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  1. Great Post! I am using the Chain locks, in my opinion, are the most popular approach to protect a bike against theft. It could be the only thing stopping your bike from becoming the next target of a thief. Thank you for writing this post.

  2. U Type and Chain Bike locks are really effective against bike theft in urban areas and around college campus. Not securing the frame within the lock seems to be the top reason why most cyclist loose their bike. I too lost my mountain bike just like that. That’s why I now detach the front wheel and tie it along with the rear wheel on top of regular bike locks to deter thieves from stealing it.

  3. USHAKE combination u lock for scooter is great. It does not necessitate a great deal of work in order to use it. With a four-digit combination and a U-lock design, it was one of the easiest to set up. Because of its simplicity, it can be an excellent choice for someone who has never used a scooter lock before.

  4. Chain locks, in my opinion, are the most popular approach to protect a bike against theft. It could be the only thing stopping your bike from becoming the next target of a thief. Thank you for writing this post.

  5. Locking your bike in a bike rack is easy, but it is still possible to lock a bike without a bike rack: You can detach the front wheel and tie it along with the rear wheel, put the two wheels together to deter thieves from stealing them. Another option is taking the chain off the rear gears or have the choice to remove the quick-release off the front wheel. A good way to make your bike more unrideable is by taking the front off of the frame,… These can essentially reduce the risk of your bike being stolen.

  6. I decided to give OTTOLOCK a try because I wanted a light and secure lock I could bring with me on long bike trips. It is very small and lightweight and works great too. It’s a simple 3 digit combo code that is easy to program and the mechanism works smoothly for locking/unlocking.

  7. Informative comments & article. Thank so much. I plan to rent used bikes, helmets & theft prevention devices to vaca renters but keys are not practical. Which make model of combination style theft deterrent do you & your readers recommend – if any?
    Thanks, A.D. in MI USA

  8. This Is a really useful post. Thank you.
    I do also think that Kryptonite is not as effective at preventing bike theft as they once were as thieves are using increasing more sophisticated ways of stealing bikes. I do recommend a disk lock with an integrated alarm.

  9. This post will end up being a mile long. Sorry.

    Lock companies are capitalists. They know how your American brain works. “If a lock doesn’t cost this much, it must be junk!” and it works, I own 3 of the locks above and probably another $300 worth in other chains/padlocks/U-locks…

    And their marketing is usually cool. Blowtorches. Cutting tools bending. It’s fun to watch videos of a lock taking a bullet, but you never see the gun being pointed at the guy with the key, right? It would defeat that beautiful marketing campaign, where everyone is interested in the physics of the stacked plate padlock, and not what it supposedly secures.

    When the reality of it is, it matters more WHERE you lock up and HOW you lock up, than what you lock up with. These types of articles are written so you think your bike will be left alone in Nowheresville. If that were the case, they will have all the free time to grind away even the most hardened steel.

    I have a wrought iron street level window guard, and have to frequently cut off some inconsiderate jerk’s bike and move it over to the signpost or the bike rack. If you try a long-term lockup on my property? Better run to the local bike shop, I “donated” it. The point? All of them can be cut off in minutes with a HSS rotary tool and cutoff wheels, especially when you have the law on your side and aren’t worried about grinding noise nor sparks nor NYPD stopping you. Yes, even whatever fancy lock David George above thinks he has, I can remove it. Easily.

    But even if you lock up your bike in a legal manner, nothing matters more than your safety. And in some sketchy urban areas, they will stomp your rims and just thrash your ride in general just because you were dumb enough to chain it up. Take it INSIDE with you… a lock & chain is just for running into the store for 5 minutes. NYC streets are full of bent forks ‘n frames that are still securely locked to poles, those rusting relics are good reminders about what purpose a lock serves. (did you know the City has specific workers to do bike frame removals?)

    As Larry points out farther back, flesh is much softer than steel, and has pain nerves. It’s easier to steal a bike if the thief punches you in the throat and just takes it, while you’re laying on the ground gasping for breath and trying to see how badly smashed your iphone is, if it can still dial 911, through tears… it’s the world we live in. It’s difficult to get a carry permit in NYC, much less to wear a 7# auto in bike shorts, so I guess we all need to take up krav defense tactics. Sadly everyone knows who little Autumn Pasquale was… I’m just glad it doesn’t happen more frequently.

