What’s 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 difficult to combat. If your bike is lifted, chances are you won’t see it again, but you can really reduce the chance of that happening by using one of these best bike locks.
Best Bike Locks
The best precaution against theft is to buy a good lock and be smart about where you leave it.
The top bike bike locks are secure, virtually unbreakable and simple to use. Unfortunately, the two most popular types are flimsy cables, thin combination locks, and cheap U-locks, which hardly serve as anti-theft protection.
You might as well put a big bow on it it.
So what’s the best bike lock to keep your ride secure? I wrote this article to review a handful of good, strong bicycle locks, and to explain how to most effectively use them.
For each, I’ll offer pros and cons, and hopefully point you towards some great, proven brands. Let’s look at what’s out there!
What Does a Top Rated, Strong Bike Lock Look Like?
If you’re hunting for a good quality lock that’s nigh unbreakable, there are a couple of essential features you absolutely need.
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. They can be made from nearly uncuttable metal, and both are convenient to use. A well designed u-lock is almost unbreakable.
The least effective is the cable lock. Why? Cables are easily cut with bolt cutters. Anyone can get through a cable lock in ten seconds and can be cut with a variety of tools. 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 best and strongest locks are made from hardened steel, or exotic materials like titanium.
Many cheap locks are constructed using softer alloys. Bolt cutters, hacksaws, and sawzalls cut cheap metal like butter.
The more expensive kind are made from hardened steel, and they’re impervious to hacksaw and bolt cutter attempts which will scare away most bike thieves.
Really, the only way to get through hardened steel or titanium is by using an angle grinder. Unfortunately, thieves often carry portable ones, but they’re noisy and cause a shower of sparks; in the open they’re very conspicuous.
Best Bike Locks (Reviews)
1) [BEST OVERALL] Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit: One of the strongest bicycle locks, with good reviews
- Pros: Double deadbolt shackle, hacksaw proof, vinyl coating, resistant to bolt cutters
- Cons: Weighs about 4 pounds
Bike thieves are already running away with this ultimate anti-theft protection. The venerable Fahgettaboudit U-lock, by Kryptonite, is one of the most unbreakable bike locks you’re going to come across. It’s not the cheapest, but it will give you peace of mind which is why this is our absolute favorite and what we consider to be the best bike lock available. It has a smooth locking mechanism to make the locking/unlocking process a cinch.
The whole lock is made from hardened steel that’ll easily turn away bolt cutters and hacksaws, which is more than what we can say for Abus Granit locks.
True story: I was once hired (legally) by an apartment building to clear out a locker of abandoned bikes. The bolt cutters made swift work of cable locks, but when we came across a Fahgettaboudit, we were stuck.
The lock has a double deadbolt / shackle design (it has to cut through both sides to compromise it). It uses a disc cylinder that’s difficult to pick.
This heavy lock weighs over 4 pounds. That’s unfortunate, but worth it for the protection hardened steel adds. The whole lock is covered in a durable vinyl coating that prevents bike scratches, proving how well designed it is.
Note: give the lock cylinder a bit of grease if you keep it in the rain or the locking mechanism can be tough. Also, this disk lock doesn’t come with frame mounting hardware.
Overall the Kryptonite Fahgeddaboudit reviews really well. It’s one of the toughest and strongest U-locks around,which is why it’s on the top of my list.
- Pros: Extremely light, quick to attach / detach, great as secondary lock, resistant to bolt lockers
- Cons: Small size makes it less useful for large frames
Many great locks will review well for security and ease of use, but they fall short in one key category: weight.
Hardened steel is heavy stuff. Conversely, lightweight bicycle locks tend to be less secure. The lighter the steel, the deeper the compromise.
Unless you move away from steel. To titanium.
The TiGr Mini is an amazing little all-titanium lock that’s extremely lightweight. Despite that, it’s one of the strongest U-locks in this category. Its locking mechanism isn’t as smooth as that of Kryptonite’s, but it’s still darn good.
The flat shape of the lock body and the ductile qualities of titanium makes cutting a chore. Check it out yourself.Titanium’s natural hardness makes hacksaws ineffective too. The small size of the TiGr mini gives thieves no room to work, and the hardened, stainless steel lock cylinder is difficult to pick which will deter bike thieves.
The TiGr is easy to use. The lock cylinder pops on and off the rivets like magic. You can stretch the TiGr mini around your frame and whatever you’re locking to, then squeeze it closed to attach the cylinder.
The total weight is a featherlight 490 grams (0.9 pounds) and it comes with a frame mount. It’s a wonderful auxiliary lock, good for securing wheel to frame, for example.
The TiGr Mini is comparable in size to a U-lock, 4 inches (10cm) at its widest point, and 10.5 inches (or 26cm) in length. If your bike has fat tires or a beefy frame, you’ll probably need the larger Mini+.
Small and lightweight, this is one of the best bike locks; it reviews really well and I love using it. Here’s a more in-depth review.
