This post provides all the information you need to choose the best bike lock. Are you worried about having your bike stolen? You are not alone – most bike owners worry about this. The truth is that if you are going to leave your bike on the street for an hour or more, it will be in danger of being stolen. So you need a great bike lock but … which bike lock is the best? There are so many to choose from, and they all have their own ratings system, so how can you choose the best bike lock for your needs? Well, this post has a lot of information, which we hope will help you to choose the best bike lock.
Related: 5 of the Best Bike Locks
Factors to Consider in Choosing the Best Bike Lock
Following are the key factors to consider when you choose your bike lock.
Type of Bike Lock
There are essentially three kinds of bike locks:
- U-locks (also called D-locks);
- chains; and
Cables are only useful as add-ons (e.g. to secure your saddle or front wheel); they cannot be your primary lock, as they can be cut in seconds with bolt cutters.
Good quality chains and U-locks require angle grinders to cut through. Angle grinding requires power equipment. It also takes time and produces a shower of sparks, which is going to attract attention. So basically, your choice is between a very stout chain or a U-lock. U-locks were invented by the company now called Kryptonite in the 1970s, and were revolutionary in that they offered the strength of chains, without as much weight. Kryptonite still dominates the field in terms of quality, strong locks, but they are a little weak in terms of their mounts. Still, if you don’t mind carrying your lock in your pannier, it’s fine.
As a good U-lock is lighter than the equivalent strength of chain lock, a chain lock probably only makes sense if the chain is going to remain stationary somewhere, such as in the bike cage where you work, or in the parking garage of your condo. In that situation they are ideal, as they are actually more secure than U-locks (thieves cannot use a crowbar on them, and it is harder to work an angle grinder on a chain than on a U lock). But they are not great to carry around … an equivalent strength chain is probably going to be double the weight of a U-lock.
What is the Bike Lock’s Ranking on Sold Secure?
Sold Secure is a not-for-profit, independent organization based in the UK. Bike lock manufacturers send them locks, which they test by trying to break them with a range of tools. Based on how difficult this turns out to be, they rate the locks as Gold, Silver or Bronze.
- Gold rated locks offer the highest level of security.
- Silver rated locks offer a compromise between security and cost.
- Bronze rated locks offer defense against an opportunist thief.
This rating is much more useful to buyers than the internal comparisons within brands, as internal comparisons do not compare the security levels between different brands. Also, some insurance policies stipulate that you must use a Sold Secure rated lock.
If a lock has no Sold Secure rating, that means it has not been submitted to Sold Secure yet.
Type of Keyway on the Bike Lock
Some keyways are harder to pick, and of course, that is what you want. Center-placed keyholes are harder to pick. Combination locks are not recommended, as these are not as strong. Use a combination lock to lock up something no one wants to steal, such as your sneakers in a gym locker!
Number of Bolts on the Bike Lock
A great U-lock has two dead bolts, not one, making it twice as hard for a thief to deal with. This is an important aspect to bear in mind.
Thickness and Material of the Bike Lock
The best bike lock will be made of heavy-duty hardened steel, which is extremely difficult to cut. The best chain lock will have hardened steel links of at least 15 mm. U-locks less than 13 mm thick can be cut with medium-sized bolt cutters. U-locks between 13 and 15 mm thick will require very big bolt cutters, which most bike thieves don’t have. But some do, so … we recommend only using U-locks between 16 to 18 mm thick. These cannot be cut with bolt cutters.
Should You Care About the Size of Your Bike Lock?
One of the most popular and highly recommended bike locks is the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini. Make no mistake, it is a great bike lock. However, its smaller size makes it harder to lock your bike in various conditions. Bike racks are not always designed by geniuses, and can in fact be quite awkward to use. I cannot tell you how many times I have really battled to get my bike properly locked. As a result, I usually prefer a bigger lock that gives you more options to lock your bike properly.
