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How to lock your bike (properly)

How to lock your bike (properly)

Last Updated on January 12, 2024 166 Comments

I hope you’ve already read about how to choose the best bike lock. And you’ve got a good idea what level of security you need and the type of lock that’s right for you.

But it’s not just about the lock!…

You also need to know how to secure your bike properly. Because whichever lock you choose, if you don’t use it properly, your bike will be stolen.

So in this guide, I’ll show you several ways you can lock your bike. (And several ways you should never lock your bike!)

Why several different ways? Because locking your bike isn’t just about security, it’s got to be practical as well. And by the end of the article you’ll be able to make an educated choice on which one provides the best balance of security and convenience for your circumstances.

If you’ve already got a lock, I’ll show you how to get the best out of it. If you haven’t got a bike lock yet, even better. Because thinking about how you’ll secure your bike can help you choose the right lock.

Different techniques favor different locks. So make sure you’re familiar with the options below and try to think which one's best for you at home and in your neighborhood before you buy a lock.

The guide is divided into three parts based on the three places where you’ll likely be locking your bike: in the street, at home and at work or college.

Part 1. Locking your bike in the street

A badly locked bike in the street will disappear very quickly. Luckily, thinking carefully about where and how you lock your bike in the street can go a long way to prevent this happening…

Where should I lock my bike in the street?

Although the type of neighborhood you live in will effect this, there are some general tips which you should always try to follow…

Tip 1: Choose a busy place

Try to choose a busy location with lots of people walking past. If it’s an area well covered by CCTV, even better. Other people and CCTV make thieves nervous. They’d much prefer to be hidden away while they “work”.

Busy street

Busy places are good!

Choose an place where lots of other bikes are already locked up. Ideally in the middle of a group of bikes rather than on the end. This serves three purposes:

Firstly, there’s bound to be badly locked bikes that are more tempting to a thief than your well-locked bike. Secondly, lots of bikes crammed together give a thief less room to maneuver and use their tools effectively.

And thirdly, the comings and goings of other cyclists may disturb them and if anyone is going to challenge a bike thief, (and lets face it most people just walk on by), its going to be other cyclists.

Busy bike rack

The middle of a busy bike rack is the place to be!

Tip 2: Choose an immovable object

A bike is only as secure as the object it is locked to. So make sure you always choose a fixed, immovable object that’s not easily broken.

Sheffield stands

These “Sheffield” stands are cemented into the ground and super secure!

Check the bike can’t be lifted over the top of whatever you’ve attached it to. Or that the object can’t be easily unscrewed or dismantled. Avoid trees, aluminium or wooden posts, sign posts, scaffolding and chain link fences.

If you choose metal railings, try to get the lock around as many railings as possible. But ideally the immovable object would be a specially designed bike rack that’s cemented into the ground.

However, you even need to be careful with these! Some sneaky thieves are cutting through bike racks when they're empty and then covering up the cut with tape to hide what they've done...

Cut bike rack

Thieves are sawing through bike racks!

Once an unsuspecting cyclist has left their bike locked to the rack, the thief returns, prizes open the cut section and makes off with their bike! So check any rack you use hasn't been tampered with.

Tip 3: Don’t give thieves clues

If you’re going to the cinema, the leisure center or anywhere else where you might be away from your bike for a significant amount of time, consider locking your bike a couple of streets away.

Why? If a thief sees you locking your bike and then going in to any of these places they’ll know they’ve got a fair bit of time to work on your bike!

Tip 4: Take extra precautions

If you know an area is dangerous, avoid it. Or if you can’t avoid it, take an extra lock. And don’t leave your bike for too long!

 A summary of where to lock your bike in the street:

  1. choose a busy area with CCTV
  2. lock your bike in the middle of lots of other bikes
  3. always secure your bike to a fixed, immovable object, ideally a bike rack
  4. don't lock your bike outside places you'll clearly be for a long time
  5. if you know it's a high theft risk area, take an extra lock

How should I lock my bike in the street?

This will vary depending on what sort of bike you’ve got, which lock you use and where you secure it. However there are certain tips you should always follow…

Tip 1: Lock your frame

Always lock your frame to the immovable object. If you only secure your bike through the wheel, a thief will simply remove your wheel and walk off with the rest of the bike.

This may sound obvious but it happens all the time…

Badly locked bike!

Tip 2: Keep your lock off the ground

Try to keep the lock away from the ground. If it’s on the ground, a thief can use a hammer to smash the lock against the hard floor and this will break cheaper models.

Also, the closer it is to the ground, the easier it is to use the floor for added leverage in a bolt cutter attack like this.

U-lock away from the ground

Keep your lock away from the ground. But off the top tube.

However, also avoid the top tube. If the lock is around the top tube of the bike, a thief can use the frame itself to try to break the lock by lifting and twisting the whole bike.

Or since there's also likely to be more space left inside the lock when it's on the top tube, insert a length of metal that can be used to twist and pop the lock open.

So, ideally the lock should go high up around the down tube or the seat tube.

Tip 3: Make the lock difficult to access

Try to make the lock as difficult to access as possible. If it's difficult to access it will be difficult to attack.

And if you can position it so the key hole is facing downwards even better. This will make it more difficult to tamper with the locking mechanism...

