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The Best Bike Locks of 2024

A quality bike lock can help deter or prevent bicycle theft. We tested 12 of the best bike locks from top brands like Kryptonite, Litelok, OnGuard, Hiplok and more to help you keep your bikes safe and secure.
The selection of bike locks we tested
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If you own a bike of any sort, you should own a bike lock. Bike theft is a common occurrence and looking closely will show signs of it in any city, and many rural areas as well. No matter what type of bike or where you ride, having a bicycle stolen is soul-crushing – and stolen bicycles are rarely recovered.

Whether you are a recreational road, gravel, or mountain biker, a commuter, or someone who relies solely on their bike for transportation, bike theft will impact your life negatively. And, with the price of high-end road, gravel, and mountain bikes, this can potentially be a large budget consideration, no matter your means. Even worse, if you rely on your bike as your primary mode of transportation, the monetary loss could be compounded by missing work and paying for alternative transportation.

Bike thieves are terrible, opportunistic, and tenacious people who will take advantage of an easy win. Locking your bike is a powerful deterrent that will greatly mitigate the risk of your ride disappearing – and you should certainly be using one anytime your bike is unattended anywhere but inside of your home. But which lock will give you the best protection?

With so many locks available, choosing the right one can be a hard choice. To help, we tested 12 of the best bike locks available in 2024. We used each of these locks for weeks, locking our bikes to bike racks, benches, light poles, and hitch bike racks before subjecting them to a series of destructive tests to see for ourselves how easily they could be compromised. No lock is 100% secure given a determined thief, ample time, and the right tools, but we’ve got recommendations based on the security, portability, and ease of use for U-locks, chains, and folding lock options based on the results of our testing.

Below, we’ve chosen our favorite models across all lock styles and types. To see the models we tested at a glance, check out our handy comparison chart. You can also learn more about how we tested, and if you need help deciding what bike lock is best for you, refer to our detailed buying advice and FAQ section for answers to common questions.

The Best Bike Locks of 2024

Best Overall U-Lock

Litelok X1


  • MSRP $180
  • Type U-Lock
  • Sold Secure Rating Diamond
  • Mfg. Security Rating Highest
  • Materials Barronium (angle grinder resistant) with hardened steel
  • Weight Lock: 1711 grams (3.8 lbs), Frame mount: 157 grams
  • Dimensions Locking area: 10.1cm x 19.6cm
Product Badge The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Diamond Sold Secure Rating
  • Reflective finish
  • Angle grinder resistant – destroyed over two wheels to compromise
  • Easy to use frame mount with option to attach to water bottle braze-ons
  • Automatically covered keyhole with use of rubber grommet


  • Expensive
  • Cross bar needs to be inserted very perpendicular to shackle ends, otherwise it can be a little touchy when closing
  • Only two keys provided, no LED
The Litelok X1 U-lock locking a bike on a bike rack
The Litelok X1 and its armored Barronium shackle proved to be the toughest and most theft-resistant lock we tested. (photo: Paul Clauss)
Best Budget and Runner-Up Best U-Lock

OnGuard Brute 8001 STD


  • MSRP $90
  • Type U-Lock
  • Sold Secure Rating Diamond
  • Mfg. Security Rating 95/100
  • Materials Hardened Steel
  • Weight Lock: 1643 grams (3.6 lbs), Frame mount: 78 grams
  • Dimensions 11.5cm x 20.2cm locking area
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Solid construction
  • Good key feel
  • Diamond Sold Secure ranking
  • Great value
  • Fairly large, square locking area for a U-lock
  • $5001 Bicycle anti-theft offer


  • Phillips head bolts on frame mount
  • Frame mount doesn’t play nice with external cables
  • $5001 Bicycle anti-theft offer NOT available in NY or outside the US
The OnGuard Brute 8001 STD U-lock locking a bike to a large pole
Not only is the OnGuard Brute a solid value, but its squared-off locking area makes it a bit easier to lock bikes to larger fixtures. (photo: Paul Clauss)
Best Folding Bike Lock

