Ready for the best bike locks available in 2019? We researched 60+ top models and tested 16 extensively from stem to stern, looking at a lock's design, capacity to accommodate a variety of situations and, above all, its ability to keep your bike out of a thieve's hands. Our expert testers cut to the chase using tools like tin snips, bolt cutters, and angle grinders to test the locks' strengths and weaknesses. We also took into account the portability and versatility of each model. From urban streets to mountain trails, we used each model for months. The result? A comprehensive look at the lock market with recommendations for you and your wheels.
The Best Bike Locks of 2019
|Price||$107.90 at Amazon|
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|$98.59 at Amazon|
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|$89.99 at Amazon|
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|$72.95 at Amazon||$116.95 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Very secure, mounts to bike, convenient size for locking up||Large and strong U-lock, relatively lightweight, beefy mount||Wearable design, solid security, easy to use||Versatile, light (for a U-Lock), easy to use, value||Compact, extremely secure, heavy-duty|
|Cons||Heavy, bulky to transport||Not the highest security possible, expensive||Not lightweight, uncomfortable with some backpacks, pricey||Slightly less secure than other U-Lock models, bulky||Heavy, limited versatility, expensive|
|Bottom Line||This is our favorite all-around lock for high security needs.||If you prefer top-shelf quality, this German-made lock delivers a great product.||The innovative design of this wearable chain lock increases this heavy lock's portability, which is great news for regular bike commuters.||If you're looking for a U-Lock that will keep your front tire on (and you aren't in a dangerous area) and your budget balance, this is probably the lock for you.||This is the smallest high-security lock reviewed. Its security is incredible, but it's not very versatile or portable.|
|Rating Categories||New York Standard U-Lock||ABUS Granit X-Plus 540 U-Lock||Hiplok Original: Superbright||Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock||New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lo...|
|Ease Of Transport (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (20%)|
|Specs||New York Standard...||ABUS Granit X-Plus...||Hiplok Original:...||Evolution Mini-7...||New York...|
|Measured weight (lbs)||4.49 lbs||3.28 lbs||4.31 lbs||3.51 lbs||4.69 lbs|
|Lock dimensions||4" x 8" (16 mm" thick)||9" x 4.25" (13mm thick)||1.5' long x 2"||9.35"x 5.6"x 1.6" (U-Lock); 4' cable||3.25” x 6.25” (18mm thick)|
|Type of lock||U-lock||U-lock||Chain||U-Lock + cable||U-Lock|
|# of keys included||3 keys (one with HID light)||2 keys (one with LED light)||3 keys||3 keys (one with HID light)||3 keys (one with LED light)|
|Primary materials||16mm Hardened Steel||13mm hardened steel||8mm hardened steel chain, 600D polyester sleeve||13mm hardened "max-performance" steel with braided steel cable||18mm Hardened Steel|
|Warranty/Manufacturer programs||$4,000 Theft Protection, Limited Lifetime Warranty, Key Safe Program||None||1-year manufacturer warranty||$2,500 Theft Protection (does not cover cable), Limited Lifetime Warranty; Key Safe Program||$5,000 Theft Protection, Limited Lifetime Warranty; Key Safe Program|
|Unique Features||Keyhole cover, LED light on one key; dust cover over keyhole||Automatic keyhole cover, LED light on one key||Reflective sheath, curve key||LED light on one key; cable in addition to U-Lock; dust cover on keyhole||Small and super burly, LED light on one key; dust cover over keyhole|
|Tin Snips||No||No||No||Cable: Yes; U-lock: No||No|
|Bolt Cutters, 36"||No||No||No||Cable: Yes, U-lock: No||No|
|Number of cuts required to free lock||2 cuts||2 cuts||1 cut||2 cuts||2 cuts|
Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock
Year after year, we look find a better lock, and we're always (pleasantly) surprised that the Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock remains unbeatable! Our Editors' Choice scored high across all our testing metrics, and that's why we awarded the gold to this burly U-Lock that's as tough as its namesake city. With this U-Lock, Kryptonite offers a strong theft deterrent, with 16 mm of hardened steel that we could only destroy with two separate cuts from the powered angle grinder. It even withstood a car jack! A "Gold" rating from Sold Secure grants you some peace of mind when locking your bike in urban areas.
