There are 4 major types of bike lock on the market today; these are U-locks, chain locks, folding locks, and cable locks. Each one has its own benefits and downsides, which we’ll be having a look at here.
U-lock Bike Locks
These are essentially a massive padlock that keeps your bike locked to whatever object you lock it to. The more expensive and better quality ones are made from thick steel, resulting in them being much harder to damage or break.
The downside is that they’re a lot bulkier than some of the other types of lock, meaning they are harder to transport around. On top of that, they’re not flexible at all, so you may struggle to fasten it to things if there’s not much room.
Chain Bike Locks
Chain locks provide a lot more flexibility than the U-locks as they tend to be longer in length, allowing you to lock your bike up to large or awkward shaped objects.
They work by using a chain that is essentially connected to a big padlock. These chains are usually heavy, making them less than ideal for transporting around.
A good quality chain will be the most secure form of locking your bike up. Some U-locks are better than lower quality chains though, so the price is a big factor here.
Cable Bike Locks
Cable bike locks are somewhat similar to chains in the sense that they are more flexible due to being longer, meaning you can hook your bike up to more places. They’re pretty cheap and don’t weigh much.
However, we highly suggest NOT buying a cable lock! They are very easily cut with bolt cutters, one snip and the lock is destroyed. This is because they just use a cable with a protective plastic cover. Even some of the more secure cables are still less secure than the other types of locks!
If you don’t want your bike to be stolen then we suggest avoiding cable locks at all costs!
Folding Bike Locks
Folding bike locks are less common than U-locks or chains but they have been growing in popularity thanks to their good level of security and high level of portability.
They essentially work in the same way as a chain, but instead of metal links, they use metal plates that are held together with rivets. This allows it to be folded up when not in use, making it really easy to transport.
A folding lock is certainly worth looking into if you want a bike lock that is light, portable but still offers a good amount of security for your bike.
So Which Type of Lock Is Best?
This all depends on what you will need from the lock. A U-lock will be the best bike lock to choose if you want a balance between being portable, secure and good value for money.
On the other hand, if money is no issue then an expensive, beefy chain lock will provide the most security. This high-level security comes at the cost of it being a lot less portable due to its weight. A chain will be resistant to bolt croppers and other power tool attacks, plus you can secure multiple bikes with just the one device!
A folding bike lock will be the best bike lock choice if you need it to be super compact. You’ll also have more flexibility when it comes to where you can leave your bike, as they are longer and fit more objects.
4 Major Factors To Consider When Buying a Bike Lock
When buying a bike lock there are 4 major factors to consider. These are what level of security it provides, the type of lock it is, which brand it is and what your budget is. We’ll have a look at each of these in more detail below.
Level of Security
How expensive is your bike? Where do you usually leave it?
These are important questions to consider when it comes to the level of security that you need. If you keep your bike indoors, you might only need a relatively cheap bike lock. However, if left outside, out of public view, then a more secure lock might be the better option.
The same applies to how expensive your bike is as well; a cheaper, older bike isn’t going to be targetted by thieves as much as a newer, more expensive bike. You can probably get away with using a cheap U-lock for a cheap bike, but use it on a more expensive bike and you may find it gets stolen!
If you really want to keep your bike secure you could consider using two different types of bike locks, ie a U-lock and a chain. There’s no harm in using two locks, it’ll certainly improve the security of your bike, although it will obviously cost more money!
The Type of Bike Lock
You need to think about which type of bike lock will be most suitable for you and your situation.
What we mean by this is that you don’t want to buy a heavy chain lock if you’re going to have to carry it around all the time! Likewise, if you don’t have much space, a foldable bike lock might be more suitable for you.
If your bike is going to be left in the same place for prolonged periods of time then a chain lock might be the better option as they are more secure than both U-locks and folding locks. If you’re regularly locking up your bike then looking into a U-lock might be best as they are fairly portable and cheap, but still provide a good amount of protection.
In addition to these considerations, you need to think about whether you want a lock with a key or with a combination dial. Some people prefer having a key, while others would prefer to memorize the combination code.
Whatever you decide to buy, make sure it’s not a cable lock. A cable lock can be cut extremely easily with a simple pair of bolt cutters in just a few seconds. They are an absolutely awful way to secure a bike so we wouldn’t recommend buying one!
Picking The Right Brand of Bike Lock
You’ll want to choose a brand of bike lock that is reputable. Some of the biggest brands are Kryptonite, ABUS, and OnGuard. These brands have been around for a long time and their locks have been tried and tested over the years, providing the highest levels of security needed to secure your bike effectively.
Some of these brands offer budget versions of the more secure locks, however, cheaper bike locks will always be inferior to the more expensive ones, in one way or another. They’re great though if you just want a bike lock that will provide some level of security without costing an arm and a leg.
ABUS has the highest quality and most expensive bike locks, which are more suited to people who leave their bikes in higher risk areas, or those who have an expensive bike.
Whichever brand you choose, before buying check out the reviews of the product online so that you can get a good idea of how the lock will stand up to constant use, day in day out.
How Much Do You Have To Spend On a Bike Lock
This one ties in with some of the other points but it’s worth mentioning on its own. Buying a cheaper bike lock will, in nearly all cases, mean that it is of inferior quality and provide a lot less protection for your bike.
If you buy a bike lock for $20 don’t expect it to keep your bike completely secure. Bike thieves know which bike locks are harder to get into, so even if your bike is older or not worth much money, if they notice it has a cheap lock they might still target it.
A cheap bike lock will also be more likely to break quicker, which is especially true if you use it constantly. A more expensive bike lock will last for many years if it is looked after.
It’s a no brainer to get a more expensive, higher quality bike lock if your bike is expensive. Even if your bike is inexpensive, we’d still recommend spending as much as your budget will allow on a bike lock, to ensure you keep your bike safe