    I know it seems weird to joke about this to some of you, but as both ex-military and NYCer, I’ve come to terms that crime is just part of urban life… like the Chicago shop owner who had a guy walk in and wheel out a $7000 Pilot… let the cops do their jobs, if you have replacement cost insurance. Screw that bike, and that fancy lock!

    Finally, remember that lock integrity is a concept that most of us have no idea about. We HAVE to take the manufacturer’s at their word that it’s this, that, or the other. Physics, metallurgy, sure if we have a scientific mind we understand the principles, but as for the whole lock? They keep it private and proprietary as possible. I’m sure Kryptonite wants you all to forget this, but anyone over 30 – but do you remember when their top-of-the-line circular keyed lock, both hasp/chain and U-lock, were instantly defeatable with a chewed-up Bic pen? Literally one second. Smack! Turn! Gone. It’s not as bad as finding poison in your Tylenol, but it could have easily killed the company. You want to trust your lock. For all the common man knows, every “ultimate” lock is just as easily defeated by a professional, but professional thieves both real and electronic, don’t run to youtube to post brag videos – they keep the secret so it’s usable when the time comes.

    Look, this site is bikesmarts, and our host wants both money and free gear for hosting and reviewing things. And making people feel safe is a profitable business model. But please look at this with eyes open. Look how many replies here mention stolen bikes.

    So while we love him, Will’s reviews are just that, product reviews. Even if this were a field test, it doesn’t matter. Please don’t think a lock review, of any lock, is some be-all security thing to yearn for. Security is an idea, a concept. And locks are very useful for keeping honest people honest. But beyond that? Your brain is a better security tool than any lock, and it too can fail.

    1. NYC_Critical_Masser: Good points! You’re right that WHERE you lock up is as important as how. I consider bike locks a safeguard against crimes of opportunity. But they won’t stop a determined thief. As you say, a rotary tool can cut through almost anything, and a bike lock won’t save you from a mugging (unless you smack the thief with that heavy chain.) Ultimately, using your brain is the best way to avoid a nasty surprise.

      For the record, I do earn some money off ads here (it’s part of my living), but I always refuse bike gear offered to me. I figure it messes with the integrity of the review. So the locks reviewed here are a selection of the best ones I know of. Helping people is still priority one for me.

  10. I was using a U Lock made by BELL that claimed it was hardened steal. I didn’t do much research on how hard it was because my bike was a Schwinn Ranger that had white paint splattered all over the frame and back rim. I was riding back from Home Depot when a small can of paint I was carrying fell through the bottom of my bag and EXPLODED all over me and the bike. So, I thought to myself…who would steal a bike all messed up like this? It’s ugly and they would be spotted right away. Man oh man was I wrong!!! I had the bike locked up to a 1 inch steal gas line about 10 feet from my back door and 5 feet from my bedroom window. I was lying in bed Sunday morning when I heard this loud clunk which was the brazen bike thief walking up the complex driveway with bold cutters in hand and SNAP! Off he goes with my bike. OK…so the good part is, I’m 5,10 and this bike was too small for me. I am now in search of a hybrid but am more concerned about how to lock this bad boy up and maybe even track it. Is Spybike available yet or do you have any other recommendations for something that can track when it’s stolen. BTW…did you see how Tesla has a built in network to track you bike if one of their bikes is stolen? THANKS!!!

    1. Hi Steven, I’m not sure if Spybike is ready yet, but I personally I’m skeptical whether it’ll actually help.

      Say your bike is stolen by a professional thief… are you just gonna go knock on their door? Will the cops take the time to visit them?

      Not to mention, I believe thieves will quickly figure out how to mute the signal or compromise the tracking.

      The most headache free thing is to simply buy a truly hardened steel lock (avoid Bell!) Those bolt cutters won’t work on a Kryptonite chain. And if you can, avoid leaving it outside overnight. Hope that helps!