It should be no surprise that something that can withstand a car jack weighs a considerable amount. However, it does come with a frame mount which makes it convenient to carry while you're cruising or commuting. The model is about as easy to use as any U-lock and broad enough to fit around both wheels, the frame, and a standard bike rack as long as you remove your front wheel. Kryptonite even offers theft protection policies and a key replacement program for this lock, if your lock is stolen of you lose the keys it comes with (be sure to register your keys after you purchase it). We're impressed with Kryptonite for continuing to provide a versatile, burly, and user-friendly high-quality bike lock.
Read review: Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock
Best Bang for the Buck
Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock
Our Best Buy Award goes to a lock that offers medium security and an entry-level price: the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock. A part of its charm is its accessory: unlike other U-Locks in this review, this one comes with a four-foot cable that can reach around both wheels. While we don't think cable locks are very secure on their own, a cable AND a U-Lock can be a powerful combination. We also appreciated the frame mount, which offers an easy solution to carry the lock. A thief will need two cuts with an angle grinder to get through this lock as well, which is more than many other U-lock and cable combos out there.
Being a U-lock and a cable, this product is a bit bulky to carry around. You'll probably have to stash the cable in your pack or pannier, while the lock can ride on-frame with its mount. And while it offers a pretty strong deterrent, it's not as thick and burly as some of the higher-security U-locks we tested. If you don't live in a high-risk area, we think this lock offers some of the best performance per dollar.
Read review: Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock
Top Pick for Bike Commuting
Hiplok Original: Superbright
Love the idea of an effective bike lock, but hate the reality of carrying one around with you? The Hiplok Original: Superbright is our Top Pick for Commuting for innovating around ways 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 that means the lock won't scratch up the paint job on your frame.) Next, they engineered a padlock 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. Lastly, the Superbright lock 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 probably appreciate this lock the most.
Recreational riders and those riding for fitness might want something that's a little more lightweight. And if you don't carry this product on your person, it does feel much heavier in a pack or messenger back. It's also on the expensive side of bike locks. And, it's worth keeping in mind that not everyone will be comfortable with wearing something restrictive around their waist. But, for a lock this burly, it's our testers' favorite for daily commutes.
Read review: Hiplok Original: Superbright
Notable Mention for a Lightweight Lock
ABUS Chain Lock 1200 Web
If you're on the market for a bike lock that will work in high-risk areas like a college campus, skip the ABUS Chain Lock 1200 Web. However, if you just need a minimal deterrent that's also easy to carry and to use, then there's something to be said for this chain lock. At less than a half a pound, you'll hardly notice it, whether it's in your jersey pocket, in a bag, or wrapped around your seat post. We wrapped it around the seat posts of both adult and children's bikes, and in either case, our testers hardly noticed it was there. Its simple combo-opening feature means you don't need to carry around a key, either.
This lock won't stop a determined thief. Its use is limited to a minute or two out of eyesight in urban areas, if that. But in low-security areas where there aren't tools-toting thieves around the corner, this ABUS Chain Lock might be all you need. It's not super burly, but if you're looking for a lightweight lock that's easy to carry around and doesn't break the bank, the ABUS 1200 is just for you and your (inexpensive!) bike.
Read review: ABUS Chain Lock 1200 Web
Notable for Extended Parking
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock
Enough with the fluff, you say: show me the big guns. If you're looking for a no-nonsense lock that is all about security (visual and physical), the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock is what you're looking for. This is the lock you want if you're parking your bike for an extended period of time or overnight (in some areas). If you lock up in the same place daily, you can leave this lock on the rack while you're away (as allowed). There isn't a bike lock out there that can't be destroyed, but the Fahgettabouit Chain and Disc Lock requires specialized tools and quite a bit of time to cut through… in other words, this lock stands up to only the most dedicated thieves.
But, before you run to your nearest outdoor retailer, let's be clear about the reality of this lock: it's expensive, bulky, and weighs over 15 pounds, so you won't be eager to transport it around town. Because it lacks any nylon sheath, the chain also chips the paint off your frame, so if you like to keep your wheels looking shiny and somewhat new, you should probably find something else to lock your bike with. Daily trips with an extra 15 pounds aren't fun, either, and we encourage you to check into lighter weight options that will make commuting with the lock less of a drag. However, if you lock your bike outside and unattended for long periods, this lock provides stronger assurance than most that your wheels will be there when you return.
