But which brand is the best? Are there any real differences? Of course there is! So let's explore them a bit...
Three very different brands, I compare them here for three important qualities to see who comes out on top:
- Build Quality and Reliability
- Customer Service.
1. Build Quality and Reliability
Abus definitely have the best reputation for quality and reliability. Their locks are extremely well made, perform well in adverse weather conditions and last a long, long time.
You can really feel the quality when you hold an Abus lock. Most of their locks are double bolted, which makes them more secure. And the steel they use tends to have the best strength to weight ratio.
Perhaps this is to do with where the locks are manufactured? While Kryptonite and OnGuard are US brands that manufacture their locks in Taiwan and China, Abus are a German brand that still manufacture at least some of their locks in Europe.
Whether this makes any difference is debatable of course. But European steel certainly has a better reputation for quality than Chinese steel.
And for those locks still manufactured in Germany, closer control over the production process makes it easier for Abus to ensure consistently high build quality and reliability. In fact, here’s a great article on the manufacturing and testing processes at Abus. And here’s another one.
While Kryptonite don’t quite match Abus for quality or reliability, they’re not far off. Their locks are generally well made, perform reasonably well in adverse weather conditions and last a long time.
In the past, OnGuard locks had a reputation for somewhat poorer quality. Not so much that they were less secure. Rather that they weren’t as reliable.
However, more recently they have completely overhauled the technology and production techniques used in their locks, and there has been a marked improvement in both quality and reliability.
They’re still not quite up to the standards of Abus or Kryptonite, but this is reflected in the price. And regular cleaning and lubrication can eliminate the problem of their locks jamming or sticking.
Build Quality and Reliability
In general, Abus is the most expensive of the three brands. This is particularly noticeable in the US, where Abus locks nearly always cost more than similar locks from both Kryptonite and OnGuard.
In Europe, the price difference is less pronounced, but Abus is usually a little more expensive.
Kryptonite sits in the middle, price wise.
And then at the bottom of the price range is OnGuard. And of course, this is the great thing about OnGuard locks. They’re often half the price of Kryptonite and Abus locks that offer comparable levels of protection!
For example, the OnGuard Brute Mini is usually 50% cheaper than the similarly rated New York Fahgettaboudit Mini from Kryptonite or the Abus Granit X-Plus 54 Mini.
3. Customer Service
All three brands offer a key replacement service and the option to buy keyed alike locks. But beyond this there are significant differences in the extent of their after sales service.
Abus don’t advertise much about their general customer service but I’ve heard good things about broken parts and even lost locks being replaced for free.
OnGuard meanwhile tend to have a slightly poorer reputation for their after sales support.
But way out in the lead are Kryptonite who are famous for their outstanding customer service. What does this mean in practice?
- If you lose your keys, with most of their locks, you get the first replacement set for free
- If you lose your keys but don’t have your key number and never registered your key number with Kryptonite, they will send you a brand new replacement lock for $20
- If your key breaks off in the lock and you need to get a locksmith to free your bike, Kryptonite will replace the lock and refund the locksmith’s fee
- Most locks are eligible for optional anti-theft protection
Anti-theft Protection Schemes
Kryptonite and OnGuard (but not Abus), now offer their own “anti-theft protection” with some of their locks. Under these schemes, if your bike is stolen as a result of your lock being defeated, they will pay you the value of your bike up to a certain limit determined by the security level of the lock.
It sounds great, but in practice they impose a lot of conditions which can make it difficult to make a successful claim. Let’s have a quick look at them…
Firstly, you’re not covered automatically. You must register with the scheme within 15 days of buying the lock. And it’s not free. How much you pay depends on the type of lock and the length of the protection, but ranges from $1 to $30 for up to 3 years cover.
Secondly, should your bike be stolen you must:
- report the theft to the police within 72 hours
- notify Kryptonite or OnGuard within 7 days
And lastly, in order to make a claim you need to send Kryptonite or OnGuard:
- the broken lock as proof of its failure
- at least one key
- a copy of the police report
- a copy of the purchase receipt for the lock
- a copy of the purchase receipt for your bike OR a signed and dated dealer valuation
- evidence you have notified your insurance company, if you have insurance
Bear in mind, that this cover relates only to the lock and is only valid if your bike is stolen as a result of the lock being broken. So if a thief steals your bike by either cutting your frame or breaking whatever your bike is secured to, you’re not covered.
There are also restrictions depending on where you live. For instance, very few locks are eligible for the cover if you live in New York State in the US!
However, the main problem with these schemes is that you must send Kryptonite or OnGuard the broken lock as proof it was defeated. And since a thief will often take the broken lock along with bike, you will be often be unable to make a claim!
If the cost of the coverage and the potential payout is roughly the same for both companies, does this mean the schemes are equally good? No it doesn’t.
It seems to me that Kryptonite offers much the better program. Why? Well, OnGuard make the initial registration process much more difficult and place some very restrictive extra conditions on how the lock may be broken:
By post, pay with check, including:
Not valid if torches, battery operated tools, or any power tools, including hydraulic tools, were used to open or cut the lock
But you should also bear in mind that neither program is particularly popular among cyclists due to the restrictive nature of their conditions. Certainly, neither is a replacement for including your bicycle under your home insurance or arranging specialist bike insurance.
So, in the battle of Abus vs Kryptonite vs OnGuard, which brand is victorious? Well, it’s sort of a draw really!
Each brand excels in a different area: Abus in build quality and reliability, OnGuard in price and Kryptonite in customer service. So…
If you want the highest quality, most reliable lock, with the best strength to weight ratio and the best performance in poor weather, go for Abus. But bear in mind it will be a little more expensive.
If you’re looking for great security at the lowest price, go for OnGuard. However, don’t expect the highest build quality or the greatest level of customer service.
And if you’re looking for good all round performance and fantastic after sales customer service go for Kryptonite.
Build Quality and Reliability
So that’s Abus vs Kryptonite vs OnGuard!
But what about other bike lock brands?
While Abus, Kryptonite and OnGuard are the biggest lock brands around, there's loads of others, and you certainly shouldn't discount them when you're looking for a lock.
In the UK Squire locks is a long established and well respected brand. Zefal make bike locks that rival OnGuard for price. And there's lots of smaller brands popping up all the time with innovative ideas...
Check out my simple, 3 step guide that guarantees you choose the best lock for you and your bicycle!
This should hopefully ensure that your bike stays well protected and your lock remains reliable for many years to come!
I've got loads more too though! I have useful information on how to stop your wheels and seat from being stolen. A best chain lock and best u-lock guide. Plus Sold Secure Gold and Silver lists. Oh and a guide to folding locks!
But which bike lock brand do you use? And which do you think is the best? Let me know below…
More Good Stuff:
Best Bike Lock
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How to fix a jammed bike lock