Thieves may try to put superglue in the keyhole to prevent you unlocking your bike and forcing you to leave it in the street overnight and giving them more time to steal it when the streets are quieter.

Or some thieves may have the locking picking skills to open you lock without force. But if the key hole is hard to access both of these forms of attack become more difficult.

Tip 4: Fill the inside of a U-lock

If you’re using a u-lock, try to fill as much of the space within the U with the bike and the thing it’s attached to. This is really important...

Filled U-lock

No room inside this u-lock for a bottle jack or pry bar!

The most common way that the better u-locks are broken is with leverage attacks. A length of metal or scaffolding pole is inserted into the space within the U and twisted until it pops open.

Hydraulic bottle jack attacks are less common also depend on there being enough space inside the u-lock to insert the tool.

Bottle jack in U-lock

Attacking a u-lock with a bottle jack

But if there’s no spare room inside the U, a thief can’t use either of these methods. So keep those locks full!

A summary of how to lock your bike in the street:

  1. always lock the frame (not just the wheel!) to the secure object
  2. keep the lock as far from the ground as possible
  3. but avoid locking around the top tube
  4. make the lock as difficult to access as possible
  5. if you use a u-lock fill as much of the internal space as possible

Four ways to lock your bike in the street

Making use of those general tips, here are four popular ways to lock your bike on the street. Which one suits you best will depend on how expensive your bike is and which locks you have.

1. Locking your bike with two locks

Securing bike with 2 locks

Using two u-locks

The most secure way to lock your bike is with two locks. And ideally to a bike rack that’s cemented into the ground.

The first lock should go around the back wheel, the frame and the bike rack. The second should go around the front wheel, the frame and preferably the bike rack as well.

This means the frame is secured in two places and both wheels are secured to the frame and the bike rack.

Some people suggest that you should use two different types of lock because this requires a thief to carry two different types of lock breaking tools…

Bike locked with chain and U-lock

Using a chain and a u-lock

I like to combine a chain lock with a u-lock. I leave my bike out in the street all night. And as I secure it in the same place every night, I leave a heavy chain lock permanently attached to the bike rack so I don’t have to carry it around.

I depend solely on the U-lock in the day. But if I know I’m going somewhere risky or to a place where it might be left over night, I can always take the chain lock with me.

However, it’s worth mentioning that if you choose to leave a heavy lock in a public place, you run the risk of an aspiring thief using it to practice his art.

Or even worse, if a thief’s clocked your bike, he might sabotage the big lock while you’re away, forcing you to use only the other, smaller lock when you return. Whereupon he will pounce on your compromised security. So be careful!

I should add that in the photo above, the chain is actually far too loose and could be maneuvered close to the ground where it would be vulnerable to bolt cutters!

2. Locking your bike with one lock and a cable

U-lock and cable lock

Using a cable and a U-lock

Another very popular technique is to use one decent lock and a cable. Attach a u-lock or chain around the rear wheel, the frame and the bike rack as above.

Then push one end of the cable through the front wheel, pass one loop through the other loop and secure the first loop to the main lock.

The advantage of this method is that the cable is very light. So you’re saving a huge amount of weight over using two proper locks.

Of course, the problem with this method is that the cable is the only thing securing the front wheel. And as I’ve mentioned before, since all cables can be snipped through in next to no time, they offer zero practical security.

You might as well tie it up with string! On top of that, threading the cable through the bike in a tight, busy spot can be a right hassle. And although they’re light, they’re quite bulky and not so easy to carry around.

However, many people think the visual, psychological deterrent of the cable is enough. And if your bike has cheap wheels that don’t use quick release skewers, then this might be the case.

I don’t like this method though and I definitely don’t recommend it for quick release wheels.

3. Locking your bike with one lock and a removed front wheel

Securing both wheels with 1 lock

Removing a wheel to use one U-lock

Attach the u or chain lock around the rear wheel, the frame and the bike rack as above. But also around the front wheel which you’ve removed from the front forks.

This ensures that both wheels and the frame are secured with one good lock. And if you’re using a u-lock it’s going to be full of more stuff and therefore less susceptible to a leverage or bottle jack attack.

However, bear in mind that this method requires a standard or larger sized u-lock. And using a chain instead would be very fiddly.

To use this method you’ll also need quick release wheels, which means you’ll have to do it everywhere you go to prevent the wheel being stolen!

Both of the last two techniques attempt to resolve the problem of how to secure the front wheel when you only have one lock.

This is especially important if you have quick release wheels which allow you (and anyone who wants to steal them!) to remove your wheels very quickly without the use of tools.

For me, quick release wheels (and saddles) are more trouble than they’re worth. How often do you need to remove your wheels?

Better to replace the quick release mechanism with normal nuts or secure skewers. This makes your wheels much harder to steal and in some cases negates the need for a second lock.

4. Locking your bike with the “Sheldon” method

Using the “Sheldon” method

Sheldon Brown, the renowned bicycle expert, advocated securing just the rear wheel to the bike rack, using a u-lock somewhere within the rear triangle of the frame.

He maintained that by using this method, you don’t need to secure the frame to the bike rack as well because the wheel cannot be pulled through the rear triangle.

