Bicycle Locks

A number of bicycles are stolen every day around the world. So If you’re going to leave your bicycle unattended, even for a moment, it’s essential to invest in a decent lock if you want to keep your beloved bicycle safe.

Locks- Chain 1-min

Finding the best bicycle lock for your bicycle can be difficult. There are lots to choose from.

A wrong decision can have disastrous consequences! All bicycle locks can be broken, but a sturdy lock and savvy locking strategy will greatly reduce the risk of your bicycle being singled out by thieves.

While buying look for
  • Type of lock: there are 4 types of bicycle locks, U-locks, Cable Locks, Chain Locks, and Folding Locks. Based on security rating, portability and price you need to choose the best one for your needs.
  • Fit: Don’t buy a lock if it is going to be too small to fit your bicycle, but don’t go for a very long one that’s hard to fill. If there is a space between the lock and the bicycle frame that space can be used by a thief to stick in a levering bar. Longer locks are easier to twist.
  • Weight: Some good quality locks weigh as much as 3kg, which is a significant chunk of weight to be adding to your everyday travels on the bicycle. While you might feel safe by a lock’s weight, you might not want to transport it on your daily commute. This is a balancing act that relies significantly on personal choice.
  • Right lock brand: Selecting a good brand locks is always the key. To protect your dream bicycle, you need to buy trusted locks which are rated by independent security testing certification companies.
  • Security Ratings: There are many independent security testing certification companies such as Sold Secure adds an extra level of confidence and credibility to your chosen lock. Gold, Silver, and Bronze ratings are assigned, with gold being the most secure. These reflect the length of time a lock will hold out against escalating levels of attack. These are a reasonable indicator of the lock’s strength and are directly linked to price.
  • Lock barrel: The best designs have the lock mechanism in the barrel’s center. End-mounted locks are easier to attack with a drill. A high weight is a sign that it’s armored.
  • Weatherproof: The locks are exposed to extreme climates while in use. While we don’t expect perfectly watertight seals around any opening, additional weatherproofing, particularly around the key barrel is always a good thing.
  • Ease of use: When arriving at your destination you’ll need to secure the bicycle to something. This often requires a hand or body part to hold the bicycle still. If your bicycle lock is too complicated to actually use you may end up not locking your bicycle for short breaks which can be dangerous. So the overall locking mechanism should be simple but secure.
  • Carrying: In order to use a lock to secure your bicycle, you’ll need to have the lock with you on the bicycle. It’s worth bearing in mind that the more secure the lock, the heavier they tend to be. Many locks come with brackets to secure them to your bicycle, but we need to make sure they are both secure and not too fiddly to put you off using them.
  • Maintenance: With age and exposure to different environment/ weather situations any lock may get seized. The situation gets worst if the lock is attached to your bicycle and its seized. So check the mechanism regularly and use a good water repellent like GT85 or WD40.
Lock Types
  • U-locks / D-locks: This widely used bicycle lock style is an excellent deterrent and regarded as the most durable. The bulky locking mechanism resists hammers, chisels and the like. Its horseshoe shape can limit leveraging, provided it’s not way oversized for the bicycle. The goal is to reduce the amount of space in which a thief can insert a crowbar and leverage enough oomph to pop it apart. Good U-Locks provide a nice balance between price, practicality, and security.

Locks- D 1-min

  • They are generally cheaper, lighter and a bit easier to use than chain locks, while still offering a high level of protection. Because of their rigidity, they can be more challenging to transport than chain locks. Their limited size means you’ll find fewer things you can secure your bicycle too.
    • Pros
      • Cheaper than chain locks
      • Lighter than chain locks
    • Cons
      • Complicated to transport
      • Won’t fasten around bigger objects
  • Chain Locks: Chain locks usually consist of a long metal chain covered by a sleeve to protect your paintwork. These bicycle locks use a specially designed chain link that resists hacksaws or chisels and makes the chain tough to leverage.

Locks- Chain 2-min

  • These locks are available in a number of lengths and thicknesses. The locking system can be key based or combination.
    • Pros
      • Easier to transport than U-locks
      • Fasten around more objects than U-locks
    • Cons
      • Very heavy
      • Expensive
  • Cable Locks: Cable locks are normally made up of many strands of long, thin steel, braided together inside a plastic tube. They also come in key and combination locking mechanisms and are perfect for that quick stop off at the cake shop due to their lightness. Cable Locks are more flexible than chain locks and tend to come in longer lengths, allowing greater versatility.

Locks- Cable 1-min

  • These are versatile and adaptable but generally, offer less theft deterrence than U-locks. Bicycle thieves specifically target these locks and in fact, some reports suggest that 90% of all stolen bicycles were secured with cable locks.
    • Pros
      • Long
      • Light
      • Cheap
    • Cons
      • Your bicycle is not safe!
  • Folding Locks: Folding locks are made up of a series of metal plates linked together by rivets. The rivets allow the plates to rotate so they can be folded into a tight package and then folded out to make a stiff shape that you can fasten around your bicycle.

Locks- Folding 1-min

  • Folding locks are generally a little bit lighter than U-locks and offer similar levels of security.
    • Pros
      • Very easy to transport
      • Practical length
    • Cons
      • limited choice
      • doubts over durability
Locks rating analysis

Some of the security rating agencies have come up with a rating for different types of locks. These values are approximate values.

Important Parameters Ratings
Lock Type Security Price Usability
U Locks 38% 38% 24%
Chain Locks 30% 30% 40%
Folding Locks 26% 32% 42%
Cable Locks 4% 48% 48%
Bicycle Locking Principles
  • Your bicycle should be more secure than the bicycle parked next to it.
  • Never ever ever ever rely solely on a cable lock to secure your bicycle.
  • The smaller the u-lock, the better.
  • Use multiple locking mechanisms.
Buying Guide

There are three main things to bear in mind when buying bicycle locks.

  • First, you get what you pay for. Cheap locks offer cheap security; most are little more than a visual deterrent.
  • Second, cable locks that are light enough to be portable are also light enough to be broken easily. Only use them in conjunction with a good U-lock to secure extra bits of the bicycle or stuff like your helmet.
  • Third, less is NOT more. Unlike most other bicycle accessories, the performance of a cycle security device increases in proportion to its weight. So when it comes to portable locks, it’s a trade-off between how much peace of mind you want and how much metal you are prepared to lug around.

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