Seatylock Foldylock Forever


  • MSRP $125
  • Type Folding
  • Sold Secure Rating Gold
  • Mfg. Security Rating 18/18
  • Materials Rubber coated hardened steel bars
  • Weight Lock: 1632 grams (3.6 lbs), Frame mount: 149 grams
  • Dimensions 90 cm locking perimeter, 6.9 x 20.5 cm folded
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Quiet
  • Great key feel with defined open/closed positions
  • Easy to use and carry
  • Large diameter rounded pins make drilling pivot points more difficult
  • Mounts to included frame bracket or water bottle cage mounts


  • Only requires one cut to open, like all folding locks
  • Locking slot does not rotate fully, can be tricky to get insertion angle right in some situations
The Seatylock Foldylock Forever mounted to a bike frame
Not only is the Seatylock Foldylock Forever super convenient and easy to transport on the included frame mount, but it proved to be the hardest to break of all the folding models we tested. (photo: Paul Clauss)
Runner-Up Best Folding Bike Lock

Kryptonite KryptoLok 610 S


  • MSRP $130
  • Type Folding
  • Sold Secure Rating Not rated (other Kryptonite folding locks are rated Bronze)
  • Mfg. Security Rating 6/10
  • Materials Hardened Steel
  • Weight Lock: 1160 grams (2.5 lbs), Frame mount: 182 grams
  • Dimensions 100cm locking perimeter
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Easy to mount to bike or carry in a bag
  • Can be mounted to braze on water bottle mounts or on frame bracket
  • Easy to use and route when locking the bike due to full locking head/slot rotation – no fighting to align the bar with the slot
  • Good firm key feel
  • Lightest folding lock


  • Only two keys provided, no LED key
  • Medium security
  • Cheap, easily deformed plastic screws for frame bracket mount
  • Not yet rated by Sold Secure
The Kyrpotonite KryptoLok 610 S folding lock in use locking a bike to a bike rack
The Kryptonite KryptoLok 610 S is a user-friendly, lightweight folding lock that offers a medium level of security. (photo: Paul Clauss)
Best Overall Chain Lock

OnGuard Mastiff 8019L


  • MSRP $130
  • Type Chain
  • Sold Secure Rating Gold
  • Mfg. Security Rating 90/100
  • Materials Titanium reinforced steel with fabric chain cover
  • Weight 4876 grams (10.75 lbs)
  • Dimensions 180cm locking perimeter, 10mm chain link gauge, 14mm lock diameter
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Longest chain lock we tested
  • Can lock two bikes on a hitch rack, including wheels and frame
  • Webbing/fabric cover has velcro strips at each end to keep it from creeping along the chain
  • $3001 Anti-theft offer for bicycles


  • Very heavy
  • Difficult to transport on person and bulky in a bag
  • $3001 Anti-theft offer for bicycles NOT available in NY or outside of the US
The OnGuard Mastiff 8019L chain lock in use locking two bikes on a hitch bike rack
Burly chain locks like the OnGuard Mastiff 8019L might be cumbersome to carry but they are great for keeping in the car and locking bikes on hitch racks. (photo: Paul Clauss)
Runner-Up Best Chain Lock

Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain 1410


  • MSRP $179
  • Type Chain
  • Sold Secure rating Diamond
  • Mfg. Security Rating 10/10
  • Materials 3t Hardened Manganese Steel with fabric cover
  • Weight 5034 grams (11.1 lbs)
  • Dimensions 100cm locking perimeter, 14mm chain link gauge, 15mm shackle diameter
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Diamond sold secure rating
  • Very secure
  • Large size may help deter thieves
  • Large size does not seem to limit routing through most frames
  • $5000 Anti-Theft Protection Offer


  • Very heavy – heaviest in test
  • Difficult to transport
  • 100cm length is limiting
  • Mediocre key feel – a bit of slop
The Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain 1410 bike lock after our destructive tests
We learned it takes power tools and quite a bit of time to break the New York Fahgettaboudit Chain 1410. This is arguably the most secure chain lock on the market. (photo: Paul Clauss)
Best Wearable Bike Lock

