Kryptonite, OnGuard and Abus. The three biggest bike lock brands in the world. They also make some of the best bike locks in the world.
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.
For example, the Abus Granit X Plus 540 is the u-lock with a 13 mm shackle that is Sold Secure Gold and 3/5 stars from ART. This makes it one of the strongest and lightest bike locks available.
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...
Hiplok, Litelok, Foldylock, Tex-Lock and SkunkLock all make bike locks with interesting twists!
Check out my simple, 3 step guide that guarantees you choose the best lock for you and your bicycle!
And once you've go a lock, the most important things are learning how to lock your bike properly and cleaning and lubricating your lock every few months.
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
Win a Free Bike!
How to fix a jammed bike lock
DON NOT buy ONGUARD…. I bought an ONGUARD lock and my 800 euro bike is now stuck to a pole as the lock is faulty and will not unlock! What a headache… No replies from customer service!
Oh no! I’m sorry to here that. That’s not good. Have you tried the tips on the jammed lock page?
Unfortunately OnGuard don’t have a great reputation for customer service. If you can’t get it off yourself, the only thing you can do is pay for a locksmith to remove it. And then send it to OnGuard as a “defective lock” and ask for a replacement under their Full Lifetime Warranty.
I don’t know if you’ll have any luck with this and it may be more hassle than it’s worth anyway!
But if you do try, let us know how you get on…
My lock just broke but i had it for over 12 years it never let me down, just the past couple of months was hard to open the lock and now key got jammed…… but it was old and wear and tear….BUT it was an awesome lock
Was that an OnGuard?
I had the same problem with an OnGuard lock, I put some wet lube into the key hole and it worked an absolute treat! I hope it helps!
I just had to cut my Abus lock for the same reason.
Brand new lock, only put the key in it 4 times before one side stopped unlocking. The other side unlocks fine, but that does no good if the opposite bar doesn’t unlock.
And here this guy talks about Avis being the best quality.
Not if my lock is an example.
I will pick the lock open if your in my area for much less than lock smith charges.
I had that problem also, lucky I owned a grinder.
A more than decade old Kryptonite U lock saved my 800+ euro bike. It seems like an amateurish attempt to pick the lock. It took me more than half an hour with my victorinox army knife to enable my key to release it. An ABUS chain with a CISA lock secured the front wheel which were not tampered with.
Your detailed article leads me to a choice between Abus Bordo GRANIT 6500 and Abus Granit X Plus 540 as a replacement. Thanks for the info.
Does Kryptonite only insure brand new bikes or the original purchaser of the bike? I purchased an older high end mountain bike of craigslist thus I do not have a bill of sale. I wanted to purchase some additional years of the protection plan, but I assume it would be a waste of time. I do see that you can have, “…a dated and
signed dealer appraisal reflecting the market value of the bicycle/powersport vehicle, not
Should I try to ask a local bike shop to appraise my bike, and then keep it on file just in case or would that also be a waste of time since I am not the original purchaser? Heck, would home owners insurance cover the bike without the bill of sale?
As I understand it, a signed appraisal from a local dealer is sufficient. You should send the original to Kryptonite. And keep a copy for yourself.
For homeowners insurance, I’m not entirely sure. I’ve claimed successfully for stolen items that I no longer had the receipt for. But it would be wise to check with your particular insurance provider.
But I would certainly recommend that you are covered by some sort of additional insurance rather than depending solely in the Kryptonite cover.
I hope that helps.
I recently got a Brute Mini based on research that was centered around this site. While the price is nice, I’m not so hot about it, tbh. Maybe I should have spent 45EUR more and gotten a NY Mini Fahgettaboutit. The thing is that the cross bar has a lot of plastic inside. It’s rather bizarre.
The lock was delivered dry, so it was barely usable and painful, in fact, to turn the keys. With lube it still didn’t loosen. It’s getting better now, but it doesn’t go on well when locking. It takes me numerous tries to get the shackle on right so it locks. To this day, I still can’t figure out how to replicate the position off the bat.
Also, I got the NY Noose in the XL length, which I bought separately for a steal from an UK seller. I was hoping to be able to slip this lock through the smaller link and use them together, but no dice. No way to get the shackle through. Kind of a bummer. This was another reason for not getting the Kryptonite. I’m still wondering if I can source a Legend padlock, if it will fit.
Yes, OnGuard locks can be a little stiff. But in my experience they do respond well to lubrication. Make sure you use the right lubricants and treat both the mechanism and the body.
The Legend padlock should fit the NY Noose. But remember it has a 16 mm shackle as opposed to the 14 mm that you would normally use with this chain. Best to check with the seller. And then let us know how you get on!
Thanks for the feedback.
