Whether you commute to work or school, ride your bike to run errands, or you just really appreciate a leisurely mid-ride café stop, you need a bike lock. Even if you’re only in a shop for 30 seconds, securing your bike somewhere, somehow, is critical when it comes to preventing bike theft.

For those riding in the city and leaving bikes out for hours at a time, a bigger, stronger lock becomes a necessity. For those just popping into a rural general store mid-gravel century, a tiny lock that can slide into a jersey pocket and only add a few ounces of weight might be plenty. Whatever your riding style, we have you covered with our best bike lock picks, from the burliest to the lightest options.

Here are our top picks in three categories – Chain locks, U-Locks, and Quick locks- but keep reading all the way down to see how they’re rated, how to file an insurance claim if your bike does get stolen while locked up, and other frequently asked questions…

Best Bike Chain Locks

 BEST CHAIN LOCK: Kryptonite New York Cinch Ring Chain 1275 

Kryptonite New York Cinch Ring Chain 1275

There’s a reason the ubiquitous image of a bike messenger always includes three key things: A fixed gear bike, a single-strap messenger bag slung over a shoulder, and a hefty chain belt with a canvas cover looped around the rider’s waist. When it comes to a lock that’s as close to bombproof as you can get, the Kryptonite New York Cinch Ring Chain is the go-to.

This lock will weigh you down, but it will also all but guarantee your bike is secure wherever you leave it. The Kryptonite New York Cinch Ring Chain 1275 uses a small U-lock to secure the ends of the massive 12mm, hexagonal manganese-steel links together, and it comes with three keys so you can always keep a spare hidden.

We also like that the lock has a dust cover, helping it stand up to bad weather. And Kryptonite also offers its own theft protection for up to $4,000 (free for the first year), in addition to being certified for most bike insurance companies through Sold Secure.

  • Type: Chain
  • Material: Manganese steel, nylon
  • Sold Secure Rating: Gold
  • Chain Length: 29.5″
  • Weight: 6.95 pounds
  • MSRP: $160

PROS: One of the most secure options out there
CONS: Heavy, just on the short side

 BEST WEARABLE CHAIN LOCK: Hiplok Gold Chain Lock 

hiplok_Looped best chain lock

Hiplok took a common problem of “how do I carry this big ol’ chain lock” and solved it by making it wearable. They offer several versions of the belt-style lock, but the Gold-rated model is the best and strongest.

We’ll get to why we like this but have to admit, it’s not perfect. At a measured useable length of 31″ (claimed is 33.4″), it’s just long enough to get around a front wheel, downtube, and bike rack. And the seatbelt-like strap that makes it wearable tends to get in the way of connecting the links to the lock. But neither are deal-breakers, and it has some other great features to make up for it.

Unlike the others that you could wear around your waist, this one is actually comfortable to wear. The protective sleeve wraps 10mm links and not only prevents scratches, it’s also reflective to keep you safer in low light. And it comes with three keys where most locks only have two. The adjustable strap fits waists from 30″ to 44″.

  • Type: Chain
  • Material: Steel
  • Sold Secure Rating: Gold
  • Chain Length: 31″
  • Weight: 4.85 pounds
  • MSRP: $129.99

PROS: Strong, easy (and comfortable) to carry, reflective sleeve adds safety
CONS: A little finicky to maneuver into locking position, just barely long enough

 BEST LIGHTWEIGHT CHAIN LOCK: Abus Ivera Chain 7210 

abus ivera 7210 bicycle chain lock with soft cover

First off, good luck navigating Abus’ website and finding the exact chain lock you want…it’s a maze, and lacks good info. But we’ve tried this one and the heavier duty 8210 (which is Sold Secure Silver rated) chain locks and they’re both awesome…so just use these links to find them.

Both use a synthetic knit cover to protect your bike from the steel chain, and both can easily sling over your shoulder to wear like a bandolier. But this slightly smaller Abus Ivera 7210 has two advantages. First, it weighs 500g less, so it’s much more comfortable to wear or carry.

Second, it locks without requiring the key, just snap the end into the head and it’s locked. Bonus points are that it also comes in several colors. At 38″ long, it’s a bit shorter than the 46″ 8210, so just pick the one that gives you the length or security you need.

