What is the Best, Strongest Bike Lock for Theft-Proof Security? 5 Reviews
Bicycle theft is epidemic. In my city, I spend more time worrying about my bike getting stolen than my car. It’s true!
The ugly truth is that bike theft is common and very hard to manage. If your bike gets lifted, chances are you won’t be seeing it again.
The best precaution against a theft is to be smart, and to buy a good lock. The best bike bike locks are secure, virtually unbreakable and simple to use.
Unfortunately, I mostly see two types on the street these days: flimsy cables and cheap U-locks.
You might as well put a big bow on it it.
So what IS the best bike lock for keeping your ride secure? I’m writing this article to review a handful of good, strong bicycle locks, and to explain how to most effectively use them. For each item, I’ll offer some pros and cons, and hopefully help you track down some great brands to look into.
So let’s take a look at what’s out there for 2018, shall we?
What Does a Top Rated, Strong Bike Lock Look Like?
If you’re hunting for a good quality bicycle lock that’s nigh unbreakable, there are a couple of key features you should be keeping your eyes open for. In a nutshell it comes down to style and material.
What’s the most effective style? In my opinion, the best, most secure & theft-proof bicycle locks on the market are U-locks and chains. Both can be made from nearly uncuttable metal, and both are fairly convenient to use.
The least effective is the cable lock. Why? They can be cut with brute force using bolt cutters. All a cable lock does is keep the thief busy for ten seconds. They’re vaguely useful for securing components (like your saddle, for instance), but even that is a risk.
What’s the most effective material? In my experience, the strongest bicycle locks around are made from hardened steel, or exotic materials like titanium.
Many cheap bicycle locks are constructed using softer alloys, and they can be cut quite easily, either with bolt cutters or with a hacksaw / sawzall.
The more expensive kind are made from hardened steel, and they’re impervious to hacksaw and bolt cutter attempts (unless the thief has 6 hours to spend cutting).
The only real way to get through hardened steel or titanium is by using an angle grinder. Unfortunately, some thieves have them, but they’re noisy and cause a shower of sparks, so in the open they’re not really used.
1) Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit: One of the strongest bicycle locks, with good reviews
As bicycle locks go, the Fahgettaboudit, by Kryptonite, is one of the most unbreakable bike locks you’re going to come across. It’s not the cheapest one you’ll find, but it will give you peace of mind.
The whole lock is made from hardened steel that’ll easily turn away bolt cutters and hacksaws.
True story: I was once hired (legally) by an apartment building to clear out a locker of old bikes from former tenants who had moved on. With bolt cutters we made swift work of the cable locks, but there was one we couldn’t break through: the Fahgettaboudit. We were forced to admit defeat.
The lock itself is a double deadbolt design (the double shackles mean that even if one end is compromised, the thief would have to cut through the other one too), and it is operated using a disc cylinder that’s very difficult to pick.
This lock is pretty heavy at over 4 pounds, but it’s covered in a vinyl coating that prevents it from scratching up your bike. This coating lasts a long time too. The weight is unfortunate, but hardened steel is heavy, and it’s worth it for the protection it adds.
A couple of notes: you may want to give the lock cylinder a little bit of grease if you frequently keep it in the rain. Also, this lock doesn’t come with frame mounting hardware.
Overall the Kryptonite Fahgeddaboudit reviews really well. It’s one of the toughest and strongest bicycle U-locks around, and therefore it’s on the top of my list.
2) TiGr Mini: A lightweight bike lock that’s also strong, secure and effective
Many of the best bicycle locks will review reasonably well when it comes to security and ease of use, but they fall short in one key category: weight. That’s by necessity; hardened steel is heavy stuff. Conversely, lightweight bicycle locks tend to make sacrifices in terms of security. The lighter the steel, the deeper the compromise.
Unless, of course, you move away from steel entirely. To titanium. Then magical things happen!
The TiGr Mini is an amazing little lock that has an extremely manageable weight. Despite that, it’s one of the strongest U-locks in this category, and it has some very nice features.