Why You Should Trust Us
We assembled a team of experts to pick apart these locks. 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 in everything from racing to commuting. She's passionate about her bikes, and believes that having a bike stolen is just about the worst thing that can happen to a person. She's also 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, is a dedicated bike commuter who has been locking up with chains, folding models, cables (as a secondary lock!), and U-locks for 12+ years. Having an interest in testing gear to its limit, Ross has spent over 200 hours researching bike locks (and bike thieves) as well as hands-on assessing and directly experimenting with ways to defeat them. Rylee Sweeney rounds out our main testing team, who comes to us with a background in bike touring across the US, where bike security is nearly as essential as food and water. Between these three testers, we've had our collective hands on over 50 models of locks, and have followed trends and innovations over the last 20 years.
We started our testing process by learning how these different bike locks perform in-transit. We shoved them in panniers, bungeed them on trailers, carried them in backpacks or camera bags, installed brackets to stow them on the frame, wore them around our waists, stuffed them into saddlebags, and carried them in bike baskets. We rode all the places you would — the office, a local coffeehouse or watering hole, the library, a college campus, a bike shop, a grocery store in a strip mall.
Related: How We Tested Bike Locks
In the last phase of testing, we became bike thieves! Using tools common to bike thieves, we did our best to break or cut through each lock by combining brute strength, ingenuity, and, when that failed, technology. Last, we pulled out a power tool and cut through each model with an electric angle grinder to see how long it took and how many cuts were necessary to free the bike from the lock. Bike security ain't no joke, so we bought, used, and destroyed every single lock in this review to leave no corner unturned.
Analysis and Test Results
We designed this review around four central characteristics that define a useful bike lock: security, ease of transportation, ease of use and versatility. Security is the most important of these four--but, if a lock weighs a lot or is inconvenient, are you actually going to use it? That's where the rest of the criteria come into play. Each performance metric's score is weighted according to its importance.
Related: Buying Advice for Bike Locks
We hate to say it, but the price does (for the most part) correlate to quality. Quality, in this case, means the amount of time it will take for a thief to (worst case scenario) cut through or (best case scenario) question their return on investment in stealing your bike. As it turns out, bike thieves and the rest of us have something in common: none of us wants to go to jail, and so they are inspired to steal bikes that are: 1) not locked properly or sufficiently, or 2) if the bike is worth the risk.
The Editors' Choice Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock is not cheap, but it outperformed all the others, including locks costing 50% more. We consider it a good value for those looking for solid protection. For tighter budgets or less glamorous rides, our Best Buy Award winner may fit the bill. The Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock comes in significantly less than the New York Standard. It offers very strong bang for the buck, performing significantly better than average in our tests, while still being relatively affordable.
Lock manufacturers don't share the same security rating standards. Neither do independent security testing organizations, like Sold Secure, that are popular references here in the States. The fact that these security standards aren't standardized can make it difficult to weed out what exactly a certain 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), also submit products to rigorous professional-grade tests and rate them according to their performance. These organizations have no ties to manufacturers and are well-respected as holding a high standard of testing on many products, including bike locks.
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 the security of your bike?) That being said, we invested a lot of time in testing the security of each lock on this review roster. We first assessed each lock's weak point and then attacked it. Then, we tried alternative attacks on a lock's integrity to make sure we were not missing any vital weaknesses. We used tools commonly employed by bike thieves in an attempt 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, then switched to an electric angle grinder, a cordless drill and even a car jack (because, yes, 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 burly human to do it. A high score for security represents the level of theft deterrence, but it's not a guarantee of safety for your bike. To date, that guarantee doesn't exist. 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?" That's never a good idea because even the highest security lock breaks within minutes, not within hours. The hope is that those extra minutes are long enough for someone will notice the sparks flying and the evil smell of burning metal and stop the theft from happening. In a world where car alarms don't cause much alarm, though, let's be real about what you can hope for out of a bike lock.
The Kryptonite New York models scored the highest of all the locks in this review in the security metric. The Standard U-lock, Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock, and Fahgettaboudit Mini proved to be some of the toughest locks to crack. These models have hardened steel bars ranging 14 mm to 18 mm that resisted attack from all our hand-powered tools without flinching, including a 36" bolt cutter. When it came to the angle grinder, each of these locks took the longest to slice through completely (nearly a minute of hard-core, sparks-flying slicing). Moreover, for these locks, one cut wasn't enough. Due to their well-designed dual locking mechanisms, they required us to do two separate cuts on the U bar of each lock to free the bike, doubling the getaway time. It would take thief at least one and a half minutes of sparks a-flying to compromise one of these locks. The ABUS Granit X-Plus 540 also required two cuts from the angle grinder before releasing the bike frame, as did the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7.
