With eight years of practice securing and defeating the best bike locks, our experts have tested over 35 different models. For this round of testing, we purchased 24 top contenders and put them through extensive testing and side-by-side comparisons to evaluate and compare various performance qualities. We looked at design, functionality, security, and more. Testing for months, we used them daily through different weather conditions, from the city to the country. We also attempted to cut these bike locks loose using bolt cutters, hacksaws, tin snips, and angle grinders. Our in-depth and objective review offers unbiased advice and the best recommendation to provide extra bike security wherever you may ride.
Weight: 2.8 lbs | Dimensions: 42" long (7 mm thick)
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to use
REASONS TO AVOID
Could be more secure
Annoying to carry around
The Abus Ivera 7210 wowed us throughout our testing with its ease of use and difficulty in cutting. It's quite a secure lock that's surprisingly lightweight, incredibly versatile, well-designed, and convenient to use. U-locks have been the default choice for bike security because they're so hard to break open, but they're often a pain to use. The Abus Ivera 7210 is a chain lock made with 7mm thick links, and at 42" long, it's super convenient to lock your bike almost anywhere. We've enjoyed using it at every turn as its length and ease of locking and unlocking make it a joy.
Being nice to use doesn't mean anything if a lock isn't secure. Fortunately, the Ivera 7210 is quite tough to cut. We couldn't get through it with bolt cutters, cable cutters, or a hacksaw. We had to resort to an angle grinder to get a slice through this heavy chain. And even when we did break out the power tools, the mesh covering kept tangling around our grinder disc, stopping us in our tracks. It took over 60 seconds to slice this with a battery-powered angle grinder and top-notch diamond cutting disc, making it one of the more secure locks in this test. The only thing we don't love about this lock is that it's a pain to carry and doesn't come with a mount, but it's lightweight and easy to stash in a bag.
Weight: 4.2 lbs | Dimensions: 6" x 3.5" (20 mm thick)
REASONS TO BUY
Soft on your bike
REASONS TO AVOID
A bit small
No mount included
The Hiplok D1000 is the toughest-to-cut lock we've ever tested, and it's not close. This U-lock features a graphene-enhanced shackle that repulsed our angle grinder and diamond blade for over four minutes, and that was just the time it took to cut through one side of it. You have to cut both sides to get this lock free. It took two battery changes and a lot of screeching metal to pop this thing open, making it our top choice for security. In addition to this great security, the keyway is smooth and well-designed, and the lock works smoothly in any condition; soaked, frozen, or full of dirt, it just works.
Even with all that, it's not perfect. The D1000 is quite heavy and a bit small, making it a pain to use in some circumstances. Even though it's very expensive, it doesn't come with a mount to attach to your bike, nor does it have an integrated light in its keys, as you see in many other less pricey locks. Still, if you're locking your bike in an area prone to thefts, onto a car rack, or in your shed for long periods, the Hiplok D1000 is the most secure way to do it.
Love the idea of an effective bike lock but loathe the reality of carrying one around with you? The Hiplok Original: Superbright presents a new way to transport a lock. Hiplok took a beefy, 8mm hardened steel chain two feet long and put a nylon sheath around it (a detail we loved because it won't scratch the paint on your bike frame.) Next, they engineered a padlock with an extra metal bar that serves as a buckle. A swath of Velcro goes through the buckle and then folds back on itself, creating an adjustable and comfortable design that you can wear like a low belt. The Superbright lock also has a thick reflective strip on the outside of the nylon cover because when you're riding, you can never be too visible to motorists. The everyday commuting cyclist will appreciate this lock the most. One of our testers has been using this lock on daily bike commutes for over four years and has yet to experience any performance issues, like the locking mechanism sticking (it's still markedly smooth and easy) or the Velcro becoming less adherent.
Those riding for fitness or recreation might want something more lightweight. It feels much heavier stowed in a backpack or messenger bag than when worn on your person. It's also one of the more expensive models in our lineup, yet it still outpaces other contenders in the wearable lock category. If this type of lock sounds like something you'd like, remember that wearing something around your waist while riding might feel constrictive to some. But, for a lock this burly, it's our testers' favorite wearable lock for daily commutes.
