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Owning a bike lock is an important part of anyone’s cycling kit. Though it may not be as vital as something like a helmet, a reliable bike lock does provide immense peace of mind that your bike stays secure wherever you leave it.
And while there’s no end-all-be-all bike lock capable of deterring a well-equipped thief, there are a number of options designed to slow down or discourage them.
The most common way bikes are stolen is when someone cuts through a lock’s shackle, cable, or chain. Because of this, bike lock design has prioritized features like thick steel or double bolts to make them as close to impenetrable as possible. While many offer this kind of bulked-up protection, there are also plenty of others intended for when you just need to quickly lock your bike.
Having lived and biked in the bike-heavy cities of Portland, Oregon, and New York City, I’ve handled my fair share of locks — and know all too well just how vital they are. Be it mountain bike trips, e-bike outings, or just casual rides around the neighborhood, I’ve had the opportunity to try a variety of locks designed for each of these bikes.
Below, I’ve rounded up six of my favorite bike locks, each of which offer a unique and useful design and, perhaps most importantly, allow me to trust that they’ll keep my bike safe and secure when I lock it up. From robust U-lock’s to a quick-use zip tie-style option, the bike locks featured are fit for a variety of riders.
At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some insight into the testing methodology I used in deciding which made the cut, as well as some tips on how to shop for a bike lock and what to keep in mind.
Here are the best bike locks:
- Best overall: Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock
- Best on a budget: Titanker Bike Lock Cable
- Best D-lock: Hiplok DX
- Best U-lock/cable combo: Kryptonite Kryptolok U-Lock w/ Cable
- Best quick-use: Hiplok Z-Lok
- Best on-bike lock: Lobster Lock
The best bike lock overall
If you live in a high crime area, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini Bicycle U-Lock does an excellent job of warding off criminals and protecting your bike.
Pros: Takes longer to cut through than any other lock
Cons: Small, heavy
Kryptonite is the top name in the bike lock industry. That’s why we’ve included three of its locks in our guide. One of the factors that set Kryptonite apart is its Anti-Theft Protection Offer. Basically, when you get your lock, you must register it with the company right away. Then, if your bike is stolen while it is covered by anti-theft protection, the company will pay to replace your bike. For the Fahgettaboudit Mini, the first year of registration is free. After that, it is $24.99 for five years of coverage.
The New York Fahgettaboudit Mini offers the highest level of security of any of Kryptonite’s locks according to the company. The shackle is made of 18-millimeter hardened “MAX-Performance” steel.
For extra security, the crossbar has an oversized hardened steel sleeve. The lock comes with three keys, which disengages the lock using a high-security disk-style cylinder. The cylinder is protected by a sliding dust cover. And, the center keyway is designed to make leverage attacks difficult.
The best budget bike lock
For less than $15, the Titanker Bike Lock Cable is an affordable alternative that offers a variety of locking options.
Pros: 10,000 possible combinations, four-foot reach, flexible
Cons: Cable is relatively easy to cut
The Titanker Bike Lock Cable is made of flexible steel cables that measure a half-inch in diameter. The 4-foot cable is covered with PVC coating and recoils back into its original shape when not in use. The four-digit combination lock has 10,000 possible passcodes. This lock is the lightest option in this guide at 11.2 ounces, and it mounts to your bike with the provided bracket.
The cable design offers flexibility in what you can lock a bike to, and the combination key is also convenient. While a lock is a good deterrent in general, this option doesn’t offer the level of protection as the other locks on this list. Still, the thick cable should deter most thieves.
Note: We previously recommended the UShake Bike Lock Cable, which is nearly similar to the Titanker option. Although many reviewers also recommended the UShake, that lock is not available at the time of posting.
The best D-lock bike lock
The Hiplok DX is a heavy-duty D-lock designed to keep your bike secure no matter where you lock it up, and its lightweight design makes it easy to throw into a backpack or even to wear on your person.
Pros: Heavy-duty yet lightweight design, 14mm steel shackle prevents theft
Cons: Locking area might be small for bikes with bigger tires
Hiplok is one of the who’s who in the bike lock industry (we’ve written about, and loved, its Z-Lok) thanks to its wide selection of dependable products. With the DX, Hiplok not only offers one of the most heavy-duty D-locks on the market, but it challenges the Kryptonite lock that nabbed our top spot.
What makes the DX particularly stand out is its rugged and durable design, led by a double deadlock and 14mm hardened steel shackle that would take nothing short of a tank to break through it. This means you should feel comfortable locking up your bike anywhere and can rest assured it’ll be there waiting for you when you’re reading to ride again.
It’s also one of the most lightweight locks we’ve tested and can just as easily slip into a backpack or affix to our belt loops without seeming like we’re dragging an anvil. The DX offers up a sizable locking area, as well, which can easily slide through your tire and around a pole.
