A quality bicycle is a huge investment in time and money, all of which can disappear in a moment when there’s a bike thief about. Bikes are easy targets because they’re lightweight, easy to pick up, and generally don’t have any way to track or identify them. Stealing one requires very limited know-how and no special background whatsoever, meaning that literally any fool can do it. The moment you buy a bike you care about, you should also be buying one of the 10 best bike locks to guard it. These items are often all that stand between you and the sticky-fingered passersby of the world.
The Best Type of Bike Lock
Generally speaking, the best bike lock is a double-locking U-Lock that requires a key to open it. Thieves are far less likely to steal a bike with this kind of lock, because it necessitates more hardware to cut it off, often requiring power tools, large bolt cutters, and angle grinder, and enough time to hack through both legs.
Folding and chain/cable locks are generally considered inferior to the U-Lock style, and combination locks have been found to be easier to break than those that require keys. Part of the solution is how you lock up your bike. Weaving a chain or cable through your bicycle in combination with a U-Lock, or just taking more time when securing your bike might be all you need to do. On the other hand, if someone really wants it, your bike is going away.
Any type of lock can be improved through proper use, but starting off with the right material is paramount, and that means selecting a lock for your bike that can stand up and be counted. Here’s what to get before you take a ride.
1. Bike U-Locks
U-Lock Buying Advice: The smaller, the better. You want a lock that keeps your bike safe with as little wiggle room as possible. Space means places where thieves can put tools.
Backup Vocals: Take note: Do not use this as your primary lock. We like the Bouncer as a small, lightweight secondary lock for keeping a tire in place or adding protection. It’s too tiny to work well as a primary, but add a chain or just snap this on for speed and it’s magical.
Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2
Coolist’s Coolest: We’re putting the Kryptolok into the U-Lock category, but it’s technically a cable and U-Lock system that offers you added protection. Rather than carrying a pair of U-Locks to handle both tires and accessories, this gives you a cable to keep your tires locked down. Though the cable might be cut and you lose a wheel, the frame is likely to still be in place. For general use, this is EDC bike lock for everyone.
Kryptonite New York Standard
Anything But: Don’t let the word “standard’ confuse you. The entire New York line of Kryptonite locks is meant to survive in the city with the most thefts: The Big Apple. If you have a bike in New York (or anywhere riddled with crime, like poor Detroit) then the $80 you spend here will save you hundreds in stolen bikes. 18mm of high-performance steel give this a body that won’t quit, and won’t cut easily.
2. Chain/Cable Locks
Chain Bike Lock Buying Advice: Weave and thread as much as you can with a chain, or buy one that is small and dense, then lock through as many links as possible to force more cutting.
Cable Lock Tip: Cable locks are the least secure because they can be cut with small, simple tools. Our best advice is don’t get one, or couple it with a U-Lock.
Blusmart Bike Security Cable
Wrap Up: If you have a junker bike and are looking to only deter the most ordinary of thieves, this is one of the very few cable locks you should buy. Smart enough to sync with your pocket device for easy unlocking, it’s extremely tough to cut or pry off, but pros carry everything they need to hack it off, should they so choose. 6 ft. long for easy wrapping, it’s exceptional…for a cable.
Pragmasis 19mm Chain
Lockdown: 19mm worth of heavy chain in your choice of lengths, this is an industrial-level solution that will help keep your bike safe as houses. Combine with a U-Lock and it’s beats a deadbolt for raw security hardware.
3. Smart Bike Locks
Smart Lock Buying Advice: Focus on getting a good, solid lock, then worry about technical features. Shop for quality metal, not bells and whistles.
Physical App: It comes with alerts should someone fiddle with your chain or attempt to break it, and still offers all the U-Lock goodness, without a key or combination to crack. It works with all Windows, Android, and Apple phones, and has Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity for easy syncing. A multitude of add-ons make it a great addition to the Internet of things.
Keyless Entry: One of the first Bluetooth locks in the business, Skylock has done nothing but improve since they first began. Merely approach the bike and it unlocks thanks to the intelligent app. If an outside source injures it, that same app will alert you so you can take the proper steps. Best of all, Skylock upgrades their tech all the time, so new features and options can be unlocked later. Completely solar-powered.
4. Alternative Locks
Alternative Bike Locks Buying Tip: Strange locks will thwart thieves for a while, but eventually every lock gets cracked. Novelty isn’t always a replacement for tried-and-true methods over the long-term.
Pinhead Bicycle Locking Skewer Set
Accessorize: A stripped bike can be just as bad as a stolen bike if you’re a long way from home, or tend to add a glut of high-end accessories. These skewers are meant to keep pedals, chains, tires, seats, and other pieces from going for a walk. If you love your bling, these are completely necessary. Be warned: They don’t protect your frame at all.
ABUS Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500/85
Token Folder: Folding locks are growing in popularity, but many people rightfully believe that folding locks are inferior chains with joints that wear down from use and have far too many weak points to exploit. They’re generally right, but if you go with the Bordo, you’ll be getting heavy-duty steel that has been specially hardened. It’s heavy and dense with a lock that will frustrate standard smashers, drillers, and pickers. Deploy it correctly around your bike and even those who pry and twist won’t get it undone.
If you insist on a folder, this is the only one you should pay money for.
TiGr Lock 24-Inch Bow
Frame Fit: The TiGr is an oddity, but a beautiful one at that. Impossible to break through twisting, only amateur thieves or deadly pros will test the strength of this beauty (unless they have a hacksaw). It doesn’t leave space to get between the frame and the lock, and it’s a nasty bugger to try to pick. You’re more likely to have your bike destroyed than stolen using this, because it’s exceptionally frustrating for most thieves. At least, most thieves without an angle grinder.