A bike lock might not be the most exciting item to splash out on, but sadly theft is not uncommon and a good quality lock is an effective deterrent.
Trying to save 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. That might be a lot, but it’s better than paying for a new bike.
Types of bike lock
There are many different styles of bike lock. Riders locking up for periods over an hour will opt for chains and shackle style U-locks/D-locks — 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 cut, but more cumbersome to transport. The models in our test go right up to 2.7kg /6lbs, 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 percent incline on every journey, but it might be worth it if you’re leaving an expensive-looking bicycle locked up on the 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 posting 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 adding another key to your overcrowded key ring. They’re great if you plan to be sitting within a few metres of your pride and joy, but not suitable for securing your bike in town whilst you run errands.
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
With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Hiplok Z Lok Combo bike lock – 9/10
A lightweight lock that fits nicely into the rear pocket of a jersey, this is perfect for the café run. Utilising a combination code, rather than a key, further helps to declutter your pockets. Portability comes at the sacrifice of security, however. It works well as a deterrent for the opportunistic thief while you’re nearby in the café, but for longer stops you will want a lock that is more robust.
Read more: Hiplok Z Lok Combo bike lock review
Kryptonite New York M18 bike lock – 9/10
This offering from Kryptonite comes with a Gold rating for bicycle and motorcycle security – and that safety comes at a weight penalty of 2.7kg / 5.96lbs. An 18mm / 3/4in wide bar offers 260mm /10.2in of clearance and the keyhole is protected by a dust cover. There is even an LED key light so you don’t have to fumble around in the dark.
Read more: Kryptonite New York M18 bike lock review
Hiplok bike lock – 8/10
What sets this lock apart is that it’s designed to be worn around the hips – meaning you don’t need to add weight to your bike or luggage. The total mass is 2kg / 4.4lbs, the chain is covered in a canvas sleeve, and the lock is rated Sold Secure Silver. At 850mm / 33in long, it’ll fit waist sizes 24 to 44in.
Read more: Hiplok bike lock review
Abus 440 Alarm U-Lock bike lock 8/10
The Sold Secure level 8 (silver standard) Abus 440 Alarm U-Lock is a fantastic bike theft deterrent, with a solid shackle and high-level locking dual locking mechanism. Its weight and size mean that it’s not one for taking on long rides, but if your main concern is leaving your bike unattended, then 440 Alarm is one of the best on the market.
Read more: Albus 440 Alarm U-Lock bike lock
Kryptonite Evolution Chain
Kryptonite’s Evolution Mini combines the locking mechanism with the chain to make for a lighter and less fiddly chain style lock. The 10mm six-sided chain links are housed inside a canvas sleeve to stymie a hacksaw, and the disc detainer locking mechanism is no easy mark for would be lock pickers. At 90cm /35in long the lock weights 2.77kg / 6.10lbs and receives an 8/10 on Kryptonite’s security scale.
Buy now: Kryptonite Evolution Chain bike lock from Amazon for £45.31
Knog Bouncer bike lock – 7/10
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 / 30.3oz – which makes it very portable – but the ‘U’ measures just 120mm / 4.7in which could be limiting when coupled with chunky aero tubing profiles.
Read more: Knog Bouncer bike lock review
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 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 with either will limit your bike usage or means you run the risk of ‘just popping in here for a minute’ without locking the bike, potentially leading to every cyclist’s worst nightmare.
In the case of a U-lock, the longer the shackle, the more choice you’ll have in terms of where to secure your bike.
Bike lock weatherproofing
Even if you don’t live in a damp climate, 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 weatherproofing — 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