  • Type: Chain
  • Material: Hardened Steel
  • Sold Secure Rating: Not Rated
  • Chain Length: 38″
  • Weight: 2.875 pounds
  • MSRP: $69.99

PROS: Longer and slinkier than the rest makes it easy to use, lightweight
CONS: Not Gold rated, so best for lower-risk areas, unfortunate website navigation

Best Bike U-Locks

 BEST U-LOCK: Abus Granit XPlus 540 U-Lock 

Abus Granit XPlus 540 U-Lock

The Abus Granit XPlus 540 U-Lock gets their 15-out-of-15 security rating, making it perfect anywhere a standard U-shaped bike lock will work. This lock is simple to use, particularly in locking and unlocking, but also angling around poles thanks to the slightly pointy end of its loop.

We also like that the shackle is long and comparatively thin, giving it a bit more reach and easier to loop through smaller spots. The keyhole has an auto-close cover so that dirt, grime, and rain stay out, making for smoother usage after a lot of wear and tear.

If you need the ultimate in security, this is the only lock here that gets the highest Sold Secure Diamond rating. Plus, Abus offers the ability to purchase a suite of locks that will all use the same key, if you prefer having a few different options or want the whole family to have bike locks but hate hunting through a tangle of keys to find the right one for each lock.

  • Type: U-Lock
  • Material: Steel
  • Sold Secure Rating: Diamond
  • Weight: 3.3lb
  • MSRP: $150

PROS: High level of security, long shackle, key works smoothly
CONS: Really expensive

 BEST MID-LEVEL COMBO: Kryptonite New-U Evolution Mini 7 

kryptonite combo u-lock and cable

Like their chain lock, this one comes with a theft protection guarantee, up to $2,500 for the first year, with paid options after that. What we like about this one is the combination of a Gold-rated U-lock with a companion braided steel cable to protect both wheels without having to remove one. No, the cable won’t be as strong as the shackle, but in most places, it’s enough of a deterrent.

We’ve also found these combos handy for locking bikes to our hitch racks when hitting a restaurant after a ride…they’re a lot more secure than the tiny integrated cables found on most racks, and adding a longer cable (Kryptonite makes a 7′ version) lets you loop it through multiple bikes.

  • Type: U-Lock
  • Material: Steel
  • Sold Secure Rating: Gold
  • Weight: 3.55lb
  • MSRP: $80

PROS: Gold-rated lock with 10mm steel cable makes it easy to lock both wheels
CONS: Cables aren’t enough in high crime areas

Best Quick Bike Locks

 BEST FOLDING LOCK: Abus Bordo Granit XPlus 6500 Folding Lock 

Abus Bordo Granit XPlus 6500 Folding Lock

Riders who want maximum security but also want a compact package that shape shifts to fit whatever you’re locking up (and to) will appreciate a folding lock. While some U-locks might be thicker and tougher, they struggle when you need to lock to something other than a bike rack. A folding lock expands to fit around more awkward objects.

We like the Abus Bordo Granit XPlus 6500 Folding Lock, which features steel pieces riveted together. All those joints may seem like vulnerabilities, but this is the highest-rated lock Abus offers, at 15/15 on their security level scale. The steel pieces are covered by silicone strips so you won’t scratch your bike while locking.

We love how compact it is – strap the included frame mount to your bike and it’s no larger than a water bottle, yet offers more reach than a standard U-lock. Whether you need to get your front wheel locked along with your frame or you’re locking to a lamppost or tree, it’ll likely get around it all. (Note: they also make a Bordo Lite if you don’t need something quite so burly)

  • Type: Folding
  • Material: Steel
  • Sold Secure Rating: Gold
  • Weight: 1760 grams
  • MSRP: $185

PROS: Easy to use, folds very compact, extremely strong
CONS: Not big enough to reach both wheels

 BEST EASY CARRY: Litelok Silver Flexi-O 

Litelok Go Flexi-O

The Litelok Silver Flexi-O is a lighter, more flexible alternative to most rigid U-locks.  Litelock uses a polymer and steel blend to create a lock that mimics U-lock technology, but that’s flexible so you can fit the lock around more awkward spots like trees or bigger poles. Polymer might have you raising an eyebrow, but it’s just as secure as a regular U-lock.

It scores Silver on Sold Secure’s list, which means that bike insurers consider it a solid theft deterrent. It comes in three lengths, from 20.5″ to 33.5″, and is wider than it looks here (that’s it in the feature image at the top of this post)

We also love that it weighs about half as much as the other locks on the list. Bonus: You can wear it as a belt (depending on waist size, of course).

