Our reviewers have been at it again, finding the best bike locks in 2019. We researched 60+ top models and tested 16 extensively head-to-head. Our expert testers put each lock through the grinder (literally) along with other theft tactics to test their relative strengths and weaknesses. We also considered each lock's portability and how versatile it is to use with different bikes and in different situations. From metropolitan bikeways to rural trails, we mounted and stowed the locks to test their portability. The result is a comprehensive review of locks to guide you to the right one for your needs.
The Best Bike Locks of 2019
|Price||$107.91 at Amazon|
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|$96.97 at Amazon|
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|$76.99 at Amazon|
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|$55.95 at REI|
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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||Secures both wheels, low weight for a U-lock, inexpensive, easy to use, good security to price ratio||Versatile, light (for a U-Lock), easy to use|
|Cons||Heavy, bulky to transport||Not the highest security possible, expensive||Far from lightweight, uncomfortable with some backpacks, pricey||Cable is awkward to transport, rattles||Less secure than other U-Lock models, bulky|
|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.||This lock provides a lot of security and versatility for a great price.||If you're looking for a U-Lock that will keep your front tire on (and you aren't in a dangerous area) this is probably the lock for you.|
|Rating Categories||New York Standard U-Lock||ABUS Granit X-Plus 540 U-Lock||Hiplok Original: Superbright||KryptoLok Series 2 Standard...||Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock|
|Ease Of Transport (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (20%)|
|Specs||New York Standard...||ABUS Granit X-Plus...||Hiplok Original:...||KryptoLok Series 2...||Evolution Mini-7...|
|Measured weight (lbs)||4.49 lbs||3.28 lbs||4.31 lbs||3.26 lbs||3.51 lbs|
|Lock dimensions||4" x 8" (16 mm" thick)||9" x 4.25" (13mm thick)||1.5' long x 2"||4" x 9" (13mm thick) with 4' x 10mm cable||9.35"x 5.6"x 1.6" (U-Lock); 4' cable|
|Type of lock||U-lock||U-lock||Chain||U-lock||U-Lock + cable|
|# of keys included||3 (one with HID light)||2 (one with LED light)||3||2||3 keys (one with HID light)|
|Primary materials||16mm Hardened Steel||13mm hardened steel||8mm hardened steel chain, 600D polyester sleeve||13mm hardened steel (U-lock), braided steel (cable)||13mm hardened "max-performance" steel with braided steel cable|
|Warranty/Manufacturer programs||$4,000 Theft Protection, Limited Lifetime Warranty, Key Safe Program||None||1-year manufacturer warranty||$1,750 Theft Protection, Lifetime Warranty, Key Safe Program||$2,500 Theft Protection (does not cover cable), 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||Sliding plastic keyhole cover, comes with 4-ft cable||LED light on one key; cable in addition to U-Lock; dust cover on keyhole|
|Wire Snips||No||No||No||Cable: Yes, U-lock: No||Cable: Yes, eventually; U-lock: No|
|Hacksaw||No||No||No||No||No; but with cable cutters 8 seconds (cable)|
|Bolt Cutters, 36"||No||No||No||Cable: Yes, U-lock: No||Cable: Yes, U-lock: No|
|Number of cuts required to free lock||2 cuts||2 cuts||1 cut||1 cut||2 cuts|
Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock
Years go by, and the Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock remains unbeatable. Our Editors' Choice champ scores well across the board, thanks to its simple but effective design. Kryptonite built 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 feat we think is worth mentioning since thieves also use those to pry apart U-Locks. A "Gold" rating from Sold Secure grants you some peace of mind when locking your bike in urban areas.
Its pitfalls include its weight. It's pretty heavy, but the frame mount is lightweight and makes for convenient storage while cruising. 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, should trouble arise. Kudos to Kryptonite for making a versatile, burly, and user-friendly bike lock of such quality.