Here’s its primary selling point: the TiGr is made out of titanium, an extremely strong and durable material. They make jet planes out of the stuff.
In addition to being made of a super strong metal, the flat shape of the lock body and the ductile qualities of titanium makes it resistant to traditional attacks. Here’s why it stands out against competitors:
- Bolt cutters aren’t super effective against it. The material is so flat that the cutters tend to hit their stop before compromising the lock itself. Check it out yourself.
- The small size of the TiGr mini gives thieves very little room to work.
- Titanium’s natural hardness makes an attack by hacksaw incredibly labour intensive.
On a day-to-day basis, the lock is dead easy to use. You insert your custom key, turn until the cylinder pops, squeeze the attaching rivets, and it opens. Closing is as easy as popping the cylinder back into place. The lock cylinder is made from a hardened stainless steel variant that’s strong yet light. It’s difficult to pick.
Despite being incredibly strong, titanium is flexible. The upside to that is, unlike a traditional steel U-lock, you can stretch open the TiGr mini to get around your frame and whatever you’re locking up to, then squeeze it closed to attach the cylinder. It hard to overstate how useful this feature is.
The total weight is just 490 grams, (that’s 0.9 pounds!) and it comes with a tube mount for attaching it to your frame while you ride. That featherlight weight means it’s a wonderful auxiliary lock, good for securing wheel to frame, for example.
The TiGr Mini is sort of like a U-lock in that it has a fixed diameter, so it might not work for everyone. The width is about 4 inches (10cm) at its widest point, and it’s 10.5 inches (or 26cm) in total length. If you have fat tires or a beefy frame, you’ll probably want to opt for the larger version, called the Mini+.
If a small, lightweight item is what you’re after, this is one of the best bike locks; it reviews really well in magazines and customer testimonials alike.
Thanks to TiGr for sending me a review unit to check out!
3) Evolution Chain: A nigh unbreakable bicycle chain lock, among the best around
No, I’m not a Kryptonite rep, I’m just a fan! I’m really into chain locks for a few good reasons.
- First, chains are flexible like a cable and easy to attach, even around oddly-shaped items. That’s super handy.
- Secondly, they’re durable, especially when made from hardened steel like this particular item. A lock like this will probably outlast your bike.
- Lastly, they’re very difficult for a thief to cut, even with an angle grinder. The links move around and shift and it’s just not a fun task to cut through it.
This chain lock ticks all three of those boxes. Each chain link is thick and strong, made from six sided (hex style) manganese reinforced steel. Good luck getting through one of these links with a hacksaw!
It’s held together by a small Kryptonite shackle that’s also reinforced, with a complex, four-cylinder design that rivals the bigger U-locks.
The chain is smartly covered with a nylon fabric material. It keeps the links protected, but more importantly it prevents your frame from being scratched by the metal.
This lock is heavy! It comes in at around seven pounds. Good protection has its price, I suppose. But I’d swear by a hardened chain like this one. There’s a reason why professional bike messengers tend to use chains like this. You will be impressed by the size and durability of the links on this item, the pictures just don’t do it justice.
I’ve heard reports that the lock cylinder can get sticky if it gets wet; I’d just give it some oil if that’s the case.
The Kryptonite Evolution chain lock reviews really nicely. It’s a very good bike lock with secure, strong features. Not exactly lightweight, but your bike is ultra-secure, so who cares?
4) Bordo: A foldable bicycle lock with great features, strong and light weight
Sometimes a great strategy is to throw something at a thief that they aren’t use to seeing. In this case, the Abus Bordo is an interesting lock design that’s efficient for the user but also effective and light in weight.
The lock is actually similar to a chain or cable, in that you have some flexibility when locking up. It consists of 6 metal bars that can fold out to produce a chain-like structure. Each bar is riveted to the next, but because they’re flat you can fold it up into a very small size.
It’s one of the best bike locks for both weight and portability. It comes in at only around 2.6 pounds, and when it’s folded it is far more compact than even a U-lock would be.
In case you’re worried about your paint, the bars are coated in a rubberized material that prevents it from scratching the hell out of your frame.