  11. Hey do you know if there’s a U-lock that clicks into lock by itself and doesn’t have to be locked shut with a key? So much handier to use when you do multiple trips around town in a day.
    My 8 year old U-lock just broke so I’m looking for the best option. It kind of cracks me up that we have computers in our pockets but the technology for bike locks is so primitive (why do they all have to be 5 lbs??)

    1. Hi Alex, the u-locks I know of all require the keys to close. 🙁 Yeah they’re heavy and primitive, but that’s because thieves have had great success using smash and cut techniques. Funny that technology can’t get past caveman tactics hey?

  12. I just bought a bike, first one I’ve owned in 15 years. Im really worried about thieves, partially why I only bought a 500$ bike, I just can’t justify buying something more its rather sad. We really cant have nice things. Anyways, have you looked at a frame lock strategy? I will be ordering one from axa security. Seems like something that is common in europe but not at all here in Canada/USA. Im a little conflicted that I’ll have to spend more on a chain, ulock and frame lock than what the bike is worth. Also will add 15lbs to the bike which kind of makes my goal of it being a daily commuter not really appealing. It may be overkill but I view this as safety for myself, I dont want to go to jail for life for crushing a thieve’s skull on the sidewalk should I catch one in the act.

    1. Hi N, you’re right that frame locks are not as common here. Like anything though, I feel a dedicated thief could get through it… because even if they can’t pedal away due to the shackle, they can easily pick the thing up. If you were to use the optional cable, then it has the same vulnerabilities as any other lock. I still think the best strategy is to use a chain lock through both wheels and the frame, and to lock up in a safe, exposed place. 🙂

  13. my new bike lock is the best.low cost,low weight,,,,,will stop largest batt grinder,48 in bolt cutter,rotohammer.drill,all carbide and diamond tools,acy torch,liquid nitrogen,picking,jacking,bending,,basically all known forms of attack in a 1.5 lb unit—the only lock to stop a torch,available for production now—-this lock is off all test scales, i suggest a lock shootout starting with the acy torch and grinder,david

  14. I have been studying proper locking techniques and reviewing locks. I recently was given a nice bike that I had to restore from being left too long outside to the elements. If I were to lose this bike I would be especially heartbroken considering the love and labor I put into it. I appreciate your article, it has taught me a lot on how to properly lock up my bike. I am looking at U locks and possibly a good chain. But I ran across the Onguard Minpin Key less Locking Skewers and wondered what your opinion of them was. I like the idea of the convenience of not using a key (esp. considering others can have them too) but just wanted a professional opinion, in case I am not thinking of something that may uncover an issue with using them.

    1. Hi John, I don’t recommend the MinPin yet. Sounds as though they’re not waterproof and can lock in place permanently. I’d suggest a different locking skewer for the time being.

  15. Is there a lock that can attach to your body while riding the bicycle? Thieves now stealing bicycles right from under your ass.

    1. Hi Larry, for real? Wow! I wouldn’t recommend locking yourself in while riding for safety reasons though. Just keep your head on a swivel I guess!

  16. Loved the article! I am sure that I am naive in thinking that I’m pretty safe as a leisure rider of my newly purchased bike. I have an old U lock, probably 15-20 years old; is that still any good? I’m guessing no, because every new preventative has a new way to break it. I was considering the street cuffs; rides to a local watering hole or to the grocery store, not really going on campus (Univ of WI – Madison); which is where I hear stealing of bikes happens a lot. Street Cuffs – Are these going to be good for random neighborhoods, stops off the bike path for libations and maybe the 1 -3 times on campus and downtown? Lots of words for 2-3 questions 🙂 again, thanks a bunch for your article!

    1. Son had bike stolen and car broke into within 10 days at University of Tennessee Chattanooga. .they mentioned locking bikes up with good lock at orientation. .but i didnt expect that. . if i had a way to get there id find that bike. .nothing i hate more.. im not gonna use bad words or terms but i know who stole it. .lazy good for nothing non employed drug dealing. . .. man ticks me off. One thing to do something to me. .its another when u affect or taeget my family

  17. Just had bike stolen from a condo bike room bike locker. A (supposedly) secure bike room, a locked bike locker, but the bike itself wasn’t locked or secured. The criminals apparently shoulder-checked the room door and crowbarred off the door of the locker. I had an Otivia cargo cache on the bike with locks and some bike tools in it. Yeah, it hurts like hell that I literally gave the criminals some extra tools. Anyway, after some research, I’m looking at two Kryptonite NewYork Fuggedabodit u-locks, and either their elite chain or the Oxford chain for securing in the now-repaired locker room. The starts gonna get security cameras (I’m on council). Professional opinion on the locks?

