The Best Bike Lock Review

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Rylee securing her bike with the Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock just in time for yoga class. Our Editors' Choice award winner earned top marks in our security metric.
Credit: Ben Riley
If you ride a bike, chances are high that you need a bike lock! But which one is the best? We took seven of the most popular ones on the market and compared them head-to-head. In this review, we want to help you find a product that is best for you whether that means finding one that is so easy to use that you'll always lock up or whether it means you need to know which product is secure enough to thwart professional bike thieves.

To test these products, we acted like thieves, using a range of techniques reported as most common by police departments. We went after every model with bolt-cutters, wire-snips, hammers, and eventually metal-cutting grinders. We even had a professional locksmith try to break into every one.

Read on to find out which products foiled theft attempts the best, won our awards, and why.

Read the full review below >

Review by:

Top Ranked Bike Locks Displaying 1 - 5 of 7 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock
Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock
Read the Review
Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock
Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock
Read the Review
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock Mini
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock Mini
Read the Review
Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock
Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock
Read the Review
OnGuard Bulldog DT U-Lock
OnGuard Bulldog DT U-Lock
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award    Best Buy Award   
Street Price Varies $85 - $101
Compare at 2 sellers
Varies $99 - $100
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$99
Compare at 1 sellers
Varies $43 - $49
Compare at 2 sellers
Varies $35 - $45
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score 
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User Rating Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Very Secure, Attaches to Bike, Convenient Size for Locking UpWell-designed, Secure, Conveniently Wearable, Easy to UseCompact, Extremely Secure, Heavy-DutySecures Both Wheels, Mid-Weight, Inexpensive, Easy to Use, Mounting Bracket, Good Security to Price RatioRelatively Lightweight, Cable Included, Inexpensive, Secure, Mounts to Bike Frame
Cons Heavy, Bulky to TransportHeavy, More Expensive, Size Dependant, Obnoxious LetteringHeavy, Limited Versatility, ExpensiveCable is awkward to transport, rattlesCable is Awkward, Unaesthetic
Best Uses Moderate to High Theft Areas, General Use, Commuting, Bike Messaging, Motorized Vehicle Lock-UpCommuting, Around Town Biking, General Use, Everyday Bike LockModerate to high crime areas, with a chain or cable, for a pricey bike, as an everyday lock, motorcycle and scooter lock-upCommuting, Everyday Biking, General Purposes, Bike Touring, Locking Multiple BikesEveryday Bike Lock, Commuting, Bike Touring, Locking Multiple Bikes
Date Reviewed Apr 27, 2014Apr 27, 2014Apr 27, 2014Apr 27, 2014Apr 27, 2014
Weighted Scores Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock Mini Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock OnGuard Bulldog DT U-Lock
Security - 30%
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9
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7
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7
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7
Ease Of Transport - 25%
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Ease Of Use - 20%
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Versatility - 20%
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Product Specs Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock Mini Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock OnGuard Bulldog DT U-Lock
Primary materials 16mm Hardened Steel 8mm Hardened Steel Chain 18mm Hardened Steel 13mm Hardened Steel with Braided Steel Cable 13mm Hardened Steel with Braided Steel Cable
Type of Lock U-Lock Chain with padlock U-Lock U-Lock with Cable U-Lock with Cable
Weight 3.97 lbs 3.98lbs 4.36lbs 3.23lbs 3.04lbs
Dimensions 4" x 8" (16mm thick) 1.5' long x 2" 3.25â x 6â (18mm thick) 4" x 9" (13mm thick) with 4' x 10mm cable 4.5" x 9" (13mm thick) with 4' x 10mm Cable
# of keys included 3 3 3 3 5
Warranty/Manufacturer programs $3,000 Theft Protection, Lifetime Warranty; Key Safe Program Limited Warranty $4,500 Theft Protection, Lifetime Warranty; Key Safe Program $1,500 Theft Protection, Lifetime Warranty; Key Registration $1,501 Theft Protection, Lifetime Warranty; Key Registration
Unique Features Bike Mount Bracket, Key w LED light Wearable for waist Size 24-44' Small and super burly Comes with 4-ft cable Comes with 4-ft cable
Break in with Hand Tools? No No No Cable: Yes, U-lock: No Cable: Yes, U-lock: No
Seconds to cut through with angle grinder 43 sec. x 2 cuts= 86 sec. 17 seconds 45 sec. x 2 cuts= 90 sec. 39 seconds 42 seconds
Rank on manufacturer's security scale 9 out of 10 Medium/High Risk 10 out of 10 6 out of 10 65 out of 100
MSRP 101 118 112 49 45