The lock cylinder is high quality and difficult to pick. The metal bars are made from hardened steel, and the only real way to break it would be using a grinder.
It comes with a frame bag and mounting bracket that prevent it from rattling around in annoying fashion while you ride.
I’ve only got a few notes: it does require the lock itself to be turned when both unlocking and securing, which is a bit of a hassle compare to others that just ‘click’ in place. In addition, the rivets will loosen as you use it. According to Abus, that doesn’t affect the security of the device.
On the whole, this is a fantastic bicycle lock for a rider who wants a nearly unbreakable system with portability and light weight.
5) Master Lock Street Cuffs: An inexpensive, lightweight bike lock with great utility
As mentioned before, it’s an advantage when you have something a thief doesn’t see very often. These ‘street cuffs’, by Master Lock, are a fantastic bicycle lock with some nearly theft-proof features.
These are essentially regular handcuffs, which seems weird until you realize that it totally isn’t. They have a single link chain that pivots on both cuffs. For that reason, it’s really quick and easy to secure your ride in a pinch. Just attach one end to your bike, and the other to a convenient bike rack or signpost.
One small caveat: if someone digs through your backpack and finds them, you might have some explaining to do.
The cuffs are pretty small, and they can be folded over one another to save space in your pack. It’s probably the most portable lock on this list.
They work great on their own, or they make a wonderful “secondary” lock to augment your existing setup. I like to use them to secure my wheels.
The whole works are made from a hardened steel, both the cuffs and the links. They’re only really vulnerable to a grinder attack. Their small size makes them difficult to cut off a frame without damaging it. The unique cylinder is very difficult for a thief to pick.
They’re a very lightweight bicycle lock at 2.9 pounds, and have a reach of about 12 inches. If you need more reach, opt for the 9 link version, which is 22 inches long.
Convenient and inexpensive, these cuffs will get you tons of comments. They’re one of my top bike locks, with positive reviews, good strength and nearly unbreakable construction. Check them out!
Beyond The Lock: Making It Secure and Safe
I’m surprised by how often I see a poorly locked bike. I have even seen bikes with nothing more than a lock securing the rear wheel to the frame (as though a thief couldn’t simply pick it up). The largest and most unbreakable bike lock in the world won’t save your bike if it’s not secured properly.
Don’t lock it up in an alley. If you don’t want your bike to be stolen, don’t leave it somewhere where it can be easily tampered with. Choose a busy place with lots of foot traffic and it will be much safer. People tend to notice things like angle grinder sparks.
Leaving it somewhere tucked away is trouble. It gives a potential thief time and space.
Don’t give thieves room to work. As a rule of thumb, don’t give thieves a lot of room to work on your lock. You want the smallest possible lock that works. That way, they can’t reposition it to make things easier to cut.
Make it more trouble than it’s worth. A thief is going to go for low hanging fruit first. If you make your bike seem like a lot of trouble to steal, they’ll probably move on to easier pickings.
How can you do this? Use a small, effective, hardened lock that’s difficult to cut. Secure all your removable components (like the wheels). Lock it up in a conspicuous area. All these things will help.
Learn how to lock it up properly. A lot of people don’t know how to properly lock up their bicycle. I see cables looped around the wrong places, or nothing but the wheel secured.
Ever see a rusty bike lock with just a wheel attached? That happens because the thief simply detached the front wheel and made off with the rest of the frame!
Here’s how you want to do it:
- Place your lock around the rim of your rear wheel, inside your rear triangle, then around your seat post or through one of your chainstays or seatstays. The secure it around the stand or post. That’s all you need to do!
- In one go, this secures your frame and rear wheel, with one lock. It also allows you to have a much smaller and lighter lock.
- To secure your front wheel from being removed, simply remove the front wheel and place it next to the rear. Run the lock around the rims of both wheels, through the rear triangle and frame, and around a secure object. This works best with a chain, or a larger U-lock.
It’s actually really quick to attach your bike lock in this way, and it’s very effective!
Have a bike theft story to share? I’d love to hear about your experiences, feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading!