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Best bike locks: how to keep your bike safe

11 Apr 2022

Having your bicycle disappear is a sure way to put a dampener on your day. Whether it goes missing from a garage, a dedicated parking stand or is cropped from a set of railings, the outcome is the same. So, with the world still populated by an annoyingly large percentage of scumbags, how do you best guarantee your bike remains where you left it?

The solution is investing in a bike lock as tough as the mean streets through which you pedal. Yet arriving in various types, dimensions, and security certifications, the range of bicycle locks available to discourage thieves is potentially baffling. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

The principal thing we’d recommend is that you allocate some money to this new lock of yours. If your bike will be out of your sight and worth stealing, and that category is broader than you might presume, you need at least a solid bronze Sold Secure lock.

What is 'Sold Secure'?

Sold Secure is a rating bestowed on locks independently tested by the Master Locksmiths Association. Being non-partisan, we’d always rely on its evaluation as a guide instead of any manufacturer’s claims. In our experience, anything below bronze level will be susceptible to prying, hammer strike, hacksaw and bolt-cutter type attacks.

However, while various styles of lock manage to score a bronze rating, we’d steer clear of any kind of flexible cable design regardless of its certification. This is because although they might stall an opportunist thief, we’ve not yet found one that couldn’t be defeated with a set of quality bolt croppers.

Instead, stick to a solid chain or D-lock that’s bronze-rated or above, and any thief will at least need to be in possession of an angle grinder to be in with a chance of nicking your bike.

Go for Gold

That said, if you live in a high crime area, we suggest you invest in a gold Sold Secure rated lock if you can afford one. These tend to start from around £40, and many insurers now demand this rating if you want to cover yourself.

Not a market where novelty is rewarded by anything other than a missing bike, expect to see the same names appear in our list multiple times. Want a lighter lock? The best you’re going to get is one that’s smaller, which might work if you’ve got a skinny-tubed bike.

Almost all are based around a tempered steel construction, and weight is usually directly correlated to strength. So while a lock might seem weighty, it’ll be less heavy than your heart should you return to find your bike isn’t where you left it.

Similarly, you should aim to spend 10% of the cost of your bike on its lock – if you can’t find a lock that matches the price of your bike, it means it’s probably too expensive to leave unattended!

With all that in mind, here’s what we consider the 10 best bike locks on the market…

  • Abus Granit X-Plus 540: £110
  • Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini: £140
  • Onguard Pitbull Shackle & Cable: £48
  • Litelok Gold Wearable: £110
  • Abus Ultimate 420: £45
  • Abus Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500: £129
  • Kryptonite Evolution Integrated Chain Lock: £75
  • Kryptonite Evolution: £85
  • Master Lock U-Lock: £40
  • Oxford Shackle 14 Duo: £50

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

Weight: 1.45kg Sold Secure: Gold

Forsaking any pretence of being either fun, jazzy or cool, the Abus Granit X-Plus 540 lock instead focusses solely on being the toughest mother out there. Its square shackle is mega hard, and also reduces the leverage most jaw-type cutting tools can exert when compared to rounder alternatives.

If anyone does manage to cut through, its boxy profile has the second benefit of preventing the lock being twisted open once chopped. Meaning thieves will need to cut it in two places, this could double the amount of time it takes them to nick your bike.

In terms of balancing security and practicality, this good as it gets. Heavy and pricy-seeming at first, it’s cheaper and will weigh on you less than losing your bike. 

2. The most secure bike lock: Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini

Weight: 2.06kg Sold Secure: Gold

Kryptonite designed the New York Fahgettaboudit D-lock as an ultimate security bike lock. It scores the maximum 10/10 on Kryptonite’s security scale. Your bike will be safe and sound in the highest-risk urbanised areas, Kryptonite even offers a scheme where it will pay up to £2,500 toward a replacement bike if a thief defeats the lock.

We've been lucky enough to have a test sample of the Fahgettaboudit for a few months. From that, we'd say, with the twang of Donnie Brasco's New Yorker accent ringing in our ears, this lock from Kryptonite is as tough as an American-Italian nonna talking about her cannolis.

Smaller than average, the Fahgettaboudit's narrow width makes it even tougher. However, it's worth noting that it's no lightweight. It's actually one of the heaviest on the market.

Its 18mm steel-hardened U-lock specs and Gold standard are reassuring, but the U-bar is small so can be tough to fit around bike stands. You need a narrow frame tube and a slender anchor point to really make the most of this lock. On the plus side, it's easily fitted into a backpack to transport. A great choice if you're happy to spend time picking your spot.

3. The best value lock: Onguard Pitbull DT Shackle Bike Lock & Cable

OnGuard Brute LS

Weight: 1.77kg Sold Secure: Gold

If you want an extremely secure lock and incredibly good value, meet the Onguard Pitbull 8005. 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.

Buy now from Tredz for £29.99

4. The most portable lock: Litelok Gold Wearable

Weight: 1.3kg Sold Secure: Gold

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 as 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 could excuse a lot of scepticism – and there is plenty 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.

5. The best compact D-lock: Abus Ultimate 420

Weight: 1.24kg Sold Secure: Gold

The Abus Ultimate uses a double-locking mechanism and a 13mm shackle that extends through the lock body to better protect against torsion/twisting attacks.

Rubberised housing should prevent frame damage. The short-reach U-bend is also big enough to fit around frames and most stands while small and just about light enough to be considered compact. From our own testing we found the decent frame-mounting system doesn’t rattle around either.

A Sold Secure Gold rating at this price is top-notch, and the frame-mounting bracket is great too.

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

Weight: 1.58kg Sold Secure: Gold

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, given its hefty 1.58kg weight, you might not fancy popping it on your frame, especially if you pride your bike for its lightweight build.

That weight is put to good use, however, because this is one of the few folding locks that has a Sold Secure Gold 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 6450, Abus does offer other folding locks in its Bordo range, including the 6000A, which has a built-in alarm.

7. The best chain lock: Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 Integrated Chain Lock

Weight: 2kg Sold Secure: Gold

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.

In its 55cm length, the Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 weighs less than the Fuhgettaboutit 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 chain links that are only 10mm in width, you might think the Evolution far from the security of the most heavy-duty 16mm chains. Luckily, the Sold Secure Gold rating says differently: this is a very safe pair of hands for your bike.

8. The best all-round D-lock: Kryptonite Evolution

Weight: 1.52kg Sold Secure: Gold

Kryptonite's Evolution is a steadfast bike lock. A 14mm hardened Kryptonium steel shackle paired to a double deadbolt locking mechanism provides extensive holding power. Anti-rattle bumpers keep the shackle snug against the crossbar and prevent unnecessary noise.

It represents great value for a lock with a Sold Secure Gold rating from a big name like Kryptonite. Nothing short of an angle grinder is likely to be getting through this in a hurry.

The bracket isn’t the sturdiest but the bike will probably stay exactly where you left it.

9. Master Lock U-Lock

Sold Secure: Gold

With a choice between 8cm and 10cm wide locks, Master Lock's gold sold secure lock is built for urban areas and overnight parking.

Its hardened steel body is resistant to cutting, sawing and prying while the double lock can withstand two tones of pulling force and the locking mechanism is built for pick resistance.

It comes with a carrier bracket and the smaller choice makes for easy transportation.

10. Oxford Shackle 14 Duo

Sold Secure: Gold

This combo pack from Oxford offers excellent value and high security. At its heart is the Shackle 14 D-lock. This chunky-looking number has been awarded the highest Gold Sold-Secure rating and is named for its 14mm hardened steel loop.

Coming in a 260mm length, this is good for general use, although a larger 320mm version is available for those with multiple bikes or attachment issues. The lock includes three keys as standard; however, Oxford also offers a replacement service, so you can always get more if you manage to lose these.

The package also includes a 120cm braided steel cable that can loop through the main lock to secure your wheels or additional items. A great extra that’s included at a very reasonable price; just ensure your bike’s frame is secured with the main lock, and you should be all set regarding any insurance you may have purchased.

Find out more about how to avoid bike theft with our guide to everything you need to know about bike security