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Best bike lock 2021: The best and most secure bike locks to buy

Peter Stuart
25 Jun 2021

Your bike is only as secure as the lock you use to guard it, but with these locks you shouldn’t need to worry

Buying the best bike lock you can afford can save you money in the long run. Indeed, choose well, and you should never have to experience the deflating feeling of finding an empty spot where your bike used to be, accompanied by a defeated and demolished lock.

A bike lock may be a less exciting purchase than a new bike, but for many, it can be the most important buying decision of all. As the old adage goes: you should spend 10% of the value of a bike on a lock. Very few of those who have had bikes stolen would disagree.

But what makes the best lock? How much extra weight do we need to lug around for the sake of security, and how can the way we lock a bike make it more secure? Here’s our guide to the best bike locks on the market right now, and how they may suit different riders and deter criminals.

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Best bike locks: At a glance

  • Most secure bike lock: Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Lock | Buy now
  • Best D-lock: Abus Granit X-Plus 540 | Buy now
  • Best portable lock: Litelok Gold Wearable | Buy now
  • Best cheap secure chain lock: Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 4 1055 Mini | Buy now
  • Best folding bike lock: Abus Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500 | Buy now
  • Best-value secure lock: Onguard Pitbull 8005 DT Lock | Buy now
  • Best cafe-stop lock: Hiplok FLX Bike Lock | Buy now

How to choose the best lock for you

What are the different types of locks?

There’s a wide range of lock types out there, including the conventional D-lock, chain lock, cable lock and a variety of link plates or even fabric locks. Beyond that, there are various immobilisers such as O-locks that secure the back wheel in place. These are popular in places such as Scandinavia and Holland, where low-cost town bikes are parked in public spaces in their hundreds. In the UK, we don’t enjoy such safety in numbers, so a bike must be secured to a solid object or bike rack.

Most locks will work with a key, and the most secure locks always do. Some less secure cable locks use a combination mechanism, while a few now use Bluetooth to activate and deactivate the lock.

What type do I need?

A bulky chain lock may look like the most secure type of lock and can loop around almost any lamp post or immobile object. The only problem is that the most secure chain locks are also very heavy. Worse, they are only as strong as their weakest link – literally, as a bolt-cutter can cut a thin link in seconds.

A D-lock is often easily mountable, either on a backpack or a specific frame mount. They are usually lighter than a big chain and often very secure, but you’ll need a suitable bike rack to loop it through. They need to be well made, too, otherwise many can be twisted open.

The lightest D-locks use metal cables coated in plastic, but these provide only a mild deterrent against bolt-cutters, so you shouldn’t leave your bike out of sight for long.

There are alternatives to these three types of lock, such as locks with folding plates of metal or fabric material. These are lighter and much more portable, but we’ll return to them later on.

Security is the main goal, of course, and for that there are handy universal ratings that span all classes of locks.

How secure does it need to be?

Really secure locks deter thieves from even trying to steal a bike. We learnt that first hand from Shenol Shaddouh, a reformed bike thief, when he was working at a social enterprise bike shop called Bikeworks. “There’s more than one lock that deterred us,” Shaddouh said. “Any yellow or grey Kryptonite D-locks and also the Kryptonite Mini [the Fahgettaboudit] – which is very popular with couriers. Then there was the Abus Extreme D-lock, that’s very tough as well.”

All of those locks are scored “Gold’” on the Sold Secure rating, created by an independent company that tests and ranks locks from all different sectors. Gold is, of course, the top rank, but isn’t a necessity. Silver locks are still fairly secure, but are probably best used for securing for less than an hour at a time and not in a busy urban area.

Some Bronze locks have big practical and cost advantages, but may not be trustworthy for a reasonably valuable bike.

Check to see the rating of any lock. Not all locks are given a Sold Secure rating, as they may be evolutions of locks that already have ratings.

How should I lock my bike?

How you lock your bike can alter its security, and the type of lock you need. Often, D-locks are not broken with bolt-cutters or angle grinders, but with pressure from a long lever. “I used to twist D-locks with a scaffolding pole,” said Shaddouh. That can only be done if the bike is positioned in a way that means twisting a pole damages the lock more than the bike. “If the first thing the lock comes into contact with when twisted is whatever it’s locked to, rather than the frame, then you can twist the D-lock to the point of breaking and it won’t damage the frame,” said Shaddouh.

As for thicker chains, it’s important to keep them far from the floor. If a thief uses bolt cutters, the floor can offer them a stable platform to cut on. When the lock is suspended, it makes cutting the chain a significantly harder task.

Cable extensions may also be necessary to protect the front wheel or saddle from theft.

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The best bike locks to buy

1. Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini bike lock: The most secure bike lock

Price: £68 | Buy now from Amazon

It’s not cheap, but in terms of bike security, the Fahgettaboudit Mini is simply as good as it gets. It’s generally considered the toughest portable lock on the market and Kryptonite rates it at 10/10. It even offers a scheme where, if a thief defeats the lock, the company will pay up to £2,500 toward a replacement bike.

With its small size, the Fahgettaboudit Mini is also very portable and can be slipped through a belt or tucked into a small bag, without the need for a special frame mount. However, that size makes it a tad restrictive on what it can be locked around, and you’ll need to know there’s a suitable bike rack to fit inside the lock’s U-bar.

It’s worth noting that there are more secure D-locks on the market, such as the Abus Granit 59, but these are generally made with motorbikes in mind and are priced accordingly.