We recommend the Kryptonite KryptoLok for those looking for a quality U-Lock on a tighter budget. This U-lock has a cable to wrap around the front wheel or seat post if needed. What caught our eye about this bike lock was its security. Compared to other locks at this price point, the Kryptolok blew the competition out of the water. Our hand tool armada could not defeat the 13mm hardened steel of the U and the shackle. At this price point, other U-locks focus on the U part of the lock, leaving the shackle vulnerable to a thief cutting through with a single cut. However, the Kryptolok is strong in both components, meaning it would take a thief at least two cuts with an angle grinder to defeat this lock.
A drawback is that the locking mechanism gets sticky more easily than other locks, and it's a bit of a pain to carry around. After some cleaning and lubrication, it works reliably but is not as smooth as other, higher-end locks. Our testers also wish Kryptonite would commit to designing a more user-friendly frame mount for their U-locks. You'll want to give this lock a second look if you need the security of a U-lock without the hefty price.
Weight: 0.7 lbs | Dimensions: 60" long (10mm thick)
REASONS TO BUY
Bright, durable dials
Comes in many lengths
Not easily picked
REASONS TO AVOID
No mounting options
We've already said this, but it's worth reiterating cable locks aren't secure, and you shouldn't count on one to protect your bike. But if you're going to use one, we think the DockLocks Anti-theft Weatherproof Cable is the best out there. This lock isn't especially secure; we were able to cut through it in seconds with a hacksaw, bolt cutters, and side-cutting cable pliers, and we don't think the angle grinder even noticed it as it slid right through. But what it lacks in security, it makes up for in lightness, convenience, ease of use, and versatility. This lock has nice dials that are durable and easy to read, weighs less than a pound, is smooth to operate even when muddy or frozen, and comes in five-foot lengths up to 25 feet.
We assessed several top-selling cable locks for this review and found that all were equally insecure. But the DockLocks cable stood out for what we mentioned above. This lock was originally designed to secure paddleboards and kayaks, so it also works well in wet conditions. Overall, we're impressed by everything about this little lock, except security. But if you're buying a cable lock, you're not committed to security anyway, so get one that's nice to use.
If you're seeking a bike lock suitable for use in high-risk areas, like a college campus, skip the ABUS Chain Lock 1200 Web. However, this simple chain lock may do the trick if you need a minimal, easy-to-carry and use deterrent. At less than half a pound, it's easy to transport, whether in your jersey pocket, a backpack, or wrapped around your seat post. We wrapped it around the seat posts of both adult and children's bikes, and in both cases, our testers barely noticed it was there. Its simple combo-opening feature means you don't need to carry a key.
Unfortunately, this lock won't stop a determined thief. Its use is limited to a minute or two out of eyesight in urban areas. But this ABUS Chain Lock might be all you need in low-security regions where there aren't tool-toting thieves around the corner. It's not super burly, but if you're looking for a lightweight lock that doesn't break the bank and is easy to carry around, the ABUS 1200 is just for you and your (hopefully inexpensive) bike.
Weight: 15.1 lbs | Dimensions: 60" x 2" (chain), 4" x 5" x 1.4" (disc lock)
REASONS TO BUY
Locks both wheels without removing them
REASONS TO AVOID
Not for daily transportation
Carelessness leads to chipped paint
"Enough with the fluff," you say, "show me the big guns." If you're looking for a no-nonsense lock for visual and physical security, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock is what you need. If you lock up in the same place daily, you can leave this lock on the rack while you're away (as allowed), and it's a great choice for chaining up multiple bikes in your shed, garage, or basement. Every bike lock in our lineup can be destroyed, but the Fahgettabouit Chain and Disc Lock require specialized tools and a lot of time to cut through. In other words, this contender stands up to only the most dedicated thieves.