‘You have to send in the broken lock for the insurance claim’ – What a scam! I have emailed Kryptonite to politely highlight my disappointment. I’ll update this forum when and if I get a response.
Yes, must mail broken lock. my bike was stolen and they took the lock, maybe fingerprints? Either way, no kryptonite coverage. I understand why they want proof but what a joke. Security video shows them taking my bike. Kryptonite denied claim. Won’t be buying their brand again.
Has anyone ever tried submitting (instead of the missing lock) video proof/surveillance video of their bike being stolen while a Kryptonite lock was in use in a paid for secure bike parking cage? Keep in mind the cage is still not “guaranteed” for anti-theft and there is no set of eyes right in front of the cage.
Last I checked at least Kryptonite wants detailed pictures taken of the undisturbed crime scene at the same time of day the bike was thought of been stolen at, and they want lots of photos, including a large scene picture so they can see how public of an area it was locked in. I do find it odd that with Kryptonite they require at registration that you send the UPC code from the box and the original receipt, but then at the time of theft they want the original box the lock came in with the UPC code which you sent, and they want the original receipt which you also sent…hmmm. Kryptonite will not disclose publicly how much money they pay out on bike replacements annually which has been estimated to be very little.
Yeah, I totally agree. The demands both Kryptonite and OnGuard make are punitive. It makes much more sense to cover your bike with proper insurance.
Masterlock’s $1k anti-theft warranty seems quite friendly in comparison: https://cdn.large.masterlock.com/masterlock/resources/documents/warranty/1000Anti-TheftWarranty.pdf
“[A]pplies only to thefts occurring in the 50 United States of America, District of Columbia, Canada and Puerto Rico”. Enroll within 15d, accessories not covered, and it reads like a police report (made within 72h) suffices for proof of the lock being defeated (as opposed to the locking method resulting in the loss).
Just send them some DNA….
I love your site. Sorry to be a pedant but you use “loose” in this article when you mean “lose.”
No need to apologize Bikewatt! Opinions, corrections, ideas … they’re all welcome! Fixed, thanks.
I found this very interesting and comprehensive article about u-locks:
I found quite interesting how easily they pick an On Guard lock!!! I wonder if On Guard Brite STD uses the same lock as in the video… :S
I’m still using my fantastic Citadel D-lock with GEM key barrel which I bought in 1982. It has resisted several attacks on it over the years. The worst damage it ever suffered was that the plastic covering material received some indentations when a would-be robber used a very large pair of bolt-cutters on it. They succeeded in removing the Squire cable-lock from the front wheel, but not the Citadel which was protecting the frame and rear wheel. Ironically this was when I was working in security and my bike had been locked to a metal staircase at base.
I believe Citadel where the first D-lock manufacturer to sell in the UK. They were also the first to offer indemnity against loss of bicycle if properly secured with the lock. They claimed at the time that the special alloy it was made from would resist bolt-cutters, hacksaws and angle-grinders and that the only way to remove one, without the key was to call the fire brigade and for them to use the “jaws of life.” Given I’ve not had any of my bikes stolen in almost four decades, I’ve no reason to doubt their claim.
It is a long-reach so is ideal for securing the bike to solid street furniture such as lampposts when I’m about town. At home I use it with a Citadel securng eye which is bolted into the concrete.
The lock still works well, and never seizes and it also benefits from one of the finest mounting brackets I’ve seen over the years. Since I bought it, it first adorned my road-racing endurance bike, then in 1991 I moved it on to an earl mountain bike, then in 1999 it went onto another racer and since last month it has been securing my Dawes Galaxy.
Most people keep them for life, but the occasional one does appear on e-Bay but they command a high price still. When I bought mine new in 1982 it was around £60.
Nice! I’d never heard of Citadel
One thing I really like about the Kryptonite anti-theft warranty is that it has little restriction on where the bike is locked up. Separate bike insurance often gives no cover if the bike is left outside overnight or for more than 12 hours, for instance.
We had Abus chainlocks and both our very expensive mountain bikes were stolen out of he back of our truck in S.F. Locks gone. The police said there is not a lock made that the thieves can’t break into. So is it worth it to buy a $100.00+ lock only to lose it with your bikes? Just asking? So sick of thieves. Going to set up an electrical charge on bike similar to an electric fence. Don’t care if it is illegal.
Just adding, 5 bikes stolen in the past 4 years. Two out of our locked garage.
Does theft protection work? Do they really pay for the stolen bike + lock?
Nice write-up. I purchased two OnGuard mini U-locks recently – liked that they have dual locking bolts on them. I was able to take the clip half of each set of the frame mounts and bolt them together, essentially enabling both locks to be secured to the frame on one mount. Only used the lock a couple times before I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t unlock one of them unless I took some pressure off the lock, which was being ‘stretched’ due to some precarious positioning of my bike frame partly hanging off a curb vs. the pole it was locked to. Took about 10 minutes of nervous sweating, but was finally able to free the locking mechanism.