One of the advantages of this method is that because you’re only securing the wheel, you can usually get away with a smaller, lighter u-lock. Check out my best lightweight bike lock page for some good examples!

However, I’m not sure about this technique, especially for more expensive bikes. With some effort, a dedicated thief could saw through the rear wheel to remove the lock.

I can also imagine an opportunist thief not realizing the bike was properly secured and causing significant damage to your bike while they tried to remove it.

However, if for whatever reason you can’t maneuver your bike into a position where you can lock the frame as well, I think this technique is OK for short periods.

Part 2. Locking your bike at home

It’s worth remembering that while street theft gets all the attention, over 50% of stolen bikes are taken from the owner’s home. That means from the front or back garden, from a shed or garage on the property, or from inside the house or flat itself.

What can you do to prevent this? Well, although bike security at home is often more difficult than bike security in the street, there’s still plenty you can do to protect your ride.

Let’s look at each of these areas of the home in more detail…

Keeping your bike inside your house/flat

Inside your house or flat is definitely the safest place to keep your bike. However, many people are either unable or unwilling to share their living space with bicycles.

Maybe they (or more often other family members!) don’t like the idea of big, wet, dirty machines cluttering up their home. Maybe they don’t like the hassle of dragging a bike into the building. Or maybe there just isn’t enough space.

If space is the issue, there are plenty of companies now offering storage solutions for bikes inside the home.

Such contraptions vary hugely in design and price. But at the end of the day they all amount to something you attach to the wall or ceiling to hang your bike from.

Indoor bike storage

The fantasy

They look great in the adverts but the stylish bikes in the adverts are never covered in 3 months of London street grime...

A muddy bike in a house

The reality!

However, if you can fit your bike in your house and there are no problems with it being there, this is definitely the safest place to keep it.

Keeping your bike in communal spaces

If you live in a flat with shared communal space inside the building, it can be tempting to leave your bike there (often in the hallway, just inside the front door). But this is a very unsafe place to store anything.

Bikes in a communal hallway

Bikes in a communal hallway

Usually there’s nothing to secure your bike to, and because it’s not your space, little opportunity to install something.

So in the end, your unprotected bike sits in the hallway waiting for someone to forget to close or lock the door and someone else to stroll in and off with it!

Because one things for sure: no one else in the building is thinking about keeping your bike safe.

One DIY solution is to fill a large bucket with cement and stick a ground anchor or an old u-lock in the wet cement to set. Voila, you have a pretty heavy anchor you can leave in the hallway to secure your bike to.

I have a friend who added some plastic flowers to the top of the bucket to make it look less intrusive to the other residents of the building!

Now theoretically this will only slow down, rather than stop a committed thief. But in reality it will foil most opportunists.

Keeping your bike in a shed or garage

If you’re lucky, maybe you have a garage or a bike shed at home. And if you can’t keep your bike inside your house, then this is the next safest alternative.

Usually, garages are more secure than sheds. However, you should never, ever leave your bike unlocked in either one (even if it's on your bike stand and you're still working on it).

Remember, over 50% of stolen bikes are taken from the owners home, so no matter how safe it feels, this is where you bike is most at risk.

Finding something suitable you can lock your bike to in a garage or shed can be a challenge though…

Bikes in garages

Garages have the advantage of concrete floors and brick walls. This makes it relatively easy to install a ground anchor which you can use with a heavy chain to secure your bike.

A garage!

Garages are not as secure as they look!

Just like locks, anchors vary widely in levels of security and price. Luckily they’re also rated by Sold Secure and ART, so it’s pretty easy to find a good one.

And since they will probably provide the biggest improvement to your security set up, I've written a complete guide to choosing and installing a good ground or wall anchor to help you find one!

Ground anchors can usually be attached to the floor or walls of a garage and are best used with chain locks.

Since you don’t need to worry about carrying these chains around, get the thickest chain you can afford. But make sure the chain is not so thick it won’t fit through the shackle of whichever anchor you choose!

Bikes in sheds

Wooden sheds don’t usually have concrete floors which makes installing a normal ground anchor difficult.

A shed!

Wooden sheds are easily broached (Superior shed by Crane Garden Buildings)

You could rip up a section of the floor, dig a hole into the earth below, fill it with concrete and then add an anchor such as the Oxford Terra Force to set in the wet concrete. However, this is a lot of work and may be completely unpractical.

Luckily, Pragmasis now offer a “shed shackle” specifically designed to give you something secure to lock your bike to in a wooden or metal shed or bike store. I think these are great.

They’re relatively cheap, practical and easy to install. What's more, if you couple one with a good chain, a thief would have to virtually demolish your shed to steal your bike.

There's loads of things you can do to make your shed more secure. From simple DIY tweaks like blocking the windows to more technological solutions like installing a shed alarm.

See my tips for boosting your shed security for lots of useful ideas!

Keeping your bike in the garden or yard

If you don’t have a garage or a shed but do have space in your garden or yard, consider buying a specially designed bike storage unit. The best (and most expensive) are made by Asgard.

Asgard bike storage

Asgard bike storage. Very secure. Very expensive.

If there’s no space for a storage unit, then you’ll have to just keep your bike under a bike cover. In this case, if you’re able to install a ground anchor somewhere in your garden, then do it.