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


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Unfortunately, just about everyone has a story to tell about bike theft, whether it was their purple kids bike when they were 7 years old or the heart-crushing memory of the seafoam green Bianchi with hand chosen components that was left unattended on the porch for just a moment. With this in mind, we started our testing process by learning how these different products performed in-transit; we shoved them in our panniers, bungeed them on trailers, placed in backpacks, installed brackets to stow them on the bike frame, wore them around our waists, and carried them in bike baskets. Next, we rode around town trying out the various styles by attaching them to racks, trees, parking meters, and fences to assess each one's usability. During these test rides, we started the process of examining secured bikes from the eyes of a bike thief. Even if the frame was secured, could somebody steal the wheels or seat? In the last phase of testing, we went deep into the world of bike thievery. We contacted an expert lock pick and used an assortment of tools, brute strength and happenstance to break each one. Read on to find out how each product performed (or didn't) in each phase of testing.

Selecting the Right Product
Bike locks are beginning to be viewed not as an item separate from your bike, but rather as a bicycle component, like the derailleur or handlebars. What that means is even if you don't ride very often or leave your bike outside, you should probably buy one if you own a bicycle. Leaning your unsecured bike on a rack outside a restaurant is analogous to leaving your driver's side car door open with the engine running. You might do it once in a while, but you wouldn't do it in a big city, sketchy neighborhood, or for a prolonged period of time. This is especially true if your bike is expensive or carries a lot of sentimental value. That said, it doesn't matter if you own one if you can't be bothered to lug it around with you, or take the time to secure it to a solid bike rack. During the testing period, we wanted to find the perfect blend of security and user-friendliness.

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Here are the products we tested: (L to R) OnGuard's Bulldog, Kryptonite's KryptoLok Series 2, Krypotonite's Fahgettaboudit Mini, Hiplok's V1.50, OnGuard's Akita Cable, KryptoFlex Cable, and Kryptonites' New York Standard U-Lock.
Credit: Rylee Sweeney

We found that often these qualities were conflicting; in productss like the Onguard Akita 8041 and Kryptonite KryptoFlex 1218 Combo Lock, the lightweight cables are easy to transport and use, and also extremely easy to chop in half. On the other end of the spectrum are the hard core, secure U-locks that weigh up to 5 lbs and are annoying to use because you have to take your front wheel off every time you want to secure your whole bicycle. The Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock was a great example of security with a little bit more work involved to secure both your wheels. Or, if you opt for a more compact option like the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock Mini, you don't even have the choice of securing both wheels due to the small diameter of the "U", and either have to chance it or buy a secondary backup.

The Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock seeks to address both of these criteria since you can wear it around your waist while commuting but still have a solid theft stopper. The New York Standard is burly and can also be clipped onto your bike frame while you're riding. Likewise, mid-level security U-Locks like the Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock and Onguard Bulldog DT U-Lock can also be clipped on. These awesome buys also come with a cable to ensure all of your bike (both wheels and frame) is secure.

Read on to learn more specifically how we evaluated each of these products, or for more advice on how to choose the best model for your needs, read our buying advice article: How to Choose the Best Bike Lock.

Different Types Available

U-Locks
These are comprised of hardened steel molded in a "U" shape, and they are usually covered in rubber or plastic to protect the paint on your bike and reduce rattling while riding. The two ends of the "U" (the shackle) connect to the locking mechanism, a crossbar that closes the "U" into a "D" (and is opened and closed with a key or a combination dial). More secure and more expensive U-locks have a super tight dual locking system, whereby if the "U" is cut with an angle grinder (or other such power tool), the ends are still locked tightly. This means that there won't be much movement in the bar ends if it is cut through. In this case, the bike thief will have to make two cuts in order to get it off the bike frame. We found we could also use a hammer or pry bar to get the ends to separate, but it was just as much time as two cuts through. Less expensive models and versions with a "bent foot" shackle design only take one cut before they can be easily pried apart.

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This is the Fahgettaboudit with 1 cut through. Notice that there is only ¾" of space between the cut bars due to the burly dual locking mechanism. Thieves have to cut through twice to get this product off the bike frame.
Credit: Rylee Sweeney

Chain
These consist of a steel chain with a sheath to protect your bike's paint. The ends are connected via a padlock of sorts. The variation here really has to do with the thickness of chain and quality of padlock.