All things considered, I believe I’ll be going with a folding bike next and ditching the locks completely. Toss it on the bottom of a shopping cart, etc. =)
I bought an Abus lock in 2014. In 2017 the key fell into pieces. There was no trauma to the key, as far as I could tell. I pulled my key chain from my pocket & it was now in pieces. I contacted Abus. They told me they don’t stand behind their keys, that they would be pleased to sell me another key. So much for the reliability of Abus products.
Hi , Im muslim and always use a combination between OnGuard and Kyrpt.
I have just invested in the Abus GRANIT x so looking forward to tying it out on my new Ti CX bike!
Don’t get abus ! Someone busted it with their HANDS and took of with my bike. Or should I say almost took off ♂️♂️
kryptonite produve their own proprietary steel alloy with formidable levelsnof toughness and hardness. speakimg of security, disregarding price and weight abus granjt extreme 59 lock matches the kryptonite new york lock standard. the fahgettaboudit is stronger lock. actually i use the-new-u genaration of the new york lock fahgettaboudit mini, and after lot of research, i was able to confirm that the fahgettabiudit mini and granit extreme 59, are in their own class. they are in a class where people are willing to disregard weight and price, but accent in security alone.
Been using an Onguard Pitbull med size lock for 7 years, works beautifully, lubed it once or twice and it’s very smooth, but definitely needs the lube once in awhile. Easy to clip on the frame and lock and unlock. Just replaced it with a TIGR titanium lightweight lock, love that thing, brilliant lock.
I have bought an ABUS granit 540 lock. At first, it seems nice and it is one of their best. If you have no problem with it, you are good.
If you have a problem with it, let’s say THE LOCK OPEN ITSELF WHILE RIDING!!
(the lock is locked in a docking on the bike)
Trying to get some customer support from them: useless. Will never buy again
OnGuard also make a D-Lock with a combination lock rather than a key (ONGUARD Bulldog Combo U-Lock). How does it stack up against other D-Locks?
Combination locks are not generally as secure as keyed locks. I write about this in more detail here.
Wow, thanks so much for the quick reply! Your detailed post on combination locks is really useful. Because I want a lock for my kids (for whom not losing a key is a big challenge ) I think I’ll try one of the combination locks that has a Silver rating.
Do you know about this warning on most/all Kryptonite locks: “Warning: Cancer & Reproductive Harm http://www.P65Warnings.ca.gov” ?
Is it enough to wash my hands after using these locks? Or is the warning taking it too far?
Also, I cant see this warning on other brands like Abus, is this because of different legislation or something, or is it because of an actual difference in the material?
This is the California thing isn’t it. I’ve read a a lot of criticism saying the warning is hysterical.
As long as your’re not eating the lock I’d imagine you’ll be OK!
But I’m not really qualified to comment really! I’d imagine the warning would be on many Abus (and other lock brands too) sold in California.
I will look into it in more detail.
Sorry I can’t be more helpful.
I got this response from Kryptonite:
“We are required by the State of California and Proposition 65 to use this warning label notifying customers in California of the potential of our products having chemicals that are listed under Proposition 65. The list includes approximately 800 chemicals. We actively test our products and work to reduce the amount of chemicals that could be deemed harmful by Proposition 65. As part of Proposition 65, the State of California recommends that you wash your hands after handling the product. For more information on Proposition 65 visit https://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/background/p65plain.html.
The metal has minimal amounts of some of the chemicals listed. Almost all of the lock is covered in vinyl so there is minimal contact. We don’t recommend putting the key in your mouth but it is no different than your household key”
Mmmm so it’s the metal that’s the issue. I (and I imagine most other people) rarely touch the naked metal part of a lock.
So it’s probably nothing to worry about?
Thanks for the update Ika!
Good question. The cover is not completely rainproof either. My guess is that maybe its harmful, but only very slightly.
Abus comes with two key and charged $12.99 for duplicates
OnGuard will send replacement keys free of charge (provided you registered the key ID number)
Contacted Onguard to source a new spline for my Onguard Bulldog. Speedy reply from Todson, USA distributor, who gave me details of the UK distributor, Moore and Large. I’ve sent a number of emails to Moore and Large and had no response whatsoever …hugley disappointed.
Hi Alan, yes unfortunately I heard several similar stories
I am very disappointed by abus. I bought 2 different locks (8808C and an old bordo model) and they both broke in a couple of years without any thief attempting to open them.
Sorry to hear that PG, how did they break?