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The Best Bike Locks for Every Cyclist

Don’t let your precious ride become a seatless skeleton on the street.

collage of bike locks

Cities are graveyards for stolen bikes, with bent wheels and ragged frames hanging off anything nailed to the ground, sometimes with a sawed-through bike lock lying in plain sight. The air is thick with the ghosts of bikes that were stolen completely — Fujis, Treks, Surlys. You can almost hear their cute little bells ringing, warning you to get the hell out of the bike lane. Estimates for stolen bikes in North America range from 800,000 to two million per year. Moreover, they’re challenging to get back because most people don’t write down serial numbers, register their bikes or even report a theft to police (and stolen bike recovery isn’t exactly law enforcement’s number one priority, either).

What to Look For

There are a few types of bike locks you'll start to see repeatedly coming up in searches — most commonly the ubiquitous U-Lock, multiple of which are listed below. Additionally, you'll see heavy, hulking chain locks and svelte cable locks that weigh next to nothing. Each lock will keep your bike tethered securely, but the different types of locks do have different use cases, so keep that in mind when doing your research and reading through product pages. Heavy locks are obviously not ideal for the lycra-clad roadie, and a lightweight lock, like the ones from Otto, would not be ideal for locking up an e-bike overnight.

In our opinion, the use case is the most important factor to use when deciding which lock to buy, but some other things to keep in mind are price, whether they use a key or combination lock and how big they are (some u-locks barely fit around a frame and a bike rack). Regardless of which you choose, though, any lock is better than no lock.

How to Lock Your Bike Properly

When it comes to bike locking etiquette, there are several tips that will keep your sweet ride out of the hands of thieves and safe from harm. (There are also a few ways you should never lock your bike.) First tip: consider locking your bike in a busy, crowded area with plenty of other bikes locked up — the more eyes on your bike, the less likely it is to be stolen, and the more bikes crammed into one area, the harder it is to pull one out of the shuffle. Second, lock your bike to an immovable object and make sure if you're using a cable lock, to wrap it as many times you can for extra security. Third, always lock your frame to an immovable object — otherwise, you're going to be left with a sad, solitary wheel for transportation. If you're using a U-hook, try to fill as much of the space as possible so that thieves can't get the proper leverage they need to saw it open. If you're security-focused (and perhaps jaded from a past robbery) consider using two locks

The good news is that with a serious bike lock, proper locking technique and the good sense to take the darn thing inside at night, you can prevent your bike from becoming a statistic. Remember that no lock is safe in all places — take into account where you’re leaving your bike, what type of lock you’re using and how long you’ll be gone for. Bike thieves are opportunists, and they’ll calculate quickly they can nab a bike against how valuable it looks. If your favorite beat-up commuter is firmly secured and there’s a nice-looking ride with a flimsy cable lock on the next rack over, chances are you’re safe.

Now, on to the bike locks.

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How We Tested
how we tested bike lock
Steve Mazzucchi

We've put these locks through their paces in the city, in the 'burbs and everywhere in between. We've taken them on long coffee rides, on commutes downtown and locked bikes to our car's bike racks. While we all have preferences, we've made sure to keep a range of locks in mind when testing and trying to determine the best locks for the job.

Kryptonite New-U New York Fahgettaboudit Mini U-Lock
TiGr Mini Titanium Bike Lock
Abus 410 Ultra U Lock
Now 25% off
OTTOLOCK Sidekick Compact U-Lock
Now 13% off
Onguard Beast Chain Lock with X4 Padlock
ABUS Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500 Folding Lock
Pinhead Locks Locking Quick-Release Set
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