Hiplok Gold Wearable Chain


  • MSRP $130
  • Type Chain
  • Sold Secure rating Gold
  • Mfg. Security rating Highest
  • Materials Hardened steel with fabric cover
  • Weight 2315 grams (5.1 lbs)
  • Dimensions 85cm locking perimeter, 10mm chain gauge, 12mm shackle diameter
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Fairly comfortable to carry on waist for short distances
  • Great key feel
  • Lighter weight than other chain locks
  • Much more easily portable than other chain locks


  • Waist carry is not super comfortable for long distances
  • 30-44” waist sizing will limit some smaller or larger customers
  • No LED key (though three provided)
  • “Belt” end can get in the way when locking up, a little bit finicky but not a deal breaker
  • 85cm length is on the short side
Wearing the Hiplok Gold Wearable Chain bike lock around the waist
Hiplok provides a practical solution for transporting a burly chain lock with the Gold Wearable Chain. It’s still somewhat heavy, but it makes it much easier to travel with than other chain locks. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Best of the Rest

A Convenient, Versatile, Low Security Option

ABUS Combiflex Travelguard


  • MSRP $35
  • Type Cable
  • Sold Secure Rating Not rated
  • Mfg. Security rating Light/Low
  • Materials Solid steel core and flexible cable
  • Weight 80 grams (0.17 lbs)
  • Dimensions 45cm locking length
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • A lock is always better than no lock and this type of lock can discourage purely opportunistic, unprepared thieves
  • Also good for locking things other than bikes


  • Low security – only to deter the most opportunistic of bike thieves
  • Cut fairly easily with hand shears – only lock in the test
  • Only 3 digits in combination – relatively quick and easy to run through all possibilities

ABUS Bordo Granit 6500K


  • MSRP $200
  • Type Folding
  • Sold Secure rating Gold
  • Mfg. Security Rating 15/15
  • Materials Hardened steel bars with integrated rivets
  • Weight Lock: 1767 grams (3.9 lbs), Frame mount: 147 grams
  • Dimensions 90cm locking perimeter
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Easily mounts to bottle cage braze ons or included frame mount
  • Rounded rivet faces discourage drilling
  • Easy to carry mounted to bike or in bag


  • Heaviest folding lock
  • Slightly more difficult to use than other folding locks tested – not a clean feel pushing in
Good Value for a U-lock and Cable Combo

Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 with 4’ Flex cable


  • MSRP $98
  • Type U-Lock with Cable
  • Sold Secure Rating U-Lock: Gold, Cable: not rated
  • Mfg. Security Rating 7/10
  • Materials Hardened Steel, braided steel cable with epoxy coating
  • Weight U-Lock: 1117 grams (2.5 lbs), Cable: 332 grams (0.75 lbs), Frame mount: 103 grams
  • Dimensions 8.4cm x 17.8cm U-lock locking area, 122cm (4-foot) cable
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Value – cable included with a U-lock for $98
  • Reasonable level of protection and good value for low risk areas/usage
  • $2500 Anti-Theft Protection Offer (U-lock only)


  • Cable will not be enough security in high risk areas
  • Small U-lock locking area makes it difficult to get the most security possible out of this package
  • Frame mount is large and will limit water bottle room on most frames, even with the relatively small U-lock
  • Not the most stable frame mount, fabric mount moved around a bit on us

ABUS Granit XPlus 540 + SH B


  • MSRP $160
  • Type U-Lock
  • Sold Secure rating Diamond
  • Mfg. Security Rating 15/15
  • Materials Hardened Steel
  • Weight Lock: 1465 grams (3.2 lbs), Frame mount: 156 grams
  • Dimensions 10.8cm x 23cm locking area
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Diamond Sold Secure ranking
  • Pointed end is easy to loop around smaller fixtures


  • Only two keys provided
  • Frame mount takes up lots of space, pivoting mechanism is not sleek
  • Pointed end limits locking to larger fixtures
  • Despite the Sold Secure Diamond rating, it was the second quickest U-lock we tested to cut

ABUS Goose 6206K


  • MSRP $90
  • Type Chain
  • Sold Secure Rating Not rated
  • Mfg. Security Rating 7/15
  • Materials 6mm chain with 8mm steel coil surrounded by robust webbing
  • Weight 1133 grams (2.5 lbs)
  • Dimensions 85cm locking perimeter
The Best Bike Locks of 2024