Before you run to your nearest outdoor retailer, let's be clear about the reality of this lock: it's bulky, expensive, and weighs over 15 pounds, so you may not be eager to transport it around town. Because it lacks any nylon sheath, the chain can chip the paint off your frame. Look elsewhere if you like to keep your wheels looking shiny and somewhat new. Daily trips with an added 15 pounds aren't fun either, and we encourage you to look into lighter options that will make commuting less of a drag. However, if you lock your bike outside and leave it unattended for long periods, this lock provides an extra assurance that your wheels will be there when you return.
Our bike security experts have tested more than 35 locks over the past eight years, and we've followed trends and innovations in the market. Between our knowledge and testing procedures, this review is comprehensive.
Each bike lock endures more than 11 individual tests to rate its performance. Security is the highest weighted metric, accounting for 40% of each lock's overall score. We used five different tools common to bike thieves, and we did our best to break or cut through each lock by combining ingenuity, brute strength, and, when that failed, technology — a.k.a. a power tool. We cut through each model using a battery-powered angle grinder to see how long it took and how many cuts were necessary to free the bike from the lock. We take bike security seriously, so we bought, used, and destroyed every lock in this review to leave no stone unturned.
To see which bike lock came out on the top of the pack, we created a challenging series of tests to evaluate their performance side-by-side. Our testers used these locks to visit practically every conceivable place you may want to use a bike lock, such as offices, libraries, bike shops, college campuses, local coffeehouses, watering holes, and grocery stores — spending hundreds of hours transporting and securing them in various locations.
Our bike lock testing uses four rating metrics:
Security (40% of overall score weighting)
Ease of Transportation (25% weighting)
Ease of Use (20% weighting)
Versatility (15% weighting)
We assembled a team of experts to pedal around with these bike locks and pick them apart. Our lead tester, Rebecca Eckland, is a former USAC Cat 3 Road bike racer, winner of the 600-mile California Triple Crown Stage race, and is a longtime cyclist doing everything from racing to commuting. She's passionate about her bikes and believes that having a bike stolen is the worst thing to happen to someone. She's worked in bike shops and has seen all kinds of locks firsthand. Based out of Reno, NV, Rebecca practically lives on her bike for training, commuting, and fun. Our team also includes Ross Robinson, a dedicated bike commuter who has been locking up with chains, folding models, cables (as a secondary lock), and U-locks for over 12 years. Ross is interested in testing gear to its limit and has spent over 200 hours researching bike locks (and bike thieves) with hands-on assessment and directly experimenting with ways to defeat them. Luke Hollomon is another member of our squad. He owns nine bikes and has never had one stolen, so he must be doing something right. He's a physiologist, physical therapist, and car-free bike commuter in Richmond, Virginia, who also races and bike packs throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Rylee Sweeney rounds out our testing team. Rylee comes to us with a background in bike touring across the United States, where bike security is nearly as essential as food and water.
Analysis and Test Results
To help you select the right bike lock for your needs, goals, and budget, we used four key performance metrics in our testing process that define a quality bike lock: security, ease of transportation, ease of use, and versatility. Security is the most important of these metrics. But will you use a lock that weighs a lot or is inconvenient to carry? That's where the rest of the criteria come into play. A product's rating in these individual test metrics makes up its overall performance score and ranking, which we use to compare the competition.
We hate to say it, but the price of a bike lock usually correlates directly with its quality. In this case, quality means the overall security a lock provides and the time a thief will take to cut through or, in the best-case scenario, question their attempt to steal your bike. As it turns out, bike thieves have something in common with the rest of us: none want to go to jail. Many bike thefts are crimes of opportunity, and most thieves are inspired to steal bikes that: 1) are not locked correctly or 2) are worth the risk.
This fact is demonstrated by the Hiplok D1000. It's a very expensive bike lock but incredibly secure. If you're looking for the best protection, it will cost you. Fortunately, other good options are significantly less expensive. The Kryptonite New York Standard offers very good security at a lower price. For tighter budgets and those in less risky neighborhoods or with less glamorous or costly rides, the Kryptolok is even more budget-friendly though it is another step down in bike security. Presenting similar security to the Kryptolok while being more convenient to use, the Abus Ivera 7210 is a great all-rounder for those less risky scenarios. While we usually recommend exploring more inexpensive options in other gear categories, your lock is not where you should cut corners. Spending more on a quality lock now will prevent you from spending much more on a new bike later.
