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The best bike locks and buying guide
This post is a general buyer’s guide on bicycle locks and provides a list of the best bike locks currently on the market. To help you navigate within the post, here is a content table:
- Why are quality bike locks important?
- Introduction to bicycle lock types
- Understanding security levels of manufacturers
- Recommended bicycle locks
- Final thoughts
Why are quality bike locks important?
Buying a bicycle – conventional or electric – can be a big investment. Unfortunately, I have experienced too many times, that when people set up a project to buy a new bicycle, it simply ends when he or she takes it home from the store. They have just bought their dream bike and they are happy… But what about safety?
The most overlooked part of a bicycle purchase is to choose a lock that offers enough protection. I have seen this mentality couple of times: ‘Oh, no problem. I have my old lock from my good oldie bike.’ Which should not be a problem if it is quality made and hard to unlock or cut through. However, in most cases, it is not… And I simply can’t understand it. If you pay $4000 for your new bike, why would you save money on something, which is supposed to protect it?
The golden rule: Spend 10% of your bike’s value on the lock itself
Of course, the best protection is not to leave it anywhere public. If you use your bike for commission between your home and workplace, then most likely you can always find a safe spot for it, where nobody can touch it. However if you must leave it anytime at a public space, then you should definitely think about protection by using one or two quality made locks.
The truth is even the best locks cannot protect your bike hundred percent, but the risk to get stolen should be minimized. Depending on where you live, there can be several professional groups who specialize in stealing bikes. Electric bikes are drawing attention and these guys will immediately spot a high-value piece.
In this article, you will learn the basics of bicycle locks and I would like to recommend you a few specific locks which are quality made and offers great protection.
So let’s dig in!
Which is the best bike lock type for you?
Understanding the basics of bike locks is crucial to make the best decision upon purchase. We have collected the basic types of bike locks for you, so based on your environment and usage, you can find out which is the best type of bike lock for you.
Cable locks are basically made of several steel cables winded up spirally, with a protective sheath to prevent scratches. They usually come as standard key and combination locks but I don’t recommend using them, only maybe as a second lock for the wheels. Even if you choose one with a better quality, the structure will be usually the same, making it vulnerable. It literally takes only seconds to cut it through with a bigger cutter.
On the other hand, it has the advantage of low weight, and the possibility to lock several bicycles together because of longer possible length. They can also be a good choice if you simply want to immobilize your bike because you can keep your eyes on it, but you don’t want anyone just to pick it up and take it. Even though we don’t recommend them as a main bicycle lock, we will show you some types which could serve as a temporary and secondary lock.
U-Locks usually have a sturdy design with lots of material inside. They are called U-locks because they contain a U shaped hardened metal part which connects to a lock mechanism which is hardened by a metal case around it. Because of this, they tend to be heavier than cable locks. They are not comfortable to carry around if you have a low weight road bike, but for a general electric bicycle, it will not make any difference. You can simply put it in your backpack, or fix it on your bike for easily carry it around. Besides the high weight, you can not use U-locks as flexible as cable locks. That means if you have a short lock, you may not be able to lock your bike in every situation.
Despite the disadvantages, U-locks are highly recommended as this construction provides one of the best protection currently. The thick hardened metal part is designed against cutting devices, and the hardened metal case usually resists lockpicking attempts.
We have also collected some of the best U-locks on the market, of which you can read about later.
Chain locks are a good mixture of the advantages of cable locks and U-locks. The high-quality products are made of special steel and are hard to cut, while they can be as long as you want it to be. Chain locks are often used for mopeds and motors for a good reason. Some locks have extremely high weight, which makes it uncomfortable for cyclists.
In some cases chain locks are a good option due to the high strength and flexibility, but only if you can deal with the weight and big size.
There are two main components:
The chain, which is usually covered with plastic or textile, to protect the painting and the lock.
The lock, which can be an integrated lock mechanism or a stand-alone padlock.
Besides the level of security, the other advantage is the flexibility. There are long chain locks available, which is easier to use under certain circumstances. In short words, chain locks provide high-level security, high weight, and poor transportation potential.
We have listed some of the best chain locks for you, which you can find in the second half of the article.
