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
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 commonly used 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Best bike lock: look for 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