For most cyclists, security is the most critical consideration when choosing a lock, which makes sense; why else would you be buying a bike lock if you weren't concerned about your bike security? Therefore, we invested a lot of time in testing the security of each contender. Results from this test metric make up 40% of a product's overall score.
Interestingly, different lock manufacturers don't share the same security rating standards, and neither do independent security testing organizations, like Sold Secure, which are popular references here in the United States. The fact that these security standards aren't standardized can make it difficult to weed out precisely what a particular rating means. Sold Secure is an independent, not-for-profit trade association that employs a small army of professional locksmiths to assess the security of various locking devices and mechanisms. Products are then rated based on their performance during the lock-cracking tests. Other organizations, such as VdS, a German independent testing institution for security and fire protection, and the Foundation ART, a group of Dutch organizations teaming together to prevent theft of two-wheeled vehicles, submit products to rigorous professional-grade tests and rate them according to performance. These organizations have no ties to manufacturers and are well-respected for holding a high testing standard on many products, including bike locks.
Our testing process began with assessing each lock's weak point and attacking it. Then, we tried alternative attacks on a lock's integrity to ensure we were not missing any vital weaknesses. We used common tools employed by bike thieves to compromise each lock and make away with the bicycle. We started with hand tools, including tin snips, a hammer, a hacksaw, and bolt cutters. We then switched to an angle grinder, a cordless drill, and even a car jack (because thieves also use those).
With the right tools and enough time, all locks can be defeated, and it doesn't take a genius or a big brawny human to do it. A high score for security represents only a higher level of theft deterrence. In the words of a skeptical cyclist: "If you think this lock is so great, why don't you take your race bike down to the college campus, lock it up, leave it overnight, and see if it's there in the morning?" Even the highest security locks can be broken within minutes, not hours. The hope is that those extra minutes are long enough that someone nearby will notice the sparks flying and the evil smell of burning metal and will stop the theft from happening. In a world where car alarms don't cause much panic, let's be realistic about what you can expect from a bike lock.
Among the competition, the Hiplok D1000 scores the highest, setting a new standard in difficulty to cut. Other top contenders include the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock Mini, one of the hardest locks to crack, followed by the Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock, Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock, and the OnGuard Brute STD. These models have hardened steel bars ranging from 14 mm to 20 mm in diameter that resist attacks from all our hand-powered tools, including a 36" bolt cutter. Regarding the angle grinder, each of these locks took the longest to slice through completely (around a minute of hard-core, sparks-flying slicing), while the Hiplok rebuffed our grinder for over 4 minutes. Moreover, for all of these locks, one cut wasn't enough. Due to their well-designed dual-locking mechanisms, they required two different cuts on the U-bar of each lock to free the bike, doubling the necessary getaway time. It would take a thief at least one and a half minutes of sparks a-flying to compromise one of these locks. The ABUS Granit X-Plus 540 U-Lock also required two cuts from the angle grinder before releasing the bike frame, as did the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock, Hiplok DX Wearable U-lock, and Kryptonite Kryptolok.
While it doesn't require two cuts, the Abus Ivera 7210 chain requires you to cut through the chain and plastic mesh covering to release it, or you can go through the shackle. We found the flexible nature of the chain made it a pain to cut. It kept bouncing away from the blade until we locked it in our vise. The mesh tangled up our grinder twice, making us stop and unwind it. Meanwhile, the shackle rebuffed our initial advances, taking around 90 seconds to get through. We were surprised at the ability of a 7mm chain to resist cutting so effectively and impressed at what Abus put together.
The budget-friendly Kryptonite Kryptolok also performed exceptionally well in this area. Most products at this price point sacrifice security by not adding durable materials to the lock's shackles. The Kryptolok shone in this metric; it's remarkably more robust than the OnGuard Bulldog DT U-lock. We also like that it required two cuts at any point on the lock to defeat it. A dual-lock mechanism such as this is less common in this price range.