Maybe there’s a patch of concrete to attach an anchor to. Or you could dig a hole in the earth, fill it with wet concrete and add a Oxford Terra Force to set firm. Or you could use the bucket trick I suggest for communal spaces.

One very elegant solution, which unlike the other options, requires no installation and will actually make your outside space greener and more attractive, is a PlantLock.

These are giant (90 x 40 x 52 cm), steel troughs, in which you can grow all sorts of shrubs, herbs and flowers. And on each side, there's a 19 mm thick, boron steel handle that you can lock a bike to. So each PlantLock can secure two bikes in all.


PlantLock: super secure, super attractive

Once the PlantLock is full of earth and plants, it will weigh around 75 kg (or even more after rainfall or watering), which certainly qualifies it as an “immovable object”. And for extra security, there are even holes in the base, so you can bolt it into the ground.

The 19 mm handles are impossible to bolt crop, case hardened to resist sawing and tempered to repel any kind of brute force attack. The only way the PlantLock is likely to be defeated is with an angle grinder.

But in reality, a thief is far more likely to attack your bike lock instead (unless you're using an angle grinder resistant lock like the Litelok X1 or the Hiplok D1000).

Whichever of these methods you choose, the most important thing is that don’t leave your bike unsecured in your garden, no matter how private or out of the way it might seem. If you do, your bike will eventually be stolen.

Part 3. Locking your bike at work

Many workplaces now offer private spaces where you can leave your bike if you’re commuting. This is great news!

Obviously the security levels in these places will vary. But the most important thing to remember is that if anyone other than you has access to the space, you should lock your bike as if you were locking it on the street.

Work bike storage

You still need to lock your bike in here!

It doesn’t matter how small your office is or how secure the space seems. If other people have access to it, there’s a very real chance of it being compromised at some point.

While I was living in London I lost count of how many times bikes were stolen from office lock ups than seemed impregnable.

Wrapping up

Buying the best bike lock is only the first step. You need to know how to lock your bike properly too. And you need to lock your bike properly everywhere: in the street, at home and at work or college.

In the street, locking your bike to a strong, immovable object in a busy area with lots of other bikes and CCTV cameras is a great start.

But make sure you lock it in the right way too: locking the frame and the wheels, keeping the lock off the ground, and making sure you fill as much of the space inside a U-lock as you can.

If possible, use the same techniques you use in the street to lock your bike at home or at work. It doesn’t matter how secure your home or work environments seem, never leave your bike unlocked.

At home, often there is nothing really secure to lock your bike to. If this is the case, it is certainly worth investing in ground or a shed anchor.

Of course, none of these precautions will protect your bike if you use them with poor quality locks.

The latest bike theft statistics in the UK and the US are particularly worrying, so it's important not to skimp here.

In the street you’ll need a good u-lock or a portable chain lock. At home, you should use the thickest, strongest chain you can afford.

If you’re not sure which is best for you, check out my simple guide to choosing the right bike lock. And don't forget: if you don't want a jammed bike lock, you need to clean and lubricate it every 6 months or so!

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! Thank you for all you do on our behalf. I live in Dallas, Texas, a fairly big city. I’m receiving a much-awaited a Trek Crosscheck ALR5, aluminium-framed gravel bike today; and I want to give it the best security possible. I would have a hard time replacing it. On occasion will be riding it to the gym and locking it to a standard steel bike rack which is firmly anchored to the concrete slab, outside their main window.

    Lock/chain weight is not so much a consideration. I’ve had the bike shop install HexLox and their through-axles on the wheels, saddle, saddle post, and handlebars. For the highest security should I still use both a top notch D-lock and a chain as you suggest somewhere in the text above, in addition to the HexLox; or do the HexLox replace my need for a chain?

    • A few more notes about securing the Trek Checkpoint ALR5, and whether my security setup might involve some chain or other:

      1.) There are occasions when I might be riding around parts of town with telephone poles etc. and no bike racks.
      2.) I live in a townhome with a fenced-in back yard accessible from the alley. Low to no monitoring or traffic. Maybe I should have a ground anchor and chain to give me the option to lock it up overnight, outdoors.

      This all seems to suggest my having a chain that is secure enough for optional night-time lockup but still okay to carry with me when I go to non-rack areas of town. If I’m right, which one should I look at ~ the K.NY Noose? I’d still be well-advised to get a D-lock for best security during daytime? Would that mean carrying around something like a K.NY Noose and a K.Fahgeddaboudit Mini in my messenger bag? I don’t mind the workout, but is there an equally-secure way that happens to be lighter? Thanks, again!

      • Hi Stephen,

        Well, first of all I think you made a great move with the Hexlox. I’m a huge fan. And they make the next step much easier.

        For a $2K bike you should definitely make sure you’re covered by insurance. Whether that’s specialist insurance or part of your home insurance will depend on your circumstances.

        The insurance may specify where you can and can’t leave your bike as well.

        I’m not too keen on you leaving your bike outdoors in an accessible yard overnight. But if you have to, then definitely a ground anchor and thick chain are essential.

        It’s a tricky one. Because the NY Noose was what I was going to suggest as well. It’s really secure. And it’s just about portable too.