Cable
These are made of twisted or braided steel with a coating of rubber or plastic, anywhere from two feet and up in length. The ends connect in a lock (sometimes connect with hinges while other cable ends are secured firmly inside the lock). Variability within this category includes cable thickness, lock strength and type (combo or key), and if the cable is coiled or non-coiled.

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Chelsea unlocks the KryptoFlex 1218 quickly and efficiently.
Credit: Rylee Sweeney

Criteria For Evaluation

Security
Every bike manufacturer has a different security scale, as do independent security testing organizations, like Sold Secure, that are popular references here in the States. In general, we saw the same patterns in our tests as these organizations have reported. We began our security tests with non-mechanized hand tools that would be easy to conceal, and, of course, our expert lock pick who had just a small kit. If models could not be broken with hand tools, we switched to power. A cheap electric angle grinder with a cut-off wheel was the tool of choice. We kept track of how long it took to "steal" each bike.

The cable models tested were the Onguard Akita and Kryptonite's 1218. Both cables could be destroyed using hand tools in seconds. The Kryptonite's combination was sussed out by our blindfolded lock pick while the Akita's passcode remained elusive. We broke both locking mechanisms with a hammer: again, quite easily. The U-Locks were a bit harder to judge. We had heard tales of pry bar experts taking to mid-range models like the Series 2 Standard U-Lock and the Bulldog DT. Although the cables that come with these products were snipped in seconds, the "U-s" themselves withstood our hand tool assault and had to be cut with the grinder. The Hiplok V1.50 is rumored to resist all prybar attack, and it held up quite well to that expectation. We tried a hacksaw to no avail (it would have taken at least 45 minutes). We used a grinder on the chain links, which took longer and had to be done twice, and then we hit its weakness: 17 seconds to cut through the padlock shackle. Lastly, we got to the New York Series, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini and New York Standard. These were our burliest models and they performed extremely well, but all succumbed in the end to the grinder.

The security metric held the most weight in our review, but not everyone requires the same level of security out of their product. For example, someone leaving a mid-priced bike outside their college town workplace may not need as much security as someone securing the same bike up outside their urban apartment overnight. We tested products that are more bike theft deterrent and those that are burly enough to protect a motorcycle. However, no matter how much you spend on a product it won't do you any good if you don't know how to use it properly, so be sure to research the best ways to use your lock to maximize security. For a very in-depth discussion about these issues and more, check out our Buying Advice article.

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Ben uses a grinder to defeat a Kryptonite New York after all non-power tool attempts failed.
Credit: Rylee Sweeney

Ease of Transport
The transportability of a lock largely determines if you will habitualize always having it with you. We examined the transport options different bikes afforded, then rode around that way to make certain carrying the product in that style was a habit we could form. Of course, there are many upgrades that people make to their bikes that create more carrying options, like installing a basket or buying a quality messenger bag that makes it pleasant to ride with a load. While those options were in our minds, we focused on the features of the product and any included hardware.

Cable models, because of their flexibility and lightweight nature, are super easy to transport. The coiled cable we tested, Kryptonite's KryptoFlex, outperformed the non-coiled cable, OnGuard's Akita, with its ability to hold its compact shape. The Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock has an innovative wearable design that allows you to attach the chain around your waist like a belt and was given our Top Pick for Commuting award largely due to this feature. The U-locks that included a mounting bracket (the Bulldog DT, Series 2 Standard, and New York Standard) all received decent points, since it is far more convenient to clip onto the bike frame while riding then having to lug it in a backpack. The Bulldog DT and Series 2 both have cables that have to be stowed elsewhere, however. Kryptonite's Fahgettaboudit Mini lost points here because although it is compact, it weighs over 4 lbs and doesn't come with a mounting bracket.

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Sommer showing off the wearable chain design that Hiplok invented. The belt is secured with velcro and distributes the 4 lbs. around your center of gravity.
Credit: Rylee Sweeney

Ease of Use
How quick could we secure and unsecure a bike with the different models tested? What design features made the securing up process that much easier? What styles were inherently easier to use and what styles are more difficult? If we were a bike messenger with 20 different stops on our route, which piece would perform the best? These were some of the questions we sought to answer when looking at the usability of each contender.

A shout out to the manufacturers here; all the products tested ran smoothly through the gauntlet of opening and closing countless times without a hitch. The styles we found easiest to use were the cable designs, especially the non-coiled OnGuard Akita 8041 that could be wound through frame and wheels in a blink of an eye. Out of the U-Lock variety, Kryptonite's Series 2 Standard U-Lock had a feature they call the "bent foot" which allows you to insert one end of the "U" then leverage that side to insert the remaining end. This feature is awesome for usability but decreases the product's security, so we understand why the burly New York series U-Locks have dual locking mechanisms within their crossbars.