The other U-locks we reviewed also withstood all hand tool attacks but only required a single cut from the electric angle grinder to become compromised, so they earned lower security scores. Each of these locks took approximately 25-40 seconds to cut. No amount of hammer slamming, hacksawing, or bolt cutting could beat them. The same goes for the Hiplok Original: Superbright chain and locking mechanism. Of course, the cables accompanying some of the U-locks, like the Kryptonite Kryptolok, were defeated by most hand tools in our arsenal. As a rule of thumb, cable locks should never be used on their own to secure a frame, but when paired with another lock (like a U-Lock), they improve a lock's versatility by securing more components.
A cable lock alone is nearly worthless, but when used with another lock, it increases your bike security's effectiveness. Fewer thieves are willing to risk getting caught to steal only a bike saddle or a mediocre wheel. A cable lock inconveniences thieves looking for quick saddles, panniers, or free wheels to snatch. Consider adding an extension cable to any lock you choose. A four-foot cable is an appropriate length for most bikes.
We added cable locks to our review in this cycle as they remain incredibly popular even though they provide minimal security. We don't think anyone should use a cable as a primary locking method. We could pop through every cable we tested in just a few seconds with 24" bolt cutters. Still, we know people will buy and use them even though they definitely shouldn't, so we compared them across the same categories as all other locks. No cable stood out for security; they were all equally easy to slice. Some were even easily hackable by checking if the lock loosened up as we tested combinations. The DockLocks Anti-Theft Weatherproof Cable was just as cuttable as all other cables, but we couldn't guess the combination by wiggling it, which was nice, at least.
The folding-style locks are much better than cables but were still a significant step down in security compared to the chain and U-locks. The ABUS uGrip Bordo 5700 was comparable to the FoldyLock Compact, which had a superior locking mechanism and joints but was defeated much quicker by the angle grinder. The weak points of folding locks are the rotating rivets. The bolt cutters couldn't bite through the metal plates, but it took only 10-15 seconds to bust the ABUS model by working the blades around the rivets. Surprisingly, the FoldyLock resisted this attack.
Conversely, we were disappointed by the security offered by the OTTO Design Works Ottolock Cinch. After reading all the hype about this lightweight lock, we were excited when the Ottolock survived a few common tools (wire snips and hacksaw) during our first trial of destruction. However, upon further inspection, the Ottolock doesn't provide much protection at all — it cuts in less than a few seconds with a pair of very inexpensive and inconspicuous tin snips. Despite the hype, this lock doesn't protect you from a thief with a very basic set of tools. The TiGr mini, which initially appears more secure, also surprised us with its lack of protection. The bolt cutters defeated the TiGr mini in just a few seconds. With 10 minutes of dedication, you can cut through the lock with a cheap hacksaw. Because the Ottolock can be defeated by tools much easier to conceal than the TiGr mini, we give the scoring nod to the TiGr.
As expected, the weakest performer is the locking zip-tie Hiplok Z Lok. Almost any tool can defeat this lock, including a hammer, making it a poor choice in urban and most suburban settings. This lock is best reserved for short periods when the bike is unsupervised in low-crime areas. We certainly don't recommend it when leaving your bike out of sight.
It's important to remember that security comes at the cost of other attributes, including ease of use and weight. The more secure a lock, the heavier it likely will be. The Hiplok D1000 was an exception to this, keeping its weight around 5 lbs. Not light, but not so heavy as to make us hate carrying it everywhere. The larger Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock offers great security and ease of use with its length, yet it weighs 15 lbs. There's no way any commuter will want to carry that around (unless you have a top-ranked electric commuter bike. Typically, cyclists who use this lock leave it where they will park and secure their bike, like in their shed or on the rack at the office. It's also worth a little cost-benefit analysis, as some of the most secure locks likely cost more than the single-speed beater you may be rolling around town on.
