Best Bike Lock of 2023: Strong and Practical

Best Bike Lock of 2023: Strong and Practical

Last Updated on August 11, 2023 176 Comments

Finding the best lock for your bicycle can be tricky. There’s loads to choose from. And the wrong decision can have disastrous consequences!

The secret to success is choosing a lock that’s both secure enough to protect your bike and easy enough to use on a daily basis.

Usability is something that’s often overlooked when it comes to testing and reviewing bike locks. 

But I'd say that this balance between strength and practicality is essential. And I've been testing bike locks and writing about bicycle security since 2015, so I know what I'm talking about!

With that in mind, I recommend 6 of the best bike locks below, based on their security level and my user tests.

But if none of them seem quite right for you, don’t worry! After these picks, I’ll show you the three simple steps (including a quick quiz to determine your risk level), that will guarantee you find the perfect bike lock for your needs.

1. Litelok X1

The best all round bike lock in 2023 is the Litelok X1. Why? Because the Litelok X1 is one of the only bike locks that offers any kind of protection against thieves wielding cordless angle grinders!

Angle grinder attacks have become depressingly common in recent years, and in some towns and cities it feels like they’re the most common method of stealing the bikes that aren’t secured with flimsy cable locks.

Up until now, no bike lock could withstand more than a minute against an angle grinder. So locks like the Litelok X1 and the Hiplok D1000, which can resist such attacks, are very much needed.

Litelok X1 on front wheel

Litelok X1: the best all round bike lock

So what makes the Litelok X1 different?

The Litelok X1 looks and works just like a regular u-lock. It’s slightly shorter than a standard size u-lock, but the difference is less than 2 cm, so this won’t make a practical difference when you’re using it.

The big difference to a regular lock is that the Litelok X1 has a ceramic composite material fused onto its 16 mm shackle. And this material will wear down angle grinder discs as they’re cutting through the lock.

Litelok X1: Best Bike Lock

Litelok X1

My score:

Check price:

Shackle thickness:

16 mm

Weight:

3.7 lb (1.7 kg)

Size (internal):

3.97 x 7.7"
(10.1 x 19.6 cm)

Other Security Ratings:

In my tests, it took more than 4 times as long to cut through one side of the Litelok X1, as it did the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit, which was (until the launch of the X1 and D1000), the most secure bike lock on the market.

And in my first test, all the discs I had, actually wore out before I could cut through the other side of the Litelok X1! So I didn't manage to defeat it at all.

And it's not just me that was impressed by the Litelok X1's performance. Apart from the Hiplok D1000 and the upcoming Litelok X3, it's the only bike lock awarded a Sold Secure Motorcycle Diamond rating!

Litelok X1 test video still

Watch my angle grinder test of the Litelok X1

Is it perfect? No. My Litelok X1 was initially tricky to lock (although this was quickly fixed with an easy DIY hack). And it’s not as secure as the Hiplok D1000, which took nearly 2.5 times as long to cut once in my tests.

So why isn’t the Hiplok D1000 my top pick this year? Well, it’s a great lock. And it’s undoubtedly the strongest bike lock on the market at the moment.

But it’s eye-wateringly expensive. It’s also a lot heaver than the Litelok X1, it doesn’t come with a frame mount for easy transport, and it’s significantly smaller, which means it may not be suitable for many cyclists.

The Litelok just feels like it has a better balance between security, usability and price. See my comparison of the Litelok X1 vs Hiplok D1000 for more details.

For me, the practical size, clever frame mount, and competitive price (it's only slightly more expensive than the Abus Granit X Plus 540 and almost half the price of the Hiplok D1000!), means the Litelok X1 will be the sensible choice for most cyclists looking for an angle grinder resistant bike lock.

For more details, read my full Litelok X1 review (which includes a video of an angle grinder attack comparison with the Fahgettaboudit).

2. Kryptonite Kryptolok New-U

Not everyone needs an angle grinder resistant bike lock! And I urge you again: take my quick 3 question quiz to determine your risk level and help you decide whether you do need one, or not!

And for those that don’t, the Kryptonite Kryptolok New-U (which is an upgraded version of the famous Kryptolok Series 2), is a great, inexpensive alternative.

Kryptonite Kryptolok Standard: best medium security bike lock

Kryptonite Kryptolok Standard: best medium security bike lock

By improving the shackle so that it locks on both sides rather than just one, Kryptolok has lifted its Sold Secure rating from Silver to Gold. However, the fact that it keeps it’s 2/5 star rating from ART means it remains very much a mid-security lock.

The great thing about the Kryptolok though, is that it's so painless to use...

It's quite light (weighing about the same as 3.5 cans of Coke). And if you attach the frame mount correctly, it's easy to carry while you're riding around.

Plus the generous size means you won't struggle to find places or ways to secure your bike when you get where you're going!

Kryptonite Kryptolok New-U best mid-security lock

Kryptonite Kryptolok New U

My score:

Check price:

Shackle thickness:

12.7 mm

Weight:

2.9 lb (1.32 kg)

Size (internal):

4 x 9"

(10.2 x 22.9 cm)

Kryptonite rating:

6/10

Other Security Ratings:

Sold Secure Gold & ART 2 Stars

To be honest, I do prefer the keyhole covers you get with OnGuard locks, which seem to lessen disc misalignment. But that’s a small complaint (and the OnGuard mechanisms are less secure anyway).

And Kryptonite's customer service is undoubtedly the best of all the bike lock brands. This means a whole load of benefits from free keys to reduced price (or even free) lock replacements in some circumstances.

If you want a Kryptonite lock that's more secure, then you should take a look at their Evolution range. But those locks will be heavier or smaller. And they still won’t stand up to an angle grinder attack.

However, if your circumstances are lower risk, then the Kryptonite Kryptolok will provide you with an easy to use bike lock and adequate protection for a very reasonable price.

Read my full, hands-on review of the Kryptolok which includes the best alternatives if it’s not right for you.

3. Foldylock Compact

Folding locks are an increasingly popular alternative to traditional bike locks, and provide more flexibility than a u-lock and better portability than a chain. However, choice is more limited, and most of them are simply not secure enough to recommend.

However, there are some that are worth looking at...

The Foldylock Compact is the lightest folding lock that still offers a reasonable level of protection (Sold Secure Silver). What’s more, it’s also the easiest folding lock to use, of all those I’ve tested!

Foldylock Compact: lightest folding lock

Foldylock Compact: lightest folding bike lock

The Foldylock Compact is 33″ (85 cm) long, which means it has around the same amount of internal locking space as a standard sized u-lock.

But because it’s flexible, it should actually give you loads more options when you’re looking for somewhere to lock your bike.

At 2.2 lb (1 kg), it doesn't weigh much more than 2.5 cans of Coke. And if you want even lighter, there is a slightly shorter (75 cm) version, that is also available with a belt clip, so you don’t have to bother with a frame mount at all!

Foldylock Compact

Foldylock Compact

My score:

Check price:

Plate thickness:

5 mm

Weight:

2.2 lb (1 kg)

Length:

33" (85 cm)

Foldylock rating:

14/18

Other Security Ratings:

Sold Secure Silver

Compared to the Abus Bordo 6000 which was its nearest rival (until the Abus lost its Sold Secure Silver rating), the Foldylock Compact is lighter and easier to use...

It’s easier to unlock, easier to unfold, easier to get around your bike and comes with a better frame mount. Plus it’s cheaper! [Amazon]

So, if your circumstances are lower risk and you’re looking for a compact, flexible and lightweight alternative to a u-lock, this is a great choice.

Read my hands on review of the Foldylock Compact where I also suggest some alternatives if it's not the right bike lock for you. Or check out more of the best lightweight bike locks.

4. Foldylock Forever

Foldylock also offer a high security folding lock called the Foldylock Forever, which is basically a beefed up, heavy-duty version of their standard folding locks (the Classic, Compact, Mini etc)

Foldylock Forever around traffic light

Foldylock Forever. You won't get a u-lock around a traffic light!

Measuring 35.4" (90 cm), it’s slightly longer than the Foldylock Compact, and that will give you loads of locking opportunities (in the photo above it easily fits around a traffic light, which would be impossible with a u-lock).

But more significantly, the arms are 6.5 mm thick (as opposed 5 mm thick on their standard folding locks). And the extra 1.5 mm helps give it a Sold Secure Gold rating (rather than Silver).

