How to Choose a Bike Lock
Using a bike to get around town is one of the most efficient, healthiest, and all-around sustainable methods of transportation. Unfortunately, because they are often left outside for hours on end while their users are at work or doing errands, bikes are a common target for thieves.
But a fear of losing your bike shouldn't deter you from using it, as long as you have the right security in place. If you've got all the bike accessories you need to start riding regularly, don't forget to throw a lock into the mix, so you'll ride and park your bike with peace of mind.
In the shop you'll notice several different kinds of locks, ranging from sturdy U-shaped locks to smaller cables and chains. To find the perfect lock that will fit your lifestyle, read up on the benefits of each kind, and then make your decision.
By far, one of the most popular locks among cyclists is the U-lock, pioneered by the lock experts at Kryptonite. These locks offer the most protection for your bike, using a combination of hardened steel and a lock that even the company admits it has trouble picking. Tests show that this lock can stand up to just about any method typically used to steal bikes, including pry bars, sledgehammers, bolt cutters, and even hacksaws.
Before you buy a U-lock, make sure it’s made of tool-hardened steel. Essentially, steel that has been treated this way is created the same way as the tools that will be used to try to break the lock. Logic follows that a tool with the same hardness as your lock won't be able to cut through it, drill into it, or break it. Though they're cheaper, a U-lock made of standard steel could potentially be broken using a saw, hammer, or crowbar.
However, be sure to consider the added bulk a U-lock brings to your commute. While they're certainly the safest, they also take up the most space. The largest U-locks can attach both bike wheels and the frame to a fixed object, such as a rack or sturdy fence, while smaller models will protect only one wheel. Keep in mind that whenever a wheel is exposed, you run the risk of losing it.
It's important to note that when you’re choosing the right-size U-lock to add to your bike equipment, be sure to find one that doesn't leave much empty space between your frame/wheels and the object you’re attaching it to. This will make it harder for thieves to wedge a crowbar or car jack into the space. Since U-locks can't be cut, this is often the only method thieves can attempt.
When you buy a cable lock, know that you're essentially buying deterrence, not protection. While they’re the lightest bike locks, they can be easily cut with standard bolt cutters. If you don't suspect you'll be leaving your bike for long periods in a part of the city known for crime, you may be able to get by with a cable lock.
Often, you'll see these used in conjunction with a U-lock to protect different components of the bike such as the seat or other removable parts. The more difficult you make it for a thief, the less likely they are to try to steal it. If you do go the cable lock route, be sure to choose one that has a built-in lock, rather than an external padlock. The best way to deter a thief with a cable lock is to buy one long to wrap through both wheels as well as the fixed object.
In a way, chain locks are a union between U-locks and cable locks. These bike locks can be used in areas known for high crime, and are beefy enough to keep away just about every tool bike thieves typically use, but offer more mobility than cable locks. Though they are much heavier than cables, these locks can still be wound around a bike frame during transport, making them less bulky than U-locks.
Be sure to choose a chain lock that has a durable, protective cover to protect your bike from scratches while you’re riding. It should be noted that although these locks aren't as bulky as U-locks, they are certainly heavier. So be prepared to work with this when carrying the chain and locking up your bike.
So make sure you've got the necessary protection so you can rest easy when your bike leaves your sight.Return to Top