Ease of Transport
What is the likelihood that you will carry around a bulky, heavy lock, particularly if your bike is your daily commuting vehicle? This is precisely why we examined each lock's portability by riding around with them (mounted to the bike frame if a mount is provided), carrying them in a jersey pocket, or shoving them in a bag (backpack, pannier, camera bag, hip pack, the lot). These tests helped us determine whether or not carrying the lock around was a habit we could realistically keep. Of course, there are many bike upgrades and accessories that create more carrying options, such as installing a basket or buying a pannier or quality messenger bag that makes it easier to ride with a bulky or heavy load. Although those options were in our minds, we focused on the product's existing features and any included hardware. Results from this test metric make up 25% of a product's overall score.
Folding locks are some of the easiest models to transport. The ABUS uGrip Bordo and FoldyLock Compact fold into a compact shape that fits easily into a backpack or messenger bag without taking up much space and could even fit inside generously sized pant pockets. They also come with easy-to-use frame mounts that can be strapped onto the bike and were among our favorite mount designs. Both fit onto nearly any tubular bike frame and are easy to slide into and remove from the mount, yet remain in place without rattling or ever coming close to falling out. It's also worth mentioning that both weigh considerably less than all the chains and U-locks that we analyzed.
Likewise, we were impressed by the 0.46-pound ABUS 1200 Chain that easily wraps around the seat post of basically any bike. And due to its nylon sheath, that chain wouldn't scratch up the paint job on our sweet ride. We also took note of the one-pound TiGr mini, which is also convenient to transport, either with its frame mount or stuffed in a pack.
The wearable designs of the Hiplok Original and the LiteLok One Wearable are great innovations that make transporting a lock relatively easy. Both models allow you to attach the chain around your waist like a belt, something other locks of a similar weight (read: U-Locks) don't do. Weight worn on your body is less noticeable while riding than weight worn in a bag, pack, or even on the bike frame. Initially, we didn't expect this design to be comfortable around our midsection, but we were wrong. It's surprisingly comfortable for both our male and female testers. However, in the end, we prefer the Hiplok over the LiteLok for two reasons. The mechanism that secures the LiteLok around your waist (so you don't have to lock it to yourself) comes undone while riding, which is a definite drawback. Also, the LiteLok only bends on one plane, making it less versatile than the Hiplok (and a bit less user-friendly). If not for these two shortcomings, we would be head over heels for its lighter weight and the ability to lock it up without a key.
The Superbright version of the Hiplok (the version we tested) comes with a large reflective stripe on the exterior of the nylon sheath. When worn correctly, this reflective stripe is positioned on the rider's lower back. The LiteLok is also reflective. We appreciate this attention to riding safety, adding another way to be visible on the streets in low light. No other models we've reviewed have reflective material that helps promote the rider's visibility.
Next up are the U-locks. These heavy hitters are secure and rigid, which is great when discussing security but not so much when riding a bike with them. Unlike other locks, U-locks are far more cumbersome, regardless of whether you bring them in a bag or on your bike frame. Each U-lock tested, except the Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini and the Hiplok D1000, comes with a frame mount, though some are better than others. The most secure U-lock mount comes with the ABUS Granit X-Plus. However, due to its size, it's most likely too bulky to fit into the main triangle of small bike frames, such as kids' bikes or bikes for someone 5'2" and shorter. We like the Transit FlexFrame that ships with the New York Standard U-Lock and Kryptonite Evolution Mini, although these can also be difficult on small frames. The compact Hiplok DX Wearable U-Lock has a plastic clip attached to it, allowing you to clip it to your belt or back pocket, but be prepared to tighten your belt because it weighs 2.4 lbs and will pull your pants down. While convenient for short commutes, its small size is limiting.
It's worth mentioning that the most comfortable product to carry in this review is the Hiplok Z Lok, which, at 1.3 ounces, weighs next to nothing. We hardly noticed this zip-tie model, whether attached to the bike's frame, under the saddle, or on our wrist — making a cycling-fashion forward statement our testers didn't mind so much (it was so light, we barely noticed we were wearing it). While it's not much of a deterrent for even a clumsy thief — and scored extremely low in the security metric — this inexpensive lock may be enough to prevent the theft of a saddle or pannier.