The Foldylock Forever arms are also 1 mm thicker than the other prominent Sold Secure Gold rated folding locks (the Abus Bordo 6500, the Trelock FS 500 Toro and the Kryptonite Evolution 790).

This extra thickness is complimented by a patented rivet protection feature to deter an attack by nut splitters. Although this type of attack is unlikely in the street, it is a known weakness of locks like the Abus Bordo 6500.

All in all, this probably makes the Foldylock Forever the most secure folding lock currently available. Read my full, hands on Foldylock Forever review.

Foldylock Forever

Foldylock Forever

My score:

Check price:

Plate thickness:

6.5 mm

Weight:

3.88 lb (1.76 kg)

Length:

35.4" (90 cm)

Foldylock rating:

18/18

Other Security Ratings:

Sold Secure Gold

The high security level comes at a cost in weight, though. At 3.88 lb (1.76 kg), it’s a heavy lock, weighing slightly more than 4.5 cans of Coke. And as it’s just heavier than the Abus Bordo 6500, it’s the heaviest of the folding locks.

However, like the Classic, it beats the Abus in terms of usability. It’s easier to unlock, smoother to unfold and refold, you get a bit more internal locking space, and although I’ve read some reviews that suggest that the lock sits either too tightly or too loosely in the mount, I found neither…

In fact, just like the Classic, the Forever slides in an out of the plastic mount very smoothly but sits very snugly and safely while in there.

Moreover, although it’s not cheap, if you check the prices [Amazon], it’s usually cheaper than the Abus Bordo 6500.

5. Kryptonite Kryptolok 955 Mini

For those looking for a more traditional bike lock, the Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 955 Mini is a short, mid-security chain lock, designed for mobile security.

Kryptonite Kryptolok 955 Mini: best medium security chain lock

Kryptonite Kryptolok 955 Mini: best medium security chain lock

When locked, it has slightly less internal space than a standard u-lock. But the difference is: it's flexible, so you'll find loads more places you can lock your bike.

Like all chains, it's much heavier than a u-lock of comparable security (it weighs about the same as 4.5 cans of Coke). But it's still light and short enough to carry wrapped around your seat post or thrown in a bag.

And when it comes to actually locking your bike up, the integrated locking mechanism makes the whole process that much smoother than the separate padlock you get with most other chains.

With 9 mm links, it’s not the most secure bike lock, but it is rated Sold Secure Gold and it offers far more protection than any cable lock.

Kryptonite Krptolock Series 2 955 Mini best mid-security chain

KryptoLok Series 2 955 Mini

My score:

Check price:

Chain thickness:

9 mm

Weight:

3.90 lb (1.77 kg)

Length:

21.5" (55 cm)

Kryptonite rating:

6/10

Other Security Ratings:

Sold Secure Gold & ART 2 Stars

Just keep it as far from the ground as possible, so it's safe from bolt cutters. I recommend you wrap it around your seat stays, as in the photo above.

Or you could even secure it around your top tube and then use other methods to protect your wheels.

So, if you're looking for something that's easy to carry and prefer the extra locking options of a chain lock, as long as your circumstances aren't high risk, this is a cheap and reliable option.

If you’re looking for something similar but more secure, try the Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 1055 Mini, which has 10 mm links, a beefier body and is the Lock Picking Lawyer’s lock of choice!

Read my hands-on review of the Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 955 Mini. And if you're not sure this is the right one for you, I’ve written a lot more about chain locks.

6. Litelok Core

One of the biggest problems with bike locks is how to best carry them around. Locks are bulky and heavy. Frame mounts are often ugly and unreliable. And if you need a bigger lock for more locking options, these issues are compounded.

Enter “wearable” bike locks.

The Litelok Core is the most secure, “wearable” bike lock currently available, boasting a Diamond rating from Sold Secure.

Litelok Core around bike frame and back wheel

Litelok Core: strongest wearable bike lock

Liteloks are made from something they call "Boaflexicore", which is a complex cable composite (although nothing like a typical cable lock). And the Litelok Core uses an upgraded Boaflexicore Plus, which has been specifically designed to defeat the most advanced cable cutters.

In fact, it’s highly unlikely that anything but an angle grinder will be able to cut through the Litelok Core.

What I like most about the Litelok though, is that when it’s not securing your bike, you can carry it around on your waist like a belt! It’s not the first bike lock to provide this type of functionality; the Hiplok Gold chain can be worn around your waist too.

However, I think the Litelok Core is a better lock than the Hiplok chain for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it’s more secure. The Hiplok has a lower, Sold Secure Gold rating, and can be defeated by bolt cutters (which won't trouble the Litelok Core). And secondly, the Litelok is lighter and sits much more comfortably on the waist.

Litelok Core

Litelok Core

My score:

Check price:

Waist Size

22" - 42"

Weight:

4.1 lb (1.9 kg)

Length:

29" (75 cm)

Other Security Ratings:

It’s not perfect....

It can be tricky to get the end of the Litelok through your wheel spokes in some situations. And although it’s available in two lengths, if you want to wear it like a belt, you're limited to the one that fits your waist.

However, I can’t think of another Diamond rated lock that’s as easy to carry around. And even the smallest Litelok Core has a generous locking circumference that gives you loads of options when you're looking for somewhere to secure your bike.

Not everyone will want to wear their bike lock around their waist (and you can also strap it to your frame if you don't). But if it works for you, then the Litelok Core is a very secure and very versatile option. Read my full hands-on review of the Litelok Core.

How to choose a bike lock

How to choose the right bike lock for you

If none of my top 6 picks seem quite right for you, don’t worry! If you keep reading, I'll guide you through 3 simple steps that guarantee you’ll find the perfect lock for both you and your bicycle.

As I’ve already said, the best bike locks won’t just protect your bike. They'll also be easy for you to use on a daily basis.

Your individual circumstances are very important here. They include what type of bike you ride, how expensive it is, where and how you use it, and how much money you can afford to spend.

And that’s a lot to think about! But if we work through the next 3 steps, it’s actually pretty simple:

  1. Choose the right level of security
  2. Choose the right type of lock
  3. Choose the right size lock.

So in Step 1 we’ll work out what level of security you need, and I’ll explain how to find locks that will give you the right amount of protection.

In Step 2 I’ll introduce the various different types of bike locks and show you how to choose one that suits your individual needs.

And in Step 3 I’ll explain how to choose the right size lock for the type of bike you ride and how you like to secure it.

Ready? OK, let’s get going!

Step 1: Choose the right level of security

The ultimate job of any lock is to prevent the theft of your bike. So the first and most important step is to work out what level of protection you’ll need.

But it’s not simply a case of picking the strongest lock. Because with bike locks, extra strength means greater weight or smaller size. Or usually, both!

Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini

Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini: very strong, but also very small and very heavy

So if you choose a lock that isn’t secure enough, your bike will obviously be stolen pretty quickly.

But if you choose a bike that’s more secure than your circumstances require, the extra weight or limited size of that lock will make it much less practical, for no good reason. So you might use it less, or wrongly, or even not at all!

And then your bike still gets stolen!

So it’s important that you match the strength of your lock to your actual risk level. The easiest way to do that is to answer the 3 questions in this quiz...

If you’ve just completed the quiz, then you'll have been recommended a Sold Secure Silver, Gold or Diamond rated bike lock.

And you may now be thinking “who or what are Sold Secure???”!

Who are Sold Secure?

Sold Secure are an independent organization that tests and rates bike locks and other security products according to the levels of protection they provide.

Sold Secure bike ratings

Sold Secure rate locks from Bronze to Diamond depending on how long they take to defeat.

Bike locks are rated Bronze (least secure), Silver, Gold or Diamond (most secure), depending on how long they can withstand an attack in the Sold Secure workshop...

  • Diamond locks: "provide the highest level of security ... aimed at very high value bicycles and e-bikes."
  • Gold locks: "offer the next highest level of security, aimed at mid-to-high value bicycles."
  • Silver locks: "offer a compromise between security and cost."
  • Bronze locks: "typically offer defence against the opportunist thief."

Why should we trust Sold Secure?

Sold Secure test and rate more bike locks than anyone else. They use standardized tools, and methods that are informed by what real thieves are using in the street. This includes both brute force and picking techniques.