Read review: Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock
Best Bang for the Buck
Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock
Our Best Buy Award goes to a mid-security model with an entry-level price: the Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock. This classic U-lock comes with a four-foot cable that can reach around both wheels and is efficient to secure and un-secure. The frame mount works well enough and comes with the manufacturer's name that is a theft deterrent in and of itself.
Although OnGuard makes this style of mid-security U-Lock with cable in their Bulldog DT, this Kryptonite product is an all-around better product. From the higher quality cable to the easy locking "bent foot" design, the KryptoLok gradually pulled ahead in points.
Read review: Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock
Top Pick for Bike Commuting
Hiplok Original: Superbright
Want a lock that you'll love transporting? We do, too. It is such a rarity to find one that answers the pesky question of how to efficiently lug it around between lockups, but our Top Pick for Commuting, the Hiplok Original: Superbright does it with ingenuity. Hiplok took a beefy 8mm hardened steel chain two feet long and put a nylon sheath around it. Next, Hiplok engineered a padlock (one quite tough to break, we might add) with an extra metal bar that serves as a buckle. A swath of Velcro goes through the buckle then folds back on itself, creating an adjustable and comfortable design that you wear like a low belt. Lastly, the Superbright lock has a large reflective strip on the outside of the nylon cover, because bikers can never be too visible. A simple yet brilliant design, it is burly and transports well. The everyday commuting cyclist, as well as anyone else wanting a quality product, will appreciate this product.
Our only reservations come from the product's weight, which at over 4 pounds, is considerable. It's also on the expensive side of bike locks and, let's face it; not everyone wants to wear a reflective belt.
Read review: Hiplok Original: Superbright
Notable for Extended Parking
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock
Want the most intimidating lock to wrap around your wheels and frame? The Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock is it. This lock is designed with extended and overnight parking in mind. If you lock up in the same place daily, you can leave this lock on the rack while you're away. No lock is impervious to defeat, but this one should deter all but the most dedicated thieves.
To be sure, you need to know what you're getting into here. It's expensive, huge, and weighs over 15 pounds, so you won't be eager to transport it around town. It also chips the paint off your frame, so if you're picky about that sort of thing, 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 anywhere outside of your housing for long periods, this lock provides strong assurance 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, 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. Shackling to posts, trees, racks, and other immovable structures is part of daily life for him. He even gave up cars for bikes for over 7 years while living in major metropolitan areas like Germany (Hamburg, Berlin) and the US (Chicago, Minneapolis). 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.
Rebecca Eckland also tests and reviews locks on our team. She's 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. As you can imagine, she isn't psyched to lose her wheels. She's also spent considerable time 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 for fun. 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 15-20 years. Some impressive, others less so.
We started our testing process by learning how these different bike locks perform in-transit; we shoved them in our panniers, bungeed them on trailers, placed 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 probably use your bike to get to — your office, a local coffeehouse or watering hole, the library, a college campus, a bike shop, a grocery store in a strip mall.
As we rode around, we were on the lookout for things to lock the bike to. We tested the locks on racks, benches, trees, random posts, and fences to assess each one's usability. We timed ourselves using the locks, asking questions like which ones are easy to lock and unlock? Which one tends to leave us covered in chain grease? Which ones did we really dislike using?
During these test rides, we started examined the secured bikes from the eyes of a bike thief. Even if the frame was secured, could somebody steal the wheels or seat? Was the lock allowing us to secure both wheels, or did we need an extra lock for that? What limitations did each lock impose on security, and were those limitations easy prey for experienced thieves?
In the last phase of testing, we transformed ourselves into bike thieves. Using common hand tools, we attempted to compromise 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.
Related: How We Tested Bike Locks
Analysis and Test Results
Finding the right bike lock is a pretty complicated process and not one that we recommend you take lightly. Make a wrong decision, and you risk losing your wheels, which is not only a huge financial bummer, but it's logistical, too. There's a huge range of bike lock products out there, and it's important that you find one that: 1) will keep your bike safe; but also 2) one that you want to carry, and 3) one that you will actually use. That's the funny thing about a bike lock-- it doesn't work if you leave it at home.