        But for such an expensive bike in such a sketchy situation, I feel like maybe a un-croppable chain might be better. So at least the Kryptonite NY Legend Chain. Or even a 16 mm chain.

        But they’re far too heavy for when your riding around town.

        If you could create a set up in your back yard where you could use a u-lock, then a combination of the NY Noose and a Fahgettaboudit would work really well. As the Fahgettaboudit would act as the un-croppable lock.

        So I’m talking about using the u-lock and the chain in your yard. You could also look at an alarm!

        Unless you were going somewhere really risky I think taking one or the other of them would be fine. Both together would be incredibly heavy.

        If the Fahgettaboudit is too small to use in your yard then the Kryptonite NY Standard or even the Abus Granit 540 could work as well.

        What do you think?


      • (posted by Guy with Trek Checkpoint)

        Carl, thanks for the emailed thoughts. I think I’ll negotiate with the family to suspend the bike indoors, from ceiling or wall. Then all I’ll be pondering is the “rolling risk.” I have a few follow-up questions:

        1.) Any thoughts on good indoor bike-hanging gear?

        2.) For “rolling risk,” (during daytime trips in highly-public metro areas, both with brief bike-absence and with multi-hour absence) could I reconfirm your best recommendations?

        3.) Got a huge kick on reading your blog about personal experiences in keeping bikes outside. When you said that componentry was vanishing (at one stage) it brought to mind my disc brakes. To prevent someone from nicking them while I’m indoors somewhere for an extended period should I be using more HexLox (not sure if they come that small!) or Ottolok?

        4.) Helmets. Ai-ai-ai. Secure with what? Fancy accessories like Spurcycle bell?

        • 1) I like Hiplok a lot and they do a secure hanger

          2) The NY Noose is a good choice. When you lock your bike, I’d recommend you wrap it tightly around the top tube so a thief can’t manouvere it close to the floor where they’d be able to use the ground as leverage with bolt cutters.

          3) Hexlox definitely if they fit (they go as small as 4 mm)

          4) Helemts, I’d say take with you. Spurcycle Bell are attached with a 2.5 mm hex key so Hexlox won’t work. I’ve had loads of cheap bells stolen in the past so you definitely need to address this! What I do now is fill the screw head or hex hole with glue or filler. Not nice but seems to work.

  • (another follow-up by Guy with Trek Checkpoint)
    BTW, cost is a secondary consideration: if my unique needs suggest two – or even three – strategies and sets of locks, so be it. Cycling is one area where I’m hesitant to cut corners whenever there’s some benefit. Call it “cheap therapy”!

    • If you want to add another lock then the Abus Granit X-Plus 54 Mini is a a great choice and won’t add to the weight too much. The good thing about 2 locks is that you can pick and choose depending on where you’re going. Take one, the other or both depending on how sketchy the area is, how long you’re likely to leave your bike etc.

  • (and yet a second follow-up thought by Guy etc.)
    In my situation, still assuming I won’t be leaving it outside at night (but rather bringing it into the townhome), should I throw these two locks out of consideration? ~

    • TiGr mini+

    • LiteLok, single, or two either daisy-chained together for length or used separately for front and back

    • IiGr mini is very small so it’s no good if you’ll sometimes be in places where there aren’t racks.

      The Litelok could work if weight is a big issue for you. But it’s definitely not as secure as the NY Noose.

      • You’ve recommended a tight fitting u lock for the seat tube, rear wheel, and pedal; which would put the lock near the ground AND you’ve also recommended the u lock be positioned as far up the seat tube as possible. Do these recommendations conflict with one another? I own a Onguard Brute STD u lock, if that makes a difference.

        • Hi Eric,

          Yes it is a slightly conflicting advice!

          Keeping the lock high makes it less vulnerable to bolt cropper attacks (where using the ground for leverage greatly increases the force of an attack). Fitting the lock around the seat tube, rear wheel, and pedal decreases the space inside the lock (where a length of metal or car jack could be inserted to pop the lock open).

          Which one you choose depends on the relative strengths and weaknesses of your lock.

          In your case, the Brute has a super thick 16mm shackle. Even close to the ground this is impossible to break with bolt cutters. However it could still be popped open if a thief can fit a bar (or more likely a car jack) inside.

          So in your case: fill the space inside the lock and don’t worry too much about it being close to the ground (although always keep it off the ground).

          Hope that helps!

  • Resolved to do this, as you suggest:
    • Kryptonite New York Noose … standard security for day runs and errands
    • Abus Granit X Plus 54 Mini … alternate security for day run and errands to low-risk areas
    • HipLock AirLok … standard security for indoor night-time storage
    • stainless steel ball bearings and superglue (with Z-7 Debonder in toolbox) … for Spurcycle clamp

    My only question: If I can tolerate a little more weight and size in the second situation above, would it give more flexibility if I used a bigger Abus Granit X-Plus product instead of the 54 Mini? ~
    • either the Abus Granit X Plus 540/230
    • or the Abus Granit X Plus 540/300

    • Yep sure they’ll give you more locking options. The Abus uGrip Plus 501 is Sold Secure Gold as well, but isn’t as secure as the 540.

      And don’t forget combining the noose and the u-lock will give even greater security for particularly sketchy areas / longer stays!