  • Type: Flexible U-lock
  • Material: Steel and polymer
  • Sold Secure Rating: Silver
  • Weight: 1.4lb to 1.8lb, depending on length
  • MSRP: $90-$120

PROS: Great alternative to U-lock, lightweight
CONS: Even the long one is on the short side

 BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Hiplock Z Lok Combo 

Hiplock Z Lok Combo

For the ultimate in convenience, you can’t beat the Hiplock Z Lok Combo, which looks like a heavy zip tie but features a steel core and three-digit combination lock to quickly secure your bike. It’s not what we would use for leaving a bike in the middle of Manhattan all day, but it’s ideal for quickly popping into the grocery store or cafe mid-ride.

It’s super light and easy to carry anywhere: Keep a spare in your bar bag so you’re never caught without a lock. And for those looking for a bit of added security for a car bike rack, these are quick and easy to use to tighten bikes to roof racks or secure tighter on hitch racks.

They’re simple, they’re cheap, and they’re extremely handy to have around as a spare lock that goes everywhere with you. Heck, you can even use them to keep your bags with you while you nap in an airport!

  • Type: Cable
  • Material: Steel
  • Sold Secure Rating: Not Rated
  • Weight: 68 grams
  • MSRP: $25

PROS: Cheap
CONS: Not as secure as burlier locks

Buyer’s Guide for Bike Locks

With bike locks, you definitely get what you pay for. The $10 (or $5) ones from big box department stores are fairly easy to cut through for a bike thief, so if you’re trying to protect your investment (read: expensive bike), it’s worth shelling out more for a quality lock. Here’s what to consider before randomly buying the first bike lock that pops up on Amazon:

How long you’re locking it and where. Context matters! For instance, one rider explained that living and riding in downtown Toronto, where bike theft was rampant, he swore by a burly Kryptonite lock. But now, living in Munich where there are thousands of bikes locked outside at all times, he feels comfortable using a lighter, smaller cable lock. And of course, if you’re leaving  a bike outside overnight regularly versus just occasionally dashing into the grocery store to pick up a couple things on your ride home, you’ll want something more heavy-duty.

How you’re carrying it. Are you looking for a lock that will fit in a jersey pocket with all of your other riding stuff? If that’s the case, you’re going to want something small and compact like the Hiplock Z Lok Combo. But if you’re bringing a backpack to the office and can stash your seven pound Kryptonite chain lock in there, you’re not going to need to stress about size or weight.

What you’re locking to. While U-locks are the classic bike lock, they really only work in very specific situations. You need a skinny pole or a bike rack to lock them to, and even then, you may struggle to get your front wheel and frame locked together. (The same is true of the small Hiplock.) A chain or cable lock can be used around most things, from a trees to telephone poles.

How often you’ll use it. If it’s going to be a daily use lock, or you’ll be unlocking and re-locking often, look for a lock that has a particularly easy-to-use key or combination.

You’ll also want to consider these factors in a lock:

Is it a combination or a key lock? If it’s a key, make sure you get multiple keys with it, then store one of the extras somewhere safe. For combinations, make sure you’re good at remembering your combo! (Pro tip: Create a contact in your phone’s address book for the lock and note the combo there)

Is it going to scratch your bike? Avoid chains that aren’t covered: Brands like Kryptonite and Abus use heavy canvas or synthetic wovens over their chain to prevent frame damage.

Check the ratings. Some bike insurance companies will insure stolen bikes only if locked with specific locks. (See the FAQ below for more details.)

Is there a warranty? What will the company do if the bike is stolen and the lock is broken?

Frequently Asked Questions About Bike Locks

hiplok chain bike lock around a bicycle and wheel

Why do I need a bike lock?
According to Markel Insurance, more than 188,500 bikes are reported stolen each year in the US. And those are just the reported thefts—a shocking amount of bikes that are stolen go unreported, since many consider the hassle of filing reports and paperwork to be not worth it for bikes that are older or inexpensive. Securing your bike with a solid bike lock can help your bike avoid being added to that ever-growing number.

What kind of bike lock do I need?
As one rider reminded us, context is important. “In Toronto, where theft was rampant, I swore by a Kryptonite lock,” he says. “I now live in Munich, and most people just free lock their bike with a cable lock.

Often it feels unnecessary to lug a heavy lock around.” Most of your bike lock decision should be based on where you ride and how long you’ll lock your bike, as well as what you’ll commonly be locking it to.

