You lock your bike up and head inside the store to grab something. Maybe you’re meeting a friend for coffee or just browsing a shop. You head back outside to find your bike lock cut in half and your bike gone. Your heart sinks. You rely on your bike, and now it’s been stolen.
Whether you depend on your bike to commute to and from work or you use it for exercise, having your bike stolen is no picnic. Prevent bike theft by purchasing a heavy-duty lock, so you can count on your bike always being where you left it.
Best bike locks comparison table
The table below is meant to help you see at a quick glance the similarities and differences between our top five bike locks. Be sure to read each individual review since we point out features of each bike lock that make it stand apart from the rest.
|Our Ranking||Best U-Lock||Best Chain Lock||Best Cable Lock||Best Folding Lock|
|Product Name||Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit||Kryptonite New York Legend Chain & Padlock||U-Shake||ABUS Bordo GRANIT 6500|
|View Product||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
|Sold Secure Rating||Gold||None||None||Gold|
|Thickness||18 mm||15 mm||12 mm||5 mm|
|Weight||4.55 lbs.||15.95 lbs.||0.7 lbs.||3.5 lbs.|
|Best U-Lock||Best Chain Lock||Best Cable Lock||Best Folding Lock|
|Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit||Kryptonite New York Legend Chain & Padlock||U-Shake||ABUS Bordo GRANIT 6500|
|View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
|18 mm||15 mm||12 mm||5 mm|
|4.55 lbs.||15.95 lbs.||0.7 lbs.||3.5 lbs.|
U-locks vs. chain locks vs. cable locks vs. folding locks
The table below shows where different bike locks can be used and for what purpose.
|Type of Lock||U locks||Chain Locks||Cable Locks||Folding Locks|
|High crime areas|
|Low crime areas|
|Good for long lock up|
|Good for short lock up|
|U locks||Chain Locks||Cable Locks||Folding Locks|
U-locks are typically made of steel and covered in vinyl to protect your bike’s paint from chipping. To best use a U-lock, unlock the crossbar and fit the U around a fixed point (like a bike rack), bike frame, front wheel, and rear wheel. You’ll need to remove your bike’s front wheel and place it next to the rear wheel. Then lock the crossbar to lock your bike. Look for a U-lock that is made out of hardened steel and can withstand ripping. Fill the space inside the U as much as possible to make it difficult to use levers and jacks. Do not let the U-lock touch the ground because it is then susceptible to shears. Use the U-lock in combination with a large-diameter twisted cable to provide further protection.
- Easy to store, can be carried on the bike using a mount
- If made of hardened steel, it is cut resistant
- 16 mm thickness or more makes it resistant to bolt cutters
- Lighter than chain locks
- Pole or other fixed point must be small enough so the U-lock fits
- Difficult to lock the wheel and the frame together to the fixed point
- Small hydraulic jacks can rip the U-lock apart
Chain bike locks
Chain bike locks are typically made of steel links and covered in nylon or vinyl to protect your bike’s paint. Some include a built-in padlock, mini U-lock, or combination lock, while others are separate. These locks can be up to six feet long, so they can often reach around from the front to rear wheel without removal. Some chain bike lock models have special shaped links that make them difficult to break. These are typically carried in a pack, worn over the shoulder and across the chest, or around the waist as a belt.
- Easy to fasten around objects
- Can be left fixed to objectsu2014smaller than 12 mm are light enough to be portable, but larger than 12 mm are best left as stationary
- Often heavier than U-locks
- Smaller than 12 mm are not as secure as U-locks
- Typically more expensive than U-locks
Cable bike locks
Cable bike locks are available in various lengths and thicknesses. They are made out of coiled wire and have a built-in or separate padlock or combination lock. They are typically covered in vinyl to protect your bike’s paint. If you purchase one long enough, you don’t need to remove your front wheel.
- Can be up to 30 feet long
- Self-coiling, so theyu2019re easy to store
- The best cable lock is incomparable to the security offered from U-locks and chain locks
- Only recommended for safe areas and locking for short periods of time
Folding bike locks
Folding locks are made of metal plates linked together by rivets. The rivets let the plates rotate so they can fold and unfold. They are quick to fold up and travel with and can be mounted to a bike easily.
- Easy to transport
- Typically include a mount
- Lighter than U-locks of same security level
- More flexible than U-locks, so fit a variety of locking locations
- May move easily if too flexible
- Few companies make good folding locks
Best U-lock: Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock
- Resistant to bolt cutters and leverage attacks
- Coated in vinyl
- Scores a gold from Sold Secure and u2158 from ART
- Includes $5,000 in anti-theft protection
- Easy to use
- Lifetime warranty
- No mount included
- If your bike has a larger frame and/or wheels, this may not work
Best chain lock: Kryptonite New York Legend Chain & Padlock
This chain is very heavy, so it is not one you want to carry around with you daily, and you’d most likely want to keep it in one place. Unfortunately, this lock is not rated by Sold Secure, but that does not mean it’s a bad lock—it just means it hasn’t been submitted for testing. It scores a 10/10 on Kryptonite’s internal rating system. It includes three stainless steel keys and can be a challenge to thread through wheels and frame at first, but once you’ve used it a couple of times it is simple to use.