They maintain close relationships with both the police and insurance companies to keep their methods up to date. And the locks must be resubmitted for testing every year, or they lose their rating.

The Sold Secure Lab

Inside the Sold Secure workshop

Most insurance companies require you to use a Sold Secure rated lock before they’ll insure you, (with the level of cover dependent on which rating your lock has). If you don’t use a Sold Secure rated lock, they won’t cover you.

All this means that we should trust the Sold Secure ratings. They know whet they're doing!

However, there are other ways to measure the strength of bike locks, and we should at least consider these too…

Other Independent Testers

Sold Secure are not the only independent organization that tests and rates bike locks. In Holland, ART provide the same service. They rate locks from 1 to 5 (with 5 being the strongest), according to how well they endure attack.

ART Security Ratings

ART use a 1-5 star system and are more strict but rate less locks than Sold Secure

ART employ both machine tests (tensile strength, torsion strength, cutting, corrosion, dust and freeze tests), and tests by engineers (brute and intelligent attack tests) to produce their ratings:

  • 1 star is minimum security (“take away security”)
  • 2 stars for bicycles
  • 3 stars for mopeds and mopeds
  • 4 stars for motorcycles (on the road)
  • 5 stars for motorcycles (parked at home)

Sold Secure vs ART

ART test and rate far fewer locks than Sold Secure, and their classification is narrower. However, we can use their ratings in conjunction with Sold Secure to get a more granular idea of a lock’s security.

For example, if two locks both have a Sold Secure Gold rating, but one's been awarded 2/5 stars from ART while the has 3/5 stars from ART, then the second lock is obviously the most secure.

This is actually a really common situation, and is a useful way to filter locks further by security.

Online Tests (are a bit rubbish)

There are tons of different cycling and product review websites which publish articles describing how they attacked a few bike locks with different tools, in order to tell you which one is the best.

Lock testing tools

Tools used to test bike locks

They make entertaining reading. But there are a few reasons to be wary of these articles...

They don’t test many locks. They don’t use standardized tools or methods. And without inside info, they don't necessarily attack the locks in the same way a thief would. So it’s difficult to be sure of the results.

This is a really important point: it doesn't matter if you defeated a lock with a tool that thieves don't use. Thieves carry a limited tool set (cable cutters, medium size bolt cutters, pry bars and angle grinders).

They don't use nut splitters, they don't use drills (anymore). And they don't pick locks!

Plus these tests tend to largely ignore, issues around practicality such as how easy the locks are to carry and use, which are really important, because there is no "one size fits all" solution.

In fact, beyond “all cable locks are rubbish” and “an angle grinder will cut through anything”, the conclusions they draw are neither certain nor particularly useful. 

And there are so many recommendations, on high profile websites, that are clearly wrong, that I just don’t trust them!

Lock Brand Ratings (are confusing)

All the top brands have created their own rating systems to help us compare the different security levels of their own locks.

Different lock brand security ratings

Kryptonite, OnGuard and Abus all use different security ratings. Confused?

And while these are useful for choosing a lock from that one manufacturer, because the rating systems are all different, they’re no good when you want to compare different brands.

How I use the Sold Secure Ratings

So the bottom line is this: establish your risk level by answering the questions in the quiz above. If you’re “high risk” you’ll need a Gold or Diamond rated lock. If you’re “lower risk”, you’ll probably be OK with a Silver rated lock.

If your risk level is:

High Risk

Lower Risk

Your lock security rating should be:

Sold Secure Gold and Diamond
Sold Secure Silver

I don’t recommend Sold Secure Bronze locks for any circumstances because they offer very little practical protection.

You might be OK with a Bronze rated lock in a really low risk area, but I don’t feel comfortable recommending locks that can be so easily defeated.

And there’s such a huge variety of locks at different sizes, weights and prices, that you should be able to find one that’s rated Sold Secure Silver or better, that suits your specific circumstances.

Step 2: Choose the right type of bike lock

This is almost as important as Step 1. Because the type of lock you choose will determine how easy it is to use. If it’s difficult, you’ll stop using it. And that’s when your bike will be stolen!

So it’s important you don’t choose a lock that’s too heavy or too small. Or one that’s difficult to carry, complicated to secure, or that severely limits the places you’re able to lock your bike.

Obviously this will depend on your individual circumstances. But if we look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type of lock, it should quickly become clear which is the best one for you.

There are four, well established types of bike lock to choose from:

U-lock

1. U-locks

Chain lock

2. Chain locks

Folding lock

3. Folding locks

Kryptonite Cable lock

4. Cable locks

And each of these locks offers a compromise between three fundamental qualities:

  1. Price
  2. Practicality
  3. Security
The important qualities of bike locks

The main thing to notice in the chart above, is that while u-locks, chain locks and folding locks all offer a reasonable balance of price, practicality and security, cable locks don’t!

Yes, they might be cheap, and they might be easy to use, but they offer very little security. So please...

Do not buy a cable lock!

But to work out which one of the others is best for your needs, let’s look at each one in more detail.

U-locks / D-locks

U-locks (also known as a D-locks) are like giant padlocks that fasten around our bikes and whatever we're trying to secure them to.

Abus U-mini 40

U-locks: pros and cons

  • Cheaper than chain locks
  • Lighter than chain locks
  • More secure than folding locks
  • Difficult to carry
  • Won't go around bigger objects

Good u-locks provide a nice balance between price, practicality and security. They're generally cheaper, lighter and a little bit easier to use than chain locks, while still providing a high level of protection.

Because of their rigidity, they can be more challenging to carry than chain locks. And their limited size and shape means you’ll find fewer things you can secure your bike to.

However, in general, if you’re only going to buy one bike lock, then I would recommend you get a u-lock.

They range in price from around $30 / £18 for a decent budget lock, up to $100 / £60 for the most reliable and secure models. So you should be able to find one to suit your wallet.

However, there are a number of things you should think about carefully before you buy a u-lock, including which size you'll need and how you’re going to carry it around.

The two u-locks I recommend at the top of this page are standard size. This means they're big enough to fit around a whole load of objects and are therefore suitable for almost everyone, no matter what type of bike they ride and where they lock it!

That's why I recommend them.

However, there are other sizes of u-lock and smaller sizes are increasingly popular. So let's take a quick look at one of the best...

Kryptonite New-U Evolution Mini-7

The Evolution Mini-7 is the Wirecutter's best lock recommendation, and it is a fantastic lock. But it won't be suitable for everyone...

Kryptonite New-U Evolution Mini-7

Kryptonite New-U Evolution Mini-7

My score:

Check price:

Shackle thickness:

13 mm

Weight:

3.55 lb (1.61 kg)

Size (internal):

3.25 x 7"

(8.3 x 17.8 cm)

Kryptonite rating:

7/10

Other Security Ratings:

Sold Secure Gold & ART 2 Stars

There's a lot to like about the Mini-7. The 13 mm shackle is cast from Kryptonite's strongest "max performance" steel, and it locks into the crossbar on both sides.

This makes it more resistant to both cutting and leverage attacks. And it's reflected in the Gold rating from Sold Secure.

It also comes with a cable which you can use to protect the wheel that the u-lock doesn't secure. And a decent enough frame mount (if you install it correctly).

It's more secure than the Kryptonite Kryptolok. And it's lighter than the Abus Granit X-Plus 540 and many other Gold rated locks (it weighs less than 3 cans of Coke without the cable).

Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7

Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7: it won't be for everyone

But there are a couple of things you need to remember before you rush out and buy it...

Firstly, although it's Sold Secure Gold, it was only giver 2/5 from ART. This puts it at the lower end of the Gold scale. Don't get me wrong: it's still a very secure lock. It's just not up there with the very best.

It certainly won't put up any kind of resistance against an angle grinder.

Secondly, it's a mini u-lock. This makes it significantly narrower than a standard u-lock, which means you're pretty much limited to using it at bike racks. And depending on your bike, you may not be able to lock your bike in the way you want to...

For example, if you have fatter wheels and/or a thicker frame, you may not be able to get this lock around your wheel, your frame and the rack.

However, if you're prepared to be flexible and change your locking technique, you should be able to use this lock to properly secure any type of bike on a rack.

Now I love this lock. It works really well for my circumstances. But the fact that it restricts you to bike racks makes it difficult to recommend unequivocally as a lock that works for everyone else.