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, which is why 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 chain and locking mechanism. Of course, the cables accompanying the Kryptonite Evolution and OnGuard Bulldog DT locks 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 they are paired with another lock (like a U-Lock), they improve a lock's versatility by securing more components.
The folding locks were a significant step down in security in comparison to the chain and U-locks. The ABUS uGrip Bordo fared better than the INBIKE model, which was defeated in a single hammer blow. It was comparable to the FoldyLock Compact which had a superior locking mechanism and joints, but that was defeated much more quickly by the angle grinder. The obvious weak points of folding locks are the rotating rivets. The bolt cutters couldn't bite through the metal plates, but working the blades around the rivets, it took only 10-15 seconds to bust the ABUS and INBIKE models. Surprisingly, the FoldyLock resisted this attack.
Conversely, we were disappointed by the security offered by the Ottolock Cinch. After reading all the hype about this lightweight lock, we were excited when the Ottolock survived a few common tools (wire snips, hacksaw) during our first trial of destruction. However, upon further inspection, this lock doesn't provide much protection at all — in less than a few seconds, it can be cut with a very inexpensive and easy-to-hide pair of tin snips. So, despite the hype, this lock doesn't protect you at all from a thief with even a pretty basic set of tools. The TiGr mini, which mostly only appears more secure, also surprised us on the unfortunate side of the spectrum. The mini was defeated in just a few seconds by the bolt cutters, and with 10 minutes of dedication, you can cut through it 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 poorest performers in this metric were the cable locks, such as the cable-only OnGuard Akita and Kryptonite KryptoFlex 1218 Combo Lock, and the locking zip-tie HipLoz Z Lok. A thief with nearly any tool can defeat these locks, making them a perilous choice in urban and most suburban settings. They are best reserved for short periods when unsupervised in low crime areas. In other words, these locks are intended to prevent the opportunistic "snatch-and-grab" that often occurs when a cyclist dismounts the bike with the intention of only being away for seconds (a dash to the restroom, or to fill up a water bottle at a nearby fountain) only to find their bike gone the second they turn their back.
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 her or his college town workplace may not need as much security as someone securing the same bike up outside their urban apartment overnight. Or, if you're a cyclist who wants to make sure that your bike is safe when you're taking a pit stop, well, that's something else entirely. The great news is that there is a lock for every occasion, and we encourage you to think about where you're locking your bike and for how long to assess what level of security you actually need. And, it goes without saying: no matter how much you spend on a product, it won't do you any good if you don't use it properly, so be sure to practice the best methods to use your lock to maximize security. This means removing the front tire and putting it alongside the back tire, and securing both tires and the frame to the object you are locking your bike to. Depending on the bike and the situation, you might need two locks to do this properly. If you aren't locking your bike this way (and you're leaving your front tire unsecured), you might return to find it gone.
Ease of Transport
If a bike lock is heavy and bulky, how likely is it that you will carry it around with you (especially if you are using your bike as your daily commute vehicle)? If a lock is so inconvenient to carry around with you--say, if it's fifteen pounds and makes you sweat like mad on the climb, chances are you're probably not going to use it. This is why we examined the portability of each lock by riding around with them (mounted to the bike frame if one is included provided), by carrying them in a jersey pocket, or by shoving them in a bag (backpack, pannier, camera bags). These tests helped us to determine whether or not carrying the lock around was a habit we wanted to keep or kick. Of course, there are many bike upgrades and accessories that create more carrying options like installing a basket or buying a quality messenger bag or pannier that make it easier to ride with a load. While those options were in our minds, we focused on the features of the product and any included hardware.
The folding locks are some of the easiest models to transport, with the FoldyLock Compact and ABUS uGrip Bordo being preferred over the INBIKE model. Both the ABUS and the FoldyLock fold into a compact shape that slides into a backpack or messenger bag without taking up much space, or even in generously sized pant pockets. They also both come with easy-to-use frame mounts that can be strapped onto the bike. In fact, these frame mounts were our favorites. Both fit onto nearly any cylindrical bike frame and, while easy to slide into and remove from the mount, it remained in place without rattling or ever coming close to falling out. It's also worth mentioning that both weigh considerably less than every chain and U-lock we analyzed.