Kryptonite's Fahgettaboudit Mini lost points here because although compact, it weighs the most of all U-locks tested and doesn't come with a mounting bracket. Despite its small size, it tended to beat up the loose papers and other contents in our backpacks. The Hiplok D1000 presented similar problems, lowering its score. And while the Abus Ivera 7210 is pretty light and coils up small, we couldn't come up with a way we like carrying it other than in a bag; it's just unwieldy. Lastly, the Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock weighs over 15 pounds and is the ultimate heavyweight bike lock. Large, burly, and no-nonsense, this lock isn't something you will probably ever want to carry around. This land-bound bike anchor is meant to stay put on a bike rack, which means this lock scored terribly in the transportation category to offset its high score in security.
Ease of Use
While a bike lock is straightforward, you may be surprised that some of today's models can have a bit of a learning curve. It can take practice getting used to the mechanics of removing the bike's front wheel and threading a lock through two sets of spokes and a bike rack to get comfortable and efficient. We tested each contender's added difficulty imposed on this process for this test metric, whether due to its size, shape, weight, or design. Specifically, we asked some critical questions: how quick was it to secure and remove each lock, and which design features made that process more natural or difficult? Results from this test metric make up 20% of a product's overall score.
Most products we tested ran through the gauntlet of opening and closing countless times smoothly. We experienced no jams or stuck keys throughout our three months of testing. Still, some were easier to use than others. Most cable locks are straightforward to weave through wheels and frames at bike racks, and their flexibility is convenient when faced with awkward structures, such as trees or lamp posts. The exception here is the Masterlock 8112D. It has too much "memory" and quickly recoils on itself if you lose tension on it. This resulted in a couple of bruised shins in our testing.
The Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain, on the other hand, is hard to control its links when wrapping up our bikes to immovable structures. We constantly feared chipping the paint on our bikes as the huge links clunked around. If you're picky about the appearance of your bike, be wary of this chain model. Similarly, the folding locks tended to spring open when turning the key, sometimes sending the exposed steel plates flying into our frames. The nylon sheath on the ABUS Ivera 7210 assured us it wouldn't nick or damage our paint jobs, and prized brewery stickers and its length made it easy to wrap around the most awkward of obstacles. We even locked two bikes with it a couple of times to lighten our load on the way to the coffee shop.
The U-locks tend to be less accommodating when locking a bike to anything but a bike rack, especially if you have wider wheels on a mountain bike or fat bike. These locks best serve cyclists when a bike-specific rack is at their destination. A U-lock for the frame and another lock (cable or otherwise) for the wheels would work nicely, but this arrangement also increases the time spent locking up. However, U-locks are simple enough to use for standard bike racks. The New York Standard U-Lock is easy to manage due to its reasonable size, while the Kryptolok is larger, making it more convenient. On the other side, the incredible security of the Hiplok D1000 is partially offset by how annoying it was to lock at times; it's just a touch too small.
Before selecting a lock, consider where you'll park your bike and if a secure bike rack or other attachment points are nearby. If no bike racks are available, a U-lock likely won't work.
Even though bike locks aren't known for their fancy features, some extra touches make them easier to use. Four Kryptonite locks, as well as the ABUS Granit X-Plus, the OnGuard Brute STD, and OnGuard Bulldog come with a small light (either LED or HID) on one of the included keys, which is convenient when fiddling with your lock in the dark. We also appreciated the dust covers featured on every U-lock, plus the disc lock of the Fahgettaboudit Chain. The best one, though, belongs to the Granit X-Plus, an automatic cover pushes out of the way by the key as you insert it. Keeping precipitation and sediment out of the locking mechanism reduces friction within the locking mechanism and prolongs its lifespan. We also appreciate that ABUS doesn't leave that protection up to our forgetfulness.
We installed each frame mount onto multiple bikes and found they are not created equally regarding user-friendliness. While the ABUS U-lock mount was annoying to install, the mount for the folding ABUS lock was much easier to put on and adjust. It either attaches to the screw holes of a water bottle cage or anywhere else on the frame using two heavy-duty hook and loop straps, which take seconds to install. The frame mount for the OnGuard Bulldog U-lock is easy to install, whereas the mount for the Kryptonite U-locks received mixed reviews. The bike mount for the FoldyLock Compact also has a neat feature where it attaches to the water bottle holder, but you don't have to remove your bottle cage to snap it into place.