  • Quiet, well padded webbing cover
  • Key automatically pops to closed position when lock is closed, eliminating risk of forgetting to actually lock
  • Reasonably lightweight
  • Can be figured-eighted to a reasonable carrying size
  • Very easy to route through frame and use
  • Required different tools to cut webbing cover and chain/coiled cable


  • Shorter locking length at 85cm
  • Not long enough to put over the shoulder or around the waist, not short enough to carry easily, moves around when looped around frame
  • Able to break with hand tools only
  • Not Sold Secure rated

Bike Locks Comparison Chart

Lock ModelMSRPTypeSold Secure RatingMfg. Security RatingWeight
Litelok X1$180U-lockDiamondHighestLock: 1,711 grams
OnGuard Brute 8001 STD$90U-lockDiamond95/100Lock: 1,643 grams
Seatylock Foldylock Forever$125FoldingGold18/18Lock: 1,632 grams
Kryptonite KryptoLok 610 S$130FoldingNot rated6/10Lock: 1,160 grams
OnGuard Mastiff 8019L$130ChainGold90/1004,876 grams
Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit 1410$179ChainDiamond10/105,034 grams
Hiplok Gold Wearable Chain$130ChainGoldHighest2,315 grams
ABUS Combiflex Travelguard$35CableNot ratedLight/Low80 grams
ABUS Bordo Granit 6500K$200FoldingGold15/15Lock: 1,767 grams
Kryptonite Mini-7 with 4′ Cable$98U-lock with cableU-lock: Gold7/10U-lock: 1,117g, Cable: 332g
ABUS Granit XPlus 540 + SH B$160U-lockDiamond15/15Lock: 1,465 grams
ABUS Goose 6206K$90ChainNot rated7/151,133 grams

Why Should You Trust Bikerumor?

At Bikerumor, we care a lot about bikes, and keeping them safe and secure is of great importance to us. Some of us have even had expensive bikes stolen and know firsthand the pain, disappointment, and monetary loss that bike theft can cause. We always lock our bikes when they are anywhere other than inside of our homes, and we’re always searching for the best locks to keep our precious rides safe.

For our bike lock buyer’s guide, we called on Bikerumor contributor and review author Paul Clauss to test and compare 12 of the best models on the market side by side. A mechanical engineer by trade, Paul has a keen eye for design and features that enhance ease of use and functionality. He enjoys tinkering with products to tease out their strengths and weaknesses, and he is particularly adept at destroying things when asked. In addition to using each lock as it was intended, Paul ran each through a series of destructive tests to see how they stand up to the most common methods of bike theft. After testing was completed, we narrowed in our favorite models considering factors like portability, ease of use, functionality, and security based on our findings.

An avid mountain biker and mountain bike coach, Paul has also applied his passion for testing and analyzing products to several other buyer’s guides. Just this year, he has tested and reviewed dropper seatposts, the best flat pedals on the market, as well as flat pedal shoes to go along with them.

Cutting a bike lock with an angle grinder during bike lock testing
In addition to using each lock to analyze ease of use, portability, and functionality, we subjected each model to a series of cutting tests to see how easy or difficult they are to compromise. (photo: Paul Clauss)

How We Tested Bike Locks

Over the course of several weeks, we tested each model in the field to see how they perform in terms of portability, ease of use, and overall functionality. We locked bikes to bike racks, benches, poles, and fences, locking and unlocking them numerous times to get a feel for the locking mechanisms and attachment methods. When applicable, we used the included frame mounts to analyze how well they work, how securely they hold the lock, and how versatile they are in terms of mounting and bike fit. After that, we subjected each model to a series of cutting tests using the most common methods of modern bike thieves to see for ourselves how much effort it takes to compromise them.

