeze.
The highest rating for lock security as given by Solid Secure is a gold level 15. The Arbis Granit X-Plus is rated 15. Boasting the highest level of security is important for a lock and is hard to come by.
If you can put a price on security, we haven’t figured out how. With the highest security rating available, the price tag of about $135 is well worth the peace of mind you will have knowing your bike will be there when you return.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini
The powerful lock with the funny name. Lock your frame and “fahgettaboudit.” The Kryptonite U-lock is as durable as it is fun to say.
Comprised of 18mm hardened steel and a center location lock cylinder, this Kryptonite lock protects against leverage and bolt cutter attacks. It also comes with a double deadbolt locking mechanism for added security.
The sleeve-over-crossbar build means no one can leverage your lock open. It also comes with 3 stainless steel keys, one of which has a bright LED light and replaceable battery.
With the strength and durability along with the extra leverage attack defense, this lock is a steal (no pun intended) at less than $80.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Intimidation is the name of the game, and nothing intimidates more than the Mastiff series of chain locks from OnGuard.
Titanium enforced hexagonal links form this 6-foot of cut-resistant chain. The lock cylinder is resistant to picking and physical attacks. With a sleeve-over-crossbar design, it offers added protection where you need it most.
The water and heat resistant chain cover helps reduce the occurrence of scratches and damage to your bike frame. The 6-foot length means you can lock your bike to just about anything.
The locking mechanism is an X4 Quattro bolt lock that is secure in its cylindrical housing. Picking this lock is near impossible, which only raises the security value.
Peace of mind, cut-resistant chain links and pick resistant lock cylinder make the just over $75 price tag well worth it.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Abus Bordo 5700
The only folding lock to make our list, the Abus Bordo 5700 is as strong as it is convenient.
Boasting highly durable 5mm thick steel bars, this lock is a formidable opponent for a would-be thief. The German-designed lock cylinder is resistant to picking and the lock head comes in matching colors.
Special reinforced steel rivets link the bars and allow for a compact fold. You can take this lock with you in your back pocket or bag and hardly know it’s there.
Starting at under $60, this lock provides great peace of mind that doesn’t break the bank.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Master Lock Python
The Python cable lock from Master Lock is a highly durable and easy to use cable lock. With a 6-foot cable that is resistant to cutting, you can rest assured your bike will be there when you return.
Light weight and easy to manipulate, the cable lock is perfect for low-risk areas. You can also rekey the locking cylinder which makes it easy to have multiple locks work on a single key.
The durable braided steel cable design in encased inside a vinyl sheath that helps protect it from heat and water.
For its ease of use and maneuverability, this lock is a great bargain at under $20
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Why Do You Need a Bike Lock?
Bicycle theft is constantly on the rise. With more and more bikes being stolen and used for parts or sold for profit, the need for bike security has never been higher.
According to a survey by the National Bike Registry “Given the increasing incidence of theft, a four-year student cyclist has a 17.75% chance of losing their bicycle. By taking the possible unreported thefts into account, a four-year student bicyclist faces a 53% (1 in 2) chance of losing their bike to theft.”
Aside from college students, a report from the National Crime Victim Survey an estimated 1.3 million bikes get stolen annually.
There has never been a better reason or time to have a bike lock.
Types of Bike Locks
There are four main types of bike locks: U lock, Cable, Chain and Folding.
We will look at all four in detail so you can decide the right type of protection for your bike.
U-locks are one of the most widely used theft deterrent locks made. They are extremely sturdy and rugged. However, they do have drawbacks.
The name comes from the design of the lock: a horseshoe shape (or “U”) fits into a crossbar that has a cylindrical locking mechanism. The key to using these locks is to minimize space.
They are excellent at fending off leverage or prying attacks, provided there isn’t enough room to get a pry bar between the lock and a solid surface.
U locks come in various sizes. Generally, they will fit through one wheel, the frame and whatever you are locking the bike to. Again, with as little space as possible.
Some U-Locks are larger and designed to go through both wheels instead of just one. Before making a purchase, you should measure your frame as well as the distance through the wheel (or wheels) and the object you are securing your bike to.
Make sure the lock you choose will fit snug in those measurements. If it is too loose, it becomes ineffective and if it is too tight, you won’t be able to lock it.
There are advantages to this type of lock:
There are limits, however:
Cable locks are flexible steel cables (generally braided) that offer a lightweight alternative to U-locks. They offer low to medium risk theft deterrent but can quickly be severed by bolt cutters.
