How to Choose a Bicycle Lock

Bicycle Lock Guide

Which Bike Lock Provides the Best Bicycle Security?

There are many types of bike locks on the market. Here’s some advice on the differences between each bicycle lock and which one to choose for the best bike security.

In the US, 188,500 bikes are stolen every day. In New York, a staggering 170 bikes are swiped daily making it the bike theft capital of the world. Investing in a good quality bicycle lock is critical to ensure a bike does not become one of those statistics.

Types of Bike Lock

There are three main categories:

  • Basic cable and chain locks
  • U shape shackle locks
  • Immobiliser loop locks

Which type of bike lock to use largely depends on where the bike is left unattended. Most thefts outside the home are opportunist; the bike thief spots a poorly secured bike or, better still, a bike left alone whilst popping into a shop. Conversely, a bike stolen from home is more likely to be carried out by a determined, experienced thief so will require a different type of bicycle security lock.

Cable and Chain Bike Locks

Cable locks are light, cheap and flexible, and easy to wrap around other objects like a lamppost to secure the bike. A good quality cable lock should be made of multiple thin braided wires making the cable difficult to cut compared to cheaper models where the wire is thicker and unbraided. The best chain locks are manufactured from thick steel allowing very little space between links; they are therefore harder to cut.

As both types of locks come in a coiled form they are easy to carry around but cheaper models do not offer good security if leaving a bike either overnight or in an area prone to bicycle theft. Dependent on the length, chain locks can also be very heavy.

Shackle Locks – U Shaped Bike Locks

Shackle locks are made of two sections, a hardened steel U bar which attaches to the housing containing the locking mechanism. Double mechanism locks are best as they secure both ends of the U bar independently and are therefore harder to break.

These locks are far more secure than cable locks but one downside is the weight. The other problem with a U shaped lock is that there is limited space for securing to a fixed object and it cannot fix both wheels and the frame together. An additional shackle lock is therefore required to secure both front and back wheels or a cable lock must be used in conjunction with the U lock for complete security.

Immobilizer Loop Locks

These locks are heavy-duty cable locks with a padlock that attach directly to the bike frame. When in use, detach one end of the loop and wrap around the spokes to immobilize the bike. This type of lock is an ideal temporary deterrent when stopping for a few minutes to pop into a shop and is also a good choice to combine with a more secure shackle lock for added security.

Cost of Bicycle Locks

Cheap cable locks start from as little as $4.99 or $10 with heavy-duty Kryptonite immobilizer and D shaped locks selling at over $45 or $65.

Choose the Right Level of Bike Security

Shackle locks undoubtedly provide the best level of bike security and, when used with a loop lock or heavy chain lock, offer good protection for bikes left unattended for long periods of time outdoors. Before purchasing a bike lock, it is advisable to read bike lock reviews online to get feedback from other bike owners as to what is best for your particular circumstances.

Related Articles:

For additional advice on bike security, see our tips on bicycle theft prevention and our article on using electronic security tagging as an additional deterrent.