Each lock we tested was subjected to the following abuse, in this order:

  1. Attack with small, hand-held tin snips/shears. 
  2. Attack with larger, 24” bolt cutters.
  3. Attack with an angle grinder and metal cut-off wheel. This was done with the lock in use.
Tools used in destructive bike lock testing include tin snips, bolt cutters, and an angle grinder
The tools used in our destructive bike lock testing. Hand-held tin snips, 24-inch bolt cutters, and an angle grinder with a metal cutting wheel. (photo: Paul Clauss)

There are certainly many other ways to break bike locks, but these are three of the most common methods. While it is possible some of the locks that resisted bolt cutters could be snipped with larger, 36” bolt cutters, 24” is a common size available at most hardware stores for an affordable price. And, for the locks we were able to cut with the bolt cutters, all (including the Kryptonite cables) required quite a bit of effort and were not easily defeated. While an angle grinder is capable of breaking pretty much any lock given enough time, we were pleasantly surprised across the board by the resistance to bolt cutters, especially from the U-locks and folding options. 

In addition to the cutting test, we briefly tried drilling out the rivets on the folding locks but, with basic drill bits rated for metal/wood/plastics and a cordless drill, hardly damaged the pivots whatsoever and couldn’t get a clean hole in any of them. Prying and applying leverage to the folding locks also proved to be futile, with each model holding full body weight while bouncing up and down without bending. While there are likely ways to break folding locks by drilling or by using leverage, it seems it would take significantly longer than the angle grinder, which was relatively quick to cut all the folding locks (and they only require one cut). 

Broken locks after destructive tests
With enough time, effort, and the right tools, any bike lock can be broken. Some are more easily compromised than others. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Buying Advice: How to Choose a Bike Lock

The bike lock market is ever-changing with new models, materials, and designs promising higher levels of security than ever before. With so many options to choose from, finding the right bike lock for your needs, budget, and desired level of security can be a challenging task. We wrote this buying advice article to try and clear up any confusion and help guide you through your bike lock purchase decision.

Types of Bike Locks

The major categories of bicycle locks on the market are as follows: U-locks (or D-locks), Chains, Folding Locks, and Cable Locks. A description of each type, and their advantages and disadvantages, is included below:

Side by side shot of the three U-locks we tested
U-locks like the OnGuard Brute, ABUS Granit XPlus 540, and Litelok X1, typically offer the highest level of security. (photo: Paul Clauss)

U-Locks (or D-Locks)

U-locks are generally regarded as the highest security locks available. Consisting of a high-strength shackle (the “U”) and crossbar (making the “U” into a “D”), U-locks are a relatively compact option that cyclists can loop through the bike frame and a wheel when locking to a bike rack, pole, or similar object, though they can be tricky to use when locking to structures with larger cross sections. U-locks fit tight to the frame when in use, which can make it difficult for thieves to cut them without damaging the frame. Though U-locks can be compromised by a dedicated bike thief with power tools (or possibly large bolt cutters with less secure or smaller U-locks), a high quality, high-security rating U-lock should deter most less committed criminals.

While high-security U-locks can be heavy, many U-locks come with a spline on the shackle that mates with an included frame mount to make portability easier for commuter cyclists. Their relatively small footprint usually does not allow you to secure both wheels and the frame, but U-locks are often used with chain and cable locks to increase locking length. Three of the U-locks we tested, the Litelok X1, OnGuard Brute 8001 STD, and the ABUS Granit XPlus 540, have the highest level Diamond Sold Secure rating.

The OnGuard Mastiff 8019L chain lock
Chain locks typically consist of a beefy steel chain that locks together at the ends. In this case, the OnGuard Mastiff 8019L uses a small but burly U-lock. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Chain Locks

Chain locks are exactly what they sound like – a thick, generally hardened steel chain locked end to end. Most of the chain locks we tested use a small U-lock, like the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit 1410, though some like the Abus Goose or HipLok Gold, use alternative, attached connection methods. The chain is only as secure as the locking mechanism, so it is important to consider this when selecting a chain lock. The chains themselves have a wide range of cross-sectional thickness and, because chains can be broken by applying torsional force, it is important to look for chain locks with small gaps. Like U-locks, even the largest and thickest chain locks can be compromised with a cordless angle grinder. Most chain locks come with fabric sheathing to avoid scratching your bike.