The general design is a braided steel cable with a plastic or vinyl sheath for weather protection. The ends of the cable slide into a cylindrical locking mechanism that either has a combination lock or uses a padlock to secure.
Cable locks will vary in size from about 3 feet up to 9 feet. The most common size is 6 feet as this will wrap nicely around the frame, both wheels and the secure mounting spot.
Cable locks are not the most secure style on our list, but they are not without their benefits.
Cable locks are not without their downsides though:
The best chain locks are those with hexagonal designed links. Machine welded and highly durable, chain locks are a great theft deterrent lock. They are intimidating to see and most thieves are willing to go after easier targets.
Chain locks are lengths of interlocking links secured with a padlock. The length can vary greatly depending on the material used and need of the consumer.
In general, chain locks are between 6 and 8 feet long, which will secure even the largest and thickest bike frames to almost anything.
Chain locks offer many benefits, high security being among them. Most chain locks are impervious to cutting, even with a reciprocating saw. However, if the lock used to secure the chain isn’t as durable, it can act as the “weak link” and be bypassed.
The benefits of a chain lock are:
The downside though is security over performance:
Folding locks are a relative newcomer to the bike security game. A folding lock is a metal bar lock that uses rivets to allow the bars to fold together.
In appearance, a folding lock looks similar to a folding tape measure. Long straight bars fold in and out, pivoting around a metal rivet.
The lock mechanism is a metal locking cylinder that catches the end and secures it with a key.
The nested folding locks will come in various sizes but the general opened diameter is about 4 feet. The best application for a folding lock is in suburban areas or low to medium risk situations.
The benefits of a folding lock are:
They do have some drawbacks, however:
Level of Security
While Grandma’s backyard might be a good spot to leave your bicycle without a lock, most places aren’t as forgiving.
The level of security needed to secure your bike has many factors you need to consider.
If you are in a high-risk area, for example, a metro area or high crime rate city, you will need higher security locks. You will also need to consider multiple locks for the wheels, removable items like the seat and accessories.
The amount of time you leave your bike unattended plays a role as well. Leaving your bike overnight will provide a thief with ample time to bypass any lock. The more secure your bike is, the less likely it will be stolen.
If, on the other hand, you are only gone for a short period of time, then less security is needed. You should know your surroundings and the risks involved before leaving your bike behind.
Adjusting your level of security accordingly is your best bet at returning to your bike and not being a victim of theft. Knowing you have enough protection for the situation is always the smart move. It is better to have too much and not need it that to need it and not have it.
Lock Brand Ratings Vs. Independent Security Ratings
If you think that a higher security rating is a good thing, you would be correct. However, there are different methods that go into ratings.
These methods can cause quite the confusion when trying to make a purchase.
Lock Brand Ratings
Each manufacturer will have a set of tests to rate their own locks. These will be displayed predominantly on the packaging. However, these ratings are for that brand of lock only and are compared with only similar locks made by the same brand.
This means that the best Arbus lock rating doesn’t mean it’s better than the best Kryptonite lock rating, just because it’s number is higher. Arbus, for example, uses a 1 to 15 security scale, with 15 being the highest.
Kryptonite, on the other hand, uses a 10 to 100 scale. So a 15 rating on an Arbus lock will be more effective than an 80 rating on a Kryptonite lock.
This can get confusing when you are shopping for the best-rated lock on the market. You should keep in mind that the ratings from the brand are only ratings against other similar locks from the same brand. They are not ratings based on the seucrity of similar locks from other brands.
Independent Security Ratings
Luckily, there are independent, 3rd party organizations that rate multiple brands on the same scale. The largest of which is a company based in the United Kingdom names Solid Secure.
Solid Secure uses standardized tests to determine how long a lock will last under breakage attempts. They then rate the lock using a gold/silver/bronze scale, with gold being the best.
Most locks will be tested by multiple independent organizations. Doing a little research is never a bad thing. You can find out where your preferred lock was rated among multiple vendors. If it consistently high, you can rest assured it will do its job.
Using these results is less confusing for consumers because they know that the rating is based on the lock versus other locks of the same style and not the same brand.
How Important Are Bike Lock Brands?
Brand names are important in the cycling world. This doesn’t always mean a better product, but in the grand scheme of things, it does matter. Names like Arbus, Kryptonite, Master lock and Onguard have a reputation and history to back their brand.