- Resistant to bolt cutters
- Protective nylon cover
- 5/5 ART rating
- Includes $5,000 in anti-theft protection
- Lifetime warranty
- No rating from Sold Secure
- Heavyu2014the 5-foot chain weighs 15.95 pounds
Best cable lock: U-Shake
- Includes a mounting bracket to attach to your bikeu2019s frame
- Not the most durable lock
- Not good for high-crime areas
- Should not be used for locking your bike up for long periods of time
- Only 1-year warranty
Best folding lock: ABUS Bordo GRANIT 6500
- Saw protection of the links
- Extra-soft 2-component coating prevents damage to bike paint
- Scores a gold from Sold Secure
- Easy to transport
- Mount included
- No warranty information found
- Only a 2/5 rating from ART
What to consider when buying a bike lock
There are four main styles of bike locks: U, chain, cable, and folding locks. Thieves use bolt cutters and drills to break locks and steal your bike, so depending on how and where you use your bike, you may need heavier security to withstand these types of attacks. Consider your location and how long you need to secure your bike so that you can choose a lock sturdy enough for your circumstances.
Where do you live?
Kryptonite has a handy chart that defines the level of security you need for your bike lock. Consider your crime area by defining where you live: major metropolitan area, metropolitan area, college campus, suburbs, or rural area. Next, decide the length of time you’re most likely to secure your bike: overnight lock-up, all day lock-up, couple of hour lock-up, or quick stop lock-up. The riskiest scenario is if you live in a major metropolitan area and plan on locking your bike up overnight. The least risky scenario is if you live in a rural area and need to lock it up for a couple of minutes.
What does all of this mean? If you live in a heavily populated area and plan on locking your bike up for longer, it’s important to find a really secure lock. Consider getting two different bike locks if you’re in the city. These locks will need to be heavier duty, so they are not easily susceptible to thieves.
Bike lock ratings
Sold Secure and ART are the two bike lock standard rating organizations. Sold Secure is based in the UK, and ART is from Holland. We recommend looking at their ratings over other companies because they are consistent. Companies like ABUS, Kryptonite, and OnGuard have their own rating systems, which aren’t as consistent as Sold Secure and ART across all bike locks.
Sold Secure assigns gold, silver, and bronze ratings. It bases these ratings on how long the lock can withstand an attack. Sold Secure uses numerous attack methods including hacksaws, pliers, hammers, lock picking tools, and more.
ART rates bike locks on a scale of 1–5, 5 being the best and 1 being the worst. They base this rating on how the lock performs in tests conducted by machines and engineers. These tests include cutting, freeze tests, attacks with objects, etc.
The level of security you need will determine how high up the scale you need to go. Using the Kryptonite chart (linked above), if you are most often in the least risky scenario, you don’t need a gold rating from Sold Secure or a 5 from ART.
Where do you want to carry your lock?
This is one of the most important questions, so choose wisely. If you choose a bike lock that you have to carry separately instead of mounting it on your bike frame, but you never ride with anything to carry that lock, you’ll never use it. You want to pick a lock you see yourself using. It’s like shopping for new clothes—if you don’t like the pants when you try them on at the store, you won’t like them when you get home either. Similarly, if you like your lock and it matches your biking habits, you’ll use the lock.
On the bike frame
Carry your bike lock on your frame if you’re new to biking or using your bike primarily for commuting and running errands. Many bike locks allow you to place mounts on the frame to make it easy to store and go. This means you’ll be looking at cable locks or U-locks since they most commonly can be mounted on the frame.
On your person
Want to carry your lock in a bag? Your possibilities are endless here, and you can really do any type of lock you want. Weight is something you’ll want to take into consideration. Four pounds can feel different on your bike frame compared to on your back, so you’ll want something lightweight.
What do you use your bike for?
Is your bike for exercise? If you’re training for a race, you want to look for a lightweight bike cable lock since a lightweight bike was probably important to you during your purchase process. You also want your lock to fit onto your bike easily while you’re riding it. Because cable locks aren’t the sturdiest locks, however, you shouldn’t leave your bike for too long. When you’re exercising on your bike, you’re most likely running inside to use the restroom or grab a bottle of water, so you shouldn’t run into problems leaving your bike for extended periods of time.
If you’re commuting or running errands on your bike, you can probably handle the bulkiness or weight of a sturdier lock. You may be riding around with a backpack, so you can always stick the lock in there for safekeeping. You’ll be locking your bike up for longer periods of time, so for this scenario you’ll want to make sure you’re purchasing a heavy-duty bike lock and consider buying two different kinds for extra security. Cable locks are not recommended for long periods of time.
How to keep your bike from being stolen
Here are some additional tips on how to prevent your bike from being stolen:
- Always use a bike lock.
- Don’t use a cheap bike lock.
- Take your bike inside when possible.
- Lock your bike to something solid and immovable.
- Use two different bike locks, one on the front and one on the back.
- Don’t leave your bike in the same place every day.
- Take removable accessories with you (lights, pumps, quick-release wheels, seats, and cycle computers).
An additional tip: if you see your tire is punctured, do not leave it and come back for it. This is a good sign that someone is planning on coming back later to steal your bike once there are fewer people around and there’s a longer window for breaking the lock.
Things to remember
Overall, it’s important to get a heavy-duty bike lock with solid reviews. Make sure your bike lock is durable, sturdy, and extremely difficult (better yet, impossible) to cut. Consider purchasing two different styles of bike locks. This way, the bike thief needs multiple tools to steal your bike. If thieves deem your bike too difficult to steal or think it will take too much time, they will move onto the next bike.
What do you do to your bike to keep thieves away?