Chain locks are also available in a wide range of lengths and link sizes. A long chain, like the OnGuard Mastiff 8019L, is great for locking to large obstacles, circling multiple bikes, and using with bike racks on cars. They are also quite heavy and unwieldy, making them a great choice for locking in your garage or keeping in the car, but a poor choice for commuting with the lock.

Folding locks are convenient and portable thanks to their folding designs, but they are typically a little less secure than many chain or U-locks. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Folding Locks

Folding locks consist of pivoting bars that lock together at the ends, which can be folded into a compact package when not in use and extended to allow more flexibility than U-locks with respect to what you can lock to. With moderate weights and small collapsed dimensions, folding locks can be mounted to frames or carried in bags fairly easily. While they are easy to transport, the pivoting joints present a weak point in the design, and folding locks are generally considered less secure than many U-locks or chains, but many, like the Seatylock Foldylock Forever and ABUS Bordo Granit 6500K, do meet the Gold-level Sold Secure standards, making them a good option for commuters in low to medium-risk areas. 

A cable lock in use locking a bike to a bike rack
Cable locks typically provide a longer locking length and flexibility in how you lock your bike, but the cables themselves are more easily compromised than other types of locks. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Cable Locks

Cable locks are inexpensive, widely available, lightweight, easy to use and carry, and available in nearly any length. They can be secured with a combination key, padlock, U-lock, or nearly any other locking mechanism you can imagine (or buy at the hardware store). Cable locks are also the least secure lock option, with smaller, flexible cables easily cut with hand tools and larger cables requiring only a larger pair of bolt cutters or less than 15 seconds with a Dremel tool or cordless angle grinder.

While we don’t recommend relying solely on cables to secure your bike, we do suggest using them in addition to other locks, particularly with U-locks as a secondary means to secure your front wheel. Using a cable lock is not going to deter a thief with any level of commitment, but they are easy to carry and sure beat leaving your bike unlocked for quick stops in relatively safe locations.

Three folding bike locks with keys
Most of the bike locks we tested use keyed locking mechanisms, but there are loads of combination lock options on the market for those who don’t want to carry or keep track of keys. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Locking Mechanisms

Just as there are different styles of locks, there are different locking mechanisms to go along with them. The two most common types of lock mechanisms are key locks and combination locks.

Combination Locks

Combination locks use a numerical, alphabetical, or symbolic key that is arranged in order to open each cylinder of the locking mechanism. While you don’t have to keep track of a key, combination locks could be attempted by anyone who walks by and are generally less secure in their construction than keyed locks. For a lightweight cable lock used in addition to a more secure chain, cable, or folding lock, or a low-security lock used only for quick stops in safe areas, a combination lock might deter uncommitted bike thieves, but we recommend keyed locks for most applications.

Key Locks

Keyed locks require a specific key to open and close the lock. The locks tested came with between 2 – 5 copies of the key and, if you have a small number of spares, label them and store them in a safe location so you don’t have to figure out how to break the locks yourself! The majority of the locks we tested were keyed locks and we appreciated keys with LED flashlights included to make finding the keyhole easy in the dark.

An assortment of keys that came with the bike locks we tested
Keys, keys, and more keys. Most of the locks we tested use keys and come with 2-5 heys, some of which feature small LED lights for use in the dark. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Other Factors To Consider

When considering which bike lock is best for you, we recommend considering the level of security, portability/weight, ease of use, and sizing as major variables.

Level of Security

The level of security you should look for in a bike lock depends on where and when you lock up. In general, you should choose the most secure lock that you can afford to purchase and carry around. If you live near a college campus, in a major city, or in any area with high crime or bike theft rates, you should certainly invest in a high-quality U-lock, chain lock, or both. If you are a commuter who consistently carries your lock on your person or mounted to the frame, a folding lock might provide a good security/portability balance. As we found in testing, all of these locks can be compromised given enough time and the right tools, even those with a Diamond-level Sold Secure rating, but 4 minutes with an angle grinder is tougher for thieves to get away with than 10 seconds to snip a small cable lock. 