Key specs – Type: D-lock; Materials: 18mm hardened MAX-Performance steel, drill-resistant disc-style cylinder; Keys supplied: 3; Sold Secure rating: Gold; Weight: 2.06kg

2. Abus Granit X-Plus 540: The best D-lock bike lock

Price: £82 | Buy now from Halfords

The Abus Granit X-Plus 540 doesn’t try to win you over by being fun, quirky or exciting. It instead puts its sole focus on being as tough as possible. Its shackle is incredibly sturdy and its square shape nullifies a lot of the leverage that most jaw-type cutters can exert when compared to more circular models.

If anyone does somehow manage to cut through, its boxy profile has the second benefit of preventing the lock being twisted open once chopped. This means that thieves will need to cut the Abus in two places, potentially at least doubling the time it takes them to fully remove the lock.

The size is great from a practical standpoint too. While some other locks are so big that they’re not particularly portable, and some others are so small that they don’t always fit around all bikes and bike racks, the X-Plus 540 is in the goldilocks region of being a nice middle ground. In terms of balancing practicality and security, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better.

Key specs – Type: D-lock; Materials: 13mm hardened steel; Keys supplied: 2; Sold Secure rating: Diamond; Weight: 1.58kg

Buy now from Halfords

3. Litelok Gold Wearable: The best portable lock

Price: From £109 | Buy now from Amazon

The Litelok is by far the least heavy-duty Gold-rated lock, weighing only 1.12kg. Weight isn’t the only thing on its side, either; its soft, flexible form means it can be mounted anywhere or even worn around the waist. Litelok even offers three different lengths, to suit different waist sizes.

Given that soft appearance, you can excuse a lot of sceptics – and there are plenty of them out there. However, the Litelok uses a material called Boaflexicore that is extremely hard to break from stretching (many D-locks will snap from twisting force), while the multiple layers resist cable-cutters just as well. The lock mechanism itself is made from hardened steel. And the design has one more practical benefit: multiple Liteloks can be joined together – end to end – to form a longer lock.

For a slight saving you can opt for the non-wearable Litelok Gold, but that does detract from the neat portability of wearing it around your waist.

Key specs – Type: Flexible lock; Materials: Boaflexicore band, hardened steel lock; Keys supplied: 3; Sold Secure rating: Gold; Weight: 1.12kg

4. Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 4 1055 Mini: The best cheap secure chain lock

Price: £47 | Buy now from Amazon

Chain locks may have their disadvantages, but along with discouraging potential thieves, a chain can be stretched around larger objects, meaning you’ll almost always be able to find a secure object to attach the bike to.

With its 55cm length, the Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 4 weighs less than the Fahgettaboudit D-Lock, and the Kryptolok can be coiled compactly into a backpack. Its integrated lock mechanism is near impossible to pry open and also makes locking the chain easier than threading a link through a padlock.

With a chain link of only 10mm in width, you might think the Kryptolok far from the security of heavy-duty 16mm chains. Luckily, the Sold Secure Gold rating says differently: this is a very safe pair of hands for your bike.

Key specs – Type: Chain lock; Materials: Boron manganese steel chains, nylon-webbing sleeve; Keys supplied: 3; Sold Secure rating: Gold; Weight: 2kg

5. Abus Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500: The best folding bike lock

Price: £71 | Buy now from Amazon

Folding locks provide the extra convenience of being easier to stash in a bag than a D-lock, and the Abus Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500 also comes with a mount so you can attach it to your bike. That said, it weighs a hefty 1.58kg, meaning you might not fancy popping it on your frame, especially if you take pride in your bike's lightweight build.

That weight is put to good use, however, because this is one of the few folding locks that has a Gold Sold Secure rating, and it also rates as 15/15 on Abus’s own security scale. The folding design also means you can manoeuvre the Granit X-Plus to attach your bike to more locations than are available with a standard D-lock, though it should be said that the best D-locks are still more secure than the thinner bars of a folding lock.

If you don’t need something as heavyweight as the Granit X-Plus 6500, Abus offers other folding locks in its Bordo range, including the 6000A, which has a built-in alarm.

Key specsType: Folding; Materials: Hardened steel; Keys supplied: 2; Sold Secure rating: Gold; Weight: 1.58kg

6. Onguard Pitbull 8005 DT Bike Lock & Cable: The best-value secure lock

Price: £28 | Buy now from Amazon

The Onguard Pitbull 8005 is an extremely secure lock and incredibly good value: with a full Sold Secure Gold rating, the Pitbull 8005 and cable still come in at around half the price of many rivals. On top of that, the D-lock comes in at a fairly light 1.77kg and the U-bar is nicely coated in rubber-feel vinyl to protect your frame or wheels from scratches. The key even includes a tiny LED light to help find the key slot in low light.

Normally, a cable extension would be an extra, costing around £10 on its own, so including it at this price is really astounding. This bundle is a blessing for security-conscious cyclists on a budget.

Key specs – Type: D-lock; Materials: Hardened ultra-steel shackle, vinyl coating; Keys supplied: 5; Sold Secure rating: Gold; Weight: 1.77kg

7. Hiplok FLX Bike Lock: The best cafe-stop lock

Price: £30 | Buy now from Wiggle

The FLX isn’t a lock to use when leaving your bike out of sight as any thief could make quick work of it. It is, however, a fantastic option for when your bike is unattended but within sight – if you’re in a cafe, for instance, or a busy train carriage. In that case, it’s a quick and easy way to temporarily safeguard your bike.

A nice bonus is that it doubles up as a wearable light. This will come in handy for anyone who finds the night has drawn in while they’ve been having a coffee, and for commuters, an emergency spare rear light can literally be a life-saver.

Key specs – Type: Combination cable lock; Materials: Braided steel cable, TPE weatherproof seal; Keys supplied: None; Sold Secure rating: None; Weight: 100g

Buy now from Wiggle

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