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Notice the "bent foot" design that the KryptoLok offers. This end of the shackle is inserted into the crossbar first, and then you can use the leverage of the first end to insert the other side.
Credit: Rylee Sweeney

Versatility
A bike isn't rideable with its front wheel stolen. In this testing category, we wanted to explore how much of a bicycle could be secured. Each individual product review goes over the manufacturer's suggested best practices for maximum security. The most common components stolen off bikes are: front wheels with quick release skewers (the most common theft, and also happens even if owners don't have quick release wheels), saddles, bike lights, and rear wheels. If bikes are left out long enough, you'll commonly see the entire bike get stripped down to the locked frame, component by component.

The most versatile and secure models we tested are the U-locks that come with cables (although there is always the option to just buy two, of course). The OnGuard Bulldog DT and Kryptonite's Series 2 both come with a 4' length of rubberized cable to secure both wheels and seat (through the stays). Cable models also cover your whole bike (except that the ends are sometimes too large to secure saddles), but due their low security scores made us ponder how secure any part of the bike was. The Hiplok and New York Standard could be used to secure both wheels and the frame, but they require users to remove the front wheel. Surprisingly, even the Fahgettaboudit Mini could handle including the rear wheel (provided that it was a skinny tire).

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Even the Fahgettaboudit Mini will fit around your frame and one of your tires. Check out the Versatility section in each review to find out how to maximize security.
Credit: Rylee Sweeney

Other Uses
Throughout the review we found many other uses for these products, especially the bigger U-Lock style. We locked the back tire of a dirt bike to its brake rotor, tire of a trailer to its frame so it couldn't move, a mountain board to a bike trailer, and number of random items in our gear garage when traveling. All this is to say: keep your mind open to other items a U-Lock can secure.

Editors' Choice Award: Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock

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The New York Standard U-Lock is large enough to fit easily around the wheel, bike frame and bike rack.
Credit: Rylee Sweeney

We are proud to present the Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock with our Editors' Choice award. This piece scored well on all of our metrics, thanks to Kryptonite's well-thought-out design. For every perceived problem, there was an answer. This product is insanely secure, winning Sold Secure's Gold designation and our top points in security. Additionally, the New York Standard has a mounting bracket for your frame that makes for easy storage while riding. This product is easy to use, and you can fit both your wheels within its reach (if you remove your front). Kudos to Kryptonite for making a versatile, burly and user-friendly bike lock of such quality. This may well be the only product you'll ever need to buy.


Best Buy Award: Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock

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The KryptoLok's four-foot cable allows the user to secure the front tire without going through the hassle of removing it. Meanwhile the U-lock provides a good amount of security for its low price.
Credit: Rylee Sweeney

Our Best Buy Award goes to a mid-security model with an entry level price: the Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock. This classic U-lock comes with a 4' cable that can reach around both wheels and is efficient to secure and unsecure. Although OnGuard makes this style of mid-security U-Lock with cable in their Bulldog DT, we thought that Kryptonite made an all around better product. From the higher quality cable to the easy locking "bent foot" design, the KryptoLok slowly but surely pulled ahead in points. Our overall impression was that the KryptoLok would be a phenomenal all-around buy of quality and usability, especially if you live in a town or smaller city. Kryptonite's Anti-Theft Protection Plan also provides $1,500 of coverage. We'd recommend this product if you don't need as much security as our Editors' Choice award winner offers but still want something that is decently secure.


Top Pick for Bike Commuting: Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock

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Rylee cruising around with her pannier full and lock around the waist. Hiplok also offers more visibility with reflective lettering to help be seen.
Credit: Ben Riley

Want a lock that you'll love transporting? We do too. It is such a rarity to find one that answers the pesky question of how to effectively lug it around between lock ups, but our Top Pick for Commuting, the Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock does it with ingenuity. They took a beefy 8mm hardened steel chain of 2' and put a nylon sheath around it. Next, Hiplok engineered a padlock (a quite unbreakable one, we might add) with an extra metal bar that serves as a buckle. A swath of velcro goes through the buckle then folds back on itself, creating an adjustable and comfortable design that you wear like a low belt. A simple yet genius design. It is burly and transports well. The everyday commuting cyclist, as well as anyone else wanting a quality product, will appreciate this product.

Rylee Sweeney
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