Editor’s note: This feature was updated on October 29 with the latest products and prices
When searching for the best bike lock, the question to ask yourself isn’t which lock to buy. It is what you want to accomplish with whatever lock you buy. The best bike locks come in myriad sizes, shapes, and configurations. Generally, the heavier and more unwieldy a lock is, the more security it provides. But none deliver absolute failsafe protection. That just doesn’t exist.
So the mathematician in you has to come up with a kind of mental risk-analysis formula as you peruse the best bike locks. That will go something like: convenience divided by bulk equals the level of security.
Related: The Best Home Bike Storage Solutions
Do you plan to lock your bike just temporarily while you run into the mini-mart? Or are you leaving it for an hour or two, all day, or even overnight? Will your bike be in a high-traffic area with lots of passersby? Or will it be isolated in a garage or alley? And how portable does the lock need to be? Do you need it to be light and stowable? Or are you okay with a big bulky chain?
Answers to these questions have led some lock makers to assign varying security levels to their products, ranging from medium to high. (They avoid phrases such as low security.) Of course, these ratings are entirely subjective. If you want more info, check this list compiled by Sold Secure, an independent, non-profit UK-based outfit that tests and certifies locks, then assign gold, silver, and bronze ratings. Sold Secure’s ratings come with a distinctive orange and blue logo that usually appears on a product’s packaging label.
Related: 5 tips for buying a used bike
Other things to look for when shopping for the best bike locks are warranty, type of key (and how many), and protective coating to avoid marring your bike’s finish. Anti-pick designs are a plus for key-entry locks.
Just remember that no bike lock is foolproof. The idea is to make it as bothersome as possible to steal your bike. Like having a barky dog in your house, the goal is to encourage a potential thief to move on to easier pickings. With that in mind, here are our picks for the best bike lock for every situation.
The Best Bike Lock for You Needs
Abus Bordo Lite 6055
If space and portability are a prime consideration, the German-made Abus Bordo Lite 6055 folding lock checks all the right boxes. It stows as a 1-pound rectangular kit that’s smaller than a water bottle and then unfolds into a roomy polygon capable of securing your bike in a variety of configurations. And while its riveted pivots are susceptible to thief tools, it’s still a solid short-term, frequent lock/unlock lock option.
Exceptionally light at 2.2 pounds, the Foldylock has a silver Sold Secure rating, comes in a wide assortment of colors and utilizes rivets that are designed to withstand drilling. It also checks the boxes for ruggedness, frame protection, portability, and ease of use. This is a prime example of where a medium security rating may be well worth the tradeoff for convenience.
The primary pitch with Hiplok is wearability. You wrap the lock around your waist, cinch it with a Velcro strap, and you’re quickly back on your bike and rolling. The same goes for locking up your bike — just unstrap and lock. No rummaging around your backpack, and no filling up otherwise useful storage space with a bulky lock. Hiplok makes several models, including the Gold, which is Sold Secure certified. Indeed, this is a maximum security option, with a 10mm chain and 12mm shackle. This of course increases the weight, so you’ll need to weigh the importance of security versus convenience. The chain is sleeved but not cushioned, and eventually, it rests on your upper hip bones when those 5-plus pounds can start to chafe. If that’s too much to carry around, Hiplok offers lighter models.
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain 1410
Heavy, unwieldy, and expensive, the New York Fahgettaboudit is nonetheless the best bike lock available. To defeat it, sparks must fly. I personally only use it in high-risk situations, say leaving bikes on my hitch rack overnight when I actually lock two chains together and then thread the whole thing through the rack and both frames and wheels. The entire setup weighs 26 pounds and is an enormous hassle, but in the bike thief haven of Santa Cruz, California, I once had some thieves actually abandon their tools after bending bolt cutter blades on the Fahgettaboudit padlock.
Kryptonite Keeper 12mm
Gone are the days when Kryptonite U-locks could be defeated with a simple Bic pen (see the Coen brothers film, “Burn After Reading”). Now Kryptonite is the Campbell’s soup of locks — you can find just about any type and style available under its brand. But the U-lock that it initially helped popularize is still considered the best mountain bike lock configuration for all-around security and convenience.
Price: $27-$40 (Depending on size)
Ottolock Cinch Lock
This is the best bike lock for minimalists, the Ottolock Cinch Lock looks like a burly watchband, but its 3-inch-diameter coil stretches out to a max of 5 feet. The total weight is less than half a pound. The 18mm (two-thirds inch) wide band is reinforced with multiple layers of steel and Kevlar, making it bolt cutter-resistant yet stronger than cable, claims Ottolock, which provides video evidence here. The locking mechanism is a user-set 3-number combination dial, and it comes in orange, green, camouflage, or black. Available lengths run from 18 to 60 inches, and as a side benefit, it can be used to secure lots of other possessions. Think of the Ottolock as a very burly reusable zip tie.
Price: $34-$84 (Depending on length)
At 395 grams, the RockyMounts Carlito is billed as the lightest U-lock available. Of course, that svelteness comes with a security penalty. But for low-risk applications, it’s worth a look. Otherwise, consider coupling it with a cable or chain to enhance the safety factor.
TiGr Mini Titanium Bike Lock
Weighing in at less than a pound, yet Herculean strong, the TiGr Mini Titanium Bike Lock is a clever solution for weight weenies. Its flexible bowed collar offers generous wraparound capacity, and its slim shape doesn’t occupy much room whether stored or mounted. Plus its PVC coating won’t mar your bike finish, and the actual lock is engaged simply by pushing it in. There’s no key required. The TiGr Mini is made in the USA and comes with two keys and a mounting clip.
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