  • Carl, here is what Ian at HexLox emailed me regarding how to secure any fancy pedals from “unauthorized removal.” It involves frustrating the baddie by using Hexlox on the Allen sockets of the pedals and also introducing a metal shield on the shank of the pedal, so that they can’t be removed by the alternate way, using a pedal spanner ~

    “What I have done for myself once is buy some stainless pipe and cut it to 8-12mm long , if your lucky there is no lathe involved.. – this sleeve is put over the spanner area of the pedal before installing it with an Allen Key (some tape between them so there is no rattling).”

    He also mentions they may be able to fabricate it. Hmmm, maybe an additional security product from them?!

  • Hi Carl,

    Your advice has been invaluable. I’ve done several things we’d discussed here:
    • bought the Abus Granit X-Plus 54
    • bought the Kryptonite New York Noose
    • bought and installed HexLox on everything, including saddle, seat post, head, handlebars, through-axles, adjustable drop-outs (unique aspect of Trek Checkpoint), water bottle brackets, etc.
    • bought TiGr mini+, essentially for speedy rides where I never expect to leave the bike unaccompanied
    • got 1/16”, 3/32”, 1/16” ball bearings and superglue and X-7 Debonder to use on the 2.5mm and 3mm Allen bolts for which there can be no Hexlox (Hope headlight, Spurcycle bell, etc.)

    I plan to calculate the total expenses for this bike and see whether I’ve hit 30% (?!) for security. This, before incuding any Velosurance or equal! They should give me such a discounted premium! (sigh, no such luck.)

  • I found a Bell Catalyst 550 at a local discount store that I like for a budget lock. It’s a double-bit lock, and the “U” is rectangular, which means that a thief would have to cut both legs of the “U” to get the bike instead of cutting one leg of the “U” and rotating the lock cylinder in order to release the lock cylinder from the”U”.

    Bell claims that the lock has been tested by a standards organization, but I did not see who tested the lock on their web page.

  • Trade-offs abound! For homeowners, check insurance carefully; anything inside a locked house or garage may be covered, or added for a nominal rider fee, or else see if a specific sub-policy can be added just for the bike. Once outside, it is a crapshoot, and no regular insurance will cover. If you own a large SUV etc where a bike can fit into it, car insurance may be cheaper coverage than other options. As to locking, once thieves target your bike, it becomes an elapsed time event; when, for how long, do you leave it unattended, how predictably. Locking it within a carport or area not directly in sight from passing cars or others may make it unknown to thieves, unless they watch you one day going in or out. Disguised bikes aren’t necessarily less attractive, either, as they can easily see through gunk and old paint jobs. A paradox for bike lovers may be to ride the worst bike you can tolerate for the job – a true junker if commuting is short may be better than a sleek fixie. Committed distance/all season commuters should demand allowance for the bike in your office/workspace, but still lock it there as well!

  • Thank you for such a wonderful resource about bike locks. I wanted to share my locking strategy, because it involves the type of lock you did not mention on your site. My new e-bike came with a frame lock, Abus 5650. I already owned Fahgettaboudit Mini, but given the size of frame and wheels on the e-bike the Mini could only lock the frame, locking wheel tire using Sheldon strategy did not make sense given the frame lock that already provided decent deterrent with the rear wheel. My bike came with two quick releases, front wheel and saddle post, rear wheel did not have quick release because of the internal gear hub. So, I replaced front wheel quick release with locking skewer, and installed pitlock pit stopper on the seat post clamp. Then I purchased the Abus noose chain that plugs into Abus frame lock, and I use that to secure front wheel to the rear wheel around bike rack and through the Mini. I also use seat leash cable that locks into the same frame lock. The entire setup can be seen here: https://imgur.com/a/xHAAV5M

    • Thanks Erin, they do look really secure!

      Lockers like these tend to be sold to other commercial companies and local authorites rather than individuals though.

  • Hi Carl

    I echo everyone else’s comments about your amazing site and the amount of methodical hard work you’ve put into it -thank you!

    Until last week, I was relying on a soldsecure gold Abus 6500 bordo lock for my pride-and-joy Brompton folding bike on its own.

    I’ve now got a Kryptonite M18WL on order for approval at my local bike shop and am planning to use that along with the Abus bordo on those very rare occasions when I have to leave the Brompton outside somewhere.

    Much of what you say in this post is obviously relevant, but I just wondered if you would be able to point me to some specific advice on the best way to lock a folding bike like a Brompton? I’m thinking that the Kryptonite (assuming it’s long enough) would go through the triangle of the frame, ideally with the bike folded, to attach to my securing point, along with the Bordo through both wheels and through the D-Lock, but I’d really value your expert input. Thank you 🙂

    • So sorry about the late reply Helen.

      I haven’t got any personal experience of locking Bromptons. But I suppose one of the attractions of a Brompton is that you can take it most places with you, so reducing the need to lock it up as often!

      Obviously there will be occasions that you’ll need to lock it though and your suggestion sound very secure to me. The Kryptonite M18WL is a very tough lock!

      Just make sure you don’t leave any space for a hydraulic jack within the D and you should be OK!

  • Thanks for ALL the very valuable information for it has been a Great Help, and Very Interesting as well!!!