Read my full review of the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7.

Chain locks

Chain locks usually consist of a long metal chain (covered by a sleeve to protect your paintwork) and a big lock.

Chain locks: pros and cons

  • Easier to carry than u-locks
  • Fasten around more objects than u-locks
  • Very heavy
  • Expensive

We can divide chain locks into two broad groups:

  1. those that are light enough to be portable (< 12 mm)
  2. those that are so heavy, they are best as stationary security (> 12 mm).
Portable Chains

These are easy to carry wrapped around your seat post or thrown in a bag. And their length and flexibility mean you can lock your bike to a wide range of different objects.

However these chains will generally be no more than 12 mm thick and are not as secure as good u-locks. Plus they're still much heavier.

Stationary Chains

A super thick, core hardened steel chain with a heavy, top quality padlock is perhaps the most secure way to lock your bike.

However these chains are so heavy and cumbersome that they generally work best as a second, stationary lock, which you leave wherever your bike is regularly secured for long periods of time.

Chain locks range in price from around $45 / £40 for a short, budget model up to $500 / £200 for the thickest, heaviest monsters. So they’re also a bit more expensive than u-locks.

As with u-locks, you should think carefully about what size and thickness you need and how you will carry it about if you need a portable chain.

The two chains I recommend at the top of this page (the Kryptolok and Evolution), will work as portable security. So let's take a quick look at the best stationary chain lock...

The Strongest Static Chain Lock: Kryptonite New York Legend 1515

Pragmasis probably make the strongest chain locks. But they're not available worldwide. So the Kryptonite New York Legend Chain 1515 is the most secure bike chain that is!

Kryptonite New York Legend 1515 best high-security chain

New York Legend 1515

My score:

Check price:

Chain thickness:

15 mm

Weight:

15.95 lb (7.23 kg)

Length:

60" (150 cm)

Kryptonite rating:

10/10

Other Security Ratings:

ART 5 Stars

With 15 mm links, it’s certainly not portable. This is a lock that stays wherever you lock your bike all day or overnight.

It's been awarded 5/5 from ART. Which is pretty unique! And with two lengths available (5' and 3') it can be used with just one or multiple bikes.

So if you're looking for the ultimate security for your bike shed or other bike storage solution, then this is a fantastic, albeit pricey choice.

I've written a full review of the New York Legend Chain 1515. And I also compare it to other chain locks too.

Folding Locks

Folding locks are made up of a series of metal plates linked together by rivets. They fold down into a tight package for carrying and then unfold out to make a flexible shape that fastens around your bike.

Abus Bordo 5700 folding lock

Chain locks: pros and cons

  • Easiest to carry
  • Fasten around more objects than u-locks
  • Quite light
  • Limited choice
  • Doubts over durability

They're generally lighter than u-locks that offer similar levels of security. And their length and flexibility give you more options than you’d get with a standard sized u-lock when you’re looking for somewhere to lock your bike.

But the best thing about them is the way they fold down to make a very compact package that’s super easy to transport.

The carrying holster can either velcro around your frame or even better, screw into your bottle holder holes.

Abus Bordo on bike

Folding locks are really compact and easy to transport!

And because it’s so compact, it won’t work loose, swing about or generally interfere with your ride in the way that u-locks sometimes do.

I don’t think they’re quite as easy to use as a u-lock or chain. Unfolding them and then getting them around your bike and the object you’re securing it to can sometimes be a bit of a pain.

And because of their comparatively complex build, I have some doubts about how well they’ll continue to perform after a thief has tried (and failed) to defeat them.

But if you’re fed up with under performing u-lock frame mounts, folding locks are a fantastic alternative.

Cable locks (are rubbish!)

Cable locks are normally made up of many strands of long, thin steel, braided together inside a plastic tube.

Kryptonite Cable lock

Cable locks: pros and cons

  • Long
  • Light
  • Cheap
  • Practical
  • Your bike will be stolen

They’re light, flexible and generally cheap. However, this flexibility means that they’re also soft and almost all cable locks can be cut with a pair of hand held cable or bolt cutters in a matter of seconds.

And since the one tool that virtually every bike thief carries is a pair of cable cutters, cable locks offer very little practical security.

Bike thieves specifically target these locks and in fact, many bike theft statistics in the US and the UK suggest that 90% of all stolen bikes were secured with cable locks.

So by not buying a cable lock you are already massively reducing the chances of your bike being stolen!

Some people recommend cable locks as a secondary lock to secure your wheels or saddle. However, there are much better ways to secure your wheels and saddle and I really wouldn’t recommend any cable locks in any circumstances!

Innovative Locks

There is one other type of bike lock. And these locks tend to be born in the minds of maverick individuals and initially funded through the pages of crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter.

Innovative locks: pros and cons

  • Address known issues with other types of lock
  • Use new technology
  • Expensive
  • Largely untested

Unfortunately, many of them have neglected to prove their security credentials (which should really be a priority if you’re trying to sell us a new form of security) and have consequently not been tested and rated by Sold Secure or ART.

However, there are some that have been tested and rated, and are worth taking a look at, such as the titanium TiGr Mini and the textile Tex-lock.

Bear in mind though, that these innovative locks tend to be more expensive than their security levels warrant, so should only really be considered if there is a specific usability issue that they address that other locks don't!

U-locks vs Chain locks vs Folding locks

U-lock vs Chain lock vs Folding lock

I talk about the pros and cons of u-locks and chains in much more detail in the u-lock vs chain lock page. But to summarize here...

Portable Security

If you’re looking for a lock to carry around with you every day, then a u-lock is generally the best choice.

Since they are usually lighter, cheaper and more secure than portable chains, they provide the nicest balance between security, practicality and price.

Kryptonite Evolution Standard

U-locks are generally the best choice for portable security

Of course, there could be good reasons to choose a chain over a u-lock. Maybe you need the greater locking options that a chain offers. Or maybe you don’t like the frame mounts that come with u-locks.

But in most cases, u-locks are the best option for portable security.

Stationary Security

If you’re looking for a lock that stays in one place, at home or at work, then a big, heavy chain is the better choice. A thick chain with a strong lock provides the very highest level of security for your bike.

High security chains are the best choice for stationary security at home or work.

They're more difficult to attack with power tools, impossible to bolt crop (when 16 mm or more), and immune to bottle jack attacks. You can secure multiple bikes with one chain. And they also work better with ground anchors.

Just don’t try to take them with you when you nip to the shops!

What about Folding Locks?

Just like u-locks, folding locks are best suited to mobile security. And they address two of the main problems with u-locks: their rigid shape and how difficult they can be to carry around on your bike.

Because they're more flexible, you will find more places you can lock your bike up. And because they're so compact when folded up, they are much easier to transport. They also compete well with u-locks in terms of weight.

Folding locks: more expensive and not as secure but more portable than u-locks

However, high security folding locks aren't as secure as high security u-locks. They’re more expensive too. Plus, since only Abus, Seatylock, Trelock and Kryptonite make decent quality folding locks, your choice is very limited!

But if you have specific needs that u-locks don’t meet, then consider a folding lock before a chain lock.

Step 3: Choose the right size lock

Once you know how secure your bike lock needs to be, and which type of lock will suit you best, it’s time to think about what size it should be. Because the size of your bike lock has the biggest influence on how you’ll be able to use it.

Or if you'll be able to use it at all!

In an ideal world, we’d all use the smallest, lightest bike lock possible. And that might be fine if you ride a skinny road bike or single speed, in a city that’s full of slim bike racks.

But what if you ride a bulky ebike, or a big framed mountain bike or cruiser? And what if there are no bike racks where you live, and you have to use lampposts, railings or other street furniture.

Then you’ll need a bigger bike lock!

How you lock your bike is also a factor here. Widely accepted wisdom says that your bike lock should secure both your frame and your rear wheel. And that means you'll need a lock that fits around both.

But in reality, there are other ways to secure your wheels. And if your lock can just go around your frame, you can use a smaller lock on a bigger bike! So it’s a good idea to think about how you’re going to lock your bike before you buy the lock.

As a general rule, I would say that bigger bikes (including ebikes, mountain bikes, cruiser bikes, city bikes, comfort bikes, tandems and even BMXs), are likely to need a lock that has a locking circumference that’s at least as big as a standard size u-lock (around 85 cm).