On the other hand, a smaller lock is more difficult to break, as the leverage room is smaller. So, if you regularly lock your bike somewhere where a small lock will be big enough to get around your frame, then by all means consider the highly rated Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini. This is more likely to work if you have a slimmer bike, such as a road bike.
Which brings me to …
How to Lock your Bike Properly
Of course, never make the mistake of locking only one of your wheels! This enables thieves to release your wheel and walk away with the rest of your bike. Apart from that, these are the basic rules:
- Lock your bike to something solid that cannot be lifted up.
- Put the lock around part of your frame.
- Preferably have a U lock and also one or two lighter chains or cables, to secure your wheels as well.
It is always better to use more than one lock. I work on this simple rule: I know that all locks ultimately can be broken, so any bike can be stolen. Therefore, I want my bike to be less attractive to thieves than other bikes. I always use a U-lock plus a chain, and sometimes also a cable (for my front wheel). With this combination, I have never had a bike stolen. Touch wood.
We have published many more useful tips on how to lock your bike safely and make sure it is not stolen. See:
Related post: 10 Top Tips to Keep your Bike from being Stolen
Related post: How to Protect your Bike from Bike Thieves – 9 Simple Steps to Ensure You Have A Ride Home
Bike Lock Tips
- Avoid buying used bike locks online. You may end up with a lock that has no key!
- If your lock comes with the option to register it, do so. This will mean that if you lose the key, you can get a replacement.
- Keep your spare key in a safe, separate place at home. We have an entire key ring labeled Spare Keys. Or, keep your spouse’s spare key on your key ring, and vice versa.
- If you are considering buying a bike lock that comes with a stolen bike warranty, spend some time researching the warranty before you buy. There are a lot of conditions that come with these warranties.
- Finally … for complete peace of mind … check out your home owner’s insurance, if you have any. We buy bike insurance every year for a couple of hundred dollars. This is well worth the peace of mind.
We trust this post will help you to pick out the best bike lock. We have written about our pick of 5 of the best bike locks here. You can read that entire post, or just check out our chart below, which summarizes our top picks in bike locks.
Our Choice of the Top 5 Best Bike Locks
|No. 1: Kryptonite New York Standard Lock|
Best Price on Amazon right now: $158.80
|18 mm thick; weighs 6.1 lb (2.76 kg)||3.9" x 10.3" (10.3 cm x 26.1 cm)||Large enough for most situations; 1 key has a built in light; double deadbolt; center keyway with cover; comes with a Transit FlexFrame Bracket for mounting on bike|
|No. 2: Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit U-Lock|
Best Price on Amazon right now: $75.97
|18 mm thick; weighs 4.55 lb (2.06 kg)||3.25" x 6" (8.3 cm x 15.3 cm)||Lighter because it is smaller; 1 key has a built in light; double deadbolt; center keyway; no mount|
|No. 3: Kryptonite New York Legend Chain|
Best Price on Amazon right now: $193.95
|15 mm thick chain links; 3 foot long chain weighs 10 lb (4.5 kg); 5 foot weighs 16 lb (7.3 kg)||Choice of 3 foot long or 5 foot long; Height and width will depend how you use it||Will keep your bike safe but is too heavy to carry on bike – needs to be kept in one place|
|No. 4: Onguard Brute STD|
Best Price on Amazon right now: $52.34
|16 mm thick; weighs 4.17 lb (1.86 kg)||4.53" x 7.96" (11.5 cm x 20.2 cm)||Comes with mount; great security on a budget; after-sales not as good as Kryptonite|
|No. 5: Abus Bordo Granit X Plus Foldable|
Best Price on Amazon right now: $0.00
|5.5 mm thick; weighs 3.48 lb (1.58 kg)||4.72 x 2.36 x 11.02 inches when unfolded (12 cm x 6 cm x 28 cm); folds up much smaller||Folding lock; relatively light; flexible, so it can be tied to a variety of objects; 2 keys, 1 with LED light; very secure but not quite as secure as other 4 locks|
Good luck with finding the best bike lock and keeping your bike safe! If you have any bike lock tips you would like to share, please use the comments below!
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