    Keep up the good work,


  • I use locks only for the minutes it takes to renew my library book or order a coffee. When I ride to work I take my bike inside and park it in my office. In the past I parked in a storage room.

    At home the bike is in the house with me, sometimes in the garage, most of the time in the living room.

    I don’t rely on any locks for more than a moment or two b/c of rechargeable grinders.

    Fortunately my town is pretty safe. Never had but one scare here when a shady fellow wanted to know all about my bike which was parked 50 ft from my 2 min errand. I kept an eye on him the whole time. It was locked, but still…

    If I ever move some place where my bikes can’t be inside I’ll probably only ride my $40 gravel bike.

  • Thank you for the information! Very informative as I have decided to dust off my old bike and start using it again. I was trying to find information on the best lock to use. Now I just have to find them in Canada!

  • Hello, thanks for this article, so helpful! I am a social worker in the fairly big city of Toronto Ont Canada… I ride daily for my job to various parts of the city and have never had a car…. One thing I would like to make a friendly suggestion about is reducing the words “sketchy areas”. While we definitely have areas that might be labelled this way, bikes are taken by all sorts of people all over the place including our homes….. 1) The “sketchy areas” often have people who are further and further being isolated from supports and assistance as govnts decide to cut funds and b) anyone can end up in trouble and c) we need to join communities not separate them. d) And to also not give false security or false alarm. “Sketchy areas” ARE part of our cities and we need to not abandon them even in the kind of language we use. We can use kinda universal concepts about bike safety ie dont lock them on dark streets without any other bikes or yada yada. Of COURSE some areas have more thefts than others but dont think u can make assumptions about any area; thefts happen everywhere. It also enables govnts to reduce support for “those people” the more we isolate them as a separate group. Much love and thanks. Great article on bike safety though, by the way. Learned alot about locks!

    • Thanks for the feedback JJ. I totally agree that we shouldn’t isolate the deprived areas of our cities and demonize the people who live there. But in this case I think “sketchy areas” just means areas of high bike crime and that will be the CBD as much as the sort of places you’re talking about.

  • Thank you for this immensely informative website. I stumbled across this while querying Google and this was the one stop shop for info.

  • Thanks so much for the useful and in-depth information. I’ve been using an old lock (Krypto, probably could do it in with a Bic) and we just got e-bikes for commuting. One with an Abus 540 and the other with a Kryptonite Evolution 4, then we use a couple old Krypto U-locks for the secondary lock, with a cable that loops to the seat and just makes it look like a hot mess of lockingness. I’m feeling up-to-date and even relatively secure in a world of bike thieves. Keep up the great work!

  • I used that Sheldon method for months in New York and Brooklyn with the orange kryptonite lock and cable chain. Even ended up leaving it locked in Bushwick for over a month, the front wheel was toast but that SHELDON METHOD WORKED. No one touched the U lock.

  • Thank you for your invaluable resource!

    I was wondering if the following would be a better combo than the oft touted #2 method.

    1. Do the standard U-lock method for the frame and rear wheel.
    2. Instead of the cable feeding into the U-lock, use a separate cable lock (e.g. a combination lock); one with a good length and wrap that around the front wheel and frame multiple times, like a coiled snake.

    This way a prospective thief would have to bolt cut it multiple times rather than once.

    Is my logic sound with regards to the above?

    • Hi Chris,

      I don’t understand why a thief would have to cut the coiled cable lock multiple times.

      If it’s cut once the thief could uncoil it in the same way you would uncoil it after unlocking it, no?


  • From a Security (in General) expert. The best bike lock is the one you use, properly attached. Multiple locks just add to the time it takes: even the best are broken in less than 60 secs each. But then you might as well have a separate bike carrier to take them along with you, so whats the point (spending $ for a super light bike and then adding all that weight back in). Opportunistic thieves are who you are trying to defend against. Professional thieves will take less than 60 seconds; get over it. Professional thieves are few an far between; so enjoy your ride and don’t worry about being struck by lightning. Etch a serial number to the bike and log the number with the local police (before locking up the bike) – that way you give the police a shot at catching the thieves and lowering the crime rate.

  • What is a good method for securing a bike when there isn’t an immovable object?

    (“Good” in this case meaning “least bad”.)

    I am in the market for a bike. I haven’t had a bike for about 20 years, so I’m quite excited about it. Though I’m also reasonably concerned about theft (which brings me to this site).

    I live in a fairly rural area with not much in terms of bike-specific immovable objects to secure a bike to. My future bike will mostly be for fitness activities, so the use case will be me removing the bike from my home, riding it for some time, and bringing the bike back inside my home. But I can imagine there will be times in which I will need to leave the bike outside for some amount of time. If I need to secure the bike to a sign post (not ideal), a tree (not ideal) because I have no other option, what would be a good (/least bad) method for doing this?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Matt,

      Something like the wearable Litelok might work well in this case. It has a wider locking circumference than most locks so is more likely to get around a sign post or tree if needed.

      Plus it’s relatively light and you can wear it around your waist like a belt, so it should be easy to carry.

      Even in a rural area I wouldn’t recommend leaving your bike unlocked and unattended. I suppose you could lock the wheel to the frame to make it un-ridable. But I wouldn’t recommend letting it out of your sight if you do that!