Likewise, we were impressed by the 0.46 lb ABUS 1200 Chain that easily wraps around the seat post of basically any bike. And due to its nylon sheath, that chain wasn't going to scratch up 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 design of the Hiplok Original is a great innovation that makes transporting the lock relatively easy, despite weighing over four pounds. It allows you to attach the chain around your waist like a belt-- something that other locks of a similar weight (read: U-Locks) don't do. Weight worn on your body is less noticeable than weight worn in a bag, pack, and even on the frame. Initially, we didn't expect this design to be comfortable around our midsection, but we were wrong. It's surprisingly comfortable, confirmed by our male and female testers. The Superbright version of this lock (which is the version we tested) comes with a large reflective stripe on the exterior of the nylon sheath which is positioned on the lower back when worn correctly. We like this attention to riding safety by adding another way to be visible on the streets in low light. No other model reviewed has reflective material that promotes the rider's safety. These reasons, coupled with its impressive security, made it easy to award this lock as our Top Pick for Commuting.
Cable locks, because they are lightweight and can be easily stuffed into all sorts of bags, are extremely easy to transport. The KryptoFlex 1218 comes with a frame mount, but you'll need to carry the Akita 8041 in your bag or pack. Our testers weren't huge fans of coiling the cables around their top tubes of a bike frame, which is time-consuming and not very stable. As we mentioned before, though, cable locks are only to be used in minimum-security situations. As easy as they are to carry, make sure that you're riding in an area where that is enough to deter a thief from swiping your bike.
Next up are the U-locks. These heavy-hitters are secure and rigid, which is great when you're talking about security, but not-so-great when you want to ride a bike with them. U-locks are by far more cumbersome to carry than most other locks, no matter if you carry them — in a bag or on a bike frame. Each U-lock tested, except for the Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini, comes with a frame mount, though some are better than others. The most secure U-lock mount comes with the ABUS Granit X-Plus. Be aware that the large size of this lock might be too big to fit into the main triangle of small bike frames, such as kids bikes and some adult models, such as a bike for someone 5'2 and shorter. We also like the Transit FlexFrame that ship with the New York Standard and Kryptonite Evolution Mini, although these too can be difficult on small frames.
It's worth mentioning that the easiest 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 it was attached to the frame of the bike, 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 couldn't notice it was there!). 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 it is compact, it weighs the most of all U-locks tested and doesn't come with a mounting bracket. Even though it's small, it tended to beat the crap out of loose papers and other contents in our backpacks.
Lastly, the Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock weighs over 15 pounds and is the ultimate heavyweight bike lock. Large, burly, and no-nonsense, this large lock isn't something you will probably EVER want to carry around with you. This land-bound bike anchor is meant to stay put on a bike rack, which means this lock scored terribly in the transportation category but got a top score in security.
Ease of Use
If you haven't been using a bike lock recently, you're in for a sad truth: just because you have opposable thumbs doesn't necessarily mean that you're an expert in using a bike lock. If you're not used to the mechanics of taking off the front wheel of the bike and threading a lock through two sets of spokes and a bike rack, well, there's a little bit of a learning curve. This metric tested the added difficulty each lock imposed on this process, whether due to its size, shape, weight, or design. Specifically, we asked how quickly it was to secure and take off each lock? What design features made the securing up process that much easier?
A shout out to the manufacturer's here: all the products we tested ran smoothly through the gauntlet of opening and closing countless times. We experienced no jams or stuck keys throughout our three months of testing with each product. Still, some were easier to use than others. The cable locks are straightforward and easy to weave through wheels and frames at bike racks, and their flexibility is convenient when faced with awkward structures, such as trees or lampposts.
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 lived in constant fear of 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. In a similar vein, the folding locks tended to spring open when turning the key, which sometimes sent the exposed steel plates flying into our frames. The nylon sheath on the ABUS 1200 Chain ensured us that it won't nick or damage our paint jobs and brewery stickers.
The U-locks tend to be less accommodating when it came to locking a bike to anything but a bike rack-- especially if your wheels are mountain bike or fat bike wheels. These locks serve cyclists best when there is a rack present at their destination, and not for most fat bike tires. A U-lock for the frame and another lock (cable or otherwise) for the wheels would work nicely, but this arrangement also increases the amount of time spent locking up. However, when it comes to standard bike racks, U-locks are simple enough to use. The New York Standard U-Lock is easy to manage due to its reasonable size.
Even though bike locks aren't known as feature-laden devices, some of these features do make these easier to use. Four Kryptonite locks, as well as the ABUS Granit X-Plus 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 that were featured on every U-lock, plus the disc lock of the Fahgettaboudit Chain. The best one, though, belongs to the Granit X-Plus which is an automatic cover that is pushed 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, and we appreciate that ABUS doesn't leave that protection up to our forgetfulness.