- Pros: Probably the most secure lock you can find, easy to attach
- Cons: It’s very heavy
I’m really into chain locks in general, for a few good reasons. First, chains are flexible like a cable, and easy to attach around oddly-shaped items. That’s super handy. Second, hardened steel chain locks are super durable and will probably outlast your bike. Third, combine that with a great locking mechanism and you have Kryptonite’s New York Noose 1275.
They’re incredibly difficult for a thief to cut, even with an angle grinder. The links move around and shift and it’s just not fun to cut through.
The outstanding Kryptonite Evolution chain lock ticks all three boxes. Each chain link is thick and strong, made from six sided (hex style) manganese reinforced steel. Good luck getting through that with a hacksaw or bolt cutter!
You’ll be impressed by the size and durability of the links, the pictures just don’t do it justice. It’s latched by a small Kryptonite shackle that’s also reinforced, with a complex, four-cylinder design that mimics their bigger U-locks.
The chain is smartly covered with a nylon fabric material, to protect the links and prevent your frame from being scratched. It also serves as a dust cover.
This lock is heavy! It comes in at around seven pounds. Good protection has its drawbacks. Weight notwithstanding, I’d swear by a hardened chain like this one. There’s a reason why professional bike messengers use them.
I’ve heard reports that the lock cylinder can get sticky if it gets wet, so be sure to oil it.
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?
It’s no surprise that Kryptonite has 2 locks in the top 3. After all, it is definitely the best bike lock brand and has most of the market share. Bike thieves run when they see a Kryptonite disk lock.
Pros: Very light, folds up to become extremely portable, unique design, our top folding lock
Cons: You need to use the key while locked and unlocking, a bit expensive
Sometimes a great strategy is to throw thieves a curve ball. The unique, foldable Abus Bordo Granit is an interesting lock design that’s efficient but also effective and light in weight.
Folding locks have great flexibility like a chain or cable. It consists of 6 metal bars that fold out, each riveted to the next chain-style. 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 weighs in at 2.6 pounds, and when folded it is more compact than any U-lock.
The Granit is coated in a rubberized material that prevents it from scratching the hell out of your frame, and it comes with a frame bag and mounting bracket.
The lock cylinder is high quality and difficult to pick for bike thieves. The metal bars are hardened steel; like other high-end bicycle locks the only practical way to break it is by using a grinder.
Notes: The lock must be turned when unlocking and securing, which is a bit of a hassle compared to others that ‘click’ shut. The rivets will loosen as you use it which is pretty normal for folding locks; according to Abus, that doesn’t affect security.
This is a fantastic choice for a rider who wants a nearly unbreakable system with portability that is light-weight. Easily our favorite out of available folding locks.
- Pros: Unique design, easy to use, great for tight spaces, inexpensive
- Cons: You might get strange looks since it looks like a steel shackle
As mentioned, it’s an advantage to use a unique lock that thieves don’t often see. These awesome ‘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. It’s slightly weaker than the Abus Granit brand, but it provides a lot more flexibility.
The cuffs are small, and can be folded 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 for components. I use the steel shackle to secure my wheels.
The housing is made from hardened steel, both cuffs and links. They’re only really vulnerable to a grinder attack. Their small size makes them difficult to cut off a frame cleanly, and the unique cylinder is very difficult to pick.
They’re a 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.
Note: If someone digs through your backpack and finds them, you might get some funny looks.
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 one 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 your bike 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
Bike thieves 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 – learn how to lock your bike or even getting the best lock won’t help.
Ever see a rusty bike lock with just a wheel attached? The thief simply detached the front wheel and made off with the rest of the frame! Take advantage of your locking mechanism and make the thieves pick it or break it at least!
Here’s the proper way to do it:
- Find a post to lock around.
- Remove your front wheel, and place it beside your rear one.
- Run your lock through your rear wheel, around one of your chainstays or seatstays, then around the post.
- This works best with a chain, or a larger U-lock.
That’s all you need to do! In one go, this secures your frame and wheels, with one lock. It allows you to make the most of one lock. If that all sounds like gibberish, check out these awesome diagrams. I prefer the middle technique.
(If you don’t have a removable front wheel, consider a secondary lock to secure it to the frame.)
It’s actually really quick to attach your bike lock in this way, and it’s very effective in protecting against bike thieves! Remember, using any of these is no good if you don’t lock your bike!
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a bike lock cost?
A bike lock costs anywhere from about $15- $120. However, the top choice is probably around $85. The cost depends on the style (combination lock, u-lock) and materials.
Are U locks better than cable locks?
Kryptonite U-locks are better than cable locks because they are almost impossible to cut through. Cable locks are relatively easy to cut through since the cable is quite vulnerable. They are good secondary locks to protect your wheels and accessories, but a u-lock is needed to reliably protect your bike.
How do I keep my bike from being stolen?
Keep your bike from being stolen by using a kryptonite U-lock for ultimate thief protection. Bolt cutters can’t cut through the steal and your bicycle will be very secure.
How thick should a bike lock be?
Are combination bike locks secure?
Can bike locks be cut?
Have a bike theft story to share? I’d love to hear about your experiences, feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading and don’t forget TO LOOK AT MY #1 CHOICE HERE