      I hope that helps!


    • Hi Matt,

      Rural=opportunistic crime only; so no bolt cutters envisaged. Go to your local hardware store and buy a chain and reasonably good lock. Length of chain to go around your local typical tree diameter (and loop through the bike frame and wheels). This will be the least expensive and most effective. Depending on your tree diameter you could look at cable locks but will find that for a reasonable length cable these will become expensive. Personally I disagree with Carl and see the Litelok as complete overkill given its cost. Given the rural location, where walking around with, and operating,a BOAG (battery operated angle grinder) would cause no raised eyebrows; pretty much everything past a chain is a waste of money, if there are thieves and they are targeting bikes. As I remember the record on a BOAG vs. Litelock is 20 secs using a diamond blade (Check on YouTube); talk about a knife through butter!
      In ADDITION (this was included in a good London Met Police video on bike security). Etch a number onto your bike and email a photo of this and your bike to your local police (record it as being done before a theft). If your bike is subsequently stolen give this photo again to the police; they have about a 100x better chance of finding your bike and catching a thief.

      • It’s just as well Matt said the bike was for “fitness activities”, because if he’s carrying around a chain that’s long enough to go around a tree, the frame and both wheels, he’ll be carrying around a huge amount of weight Keith!

        There’s is a Silver rated version of the Litelok, which is lighter and cheaper than the Gold and I think that would be better for Matts needs. For sure: it’s not cheap. But you’re paying for a manageable weight.

        Another alternative would be the Tex-lock, although again it’s not cheap.

        Neither the Liteloks, the Tex-lock, nor a cheap chain from a hardware store will last more than a few seconds against an angle grinder. But I would say he’s unlikely to encounter a thief with one out in the sticks. And if he does there’s no lock that’s going to resist it for more than 1 minute.

        I think the rural location means less risk, so practicality becomes more important than top level security. It just depends how much he wants to pay to keep the weight down.

        • Hi Carl,

          I get the point about the weight, but as Matt pointed out there are no immovable objects for him to use with the Litelok. If we give up on the need to secure the bike to a (rural) immovable object than I would still support the chain idea – just a short and light duty one where the weight penalty would be minimum. In engineering this is known as the KISS principle. Weight on a bike is also one of those +/- things. Yes, Matts goal is physical activity. More weight = more exercise for a given time period, so if exercise is you goal more weight is good. But not if it is poorly distributed o the bike (leading to a higher risk of accident) – put it around your waist. Also not if it overwhelms your physical ability (peak heart rate) to travel your route of choice – go with a lighter weight bike & bike accessory weight, lose body weight (will happen anyway with more exercise)or choose easier routes.
          Final word to Matt: don’t let the fear factor (of bike theft) detract from your goal of biking and enjoying your journey (stopping to smell the roses) to its fullest. Pick a device that you can afford that lets you do that; and move on to riding your bike. A simple chain does it for me and a Litelok does it for Carl. Some people like to get actual theft insurance policies to some value of the bike. Either e.g. through Kryponite U-bolt)or their homeowner insurer (who stipulates the locks required). Do whatever makes you happy to ride.

    • Hi Matt,

      Forgot to mention the old trick of putting the chain that you buy inside a used bike tyre as a sleeve. This gives protection against the surfaces that the chain might rug up against; and stops the noise as you carry it about.

  • Locking your bike in a bike rack is easy, but it is still possible to lock a bike without a bike rack: You can detach the front wheel and tie it along with the rear wheel, put the two wheels together to deter thieves from stealing them. Another option is taking the chain off the rear gears or have the choice to remove the quick-release off the front wheel. A good way to make your bike more unrideable is by taking the front off of the frame,… These can essentially reduce the risk of your bike being stolen.

  • Great article, with tons of great tips, and reminders of scenarios of which most would likely never think. I’m going to purchasing a Specialized Turbo Tero 4.0 electric MTB next week, and I was quite concerned with how I was going to keep a $7000 bicycle safe. I live in Victoria, British Columbia, a city with a large unhoused population, and terribly high numbers of stolen bicycles. After reading a few of you articles, I’m feeling much better about keeping my bike secure in this crazy city.

    Thanks for all of the time and effort you’ve invested into helping out people just like me!

    Troy Hoyt
    Victoria, BC

  • What’s the best way to secure your bike in a Bikehangar? It seems that thieves can break in easily and steal the bikes. Is it better to use two D locks or a ground chain and a D lock? Many thanks for your advice.

    • It really depends on how secure the respective locks are, Vicky. But all things being equal, I’d say whichever combination allows you to keep the locks furthest from the ground.

    • Hi Carol,

      Use a Sold Secure rated chain lock.

      You don’t have to worry too much about bolt cutter attacks as the chain will be way off the ground, so as long as it’s a decent lock (Silver or Gold rated), it’s very unlikely to be defeated.



  • I initially purchased a motion detecting disk brake alarm for my motorcycle, but I’m thinking it might work nicely (it’s loud) in conjunction with a lock to say to the thief “try a different bike”.

    • Yep, could do Mike. I would say alarms work best at home rather in the street though, where bikes are likely to get jiggled about by other cyclists, causing lots of false alarms.

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