    1. Hey Len, sorry to hear it, that sucks. In some cases bike rooms are easier for the thief… secluded, private, plenty of time and space to work. The Fuggedaboudit and elite chain should do the trick, as will adding cameras. It’s amazing how that little red light will deter theft.

  18. i used to take off my front wheel and lock it with my back, then one day i came back to my bike and my forks were snapped, and wheels bent-some people if they can’t steal it, will try and destroy it…… helpfully, it was covered with cctv and the guy who did it was known to the police, I’ve now got a lovely new bike thanks to his bank account….!! 😀

    1. Hi Marcus, sorry to hear that, sounds like he had a screw loose. But it’s satisfying that even though he messed up your ride, he didn’t manage to steal it due to the lock strategy! And glad the police resolved it for you.

  19. Great article and validated my own thoughts on bikes and the situation behind what is obviously common sense.

    Its still good to see it in writing I’m very grateful.

    My opinion is you cannot stop somebody from taking your bike if they really want it.

    But by taking instrumental measures to prevent your own bike being stolen as presented in this article will go a long way in not having your own bike stolen.

    Thank you.

  20. A friend bought hi dollar lock for his trailers because thieves were in area; neighbors stuff was stolen. Friend’s wife lost key to lock. Last resort to access trailers…30 seconds with drill and bit….high dollar lock that was bolt cutter proof defeated. If it has a key hole a drill and bit are seconds from defeating lock. We still try though. Best lock is….hunt for thieves and go jihad on their asses.

  21. That image you have of the blue bicycle with the gator skin tires and “a decent bicycle locking strategy” with the U-lock is a great way to get your bike stolen. The U-lock isn’t going around the frame at all so, a simple removal of that rear skewer and you can take the whole frame away with the components, leaving two tires behind. Or, if a thief wanted the hubs, he could easily get through those rims in less than 30 seconds with a decent hacksaw.

    1. Hi Torben, lock up your bike exactly as in the photo (through both wheels and around a post), remove the rear skewer, and try to remove the frame. Good luck to you!

      The only vulnerability is if someone hacksaws through the wheel and tire. Which is why I also suggest going around the frame also.

      But to steal the bike by removing the skewer is not possible. Give it a try!

  22. Hello Will.
    I have enjoyed reading you article and posts by others.
    My sons Trek Crossrip elite 54 GY (cost of $1,270.00) was stolen on Wednesday Sept 9th at the University of Arizona campus. That day there were 7 bicycles stolen on the campus according to the UofA campus police. He had properly used the Kryptonite KRY U series 2 STD lock to secure the bike. When he came back to one of the campus racks he found the lock had been picked ! The campus police said that it had been picked with a plastic bic pen !!! Okay, I know these guys are professionals but a bic pen can unlock a Kryptonite Lock ??
    Unfortunately, my son did NOT register the lock with Kryptonite. They do have some type of reward program up to $1,500.00 . I have no idea if they would have paid off in this situation. It doesn’t matter .

    I just wanted to let viewers read this and to beware !
    We will be purchasing another bike and now I am searching for the best way to secure this bike, as others on this site are.
    I am looking a GPS systems now and I have not found one that really gives me comfort. Of course, I am still trying to find suitable locks that can’t be picked. I just spoke with my locksmith and he recommends a lock that has an ACE key, it looks like a coke machine key or a tubular key. I thought the KRY U had a tubular key.
    Anyway, I hope this helps others and I am continuing my search for the best security out there. I don’t mind spending the money on these items IF it works !
    Any help is certainly appreciated ! Be safe everyone.

  23. I am an avid cyclist in Los Angeles. I did a little research and purchased a great Kryptonite U lock 13mm hardened steel with a security rating of 7. I lock my bike outside my apartment to my railing. In conjunction I also use skewer locks that require a delta tool, and have soldered all allen key bolts full so allen keys do not work – you need to get the solder out with a torch or iron in order to loosen or tighten.