We installed each mount onto multiple bikes and found that they were not created equally regarding user-friendliness. While the ABUS U-lock mount was annoying to install, the mount for the folding ABUS lock was a cinch to install and adjust. It either attaches to the screw holes of a water bottle cage or anywhere on the frame using two heavy-duty hook and loop straps, which takes seconds to install. The bike mount for the FoldyLock Compact also had a neat feature. It attaches to the water bottle holder, but you don't have to remove your bottle cage to snap it into place. Sadly, the zip ties included with the INBIKE folding model were pretty useless, which made installing the mount extra frustrating.
It's also worth noting that the size of your bike will impact the ease of 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: the 5'2 and under club), 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 can get you dehydrated and cotton-mouthed, which is no way to arrive at your destination.
A bike isn't rideable with its front wheel stolen unless you've got some serious unicycle skills. We encourage you to stay on two wheels, though, and to consider getting a lock that secures that front wheel. Granted, now that more bikes are offering disc brakes, front tires are a little more difficult to remove (but not much). Securing that front wheel creates an extra deterrent for a thief looking to make a quick sale. Other components thieves like to snatch include: saddles, bike lights, and rear wheels. If bikes are left out long enough, the entire bike might get stripped down to the locked frame.
The most versatile models we tested are the U-locks that come with cables (although there is always the option to buy two U-locks, of course). The OnGuard Bulldog DT and the Evolution Mini-7 come with a four-foot long rubberized cable to secure both wheels and seat (through the stays). Some of us found this cable to be a relief because it meant we didn't have to take the front tire off. Which, now that many bikes are starting to come with disc brakes, made it a lot easier to use.
Cable-only models also cover your whole bike (except that the ends are often too large to secure seats), yet we don't consider leaving your entire bike security up to a single cable to be a brilliant idea in most environments. The long chain of the Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock is long enough to secure both wheels and the frame to an immovable structure, but don't expect to feed the hefty links through your saddle stays.
Even though it's not always easy or convenient, it's a good practice to remove the front wheel and position it to lock up with the rear wheel and frame. The U-locks and folding locks can lock up a wheel and the frame, but depending on your tire size, they might not handle two wheels in the method described. The Hiplok is more flexible and provides a larger internal area for fitting even fat tires, the frame, and the structure you are using as an anchor.
Even with recent additions to our bike lock roster, three locks still made it all but impossible to lock both wheels and the frame to a structure. The INBIKE, TiGr mini and Fahgettaboudit Mini were too small to even 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
Throughout testing, we found many other uses for these products, especially the bigger U-locks and the chain models. 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 some random items in our gear garage when traveling.
Keep your mind open to other things a lock can secure — the bigger the lock, the more options for locking things. However, if the lock were too big and cumbersome, we wouldn't bring it. So for the dirt bike and mountain board, we liked the medium sizes (6-8 inches in total length).
To prolong the life of your security device, regular maintenance is key. How frequently you do this is largely dependent upon your climate. If you live in a harsh climate with high amounts of rain and snow or an area near saltwater, monthly maintenance may be necessary. In other climates or regions, though, a little lock love every two to three months should suffice.
Focus your cleaning and lubrication efforts on any moving parts and areas where parts attach, such as keyholes, deadbolts, the ends of u-lock shackles, and cylinders. Clean these parts first with a rag, using a spray product like WD40 if there is any visible corrosion or heavy grime. After cleansing, apply a lubricant. We generally recommend a dry, Teflon-based lubricant to use on locks. Lubricate as directed on the bottle or box. Make sure to insert your key and turn it several times to spread the lubricant around.
Purchasing a lock is critical for pretty much every cyclists, especially those who use their bike as their primary (or only) method of transportation. Losing your bike to a faulty or insufficient lock is probably about the worst thing that can happen, so we want you to find the lock that suits your situation and is easy to use. Think about what you want, where you lock your bike, and what level of inconvenience you are prepared to deal with, and pair those considerations with the locks outlined here. Your decision depends on a handful of factors varying from whether you are looking for the strongest lock on the market, the most convenient for quick stops or if you want a lock that is light and easy to carry around. We hope this review sheds light on this sometimes complicated product so that you can make the decision that's the best for you and your bike.
— Ross Robinson and Rebecca Eckland