A bike lock is an essential item if you plan to leave your pride and joy unattended at any time. Here’s what to look for and an overview of some of the best locks on the market

A bike lock might not be the most exciting item to splash out on, but theft is not uncommon and a quality lock is an effective deterrent. Trying to scrimp on a bike lock is a very real form of false economy, and it’s often suggested that you should aim to spend 10 per cent of the value of your bike on a quality lock.

Types of bike lock

Type of lock

Which type of bike lock is best for you?

There are many different styles of bike lock. Riders locking up for periods over an hour will find cable-chains and shackle locks (such a D-locks) are the most common versions – so these are the options we’ve focused on in our reviews below.

Weight is a major variable which will affect usability and security. As a rule of thumb, heavier locks will be tougher to infiltrate, but more cumbersome to transport. The models in our test go right up to 2.7kg, which will add a significant penalty to your overall mass on the bike. The extra weight might not be desirable if you plan to ascend a 10 per cent incline on every journey, but it might be worth it if you’re leaving an expensive looking bicycle on the high street all day. Choosing the right option for you is all about balancing the need for security against ease of use.

Riders who want a little extra security when pitching up at a coffee stop on a long ride sometimes opt for a ‘café lock’ (such as Hiplok’s new FLX). Café locks are very lightweight and often use a combination code to avoid the added admin of a key. They’re great if you plan to be sitting within a metre of your pride and joy, but not suitable for securing your bike in town whilst you nip into the shops.

Some insurance policies require you to lock your bike to an immovable object in your home – and in this case many riders will use a ground anchor, or a wall hanging device like Hiplok’s Airlok.

Our pick of the best bike locks

Knog Bouncer bike lock – 7/10

Knog bouncer bike lock

Knog bouncer bike lock

Read more: Knog Bouncer bike lock review

The Bouncer Bike lock from Knog has been silicone coated to protect your bike’s paintwork as well as its overall safety. The lock is Sold Secure rated Bronze and weighs just 860g – which makes it very portable – but the ‘D’ measures just 120mm which could be limiting when coupled with chunky aero tubing profiles.

Zéfal K-Traz A25 bike lock – 7/10

Zefal K-Traz A25 bike lock

Zefal K-Traz A25 bike lock

Read more: Zéfal K-Traz A25 bike lock review 

This popular alternative to the traditional D-lock or shackle lock makes it easier to secure your bike to wider objects if a standard bike rack isn’t an option. This lock hasn’t been rated by an independent company, but Zefal give it a 4/5. The cable measures 1200mm and your frame will be protected by a thick vinyl cable-sleeve. A double locking barrel is used and the overall weight is 1.75kg.

Squire Mako Conger bike lock – 8/10

Squire Mako Conger bike lock

Squire Mako Conger bike lock

Read more: Squire Mako Conger bike lock review

This Sold Secure Bronze rated lock uses a five digit combination code, and the hardened steel chain is encased in a tough PVC outer. The cable is 900mm long, making it user friendly when length is relevant – for example a dedicated bike rack isn’t available – and the entire unit weighs in at 1.8kg.

Kryptonite New York M18 bike lock – 9/10

Kryptonite New York M18 bike lock

Kryptonite New York M18 bike lock

Read more: Kryptonite New York M18 bike lock review 

This offering from Kryptonite comes with a Gold rating for cycle and motorcycle security – and that safety comes at a weight penalty of 2.7kg. An 18mm wide shackle offers 260mm of clearance and the key hole is protected by a dust cover, featuring an LED keylight.

Hiplok bike lock – 8/10

Hiplok bike lock

Hiplok bike lock

Read more: Hiplok bike lock review  

What sets this lock apart is that it’s deigned to be worn around the hips – meaning you don’t need to add weight to your bike or luggage. The total mass is 2kg, the chain is covered in a canvas sleeve, and the lock is rated Sold Secure Silver. At 850mm long, it’ll fit waist sizes 24 to 44inch.

Master Lock Criterion bike lock – 9/10

Masterlock Criterion bike lock

Master Lock Criterion bike lock

Read more: Master Lock Criterion bike lock review 

This top end bike lock comes with the assurance of a Sold Secure Gold sticker. Despite its acclaimed security, it’s fairly light, at 1.3kg – with a dust cover over the keyhole and a 270mm long shackle. A frame mount is included but the low weight means it could sit well in a backpack.

Bike lock testing certification

Is it secure?

Is your bike lock secure?

