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).
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.
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini U-Lock
Best Overall Bike Lock
With its yellow and black vinyl coating, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini is as ubiquitous as it is battle-ready. The 18mm hardened steel shackle and oversized steel sleeve covering the crossbar are designed to thwart bolt cutters, and the small size makes prying with a lever downright tricky. Pair it with a secondary cable for additional security. The Fahgettaboudit comes with a theft-replacement guarantee of $5,000.
Material: 18mm hardened steel
Weight: 4.54 lbs
Abus U-Lock U-Mini 40
Best Budget Bike Lock
Like the Fuhgettaboutit, the Abus U-Lock U-Mini 40 is a short U-lock that’ll keep your bike close to the rack/sign/parking meter, which makes tampering with it more difficult for thieves. Unlike Kryptonite’s lock, this one costs half as much. Its steel is also slightly thinner in diameter, part of why it weighs less than half as much.
Material: 14mm hardened steel
Weight: 2.16 lbs
Ottolock Sidekick Bundle
Best Lightweight Lock
Ottolock’s cable tie-style bike lock is for those who require supreme lightness in a lock. The classic Otto cinch lock comes in three lengths: 18, 30 and 60 inches; and the shortest weighs only 120 grams (roughly four ounces). It’s also small enough to tuck under your bike seat, or even clip on to your belt loop. But if you’re worried about bike thieves with clippers, go for the bundle, which comes with Otto’s new Sidekick U-lock. Using two locks is a good way to deter thieves (especially if your bike is parked next to one with a single lock).
Materials: 12mm silicon-coated hardened steel (U-lock); non-marking plastic-coated Kevlar (cinch lock)
Weight: 1.65 lbs (U-lock); 0.39 lbs (cinch lock)
Abus Bordo Granit X Plus 6500
Best Folding Lock
German security company Abus is very interested in keeping thieves away from your goods: they make alarm systems, surveillance cameras, even fire extinguishers. So you can probably trust them with a bike, right? The Bordo GRANIT X Plus 6500 will cost a pretty penny, but it hits 15 on the company’s security rating scale, the highest level. The portable design of folding 5.5mm hardened steel bars includes a soft coating to prevent nicks and scratches to your ride.
Material: 5.5mm hardened steel
Weight: 3.48 lbs
Onguard Beast Chain Lock with X4 Padlock
Best Chain Lock
If you have a particularly bulky bike, like an e-bike or a cargo bike (or an e-cargo bike), the best protection you can get might just be a massive chain. The Beast is one such option, made of 14mm link titanium reinforced chain coupled with a short shackle u-lock. Its shortest available length is over three feet, which should be enough to wrap larger bikes. The main drawback with this lock, or any chain lock, is weigh; this one is around 15 pounds. The Beast comes with a theft-replacement guarantee of $5,000.
Material: 14mm titanium-reinforced steel
Weight: 15+ lbs
TiGr Bow Lock
Best Lock For Design Lovers
You’ve already invested in a beautiful piece of machinery and you’re not about to kill the look — sound like you? Consider the TiGr Lock, which looks like an avant-garde pair of tongs but is actually a titanium bow covered in clear PVC that, in it’s longer iterations, can lock around a bike frame and both wheels. The TiGr began as a Kickstarter, so you can thank crowd-funding for this beauty.
Weight: 1.4-2 lbs
Pinhead Locks Locking Quick-Release Set
Best Lock Accessory
Think of Pinhead’s products less like locks and more as locking accessories. Instead of securing your bike to a post or rack, Pinhead’s skewers secure easily removed components like wheels, saddles, seatposts and headsets. The skewers lock with a coded nut recessed in a free-rotating housing. The construction means you have to have the same coded key to remove them, which means you’ll need to carry it around if you plan to remove anything or make adjustments. But that’s a small price to pay for extra security, and in our experience, most bike mechanics have ways of prizing them loose sans key, for better or worse.
Material: CrMo steel and aircraft aluminum alloy
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