Best Bicycle Locks

Bicycle Locks
by Tony Marchand

  According to John Loughlin and his father, both engineers: "Any (bicycle) lock can eventually be compromised, this is the most helpful thing it can do: create such a time consuming spectacle when it is assaulted as to make a bike not worth stealing. Loughlin demonstrates how a steel U-lock can be broken like a candy can".1 If some criminal wants your bike badly enough, he'll get it. Bolt cutters can snap a lock in less time than it takes you to tie your shoelaces. An angle grinder capable of shearing through a U-lock can be had for the cost of a monthly bus pass.

  So it's not just how you lock up your bike as shown in our video How to Lock Your Bicycle,  but also the type of bicycle lock you use. There are many recommendations on the internet , but the Loughlins have gone further. Just like the TV show "Myth Busters", they set out to see if they can crack the best bicycle locks out there using bolt cutters, wire cutters, tire levers and angle grinders. The key was to make the process long enough to gather a crowd and discourage any would be thief.

  The lock you use depends on the area you lock up your bike, i.e., urban area with high crime rates, cities with lower crime rates, or smaller towns with low crime rates (where a less hardy lighter bicycle lock and cable will do). One also needs to consider the size and weight of the lock they carry. I live in a low crime area but carry a small light weight lock just to keep someone from tossing it in the back of they're pickup truck and making off with my bicycle.

  According to "Size matters, not only for portability but for security as well. The lock should be as small as possible while still fitting around everything you need it to fit around. This gives potential thieves less room to work with. Though a big lock can straddle a wider variety of lampposts, fences, and so on…if maximum security is your goal and all other things are equal, then the smaller lock will be harder to crack (and lighter to tote around)." Many reviewers overlook the bracket used to transport the lock which should hold in place without movement up or down and should not make noise. Some offers insurance and the Kryptonite’s ~$80 New York Lock is the only one to offer insurance in NYC.

Here are they're results on the best bicycle locks out there today (2013):

  • Kryptonite Locks get the highest ratings but thick steel (which is heavy to carry) and titanium have also been used. D-locks  continue to offer high the security.2 Even the cheapest require an angle grinder to break – a hacksaw can’t get through hardened steel. A surprise in the test by Bicycle Network was the hardened steel chains combined with resilient locks. These proved very awkward to break into, providing a great deterrent along with the convenience of being easier to stow than many D-locks. How many of the other listed locks are easily broken is explain by Eric Hansen of the The first four below are the results of the Loughlin's no holds barred testing. Inaddition, the first two bicycle locks below are also considered the best by
    1. On Guard 8020 Mastiff  ($75): Big Cities, or areas where bike thieves are known to be active. Resisted hacksaw and bolt cutters. Angle cutter died before it could get through.1
    2. Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini  ($100) : For lower-crime areas or bigger cities. The Fahgettaboudit and ABUS are a couple of the best of the D-Locks requiring cutters to cut both ends. Resisted bolt cutters and hacksaws but unfortunately not an angle grinder used by professional thieves in the bigger cities.1
    3. TiGr   ($200): Small and medium size cities with low crime rates. Took 4 minutes for hacksaw but easily removed with angle grinder.
    4. Blackburn Angola  ($30) cable lock: Smaller towns where crime is not much of a problem. Resisted bolt cutters - Kevlar coating caused the blades to slip off - but other means got through.
Additional Safety Tips:
  • Know your neighborhood. Lock up you bicycle in a busy pedestrian area so people will notice.
  • If you biking to the train station, lock your bike a few blocks away so people won't know you're gone for the day.
  • Remove personal belongings and in urban areas, remove anything that might be detachable (your under seat bicycle bag, odometer and even your seat).
  • Never place the lock on the cable close to the ground where it can be smashed with a rock or hammer.
  • Make sure that the bicycle lock is tightly woven around the parking meter or what ever you lock it to such that it can not be lifted of the meter or post.
  • Take a mug shot of your bicycle.
  • Mark your bike. I've done this with a personal decal I've obtained from Victory Circle Graphic nbsp; and then covered the decal with about 6 coats of clear polyurethane. Or tape you name on a piece of paper and tape it to the seat post (the part that is inside the seat tube if there's room) or under the handle bar tape.
  • On Bike Shepard, you can enter your bike's serial number into a national database and buy three scannable tamper proof stickers for your frame.
  • Finally, BikeSpike  uses GPS to locate your bike.
  1. Unlocked, Gina Welch, Bicycle Magazine, Dec. 2013, pp 43-49  
  2. Bikes & Rides  from Bicycle Networks
  3. consumersearch   from
  4. Wired  Bike Locks for the Theft-Averse
  5. Gizmodo  By Mario Aguilar of
  6. The Best Bike Lock   by Eric Hanson of
  7. Torture Test: Bike Locks  from Men's Journal by Stan Horaczek
  8. Kevlar Bicycle Lock  from
  9. Target  Many locks of various quality and security.

Also see More Bicycle Tips at  and more videos at:

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