What types of bike locks are there?
You may be confused at the labels on some locks as you’re looking through. Here’s a quick run down:

  • U-locks (or D-locks): Shaped like a U with a bolt on the top, these metal locks are harder to fit around lampposts or railings, but work well with bike racks and are harder for a bike thief to cut through than a cable or chain lock. Their downfall is that they’re hard to use unless there’s a bike rack or thin pole around.
  • Folding locks: These locks are midway between a cable and a U-lock. They’re a bit more compact than a cable since they fold down, and they’re a bit stronger. They can also be a bit more awkward to use, though.
  • Chain locks: The burly chain locks are great options for deterring bike thieves, as long as the lock itself is strong. Usually, a chain lock will come with a small U-lock that actually locks the ends of the chain together. These are ideal for higher-risk situations, and while they’re heavy and take up a lot of space, they’re pretty easy to use in most places.
  • Cable locks: Cable locks are inexpensive, widely available at bike shops and big box stores, and provide the longest options for securing a bunch of bikes, and can be a decent deterrent in low-risk areas. But, these locks tend to be the easiest to cut through, so we don’t include many on the list. They do make a great add-on to a U-Lock, though, helping you secure both wheels at the same time.
a bicycle chain lock shown stretched to the max to fit around wheel, frame and rack

The Hiplok Gold just barely made it around the frame, wheel and bike rack.

How long of a chain bike lock do I need?
Our top picks range from about 20″ up to 38″, and the short answer is “longer is better”. The more length, the easier it’ll be to wrap around bigger or farther items while being sure to at least loop it through the frame and front wheel.

How do I lock my bike?
Again, this depends on context, but generally, try to lock as many easy-to-remove parts as possible, make sure the frame is secure, and that it’s actually attached to the thing you’re locking it to. (We’ve made the awkward mistake in the past of locking a bike making sure to get both wheels and the frame secured, then forgot to get the cable around the  post we were trying to attach it to.)

At a minimum, lock your frame to something secure. Try to get your front wheel in there, too. If it’s a really bad area and you have quick-release or non-lockable axles, remove the front wheel and lock it together with the frame and rear wheel…to something secure.

a bicycle with its wheels stolen in NYC

Only lock up the things you want to keep.

What does the Sold Secure rating mean?
The UK-based Sold Secure company conducts unbiased third party testing on all types of locks. Originally founded in 1992 by two police departments and the Home Office in Great Britain, the company now works with locksmiths, police and insurers to rate locks. Locks that get the Sold Secure Seal of Approval are also given bronze, silver, or gold status, with gold being the most secure. The Sold Secure Approved Product list is searchable and contains hundreds of rated bike locks. (Of course, remember that just because Sold Secure gives a lock a gold rating, it’s not a 100% guarantee of theft protection. Where and how you use the lock plays a major role, and every lock is fallible.)

Are there ratings I should look for?
Many brands, including Abus and Kryptonite, have their own security ratings. Abus runs from 1 to 15, while Kryptonite is on a 1-10 scale. These rankings give you a sense of how easy the locks are to pick or cut: The higher the ranking, the harder your bike will be to steal. And definitely check to see if your lock is ranked on third party tester Sold Secure’s lists. You can scan the full list of Gold rated locks right here.

Do I need bike insurance?
Bike insurance might be a great idea, especially if you have an expensive bike that you leave locked outside often. But make sure that your lock is approved by the company: A lot of bike insurance companies won’t insure your bike unless it is locked with a Gold-rated Sold Secure lock. You can scan the full list of Gold-rated locks right here.

What do I do if my bike is stolen?
Before this is an issue (and hopefully it never is!), document everything. This means keeping your receipts from bike purchases as well as the receipt from your bike lock purchase. (If you buy extras for your bike, like a pricey wheelset, save those receipts as well.)

You should also take plenty of pictures of your bike before it gets stolen (meaning, go do it now), which can help both in bike retrieval and insurance claims. Be sure to snap a pic of the serial number, which is usually stamped or printed under the bottom bracket.

If your bike is stolen, report it to the police and your insurance company ASAP. If you don’t have bike insurance, check your homeowner or renter policy if you have one. If your bike was stolen at work, inquire if they have any coverage for theft. You’d be surprised at what some insurance companies will cover, so leave no stone left unturned!

We’ve also heard of more riders hiding things like the Apple AirTag or a GPS tracker somewhere on their bike (like in a saddlebag) so they can track it if it does get stolen.

Disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links that may earn a small commission for Bikerumor if you click on them and buy something. This helps support our work here without costing you anything extra. You can learn more about how we make money here. Thanks!

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