Being a brand name in the security game means you have been around long enough to prove yourself.
A fly-by-night brand may crop up and have the best lock ever made, though it is highly unlikely.
When it comes to securing your bike, you should stick with proven brands and names you can trust. This doesn’t mean you should ignore brands you haven’t heard of. Some brands may be very popular in other countries and are just now expanding to your location.
When in doubt, the best thing to do is look for a security rating from an independent rating organization. Failing that, research the brand and find out their history and if they are someone you think you can trust.
Bike Lock Maintenance
As with anything that moves, eventually, it won’t. All locks need maintenance, but the high-end locks will require less.
The basic maintenance rules apply to bike locks:
Inspection and preventative maintenance are key. If you regularly check for damage or issues and address any you find, you will have a longer lasting lock.
Steps to Ensure Bike Safety
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your bike will never be stolen, no matter what you do. There are however steps you can take to help prevent a theft.
You should never rely on a single lock to stop a thief. One lock will not be able to prevent a theft. You may be able to secure your frame to a post, but your wheels could still get stolen.
Using multiple locks in multiple ways is the best method of prevention. Using a U-lock to secure the frame and rear wheel to a welded or bolted post is a good first step.
You should also secure the front wheel to the frame or use locking skewers to prevent the wheel removal.
You want to ensure that all cables, chains and bars are tight. The less slack or tension, the less likely they can be compromised.
Lock your bike in a well-lit, high traffic area. The more people passing by, the less likely a thief is to stop and start cutting on your locks.
Finally, don’t leave your bike unattended for long periods of time, especially overnight. The more time a thief has to work on your locks, the more successful he will be.
What to Consider When Choosing a Bike Lock
When you head out to make a bike lock purchase, there are several aspects you need to think about. The most expensive or largest lock isn’t always going to be what is best for your situation.
You need to take into consideration things like the local environment, the risk level of where you will be locking your bike, how long your bike will be left unattended and what level of security you desire.
If you are on the trails a lot and you won’t have fence posts or bolted bike racks to secure your bike to, then things like a U-Lock aren’t going to help much. A U-lock won’t go around a tree, for example, but a chain lock will.
The environment will play a large role in the type of lock you need to get.
Conversely, if you are in the city and are constantly locking your bike to metal posts, then a 9-foot chain lock will be too much.
If you are in a high-risk area then you should be taking extra precautions. Multiple locks may be needed. A U-lock is always a great idea for high-risk areas, but you should also use other means to secure the bike and accessories.
On the other hand, having three locks and wheel skewers in a small town with virtually no crime is going to be overkill and expensive. If it isn’t worth the risk, you don’t need to spend the money.
However, peace of mind has no cost and whatever it takes to make you feel secure is what you should go after.
How Long Will Your Bike be Unattended?
Another factor is how long you will be leaving your bike locked up. If you are going out of town for the day and your bike will be left alone for multiple hours, then you need to take extra security precautions.
Unattended bikes or bikes that always get locked in the same place are at higher risk than those that don’t. If you can’t shorten your away time, you should vary your locking locations. Make it difficult to follow your schedule.
Likewise, short trips away, like running into the store for bread and a coffee won’t need multiple layers of security. A simple cable lock will be enough to thwart would-be thieves.
Bike Lock Security Rating
Always check the bike lock security rating before making a final purchase. You should check both brand ratings and independent ratings to ensure you have the most secure lock for your needs.
You will know what is best for your budget and peace of mind. To help you out we have given you reviews of the 5 best bike locks we could find.
Read below to see the pros and cons of each lock and decide for yourself if one of our top picks will work for you.
There are different locks for different needs. We all need to secure our bikes. You need to account for several variables before you decide which type of lock to purchase. Remember your risk level for the area you will be locking your bike in.
Keep in mind the environment and surroundings to ensure your lock can attach to something solid. Don’t leave your bike unattended for extended periods of time.
Size is important depending on what you are locking your bike to, as well as how you are locking your bike. Longer cable style locks and chain locks are good for multiple passes or extra security.
U-bar locks are highly secure and work well in high-risk areas. However, they are limited in size and may cause an issue if your mounting place is too thick. When you lock up in a high-risk area, be sure to use more than one lock.
Find the lock that suits your environment and then find the right lock for your budget. You can’t put a price on safety.
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