While slimmer bikes (including road bikes, hybrid bikes, and fixies/single speed), are more likely to get away with the mini u-locks and smaller folding locks.

But it will depend very much on your personal circumstances, so I recommend you think about this carefully.

Which company makes the best bike locks?

Once you've decided on the security level you need, and which type and size of bike lock suits you best, your search will likely lead you to many similar bike locks from many different brands.

So how do you choose between them? Let's take a look at three of the most popular brands...

Abus vs Kryptonite vs OnGuard

I cover this in much more detail in the Abus vs Kryptonite vs OnGuard page (which includes a very detailed review of the different “Anti-theft Protection” schemes). But I’ll also provide a quick summary here.

Abus vs OnGuard vs Kryptonite

Abus produce the best quality locks. They're well-made, endlessly tested, very reliable (even in poor weather conditions), and will last a long time. However, they’re the most expensive of the three brands.

Kryptonite also produce high quality locks. Not quite to the standard of Abus, but they make up for this with exceptional customer service. This includes free key and lock replacement in certain circumstances and the best of the anti-theft protection schemes.

OnGuard have a slightly poorer reputation for both build quality and customer service. However, in recent years they've significantly improved the quality of their locks. And they beat both Abus and Kryptonite in terms of price (OnGuard locks are always the cheapest!).

So if you want the very best quality look at Abus, if you want the best price look at OnGuard and if you want the best customer service look at Kryptonite!

Other good bike lock brands

While the big three are the best known, there are actually plenty of other lock brands that are worthy of your consideration.

And in fact, this year (2023), for the first time ever, my top 6 picks include more niche brands than well established brands, with two locks each from Litelok and Seatylock (Foldylocks).

The Hiplok attached to my belt

The Hiplok attached to my belt

Hiplok are another brand that focuses on wearable bike locks. Whether it’s chains that you fasten around your waist or u-locks that you clip onto your belt, they take the stress out of carrying your lock around.

It's interesting that all the important innovation is coming from these smaller brands, but I expect the bigger brands will make efforts to catch up.

Making the Final Decision

If you’ve followed my three simple steps, you should now have a good idea of the security level, lock type and brand that best suits your circumstances.

If none of my 6 recommendations are for you, then I suggest you browse one of the complete lists of Sold Secure Silver, Gold or Diamond bike locks, according to your risk level, comparing the sizes, weights and prices until you find the perfect match!

How much money should I spend?

It's just like anything else: the more money you spend, the better quality lock you get. But what does quality mean here?

What a good quality lock gives you first and foremost is reliability. And this is super important when it comes to bike locks.

You don't want a lock with a key that suddenly stops working, a mechanism that gets jammed or a shackle that gets stuck. Locks that stop working properly can cause all sorts of problems...

Cheap u-lock

Cheap u-locks can be secure but are often unreliable: check the reviews

If it stops working while it's secured around your bike, your bike becomes unusable until the lock is somehow removed (which can be a nightmare). If it stops working before you secure your bike, your bike may be stolen.

These problems are less likely to occur if you buy a better quality lock.

But what about price and security? It's true: there are some cheap, high security locks. And there are plenty of expensive low security locks too!

But in general, high security locks cost more. And reliable, high security locks always cost more!

How much money should I spend?

Spend as much as you can afford: it will be cheaper in the long run

Many lock brands suggest spending 10% of the value of your bike on your lock. But if you have a $200 bike and you only spend $20 on the lock, you’re probably asking for trouble.

I recommend you spend as much as you can. This will give you the best reliability and security you can afford. And it will also give you the peace of mind that you’ve done the best you can to protect your bike.

And don’t forget: a good bike lock can last many years and many bikes. Maybe you’ve got a cheap bike now but if you upgrade in a couple of years, you wont need to shell out again for a better lock as well!

I know that buying a bike lock is not very exciting. And it’s frustrating that you have to spend so much money to protect your stuff. But a cheap lock is a false economy...

Because when your lock gets stuck to your bike, you'll have to pay someone to cut it off and pay for a new lock. Or when your bike is stolen, you’ll have to buy a new bike and a new, better lock!

I learned the hard way, but surely it’s better to get it right first time!

Frequently Asked Questions

In this final section, I’m going to address some of the most common questions I get asked about bike locks. I wanted to keep this information out of the main article, so it doesn’t get too bloated.

But it’s worth reading and may help you make a choice...

Do bike thieves use lock picking techniques?

No, the vast majority of bike thieves wouldn't know how to pick even the most basic locks. And they don’t need to, because most basic bike locks are so easy to defeat with brute force!

For sure, a few bike thieves will have some knowledge and may be carrying basic lock raking tools. But it’s such a tiny percentage, and their skills will usually be so limited, that it’s not worth worrying about if you have a half decent lock.

Celebrity lock pickers like Bosnian Bill and the Lock Picking Lawyer are highly skilled experts who use specialized, bespoke tool sets. And they film in laboratory conditions. So just because they can open a lock in seconds, it doesn’t mean anyone else can.

Yes, in the video below, the Lock Picking Lawyer opens up my top pick in a minute and a half. But listen to what he says: "it has enough pick resistance to use in the street". That's because no-one in the street has the tools or the skills that he has!

However, it is worth knowing about the different types of lock mechanisms when you’re choosing a bike lock. And there are four widely used types: disc detainer, slider, pin tumbler and wafer.

Disc detainer mechanisms were pioneered by Abloy but are increasingly used in high quality bike locks such as Abus and Kryptonite, as they’re hard wearing and generally quite difficult to pick.

Slider mechanisms are usually characterized by keys that have straight edges with internal teeth. Increasingly used by budget locks like OnGuard and Zefal, depending how they’re implemented, they may be easier or harder to pick.

Finally, pin tumbler and wafer mechanisms are generally the least secure because they’re more susceptible to raking attacks, which don’t require much skill. Wafer mechanisms are particularly easy to open and are best avoided.

What’s the strongest bike lock?

The strongest bike lock, is either the Hiplok D1000 or the soon-to-be released Litelok X3. Both of these locks provide such incredible resistance to angle grinder attacks, that in most real world scenarios, we can almost consider them angle grinder proof.

However, both of these locks are very heavy and incredibly expensive. For many cyclists, a more practical option will be the Litelok X1, which, while slightly less resistant to angle grinder attack, is still far stronger than any of the other locks on the market.

Litelok X1: almost angle grinder proof!

It’s also lighter, better sized, and much cheaper than the other two angle grinder resistant locks. Plus, it’s the only one that come with a frame mount! Check out my Litelok X1 review for all the details and my angle grinder test video!

I’ve written a whole article about the strongest bike locks. One important thing to remember is that as bike locks get stronger, they also get heavier or smaller. Often they get heavier and smaller.

What’s the lightest bike lock?

The lightest bike lock that I recommend ts the TiGr Mini. However, that doesn't mean it's a good choice for you. The thing with lightweight locks is that they tend to be either insecure or small! Or very expensive. And “lightweight” can be quite subjective when it comes to bike locks!

Kryptonite Evolution LITE Mini-6

Kryptonite Evolution LITE Mini-6: weighs less than 2 cans of Coke

Since you’re obviously not going to buy an insecure lock, make sure you carefully compare the weight, size and price of any lock claiming to be lightweight to make sure the trade-offs work for you.

I’ve also written a whole article about the lightest bike locks to help you out here!

How can I protect my bike wheels and seat?

You can protect your bike wheels and seat with a range of different security device including extra locks, cable lassos, security skewers, hex bolt blockers and plenty of great DIY methods too!

Hexlox wheel skewer

Hexlox are one way to protect your wheels

Again, I’ve written a long article about the best ways to secure your bike wheels and seat that considers all the options that are currently available.

What’s the best way to lock my bike?

There is no one best way to lock your bike. However, there are a number of very bad ways to lock your bike that are guaranteed to get it stolen.

I’ve written a pretty exhaustive article on how to lock a bike where I go over all the acceptable ways and all the ways you should never lock your bike. If possible, you should read this before you make a final decision on a lock.

There are several perfectly secure ways to lock a bike (and many insecure methods too)

There are secure locking methods that you probably didn't know existed or thought weren't valid ways to keep your bike safe.