    The other night a thief used an angle grinder on the Kryptonite lock at 3am. My neighbor woke up and caught him in the act and called police while watching his progress. His battery ran out and he was trying to figure out how to get the seat off. At this point the thief was on my balcony pulling at the seat and my neighbor yelled at him.

    He made it through about 1/2 the steel of the U lock so I replaced it with a stronger lock. He was grinding for a solid 5 minutes.

    I also purchased a hardened steel chain as an additional deterrent with a movement alarm. Look up Stockton Tool Company alarm lock. It’s 10mm steel chain with a 110 DB alarm for 39$. Remember with a chain you have to make 2 cuts to break it as apposed to just one in a U lock. Now this thief is going to have to cut through over 50mm of steel to get my bike with an alarm blaring. I wish him the best of luck.

  24. Hey Will Henry… How about those special bolts with accompanying tools they sell for wheels (assuming they are bolt-on track wheels), seatposts, stems etc? They sell the same type of thing in the form of bolt-on skewers for standard wheels as well. Are these things effective at all? Or do thieves scour the Internet for all the different types and buy up the tools?

    1. Hi Kitt, you’re talking about things like Pinheads skewers, right? I’m actually planning to write a separate article on them. Short story is: they’re great for added security. And most thieves won’t have the tools. However, a handful do, so they’re not 100% secure. Short answer is: I’d endorse these systems. Anything that makes a thief move on to easier pickings is worth investing in!

  25. Just got back from a bike trip with 5 family members down the C & O Canal Towpath to Washington DC. The last evening in DC we were having dinner in Georgetown with our bikes locked with cable locks to a bike rack on very busy M street. Came out to find all 5 bikes had been stolen, my son’s was only 2 days old. Thieves rode up on 5 bikes and within seconds had used bolt cutters and taken our bikes and left theirs (which the police confiscated). Thanks for the hospitality DC! Heading out now to buy a kryptonite BEFORE I buy some new bikes. Lesson learned.

  26. I just got a bike and I live in NYC. I feel like I’m spending more time on finding the right lock than I did on finding the right bike! It’s just a used bike off craigslist, but I really love it. I think I might get the cuff locks for the wheels and the fughettaboutit for the frame. Taking a wheel off every time I lock it, is just not realistic and not easily done on this bike. I have to see if it’ll work, but that’s my plan, I think.

    1. Hi Alyson, I hear you. You can definitely do two locks, and I think your strategy is a good one. Best of luck!

  27. Lost my mountain bike even though it was secured to the house with cable and a lockwood padlock. Never found a trace of the lock, I guess they took it with them. But like my local bike dealer told me, if someone wants it bad enough they are going to take it no matter how well you lock it up. Waiting on delivery of my new bike and will keep it inside from now on, and buy a better lock.

  28. My son’s brand new Cannondale bike was stole from inside his condo bike room while locked up with the KRYPTONITE FAHGETTABOUDIT!!! How the heck did they steal it? The bike and lock were no where to be found.

    1. Hi Tracey, sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, no lock is invincible if the thief has enough time and space to work. I’d guess they used an angle grinder… condo bike rooms are perfect for that kind of theft, far from prying eyes. Do they have a security camera / card controlled door? If so you might be able to track down the culprit using the video timestamp and door access records.

  29. My son used a Kryptonite U lock on his bike for 9 years. Someone finally figured out how to break them fast & quietly. His bike was stolen 2 days ago. Fortunately, we spotted the bike a few blocks away, abandoned yesterday. I had figured the bike was gone for good. We are investigating the possibility of getting a GPS tracking device for it. There is one that involves replacing the handlebars and another that involves dropping the device down the seat post. My concern about GPS is “Battery life” because it sounds like both devices must be re-charged every 9 hours.

    1. Glad to hear you recovered the bike. You could also look into the Skylock system, which works with Wifi. If you go for a GPS system let us know how it works out!

  30. That picture is actually a very unsafe way to lock a bike. You can saw through that wheel with a hack saw and then just yank on the bike and the lock will pull through the wheel.

    1. Hi Samson. I’m planning to update that photo. In the meantime if you read through my strategy suggestion carefully, you’ll see that I already recommend going through the triangle, wheels and around the frame to nullify a hacksaw attempt.

  31. I have one problem with the locking technique used in the photo. It seems to me that it would be very easy to release the rear wheel and take off with just the frame. Looks like there’s plenty of space to do it too. Lock the frame people.

    1. Hi Sean, challenge accepted… try it! It’s not possible to remove the wheel if the u-lock goes through the rim inside the triangle. You’d have to cut the wheel. (Cutting a wheel with a hacksaw IS possible, though very rare, so yes be sure to lock through the frame too.)

  32. Ohmygosh! I have had 4 bikes stolen since I purchased my first bike 19 years ago! And, with the exception of the last one, I have always locked it.
    My favorite bike thus far was a nice Electra Retro that had all the bells and whistles. I love d it! The frame was locked to a busy corner outside the restaurant where I was working. I was SO BUMMED to complete my shift, walk outside, and see my helmet lying on the ground next to where my bike was locked!
    The last bike that was stolen was taken from inside my garage. Normally, even when inside my garage, it would have been locked to my fiancees’ very expensive downhill mountain bike. But, for some reason, we hadn’t locket it. Our garage is attached to our neighbors garage. Well, there was a space that is missing between our garages that a person could walk through. I had asked the neighbor to please always double check that his automatic garage door was closed. Well, one day I noticed he had left it open. I got home from being out for about 2 hours. When I returned, my bike was gone.
    So, now, other than installing some sort of barking razor blade security system that is triggered when someone other than me rides it, I will go with one of your recommendations from this article. And, perhaps even use TWO locks (as I had done previously).

    1. Haha! I’ll be the first in line to buy your barking razor blade system! Get a patent on that quick!

  33. Had a half decent mountain bike stolen 2 and a half years ago outside a station after 3 months of locking up outside because I was naive and had 2 rubbish locks.
    I’ve been locking my new mountain bike for nearly 2 years now with 2 good gold rated locks, one a abus chain and one gold rated d lock from halfords and I lock it properly.
    I lock the bike up as well next to bikes that have rubbish cable locks. Haha.
    I put my myself in the thief shoes, and try to think how he would think, so I don’t think he will think twice about messing with mine especially when 40% of the bikes you break with your bear hands.
    Watch Barry Manson on you tube, it helped me a lot.

    1. On top of that you need to paint your bike in an ugly color. Camoflage all expensive parts – paint on top of original model names some low end gear names =D and paint a cracks and rust!

  34. Help me with your method for locking the bike. Not securing the frame within the lock seems like its just asking for trouble. Instead of having to cut through the lock, the thief can just cut through the wheel. Wheels are easily replaced and the metal is “thin” enough that you could probably use a set of bolt cutters.

    Cut the rear wheel, remove the lock, take the whole bike minus the front wheel. You get the frame and the derailleur. Throw on some inexpensive rims, list on CL.

    1. Hi Nate, it’s true that rims are easier to cut through than a frame, but it’s still not easy. Bolt cutters would have a very tough go of it. A hacksaw could do, but it’s very noisy. Tires have wire running through them, and even once it’s cut you really have to wrench it to get it out of the triangle. Plus, the rear wheel is usually the most expensive and prized part on the bike. So realistically, thieves will look for easier pickings.

      That said, you’re right that it’s definitely more secure to run the lock through both wheels and the frame, so if possible, do both!

      I recently saw a video of a ‘hack through the rear wheel’ success on Youtube. I don’t think you’ll see it happen much in the real world, but I am going to update my strategy anyway. Thanks for the comment!

  35. thanks for your post. Just starting out with biking (my car broke down and Im really hating this whole dependency on a car). great tips!!!

    1. Hey, thanks for the reviews. Thieves snapped the padlock to my condo complex’s bicycle storage garage, then cut the cable around my TWO $800+ GTs, and took them, but (fortunately) left my gal’s GT. I bought a new GT Karakoram, and am buying a Kryptonite Fuhgettaboudit and am considering a Spybike seatpost. Thanks for the advice.

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