If you live in a safe, more rural area, we still recommend having a solid chain and U-lock to use for quick stops when the bike is on the car rack. Consider the price of your bike and buy a lock with a comparable level of security – you never know who will be driving through that day and it’s easy to take a bike off a rack, throw it in the back of a truck, and drive away in less than 30 seconds. When considering the level of security provided by a lock, read reviews and use common sense based on the size of the lock and your security needs. While you shouldn’t rely on cables as your primary locking means, it never hurts to have a few in different sizes to complement your main lock.

A screenshot from the Sold Secure website
Sold Secure is an organization that tests security products and provides ratings based on their findings. (photo: Screenshot of Sold Secure website)

Sold Secure Ratings

Sold Secure is an organization dedicated to reducing the risk of crime by the assessment of security products. They test a wide variety of security products, from safes to automotive locks to bicycle locks, and rate them on their four-level scale described below:

  • Bronze: Offering theft resistance against a basic tool list (aimed at preventing opportunistic crime)
  • Silver: Offering theft resistance against an enhanced tool list (aimed at preventing more determined attacks)
  • Gold: Offering theft resistance against a dedicated tool list (aimed at preventing dedicated attacks)
  • Diamond: The highest level of theft resistance including the use of specialist tools (aimed at preventing the most destructive attacks that could include angle grinders)

The Sold Secure rating for the locks they have approved is included in our comparison table. It is important to note that some insurance companies only cover bike theft if the bike is locked with a Sold Secure rated lock. Most lock manufacturers also have their own security scales for locks in their catalogs, which can give a relative view of the security of the lock within their range. 

A folding bike lock mounted to a bike frame for transport
When it comes to portability, folding locks and U-locks are the easiest to deal with, but folding locks, like the ABUS Bordo Granit 6500K, take the cake for their small collapsed size. (photo: Paul Clauss)


Security for your risk level should be your top concern when selecting a bike lock, but you’ll need to balance it against portability/weight if you intend to carry the lock with you. In general, folding locks and U-locks are the most easily portable given their smaller dimensions and lower weights, and most come with a frame mount of some kind so they can be attached to the bike in transit. Even if you don’t attach them to your bike, they are usually fairly easy and convenient to carry in a bag while you ride. Of the two styles, folding locks are the most portable given their ability to fold down to a compact size when not in use. The Seatylock Foldylock Forever, for example, folds down relatively small and fits nicely into its included frame mount that attaches to bottle cage mounts. Similarly, U-locks, like the Litelok X1, often come with a good frame mount, they just take up a little more space within the front triangle.

A U-lock mounted to a bike when not in use
While a bit larger than folding locks when not in use, most U-locks, like the Litelok X1 pictured here, are fairly easy to transport on a frame mount or in a bag. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Chain locks, on the other hand, are bulkier, heavier, and more difficult to carry with you. The longest and second heaviest chain lock in the test, the OnGuard 8019L Mastiff, for example, is a good, secure option to keep in the car for locking to the bike rack, but, at over 10 lbs and nearly 6’ long, is not the best lock to carry on anything but the shortest commutes. The Hiplok Gold is an exception among the chain locks we tested, as it has a unique design that allows it to be worn as a belt for transport. Some other shorter chain locks can also be slung over the shoulder for short distances, though their weight and sizes can be cumbersome and uncomfortable.

A comparison of the size of chain locks and a U-lock
Different types of bike locks come in a range of sizes that dictate how much you’re able to lock with them. U-locks can typically capture the frame, one wheel, and a bike rack, while a longer chain lock can loop through two bikes and a hitch bike rack. (photo: Paul Clauss)


Your needs will dictate the size of bike lock that is best for you. Locks with smaller areas, particularly U-locks, will limit what parts of your bike and what you can lock your bike to, and inflexible designs can make it difficult to route around curves. Folding locks offer a surprisingly large locking area, 90cm to 100cm among the models we tested, and are able to loop through the frame, a wheel, and around a fixed object. Chain and cable locks come in a variety of lengths and are generally very easy to use in a variety of scenarios, but suffer in terms of portability and security (in the case of cable locks).  A long length is great for locking multiple bikes at a time or securing to large features or car racks, but difficulty transporting them makes them better suited to leaving in the car or using around the home.

The Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain 1410 bike lock in use locking a bike to a bike rack
A quality bike lock will help keep your bikes secure. The Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain 1410 is one of the best around. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Frequently Asked Questions About Bike Locks

When and where should I lock my bike?

Anytime your bike is unattended outside of your own home, your bike should be locked. Even in areas where the risk of theft is low, bicycles are quick, easy, and quiet to steal away and you never know when you’ll encounter an enterprising thief. Even if you store your bikes outside at your home, they should be securely locked, and any bike left on a car rack should be locked. Think about how quick and easy it is to remove a bike from a rack and throw it in the back of a truck or van.

When you lock your bike to something, the lock can only possibly be as secure as what it is locked to. Wooden fences or small trees can easily be broken, and it is preferable to look for purpose built bike racks and tall poles. When locking your bike, you are looking for an immovable anchor point that cannot be broken. Small stop sign poles might look like a good option, but they are easy to remove from the ground or potentially lift a locked bike over, giving thieves the option to take the locked bike and remove the lock at their convenience in a private location.

Locking your bike in a well traveled area, ideally one you can see from where you will be while the bike is unattended, will help deter theft attempts as well. A thief stealing a bike from a dark, empty alley will have more time and options to break a lock than one on a crowded street.

What should I do if my bike is stolen?

First, make sure you can prove ownership of your bike before it is stolen. Keep receipts for your bike and major upgrades, make notes and photograph serial numbers, register your bike with the manufacturer (and city or college campus organization), and take photos of your bike regularly. This evidence will be important when you need to prove ownership of your stolen property when reporting a bike theft.

If your bike is stolen, first file a police report. While stolen bikes are difficult to recover, it does happen. Next, report the theft to your renters, home, or bike insurance. If your bike was stolen in a secured location (like some parking garages) or your workplace, find out if they have any policies covering stolen property and report the incident to them as well.

While it is not guaranteed to work, you may also consider reporting the theft to local bike shops, pawn shops, and local riding groups. I’ve seen stolen bikes returned home through strong riding communities, so make the post on the local riders’ social media pages. 

Consider technology as well – an Apple Airtag could help you track down your bike anywhere, and there are companies that make mounts to attach Airpods inside seat tubes, head tubes, or bottle cage mounts so they cannot be seen and easily removed. If you use this technique, be sure to work with local police when retrieving the bike for safety.

How do bike thieves bypass locks?

There are many ways bike thieves can break even the most secure locks. Any lock can be picked, but most bike thieves opt for a less subtle, brute force technique. This includes using long poles for leverage, hand tools like tin snips and bolt cutters to cut small to medium locks, and power tools like Dremels and cordless angle grinders to quickly remove high-security locks. Some thieves may be able to pick locks and we are certain from the Lock Picking Lawyers YouTube videos that all the locks can likely be picked by an expert, but brute force attacks are much more common.

For the locks in this test, we used a progression of small, inexpensive hand tools up to cordless power tools to see how quickly they could be broken. Starting with a small set of hand shears, moving on to a larger set of 24” bolt cutters, then going to an angle grinder with a 4.5” metal cut-off wheel, which was able to get through all the locks. Some locks like the OnGuard Brute 8001 STD and Litelok X1 Armoured Barronium wore the cutting wheels out very quickly, the latter taking more than two wheels to make the two cuts required to open the lock.

How does my location relate to the risk of bike theft?

Bike theft occurs everywhere, but there are certainly places where it runs more rampant than others. You can see the signs in high theft areas – bikes missing wheels and seatposts, use of heavy-duty locks, and no expensive bikes to be seen locked up on the streets. This is prevalent in high-risk areas like major metropolitan areas and college campuses. In places such as these, using the strongest and most secure locks available will be the best deterrent short of storing your bike inside if possible.

While bike theft might be less common in smaller communities and rural areas, there are opportunistic thieves everywhere and security should be the top concern when purchasing a lock. Even in quiet and “safe” mountain towns, bike thefts still occur, albeit at a lower rate. Regardless of your location, securing your bike with a trustworthy lock is the best way to mitigate bike theft.

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