Knowing all the appropriate techniques could help you choose a more user-friendly lock, as there may be valid locking methods that allow you to use a smaller and lighter model!

This page contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. You will not pay any extra. More details here.


More Good Stuff:

Sold Secure Gold Bike Locks

Sold Secure Gold Bike Locks: The List

Win a Free Bike!

Win a Free Bike!

How to lock your bike

How to lock you bike (properly)

About the author 

Carl Ellis

I've had bikes stolen in London, New York and Barcelona. Yep, I was a serial, international, bike theft victim. In 2015 I decided to stop the rot. And not a single bike's been stolen since! Brakes, yes. Bells, yes. But they're another story. Everything I learn, I document on this website. More about my story. Contact me. LinkedIn.

  • Hi, Carl, great site, it really helped me choose the locks I’m currently using! I would just like to leave my experience with my security options over the last few months. I live in a major metropolitan area and bike theft here is a real problem, so I usually need very high security, even though I don’t ride a very expensive bike (and I think a beater bike is better and safer to ride around in the city). I use pinhead nuts on my wheels and seatpost, and I further secure them with ottolocks. As a primary lock, I’ve been using the Abus granit 54 mini for the frame, and when I feel I need more security in some areas of the city, I take the Kryptonite NY Standard. So far everything has been going pretty well, haven’t had any problems. Thanks again for helping me decide which locks were better for me!

  • Right now I’m using the HipLok 1.5 and Knog Strongman, as my main high security locks. I also have a Kryptonite Series 2 and a Knog Kabana cable sausage lock for the front wheel and frame. But downtown for a long lockup I’ll use the hiplok for front wheel and frame. And the Knog Strongman for the rear wheel via sheldon brown method. I liked the frame mount for the knog way better than anything kryptonite was using 2 years ago. And it’s hard to find a nice wearable chain by krpyto also. Although their new Mini Messenger double deadbolt locks look very sick.

    • Thank you for your research and thoughtful overview. I hope to improve its utility.

      In multiple places, you mention the inconvenience of carrying U-locks. To maximize accuracy that statement, you should always mention HipLok for offering a likely exception. For anybody who rides while wearing any type of bag or belt, a HipLok DX is more convenient to carry than most folding locks. The DX requires no janky frame attachments, and it is awarded the Sold Secure Gold status at 1250 grams. I would call that a winning combination of attributes for *most* bike commuters.

      When you format your comparisons to U-Locks in tabular form, you can add short words to indicate the exception caused by HipLok’s uniqueness. Words like “typical,” as in, “easier to transport than typical U-Locks.”

      For the record, I am not affiliated with HipLok, nor have I received any favors. I have tested the DX for usability, but never owned one. My personal lock is actually made by TiGr, a light weight, 24-inch bow lock. It just happens that I can run it up through my downtube’s bottle cage and lock it over my top tube for a perfect and convenient fit on both of my bikes. That’s just lucky. YMMV, and probably will.

      Back to the subject of U-Lock convenience, there is also the ‘convenience exception’ of a U-Lock which fits in the rear pocket of men’s jeans. Personally, I think this convenience is irrelevant because of the security compromise. I do not want something heavier or less portable than a titanium lock if it is *also* easier to cut. There is a class of U-Locks which can be cut very easily with large bolt croppers, and I have not found ANY U-Locks outside of that class which fit in my largest dude-pockets.

      Fancy metals with 11-mm cross sections are still highly vulnerable. Your Kryptonite example is rapidly cropped in many test videos. It might really be “as strong as Kryptonite’s other 13mm shackle U-locks,” but measurements like tensile strength do very little to resist cutting.

      In contrast, the HipLok DX Shackle is 14mm thick. On the downside, I have not found any 3rd party tests recorded for that lock, despite its laudable independent security rating.

      Thank you for your time.

  • Great resource – thanks so much for the hard work.

    I have a number of bikes but even more varieties of locks. I find they break down into Locks Used at Home/work (or static – that is, the locks never go anywhere), Mobile Locks and Locks That Never Get Used.

    The static locks are used on bikes in the garage or shed. The bike goes out, but the lock stays there. The Locks That Never Get Used are the odd ones, like the Seatylock integrated seat/lock that I backed on Kickstarter, the three Tigr locks that I backed (starting to see a trend?) and the folding locks.

    Everyone has their own situation to consider, but I ride in London or in the countryside. In London, I ride a mid-price singlespeed with nutted wheels. Bicyclebolts offers inexpensive security nuts (as well as pinhead socket cap screws for parts) that secure the wheels at a reasonable cost. You could spend €120 for HexLox’s version, or try and use Kinmar security nuts (the special socket weighs a ton, though). Glue in a few ball bearings and that’s pretty secure, or “more trouble than it’s worth”. I lock the frame with a Kryptonite U-lock (I like their frame mount).

    In the country, the bikes I ride are more valuable, but I’m not about to lug a heavy lock. Then again, the chance of coming across your tooled-up dedicated Urban Bike Thief are pretty small. More likely you will find the Thief of Convenience – no tools but a criminal mind. For them, a simple cable (!) lock is probably enough. I actually use a cheap-as-chips Abus lightweight chain lock (slightly harder to cut through). And of course the bike is hardly ever out of sight and if so for five minutes at most. So far so good.

    So, I’d say *any* lock is much better than no lock. I think a lot of bikes reported stolen are either not locked at all or locked incorrectly (like the ones you see locked to themselves but not even securing the wheels from turning).

    https://www.bicyclebolts.com/products/locking-track-nuts-m9-m10

  • Please could you do something on security wheel skewers for bikes. I can’t find any independent tests or objective opinions on the best options.

    • The Kryptonite chain is definitely the better of the two. Because the cable is a very very bad lock! But even the Kryptonite Keeper is a little thin for my liking. I’d be tempted to go for the thicker Kryptonite Kryptolok 955 Mini instead.

  • So you state that cable locks are bad (not effective). What about the cable locks that come with U Bolt locks (i.e. Kryptonite lock). I see some of these cables are 16mm to 18mm thick; would these be good to use or hard to cut? Or are all cable locks useless? Thank you

    • Hi Brandon,

      I can’t find any 16 – 18 mm cable locks that come with Kryptonite u-locks. Usually they’re 10 mm. But even at 18 mm they’re useless as a pair of hand held cable cutters can just chew through them!

      I would steer well clear!

      Cheers
      Carl

  • Hi there,

    Truly excellent site! Lots of valuable information here and your time is truly appreciated. I have a question for you.

    I was considering purchasing the New York Legend chain with the padlock along with a ground anchor by either Kryptonite or Abus to lock up our bikes in the back yard beside our house under a patio. There is a fairly high secure fencing that goes completely around the house in the back..

    However, I was recently thinking that since we have 4 bikes in the family perhaps running the chain around the upper frame of all 4 bikes and leaving it at that may be just as secure as a ground anchor since with the ground anchor the chain would be resting on the ground making it easier for a thief to use long bolt cutters with their bodyweight on one of the handles of the bolt cutter.

    What’s your opinion? Would a ground anchor affixed to concrete be still more advisable?

    • Hi Attila,

      This is a very good question! And one I’ve considered many times myself…

      A ground anchor means the chain is closer to the ground which makes it more vulnerable to bolt cutters for sure.

      Having said that, the Legend has 15 mm links which although theoretically crop-able, are very unlikely to be cut by even the biggest bolt cutters. Such croppers would also need to be wielded by a heavy man who knows exactly what they’re doing!

      Whereas, if a thief can cut a hole in your fence, with a bit of help, they could maybe carry all 4 bikes out without having to cut anything else. It’s difficult for me to make a judgement here as I don’t know what your fence is like or how big/heavy your bikes are.

      But I would perhaps tend towards the ground anchor to me honest.

      I hope that helps!
      Carl

      • Thank you Carl. I suspected as much but thank you for your opinion on this! Again, great site and keep up the good work. It’s very much appreciated.

  • What are your thoughts about the C-shaped bike locks I saw in the Netherlands, that are attached to the frame under the seat?

  • if u want a regular bolt cutter… hacksaw and freon proof setup- get a pewag 10 millimeter security chain along with a abus 92/65 monoblock lock. the thieves will definitely have to get a hydraulic bolt cutter … torch or a angle grinder

  • Great info! What do you recommend I use for locking two bikes (big dummy and road bike) to a garage floor secured kryptonite 16mm stronghold anchor bike lock? I’m open to using one lock or two separate locks. thanks!

    • Hi Emily

      The Kryptonite New York Legend chain is probably the best choice here.

      Alternatively, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit or OnGuard Beast chains are also good, but won’t be quite as secure.

      All the locks are available in longer lengths, so securing two bikes shouldn’t be a problem.

      Hope that helps!
      Carl

    • Well, they’re very cheap and the Catalyst you link to in the video is pretty secure. But they have a very bad reputation for reliability. So the mechanism starts to seize up and jam very quickly.

      My advice is to spend a little more to potentially save yourself a lot of grief later on!

  • Hi,
    Great site – thanks for your hard work helping us keep our bikes safe.
    I am looking for a lock for my kids, that is not too heavy for them to carry & not useless. Seems like a hard task, without spending £80. I do believe in investing in locks, and whilst their bikes are relatively expensive for kids bikes, that’s not quite proportionate.

    I have found this site https://rascalrides.com/best-kid-friendly-bike-locks/ and like the look of the Woom chain lock, but can’t see any Sold Secure rating. Have you heard of them? Or would you point me in the direction of other short / small locks that could be used by kids?

    Thanks

    • Hi Tash,

      This is good question and I should probably have a similar page!

      The Woom lock isn’t rated by Sold Secure. And 6 mm links aren’t very secure. However it depends on how expensive the kids bikes are and how risky your area and routines are.

      It’s a tricky one. Because it’s not just about security. It’s about making sure the kids know how to use the use the lock properly (and do so!).

      My sons had 2 bike stolen in the last 6 months and I’m always suspicious that it’s because he hasn’t locked them up properly!

      I would prehaps recommend the Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 955 Mini. It short, relatively light for a chain and easy to wrap around a seat post when your riding.

      It’s much more secure than the Woom. But maybe too much for your kids (depending on their age)?

      Thanks
      Carl

  • Tash,

    Parents with multiple children may be in a good position to experiment, and then report back to us here. It would interesting to give one child the KryptoLok Series 2 955 Mini, and give another child the Hiplok DX. After a few weeks of observation, tell us which child would rather use her sibling’s lock, and which lock appears to be more convenient from the perspective of the kids.

    Both options are rated “Gold” by Sold Secure.
    Kryptolock-2-955 wieghs 1.77 kg.
    HipLok DX weighs 1.25 kg.
    Kryptolock-2-955 is better for carrying on a bike frame.
    HipLok DX is better and faster for attaching to any bag or belt.
    Kryptolock-2-955 requires a thief to cut twice through 9mm steel.
    HipLok DX requires a thief to abrade through 14mm steel, then either bend it, or repeat.

    But, which lock is less trouble for the kids?
    The human is always the weakest link in a security system.
    People of all ages consistently reject any security measure which is perceived as too difficult.

    I would hate for your experimental results to be skewed merely because one lock cylinder began to seize before the other one did. Remember to lubricate your locks with graphite powder, available in spray cans or cheap squeeze tubes at any hardware store. Wet weather could require the use of a light machine oil, like 3-in-1, or my favorite: automatic transmission fluid (ATF). (ATF is easy to apply with a paint brush, or use it to fill empty Tri-Flow bottles)

    Don’t forget that wheels, saddles, and other components may be secured by relatively weightless and effortless Hexlox.

    The HipLok reviewed at thebestbikelock.com is the DXC model. This is identical to the HipLok DX model with a 1mm cable included, hence the somewhat heavier weight. Personally, I have no use for fussing with a cable, because my hex screws are filled by Hexlox, and I would not expect a child to use anything more complicated than my own system.

    • Good points.

      As you say, the human is always the weakest link in a security system and this is especially the case with kids and bike locks.

      This is a subject very close to my heart as my kids keep having their bikes nicked!

      So I’m thinking an article on the best locks for kids is a good idea for the coming updates 🙂

  • Hi Carl,
    First, like many others, I would like to thank you for your very useful website! For example, you convinced me about the Hexlox system, which I am now using for my new trekking bike.

    Second, I would like to add one point. In my opinion, for those who have a bike rack, you are a bit overemphasizing the weight of locks in general. I use the Kryptonite New York M18-WL (18 mm U-lock; the bigger version of the Fahgettaboudit Mini that you recommend) plus the Kryptonite New York Noose 1213 (the longer version of the Noose 1275 that you recommend). According to many of your comments, this combination should be almost impossible to carry on the bike, but thanks to my pannier (rear bag; I use this one: https://www.savadeck-bike.com/product/SAVADECK-35L-Multi-function-Cycling-Rear-Seat-Trunk-Bag-Bike-Bicycle-Luggage-Package-Rear-Carrier-Pannier-EVA-Shell-Wear-resistant-66.html), it is actually no problem at all. Both heavy locks easily fit into it, they are not shaking around, and I hardly notice the extra weight when cycling, even not when going uphill. For short trips within high-risk cities, and when leaving the bike for a few hours at a swimming pool etc., this looks like a good solution to me. Of course, I am aware of the fact that an angle grinder could easily cut both locks…

    Third, one question: would you agree that the “Skunklock” (https://www.skunklock.com/) could be the only promising defense against angle grinders and similar power tools? Well, I “ordered” one, but it is still not yet available for shipping…

    Cheers!

    • Sorry about the delay getting back to you Heimo.

      I think, if you’re OK with the weight of those locks then obviously that’s fine. I think for some people that would be waaaaay too much though!

      People complain about the weight of their locks all the time. Of course most cyclists don’t use panniers either so your combination wouldn’t work at all for them (I reckon even you would feel that weight if you had the locks in a bag on your back!).

      I’m a big fan of the Skunklock concept, it’s good to see a lock coming at things from a different angle and I’ll definitely be reviewing it once it’s released.

      And I’m glad I managed to convinced you about the Hexlox: they are definitely my favorite bicycle security innovation of the last few years!

      • Carl said: “Of course most cyclists don’t use panniers either so your combination wouldn’t work at all for them (I reckon even you would feel that weight if you had the locks in a bag on your back!).”
        Yes, that was my whole point: whether the weight of heavy locks really matters in real-world situations depends on whether the bike we look at has a bike rack or not. If there is a bike rack, than to use a pannier to store the locks properly while cycling can basically solve the weight problem. So I would encourage cyclists who have that option to give it a try – the alternatives I see would be either to pay a lot for an insurance (about 300 Euro per year in my town!), or to increase the risk of theft significantly by saving on locks weight (which means, in most cases, to save on quality).
        Heimo

  • Hi, thank you for writing up this article. It was immensely helpful. I have been using the Hiplok Gold to secure the front wheel and frame to a fixed structure. Recently, i have just bought a more expensive bike and intend to park it in the city for a few hours which is a high risk area. I have then invested in a Hiplok DX U-lock after reading your article. I like being able to “wear” the locks hence i went with Hiplok over Kryptonite. Both locks are Sold Secure Gold.

    I was initially going to lock the front wheel, frame and fixed structure with the chain and the back wheel to the frame with the U-lock. I usually have to lock my bike to a lamppost so won’t have the luxury of locking both wheels to fixed structures. Would you recommend this method of locking or should i be using the U-lock for the fixed structure and the chain for just the frame and the back wheel?

    Many thanks.

    • Hi Mag,

      It’s a tricky one. Obviously, ideally both the chain and the u-lock would be secured to the fixd object.

      Both of these are good locks. But the chain is more susceptible to bolt cutters. Therefore it’s important to keep it as far from the ground as possible. If you can acheive that with the lampost (whilst also threading the chain through the wheel) then your prferred method would be fine.

      Otherwise, (if as you say the area is high risk) I’d be tempted to use the U-lock on the fixed structure. Of course if you’re locking the bike to something that you can fit the DX around they’d be nothing stopping you putting the chain around the object too, no?

      I mean the chain is a good lock and you should be OK. But in my advice I’d prefer to er on the cautious side.

      Are there no purpose built bike racks in the area?

      Thanks

  • Does anyone know anything about the Tex-Lock? It’s made in Leipzig and doesn’t yet seem to have any official ratings.