Reputable bike lock brands will have their devices rated by independent testers, Sold Secure. Locks are given a rating of Gold, Silver or Bronze – this is based on the tools required to defeat them, and time taken.

Gold locks are ranked as the safest, whilst Bronze is the lowest rating – but in most cases those locks with a Gold stamp of approval will be the heaviest.

Bike lock ease of use

When arriving at your destination you’ll need to secure the bike to an immovable object. This often requires a hand or body part to hold the bike still. If your lock also requires two (or more!) hands to use easily, this can be a real pain. For us, the main part of the lock needs to be controllable with one hand. If something is too complicated to actually use, the chances are you won’t bother. Not bothering either limits your bike usage or means you run the risk of ‘just nipping in here for a minute’ without locking the bike – which can lead to disaster.

In the case of a shackle lock, the longer the shackle, the more choice you’ll have in terms of where to secure your bike.

Bike lock weatherproofing

We live in a damp climate, so the chances are your locked bike is likely to be subject to at least occasional precipitation. While we don’t expect perfectly watertight seals around any opening, additional weather proofing — particularly around the key barrel — is always a good thing.

Carrying your bike lock

The style of lock also has an impact: some are designed to be fitted to the bike and will come with a mount. Where the lock is mounted will affect handling if you’ve gone for a heavyweight, whilst some locks are wearable, making transportation easier for many riders.

Words: Michelle Arthurs-Brennan, James Shrubsall, Neil Webb & Hannah Bussey

  • ivorf

    Agree with you about cable locks: only of use for “cafe stops” when the bike is in sight and close by. Another point is that if you combine a D-lock with a cable or chain (the latter two with a separate lock), then the thief needs to carry two types of tool, which is much harder for him to explain to the police if he is stopped.

  • You’re so right! I had a couple bikes stolen up at school and the only why I stopped the nonsense was to go with two U Locks and take my seat in with me to class. I was also considering getting something called Spy bike found in this best bike locks article. It attaches to your stem and locks like an innocuous top cap. Not sure I want to shell out $164 bucks for a bike tracking device.

  • Andy M.

    Not a very good test report – usual Cycling weekly standard. To credit cable locks like to two above with a ‘7’ is a joke and misleading to buyers. All of them, even the really fat ones, can be cut through easily and quickly. If the Kryptonite is a ‘9’ then the two low spec. cables really are about a ‘4’ at most. The Masterlock criterion demonstrates what is wrong with the bike industry – far, far too expensive – not really much better than a similar product at less than half the cost and sold with exaggerated performance claims. The shackle is the weak point and even a ‘silver secure’ level one such as the ABUS ‘Ultimate’ does not stand up to much of an attack. I cut through one with a hacksaw in 30 minutes last week – so much for ‘toughened steel’.
    A small rotary disc saw would have taken about 4 minutes.

  • Peter Hart

    It doesn’t matter how good your lock is if you don’t secure your bike to something substantial. Lock the frame to the wheel, and the whole bike can be carried off!

  • Goran Gozo

    Thanks for the link to the website! 🙂

  • While I completely agree with the chosen winner, I have to take issue with the statement that “modern cable locks are now the shackles equal”.

    This is just not true. In fact, most modern cable locks offer the same level of protection as any other cable locks: practically none.

    I have read a couple of reports that suggest that 90% of stolen bicycles were “secured” with cable locks. But most people don’t know this and buy them because they’re cheap, light, long, easy to use and sold as adequate bike locks in respectable shops.

    I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post a link here, but I set up The Best Bike Lock specifically to try inform people about cable locks and to suggest better alternatives.

    Sure, you won’t find any other types of locks that offer all of the advantages of cable locks. But there are plenty that offer some of them and most importantly, will also protect your bike!

  • Hi Mark,

    Yes, the mounting brackets that come with most big brand locks aren’t up to much. In my experience Kryptonite are the worst, OnGuard just slightly better and then Abus a bit better again. But none of them seem to withstand even moderately rough riding well.

    Have you looked at the Two Fish Lockblock velcro mounts? They get great reviews, although they are not always easy to get in the UK.

    Cheers!

  • Mark

    I’ve bought a couple of D-locks recently, one cheap and one pricier, and in both cases the mounting brackets have fallen apart when going through potholes after a few months. Does anybody else have this problem? And can anyone recommend a good D-lock with a bracket definitely strong enough to survive on a non-suspension aluminium bike on pot-holed city streets?