If you're committed to mounting your U-lock onto your bike frame, you could also consider purchasing an aftermarket mount.
The size of your bike will impact the ease of installing a frame mount. While you could probably attach a whole handful of lock mounts to a 60cm+ bicycle frame, if you're petite and riding a 48cm (think: 5'2" and under riders), then mounting a lock to the bike might mean you lose your capacity to carry a water bottle or (sometimes) that the mount won't work at all. This isn't a huge deal if your commute is short, and you don't mind carrying your water in your backpack, but not having water within easy reach on longer rides can result in dehydration and could be a deal-breaker for some.
A bike won't be rideable without its front wheel unless you have serious wheelie or unicycle skills. We encourage you to stay on two wheels and consider getting a lock that also secures that front wheel. While more bikes nowadays offer disc brakes, making front wheels a little more difficult to remove (but not much), securing that front wheel creates an extra deterrent for thieves looking to make a quick grab. Other components thieves like to snatch include saddles, bike lights, and rear wheels. If bikes are left out long enough, the entire thing might get stripped down to the bare locked frame. Results from this test metric make up 15% of a product's overall score.
The most versatile models we tested are the U-locks that also come with cables (although there is always the option to buy two U-locks, of course). The OnGuard Bulldog DT, Kryptonite KryptoLok, and the Evolution Mini-7 come with a four-foot-long rubberized cable to secure both wheels and the seat (through the seat stays). Some of us found this cable a relief because it meant we didn't have to take the front wheel off, making it much easier to use. The Abus Ivera 7210 was also quite versatile since its length means the frame and both wheels of a smaller bike can be locked all in one go in some situations.
Cable-only models also can cover your whole bike (except that the ends are often too large to secure seats). This is especially true for the DockLocks Anti-Theft Weatherproof Cable that comes in a selection of five-foot lengths up to 25 feet. Yet, we don't recommend leaving your entire bike security up to a single cable in most environments. It's not secure at all. The immense chain of the Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock is long enough to secure both wheels and the frame to a solid structure, but don't expect to feed the hefty chain links through your saddle stays.
Even though it's not always easy or convenient, removing the front wheel and positioning it to lock up with the rear wheel and frame is a good practice. The U-locks and folding locks can lock up a wheel and the frame, but they might not handle two wheels in the method described depending on your tire size. The larger U-locks are the OnGuard Brute STD, Kryptonite KryptoLok, and the ABUS Granit X-Plus, which accommodate more bike parts inside the U. The steel chains have an advantage here, especially when locking up to irregular or awkward structures. The Hiplok Original: Superbright is flexible and provides a larger internal area for fitting even fat tires, the frame, and the structure you use as an anchor in ways a U-lock cannot compete.
Despite recent additions to our bike lock roster, three locks still made it nearly impossible to lock both wheels and the frame to a structure. The TiGr mini and Fahgettaboudit Mini were too small to fit two thin road tires along with the frame to most bike racks. They could, at least, lock a wheel and the frame together, although the mini struggles with fat tires.
Other Uses for Your Lock:
We found many other uses for these products throughout our testing, especially the bigger U-locks and chain models. We locked the back tire of a dirt bike to its brake rotor, a trailer tire to its frame so it couldn't move, and some random items in our gear garage when traveling. Keep your mind open to other uses for your lock. The bigger the lock, the more options for locking things.
A bike lock is critical for almost every cyclist, especially those who use their bikes as their primary or only method of transportation. Losing your bike to a faulty or insufficient bike lock is beyond a bummer, so please find the perfect lock that suits your needs and is easy to use. Before purchasing, consider the level of security you need and the inconvenience you are willing to tolerate. Whether you need robust security, convenience for quick stops, or a lightweight lock that's easy to transit, this review will help you make the best decision for you and your bike.
Luke Hollomon, Rebecca Eckland, Ross Robinson, Rylee Sweeney