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.
Related: Buying Advice for Bike Locks
We hate to say it, but the price does (for the most part) correlate to quality-- and quality, in this case, means the amount of time a lock will fend of a determined thief and make them question their return on investment (ROI) 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 KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock comes in at nearly half the price. 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. 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 criterion to consider when choosing a lock, so we invested a lot of time in testing the security of each lock on this review roster. We first assessed each lock's apparent 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 wire 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).
News flash: With the right tools and enough time, all locks can be defeated, and it doesn't take a genius 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.
The Kryptonite New York models took the highest scores in this 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 two separate cuts of their U bars 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 reviewed also withstood all hand tool attacks but only required a single cut from the electric angle grinder to become compromised, hence a lower security score. Each of these locks took approximately 25-40 seconds to cut. No amount of hammer slamming, hacksawing, or bolt cutting was able to beat them. The same goes for the Hiplok chain and locking mechanism. Of course, the cables accompanying the Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 and OnGuard Bulldog DT locks were defeated by most hand tools in our arsenal. Cables shouldn't be used to secure a frame, but they do 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.
We were let down by the security presented in the Ottolock Cinch. After reading much hype about it, we initially were excited when this lock 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. Despite the hype, the Cinch isn't a very secure lock when up against some very basic 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. The HipLoz Z Lok was defeated rather quickly, too, as it is essentially a zip tie with a key. 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.
Ease of Transport
How simple a lock is to transport plays a part in the likelihood of always having it with you. If a lock is so inconvenient to carry around with you, you're probably not going to use it. 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 proved to be among 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 crunch up 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.
The Ottolock, however, won our prize for the best lightweight model around due to its small size (it rolls up to a nice, neat coil) and at 5.3 ounces, you'll hardly notice the addition of the lock, whether you carry it in your pocket, a backpack, or wrapped around your bike frame. The one-pound TiGr mini 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) cannot 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. These reasons, coupled with its robust security, primarily influenced our decision to award it as our Top Pick for Commuting.
Cable locks, because they are lightweight and can be easily stuffed into all sorts of bags, are 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.
Now, U-locks. These heavy-hitters are secure and rigid, which is great when you're talking about security, but less 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, KryptoLok Series 2, 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 could get behind. While it's not much of a deterrent for even a clumsy thief, this inexpensive lock may be enough to prevent the snatch-and-grab opportunist for when you need to park the bike for a dash to nature's call.
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. It wore on our tester's nerves, so we docked points in this category even though the lock itself is very secure.
Lastly, the Fahgettaboudit Chain and Disc Lock is truly a heavyweight — weighing over 15 pounds, 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
It probably sounds silly to say, but 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 structure. Specifically, we asked how quickly it was to secure and unsecure 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 coating on the Ottolock Cinch 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 Fahgettaboudit Mini is easy to manage due to its small size. The KryptoLok Series 2 Standard has a feature they call the "bent foot" which allows you to insert one end of the "U" then leverage that side to insert the remaining end. This feature is excellent for usability but decreases the product's security, so we understand why the burly New York Series U-Locks have dual locking mechanisms within their crossbars.
Even though bike locks aren't known as feature-laden devices, some of these features really did 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, yet 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 all but useless, which was 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 60+ bicycle frame, if you're petite and riding a 48 (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 gets annoying for many cyclists, including some of our testers.
In case you've never thought about it, a bike isn't rideable with its front wheel stolen unless you've got skills like these. If you're not interested in learning how, consider getting a lock that secures that front wheel. Quick release skewers make front tires easy pickings. 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, KryptoLok Series 2 and the Evolution Mini-7 all 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 bikes have 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 salt water, 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. Dry, Teflon-based lubricants are typically recommended for 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.
Choosing a bike lock can be overwhelming! But, it's a necessary evil for most 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 unacceptable, so we want you to find the one that works right for you. 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