  • Hey thanks for the fantastic resource. Purchased my first bike ever as I got a glorious volt Ebike for a song – and now the invariable step two of security for the bike begins.

    However, I already have too many keys that I carry around and I worry about loss. I notice you do not review or cover any numbered or code locks, even though these are available for sale from all the brands you mentioned.

    Any reason why? Is there a best code u-lock or folding lock?

    • Hi Ronaldinho,

      Yes, the simple answer is: coded locks are less secure. If you’re determined to get coded lock make sure hey are at least Sold Secure Silver or better Gold. I’m not sure there actually are any at the moment! I’ll try and research them and write a post about them.

      Thanks
      Carl

  • Your site is amazing. It kept me awake till 2 in the morning. Only after a thorough read I decided 2 buy the locks to leave my bike sleeping outside in Barcelona city. Let’s see if that’s enough after all. Thanks!

  • Most concise article Ive seen to date. Thanks very much! You talk about the big 3 manufacturers
    but I see many other “leading brand” options that don’t appear to be junk, based solely on specs. (Titanker, Sigtuna, Via Velo, etc.) For example I’m considering a a Zukka U lock as an upgrade to my Krytonite Kryptolok (not series 2) based on the shackle size 13mm vs 16mm at a similar price point. There are a host of similar “leading brand” locks with robust specs. Are there problems with their consideration I’m over looking? Thanks in advance

    • Hi Dwight,

      I think alot of these locks (the Zukka included) are simply branded white label locks from Chinese suppliers.

      Now there’s nothing wrong with this per se. But I have doubts about both the quality of the steel and the mechanisms.

      On a 16mm u-lock like the Zukka, the quality of the steel is not super important, cos the shackle is so thick. But if the mechanism is poor quality (or indeed it has poor anti rust qualities where the schackle meets the cross bar), it won’t be long before you’re left with a lock that is impossible to open.

      So I would say: proceed with caution! Cheaper locks like these need more care. So regularly clean and lubricate both the mechanism and the ends of the shackle. More details here.

      If you look after your Zukka it should do a good job. But you need to remember to regularly clean and lubricate.

      Hope that helps!
      Carl

      • I’d take the manufacturer’s claim on shackle diameter with a grain of salt too. Especially when talking about a lot of these more inexpensive locks that are off the shelf from a factory, they claim to be 16mm but in fact are not. Measure them yourself or read the reviews. Sometimes they include the vinyl coating on the shackle as part of their measurement and we all know that provides no added security, just protection for your bike frame finish.

        If cost is an issue, read the reviews and try to make a solid decision. For a modest upgrade in price, you’ll likely get a lifetime warranty from a more reputable lock company though. Invest in the better lock, you’ll save money in the long run.

  • I was chatting with the Abus rep at the recent UK bike show and he told me that Abus locks can be ordered “keyed alike” through any Abus dealer as long as you have the original key card. This could be very handy for families with multiple bikes and locks or even some of us who have a variety of locks to use depending on where we intend to leave a bike – no more searching for the correct key

  • Excellent resource! Thank you so much. I’m developing a website on e-bikes (https://sites.google.com/view/ebikestudy ) and am listing your site.

    Note with e-bikes that weight is not such an issue as with pedal only bikes so e-bike owners should not let weight get in the way of getting the most secure lock they can afford. Important insurance.

  • What about onguard folding lock 811 k-9? And why many bicycle stores don’t sell prober locks? Even high quality bicycle stores?In Estonia most secur lock I can get is on guard folding lock and It has medium security as I know.

      • I also have beside on-guard k-9 the AXA Newton U-lock what is tested by sold secure as silver and is marked on package. My risk is meidum on open balcony. For drug addicts are better ways to stole a bicycle than climbing on balcony. For criminal business my bicycle is new but not so expensive that is worth effort to steal. Pawnshop price is enough only to get some new crack for addicts.

  • Hi,

    I’m trying to choose the best locks for my bike (not a pricey bike). I read quite a lot online about this topic and I saw you suggest Abus vs Kryptonite.
    I’ll probably buy an Abus Granit X-Plus 540 as a primary lock and an Abus IVY Chain 9210 as a secondary one.

    I was also considering Kryptonite New York Standard u-lock as a primary one as it’s 16mm thick vs Abus Granit X-Plus 540 which is 13mm, and Kryptonite New York Noose 1275 for a similar reason vs Abus IVY Chain 9210.

    But I read that many people have problems witk Kryptonite locks being stuck, broken keys etc. AND you suggest Abus locks are the best. May you kindly help me understanding this?

    Thanks!

    Best,
    Davide

    • Hi Davide,

      I think in general Abus locks are slightly more reliable than Kryptonite locks. But they’re also more expensive!

      And just be clear: I use a Kryptonite Kryptolok on my bike.

      It’s outside night and day in all weathers and it’s never once let me down over the 8 years I’ve been using it.

      However, I would say a New York Standard u-lock and Kryptonite New York Noose 1275 is definitely overkill if (as you say) your bike is not pricey.

      That would be a really heavy combination!

      The Abus locks would be a better (lighter) choice.

      I hope that helps!
      Carl

  • Why not include frame locks such as the AXA Defender or Solid ? They’re very inexpensive – around 30€, they’re lightweight…
    They work great for short stops (buying bread) or when you have your bike in sight. Especially with electric bike – my fully loaded bike is around 35kg, I would very much like to see a thief grab it and outrun me while carrying it !
    It’s a second lock that is secured in a couple of seconds and always carried and that is resistant to many tools due to its configuration. And since the rear wheel is secured to the frame, you can use a small U-lock to secure only the frame, knowing that the wheel is safe.
    It should be standard will all bikes, especially electric ones. Brands like Kalkhoff actually do that.

    • Hi Thibault,

      Yes, I agree, they´re useful locks. They´re just not very common in the US and UK.

      Maybe I should try and popularise them!?

      But I think in most cases they´re already fixed on new bikes when you buy them. Is that correct?

      Cheers

      Carl

  • Thank you for this. Have you anything to say about securing a bike on a bike rack on a vehicle? Two to three hours. (During a long lunch?) Overnight? Not good I realise, but sometimes necessary. Cheers.

    • Hi Richard,

      A decent (Sold Secure Gold) chain will do the job. Because it’s so far from the ground, no one is going to be able to cut it with bolt cutters.

      Just make sure the rack can’t be compromised, and you lock the bike properly, and you should be OK.

      Thanks!

      Carl

    • Hi Richard: at about 7 pounds, Kryptonite New York Cinch Ring Chain 1275 is a bit heavy, but I think it represents the best balance of price, weight, and security for your bike. And the cinch ring design provides for more implementation options than a regular chain lock too. It’s about $100 on Amazon, and definitely worth the price.

  • I need to leave my e bike in the town by the train station when i go to work. I’m worried about angle grinders. Which of these locks would be best to stop it?

    • Bikes left for long periods at train stations are particularly at risk, so you’re probably right to be concerned, Phil!

      In which case I would recommend the Litelok X1 or the Hiplok D1000.

      The Litelok is cheaper and lighter but less secure than the Hiplok. So it depends on your budget and just how risky that train station is!

      Also be aware that the Hiplok is very small, so depending on what type of bike you have, it might not be a practical choice.

    • Hi Phil: I purchased the LITELOK X1 and the LITELOK Core Plus locks. I highly recommend the X1 for the best currently available security for your ebike. Note that the new X3 can now be pre-ordered on the LITELOK website, and LITELOK’s estimated shipping date is approximately 60 days from the date of your order. The X3 is bigger than the Hiplock D1000, and likely even more secure against angle grinders as well. Good luck!

  • This is the most comprehensive, best researched, best written, and most actual-test-results-driven article on bike locks that I’ve read. I used this article to finalize my choices for bike locks for my everyday use, and they are the LiteLok X1 and Core Plus models. Both are outstanding products. Thank you, Carl!

  • i think since some kryptonite locks offer insurance if your bike is stolen that they are the best choice? i feel like a lot of people miss that point so i would feel safe using those as long as they’re covered up to my bike cost

    though i do wonder how difficult they would be with you when doing a claim

  • i changed my thoughts on my first comment, the kryptonite insurance thing isn’t so great, for me or others who have a fully custom built bike i imagine they wouldn’t cover it somehow

    and the thief also needs to leave the lock for you to have proof from what im understanding.

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