Where to put your bike lock when riding
Where and how to carry your bike lock when you’re actually cycling around on your bicycle is one of the biggest headaches when it comes to bike security.
Bike locks are often big, bulky and heavy. And if you prefer to travel light and look sleek, the last thing you want is an awkward weight on your bike frame or your body.
Luckily, there are lots of options (some of which you may not have thought of before). And since bike lock brands are aware of this issue too, the more forward thinking ones are coming up with their own innovative new solutions.
So let’s have a look at some of the best places to put your bike lock when you're riding around…
1. In a Frame Mount
Most u-locks and folding locks come with a plastic mount that you can fix to the frame of your bike. The lock can then be clipped or slid into the mount when you’re riding and easily removed when you get where you’re going!
You can usually attach them to various different parts of your frame. However the seat tube, top tube or down tube are normally your best bet (if you’re not sure what these are check out my bike parts diagram!)
Since these mounts are specifically designed for the locks they come with, they’re usually the best choice of where to put your bike lock when you’re riding around.
However, not all bike locks come with frame mounts and many cyclists have problems with the ones they do get!
Chain Bike Locks
Chain locks rarely come with frame mounts, as most chains are just too big, bulky and heavy to be able to mount onto a bike frame. The exception is the Kryptonite Transit Tube which is a kind of canister which will fit Kryptonite’s lighter locks.
There are also many complaints about frame mounts, especially those that come with u-locks.
But to be fair to the manufacturers, it’s actually quite difficult to design a frame mount that will be both compatible with the endless different frame shapes and sizes, and hold a rigid, heavy piece of metal securely as the bike bumps around the streets.
Because their centre of gravity is further from the frame, u-locks tend to move about more while we’re riding and over time, this can loosen the frame mount and in some cases the lock can even fall off the bike!
And these problems are often exacerbated by people not fitting the frame mount properly.
So my advice is: if your u-lock comes with a frame mount and you have available space on your frame, try this first. But make sure you follow the installation instructions carefully. And if you have any doubts, there’s usually tons of helpful advice and videos available on the internet.
Folding Bike Locks
Most folding locks come with a frame mount that screws into the holes that are designed for a water bottle cradle (either on the down tube or the seat tube). This is a great solution as they’re really easy to install and they attach very securely to the frame, so they never work loose.
If you don’t have the screw holes for a water bottle cradle on your bike (and many bikes don’t), then don’t worry, because folding bike locks also come with Velcro straps to fasten the frame mount securely to your frame.
This solution isn’t as tidy or secure, but its still works well, because when folding locks are folded down and in their case on the frame mount, their centre of gravity is so close to the frame that they don’t swing about in the same way a u-lock might.
But for some people a frame mount just isn’t going to work. They may have a strange shaped frame, or there may be no spare space on the frame to attach one. They may not like the aesthetic of a plastic frame mount on their bike!
Perhaps past bad experiences with frame mounts have put them off. Or the lock they choose (eg the Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini), may not come with a frame mount!
If any of these reasons resonate with you, then don’t worry, because there are plenty of other places to put your bike lock when you’re riding…
2. In a bag or backpack
If you habitually carry a bag or backpack when you’re riding, then this is pretty obvious place to keep your bike lock! However, since you’ll be carrying the weight on your body, be aware of how much the lock weighs.
U-locks and folding locks will easily fit into most bags and in most cases they’re not so heavy that they’re going to be a pain to carry while you’re riding.
Just remember that bike locks can get wet and grimy. So it’s definitely best to keep them in a plastic bag within your bag or backpack to avoid everything else in there getting wet and oily too!
Depending on their size, chain locks can be more difficult to carry in a bag. They tend to be much heavier and bulkier than u-locks or folding locks. However, shorter chains with links that are less than 12 mm thick should be OK in most bags.
If you intend to carry your bike lock in a bag while you’re riding, I’d recommend checking the weights carefully. Luckily, I include the weights in all my guides.
3. In a pannier, saddlebag or basket
This is actually a better option than a bag or backpack for transporting a bike lock while your cycling, as the weight will be borne by your bike rather than your body!
However, most people don’t have either panniers, saddlebags or baskets so it’s a bit of a niche option.
If you do, then most locks will fit into panniers or baskets. However, just be careful that the weight is evenly distributed across the bike so it doesn’t throw your balance off.
I’ve got a lovely Carradice saddle bag that’s just big enough to carry a regular size u-lock. It would struggle with anything bigger though, so if you’re thinking about a saddle bag (and I think they’re great!), then make sure you check the dimensions of your bag and lock.