Folding locks are made of several metal sections with jointed ends. They have been designed to be durable but also to have a compact size. While the design is now used by more and more manufacturers, I would recommend you to stay away from cheap and unknown products. This is the only category, where I would only choose locks from ABUS based on security.
When the lock is closed, the compact size allows you to easily fix it on the bike without taking too much space. When you want to lock your bike, you can simply open the metal sections, lead around your bike and the pole and simply lock it just like a simple cable lock.
The strength of these kinds of locks comes from the structure of the metal sections. They are thick and quite wide and made of special hardened steel. The shape of the metal parts gives a perfect protection against cutters and saws.
Their only weakness is the jointed ends, which can be vulnerable against nut splitters. However, along with U-locks, they are also highly recommended.
In the recommended bicycle locks section, you can find the best folding lock by Abus, and also a good deal of price/performance ratio.
Understanding security levels of manufacturers
In this article, you can mostly find products from the three most trusted lock manufacturers: Abus, Kryptonite, and OnGuard.
All of these manufacturers are well-established companies with a long history and huge experience. Because all of them have products with different security levels, it’s important to understand their grading system to find the perfect lock for you.
Abus security levels
Abus lock manufacturer has created a system of 15 security levels to rank their bicycle locks. In the following graphic, you can see what do the different levels mean and which one is recommended in different environments.
Generally, the security levels from 1-4 are not providing serious theft protection. They are good for immobilizing the bicycle, but with basic cutters, it would be easy to break them down.
Level 20 grade locks are not shown on the graphic as they are aiming to provide protection for scooters, motors. However, if the maximum possible protection is required, they are worth considering.
Kryptonite security levels
Kryptonite has created a system consisting 10 security levels. The following graphic is the recommendation chart of Kryptonite and it gives a really good overview for anyone interested in buying one of their locks.
Of course, this graphic may not be true for every case. If you use your bike in the suburbs and it has a higher theft risk than usual, you should get a higher security level lock. Paying a little more for a higher level of security is always good to consider.
OnGuard security levels
OnGuard has created three groups for their bicycle locks, on a 100 level scale. The three security levels are basic, high and ultimate.
Generally, bicycle locks on the lower range have been mostly designed to immobilize bicycles. They are recommended for low crime areas like suburban, recreational and rural areas. These locks are not designed against professional thieves, with basic tools it would be relatively fast to break them.
For areas with more traffic and higher crime threat, high and ultimate security graded locks are recommended. These are generally more robust and has been designed against cutters and saws to maximize security.
Recommended bicycle locks
As I promised before, we have collected the best bike locks of each type for you. Generally, you can find products of the top three manufacturers: Abus, Kryptonite, OnGuard.
Abus and Kryptonite locks usually offer the best quality and protection in every area for a relatively higher price. OnGuard, however, is a good alternative solution for those, who seek high security and affordable price tags.
The Best Cable Locks
Abus Cenero 970
Abus Cenaro bicycle cable lock is one of the better ones on the market, just like you would expect from Abus. The 25mm quality steel cable is able to provide the basic protection for your bike, but I would rather recommend to use it as the main lock for lower value bikes in a safe environment.
According to user reviews, the lock is reliable, they were not reporting stolen bikes, in my opinion, it all depends on the area you are using it. The easy portability is definitely an upside, along with the length. You can easily lock your frame and front wheel together with this cable lock.
Abus Security level 8
However the lock mechanism seems to be weather reliant, problems may arise engaging it in cold weather.
Kryptonite Hardwire 2085 Cable Bicycle Lock
Kryptonite hardwire is again a more massive type of cable lock. Together with Abus Cenaro, they are in the same league having similar ups and downs. However, Hardwire is somewhat thinner than Cenero with the 20mm braided steel cable.
It has a Kryptonite security level of 4, which is not recommended in unsafe areas of high traffic.
Users mostly liked the length of the cable lock, which gives them more freedom during locking their bikes. Check price here!
Kryptonite Kryptoflex 550 cable lock
Looped cable locks like Kryptoflex are a great way to increase the security of your main lock. Paired with a U-lock you can lead it through your wheels minimizing the risk of getting stolen.
There are quite a few cable locks with double loop end in different length. As a secondary lock I recommend Kryptoflex because, with a diameter of 10mm and a length of 120cm, it is a lock with perfect dimensions for locking a single bike.
It is also possible to pair it with a separate padlock like this, to increase flexibility and security even hire. Check price here!
This cable lock is available in other sizes as well:
Kryptonite KryptoFlex 525 [Product dimensions: 3/16” (5mm) cable diameter, 2.5’ (76cm) cable length]
Kryptonite KryptoFlex 710 [Product dimensions: 3/8” (10mm) cable diameter, 7’ (213cm) cable length]
Kryptonite KryptoFlex 3010 [Product dimensions: 3/8” (10mm) cable diameter, 30’ (930cm) cable length]
The Best U-Locks
ABUS Granit X-Plus 540/160 – U-Lock
ABUS locks have a great reputation and for a good reason. They offer high security with usually a higher price tag. Abus Granit X-Plus is made of a special temper hardened steel which has a high resistance against cutting and sawing. It features a dual locking system which stands out because most U-type locks only have one.
For the price, you get two keys, one with built-in LED light to easily unlock when it gets dark. It is also supplied with a sturdy universal holder, which can be installed on your bike. The automatic dust cover is just the cream on the top. It ensures a long lasting locking mechanism. The only drawback can be the price, but I can assure you. This beast worth every cent.
It is one of the toughest U-type locks on the market at the moment.
German engineering, best in class with a security level of 15! Check price here!
This U-lock is available in other sizes as well:
Abus Granit X-Plus 54 Mini [Height: 150mm]
ABUS Granit X-Plus 540 U Lock 540/160HB300 + USH [Height: 300 mm / 11.8 inches ; Width Inner: 10.8 cm / 4.25 inches]
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini U-Lock
The other favorite brand when it comes to bike locks is Kryptonite. Kryptonite New York offers 18mm hardened max-performance steel shackle, which resists bolt cutters and leverage attacks. Just like ABUS, it also has a double deadbolt locking system and a really massive steel sleeve over the crossbar to increase security. Measured in the Kryptonite’s security system, it performs a 9-10 security score, which is the strongest they offer.
I generally prefer ABUS locks, but for the lower price, Kryptonite is definitely recommended.
This is a beast, prepare for 2 kilograms of massive steel! Check price here!
ONGUARD Brute STD U-Lock
Let’s continue with a more affordable piece, made by OnGuard. For half the price of its competitors above, you can still get a great lock!
Being the strongest on OnGuard’s palette, the Brute is a beast. It weighs almost 2 kilograms and features Quattro locking mechanism, which means the lock engages on 4 sides of the U-lock. It provides great protection against lots of common attacks, like car jacks, twisting, etc.
OnGuard also offers an anti-theft program for a nominal fee. It worth checking out.
The Brute is one of the best choice considering performance/price and it received 97 points out of 100 on OnGuard’s security level system. Check price here!
This U-Lock is available in other sizes as well:
Onguard Brute Mini Lock [Cable Dimensions: 18,5cm x 15mm(6’ x 0.59”)]
ONGUARD Brute STD U-Lock [Cable Dimensions: 26cm x 15mm(10.24’ x 0.59”)]
TIGR mini Lightweight Titanium Bicycle Lock
TIGT mini is an interesting concept and it should be a perfect choice if you prefer U-type locks, but you are not fond of carrying 3 kgs around. In this case, TIGR mini has been designed for you. Made of titanium, it only weighs 0,4 kilogram, while it still offers nice protection. Tests verified, that it can easily withstand bolt cutters. According to user reviews, the lock which has been damaged during theft attempt can be replaced by the company free of charge! Although this may not apply in every case, it’s a pretty nice feature for a $100 lock.
The low weight certainly comes with compromises, the same level of protection as Granit X-Plus simply can not be expected. If low weight is extremely important to you will not find a better solution. Check price here!
The Best Chain locks
Abus Granit Citychain X-Plus 1060 Chain Bicycle Lock
If the level of security is the most important factor for you, Citychain X-Plus 1060 is one of the best product on the market right now. This integrated chain lock has hexagonal shaped chain links of 10mm, which is made of special temper hardened steel. The chain is covered by a protective fabric sleeve, which will prevent scratches on your bike, and also provides additional protection against attacks. The patented Power Cell technology provides the highest protection against hitting and pulling attacks.