As ever, I always include weights and dimensions in my articles so you can easily compare different locks.
4. Hung on the frame somewhere!
Sometimes it’s possible to carry a bike lock on the frame without using a specially designed frame mount. However, you need to be careful that it stays firmly in place as you certainly don’t want it falling off while you’re riding!
The most common option is probably wrapping a chain lock around your seat post. Since chain locks don’t come with frame mounts and many people don’t carry bags on their bikes, if you’ve got a chain, then in most instances the only place to put it is wrapped around your seat post.
How well this works will depend on how long the chain is and the set up of your bike. But I’ve used this method successfully in the past. Be careful it doesn’t interfere with your brake cables though, and that if you care about your paint work, it’s not banging against the frame.
U-locks are more difficult. I’ve threaded them through my seat rails before so that they’re hanging down behind my saddle. And that can work really, really well. However, whether that will work for you, will depend on the size and thickness of the u-lock and the space inside your rails.
You could hang the u-lock on the handlebars. But in general I wouldn't recommend this as they’re just not very stable there, so you and up anchoring them with your hand. And your hand should really be concentrating on steering the bike!
This should only be a temporary solution, for short journeys, when you haven’t got any other options.
5. Wear it on your body
Wearing your bike lock somewhere on you body while you’re riding can actually work really well.
Smaller u-locks can be tucked into (or fastened through) a belt band. Or even fastened through a belt loop on your jeans or trousers. Really small u-locks may even fit into a pocket. Again, be aware that locks get wet and oily!
Longer chains can be worn around your shoulders like a bandolier. This is not going to be comfortable for long journeys. It is likely to stain your top. And will be dangerous if you fall on it, if you’re involved in an accident.
So be aware of these drawbacks!
However, some enterprising lock companies have started to produce wearable locks. Indeed, Hiplok have built their entire brand around locks that you can wear on your body. Their u-locks come with clip that makes them easy to fasten to your waistband or any other strip of fabric.
And their chain locks can be worn around your waist like a belt. As far as I know these are the only bike chains that can be worn like this.
However, Litelok make wearable versions of both of their Boaflex bike locks, the Litelok Silver and Litelok Gold. They come in three different sizes and like the Hiplok chains are worn around your waist like a belt.
It’s worth noting that both the Hiplok chain and the Liteloks don’t lock around your waist; they are held in place by clips. And this is for safety reasons: if your involved in an accident, they’re going to come off easily.
If you’re looking for a wearable folding lock then Seatylock make a version of their Foldylock called the Clipster, which comes with a (yes you guessed it), clip that allows it to be attached to your waistband.
And finally while it’s not really designed to be worn like this, I found that the fabric and chain hybrid lock that is the very interesting Tex-lock, can be worn quite comfortably (due the fabric case) around you shoulders.
Wearable locks are great because they’re really quick and easy to access, there’s no permanent mount uglifying your bike, and since they’re worn close to your body, you don’t notice the weight so much.
However, just a final reminder: bike locks will get wet and sometimes they get oily. If you’re precious about your clothes, this might not be the best solution!
6. Third party solutions
If you’re not happy with the frame mount that comes with your bike lock and none of my other suggestions work for you, then you could look at some of the alternative frame mounts, holsters and clips that are made by other companies.
I will review these in more detail in a forthcoming article. But there are quite a few options available...
From things like the Transit H-Bar Carrier from big companies like Kryptonite (which allows you to carry a u-lock securely attached to your handlebars, and even works with the Fahgettaboudit Mini).
To more artisan like solutions like the all leather Oopsmark Holster that fits nicely to the back of your saddle, although it can also be attached to other places on your frame.
There’s a whole load of different third party solutions that will give you lots of new possible places to keep your bike lock when you’re riding. So do check them out if you’re stuck!
Finally: make sure you’re safe.
Finally, however you choose to carry your bike lock around while you’re cycling, make sure it’s safe. The last thing you want is it falling off and getting entangled in your bike or bouncing around the road, as that could cause a terrible accident.
So if you’re using a frame mount (many of which can be attached to all sorts of places on your frame), make sure you keep it away from the pedals or the wheels, where, if it came loose it could easily get tangled up and knock you off.
Don’t carry it around in your hand: as I’ve already mentioned, your hand should be steering and braking!
And always ensure wherever it is, it’s securely fastened in place.
For sure: it can be tricky to find a good place to put your bike lock while you’re riding. But there are plenty of options and with a little experimentation everyone should be able to find something that works for them!
Last Updated on July 6, 2021 by Carl Ellis
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