The interlocked lock body cover protects the lock from external damages and the Xplus Cylinders provides high protection against picking. Security level 15!
As usual, the Abus lock comes with automatic keyhole cover to protect the lock mechanism from dirt and corrosion.
For this level of protection, you have to pay a high price but it’s still much cheaper than your $4000 electric bike! Check price here!
This chain lock is available in other sizes as well:
Abus Granit Citychain X-Plus 1060/170 [Weight: 3750 g, diameter:10 mm, length: 170 cm]
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit 1415 Bike lock
Fahgettaboudit chain lock is one of the most popular today on the market. For a much lower price compared to the Abus, you also get a great protection and a massive lock which will make thieves think twice before attempting an attack on it.
The 14mm six-sided chain links are made of hardened manganese steel which can withstand all the standard cutting tools. Of course, no lock is unbreakable, but if one needs to cut it for 15 minutes with a hacksaw – and success is still not guaranteed – It’s most likely they will leave it alone or not even try to open it.
To withstand attacks on the lock mechanism, Fahgettaboudit is supplied with a high-security disc-style cylinder with reinforced anti-drill and anti-pull protection. Security level: 9-10
The downside for this lock is also the same: depending on the chain length, it’s extremely heavy. For example, the 5′ (150cm) lock weights almost 7 kilograms!!
It all comes down to personal preferences. If size and weight do not bother you, you should definitely go for it. Check price here!
OnGuard 8000 Series Beast 14mm
Here is another 14mm chain link beast from OnGuard. The Beast features titanium reinforced hexagonal chain links for extra security. At this security level, the hexagonal shape is popular, because it’s really effective against cutting and sawing. Showing OnGuard’s confidence in this lock, that they recommend using them in high crime areas. In their system, it is rated at the maximum security level of 99.
OnGuard locks have one of the best price/performance ratio in every category. This lock is also strongly recommended. Check price here!
This chain lock is available in other sizes as well:
OnGuard 8000 Series Beast 14mm [Chain Dimensions 110cm x 14mm 3.57 x 0.55]
Abus Granit Extreme Plus 59 Chain Lock
Okay… For 95% of bike riders, this will be too much. Abus Granit Extreme Plus is advertised as a scooter/motor lock. Even if you would like to maximize security, this lock would be too much for a bicycle. In my opinion, it could be a logical option, if you wish to lock 2 or 3 high-value bikes together. It is not for everyday use for a general cyclist, that’s for sure.
Security level 20
I just leave this here because I’m a megalomaniac and I like beast size accessories 🙂 Check price here!
The Best Folding Locks
Abus Bordo GRANIT X Plus Folding Lock
As mentioned above, bicycle folding locks merge the high security of U-locks, Chain locks and the portability of cable locks. Abus Bordo does this perfectly. As I have already said, the structure of folding locks is the cause of their week spots as well. This is the type of bicycle lock, which I would only recommend one or two brands because not every manufacturer can combine the compact style with maximum security.
Abus Bordo Granit X Plus is the flagship of folding locks. With the plastic coated 5mm thick steel bars, this lock was able to get the maximum security level by Abus. Which means, it was designed for the riskiest neighborhoods and can withstand most of the general attacks. It’s safe to say, that it can only be cut with disc grinder within a relatively short time. And let’s face it, that is the lowest risk which can happen in a city during broad daylight.
Security level 15
If portability and maximum security are the most important aspects for you and you are willing to pay a higher price for a compact lock, Abus Bordo Granit X is the way to go. Check price here!
Foldylock Heavy Duty Bicycle Chain Lock
Foldylock is also a popular brand amongst cyclists, and I would recommend it for two things. Firstly, I am surprised by the build quality and the security of the lock. I would not give it a maximum level security badge, but it is a good alternative if you need to let your bike unattended for a few minutes. The other reason is the price performance ration.
Within this package, you will receive 2 pieces of folding locks which is great if you often go cycling together with your partner. Check price here!
I am glad you have read our article, and I hope you have found it useful. We wanted to collect all the necessary information for you if you are planning to buy a bike lock. Of course, our recommended products are not the only worth buying, but I can assure you, that you can’t really go wrong with these pieces.
If you have any questions or remarks, please let us know in the comment section, or if you prefer you can also write to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are more than happy to help you!