At $90, it’s not a budget pick, but with bike locks, you pay for premium quality (and the assurance you won’t have to spend hundreds on a new bike). Hiplok offers a lifetime warranty, so that $90 investment should last you a very long time. — Rick Stella
The best U-lock bike lock
The Kryptonite Kryptolok Standard Bicycle U-Lock w/4-foot Flex Cable is one of the most affordable locks, and the 4-foot cable makes locking up easy.
Pros: Easy to use, lightweight, inexpensive
Cons: Only requires one cut to defeat
The design of the Kryptolok Standard Bicycle U-Lock is fairly similar to the Kryptonite locks we covered in previous slides. It has a center keyway, high-security disc-style cylinder, reinforced hardened crossbar, and a hardened MAX-Performance steel shackle. However, there are some key differences. The shackle is 13 millimeters thick, the U-lock is 4 x 9 inches, and there is not a double locking mechanism.
Kryptonite rates the security of the Kryptolok as 6 out of 10 (versus 9 for the New York Standard and 10 for the Fahgettaboudit Mini). The company states that it should be secure enough in rural areas, in the suburbs, and when traveling with your bike on a car rack.
Remember to register your bike lock with the brand immediately after you purchase it to take advantage of its theft protection program.
The best quick-use bike lock
The Z-Lok from Hiplok may not be a good choice for everyday use but its zip-tie style makes it perfect for quickly locking up your bike on short trips, or for securing it to a car rack.
Pros: Easy to use, allows you to set a custom combination, lightweight, highly portable, inexpensive
Cons: Not robust enough to use for long periods of time
Though Hiplok’s Z-Lok looks like some sort of beefed-up zip tie (it essentially is), it’s still a highly useful bike lock. Perfect for locking up your bike in a pinch, say, while running some quick errands or popping into a store, the Z-Lok is a great companion to a larger, more robust bike lock.
What makes the Z-Lok particularly stand out is how easy it is to use. When first using it, it allows you to set a custom combination code, and then using it to lock up your bike is as easy as tightening a zip tie. Just slide the lock through wherever you want to secure your bike, feed the end of the lock through the locking mechanism, and tighten. Unlocking it is just as easy as you only need to put in your set combo and then slide the unlock button to fully loosen it.
I also like how lightweight the lock is, too. I have a few of these in my kit and throw at least one or two into my backpack before every ride, even if I don’t plan on actually using them. They take up next to no space and can even just be attached to my bike, or even a belt loop on my pants if I’m ever not cycling with a backpack.
The Z-Lok’s downside is a clear one: It’s just not as robust as larger locks, so it can’t necessarily be used for everyday use or for any time you’ll be away from your bike for a long period of time. It works best as a complement to a larger lock system and as a quick use to lock up your bike in a pinch. — Rick Stella, fitness and health editor
The best on-bike bike lock
The Lobster Lock permanently attaches to your bike frame so you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to grab a lock on your way out the door.
Pros: Attaches to your bike permanently so you’ll never forget a lock, easy to lock/unlock, inexpensive $75 price tag
Cons: Can rattle on your bike a little bit while riding
We’ve all been there: You’re getting ready for a ride, you’ve packed a backpack, grab your helmet, and jet out the door. As you get to your destination, you realize it; you forgot your bike lock. Now, you’re left with a decision, do you leave the bike there and quickly run inside to get what you need, or do you ride back home? With the Lobster Lock, those forgetful moments cease to exist.
Thanks to a design that allows you to permanently attach it to your bike’s frame, the Lobster Lock goes wherever your bike goes, all day, every day. By attaching to where you’d put a water bottle cradle, the lock is able to stay out of the way enough to avoid hindering you as you ride, yet is perfect for attaching to a bike rack (including through your wheel, too).
Using the lock is easy, too. By simply unlocking it with a key, two arms swing out from the base and attach to each other to create the lock. When you’re reading to ride again, just unlock the two arms from each other, fold them back into the base, and lock it again with the key. Simple as that.
Also, don’t think you have to sacrifice the water bottle cradle — it basically acts as an extension of that area as you’re able to affix a cradle to the lock itself. That’s a ton of convenience packed into one bike lock. — Rick Stella
How to shop for a bike lock
When shopping for a bike lock, it’s important to consider how exactly you plan to use it. If you live in a city and plan on locking it up in either an apartment building bike room or even intend to leave it locked up outside for a long period of time, you’ll want to opt for the most robust and trustworthy lock you can find (i.e. our top overall pick or Hiplok’s DX).
If you just need something to hold you over during day rides or quick trips to the store, you won’t need to splurge on a Fort Knox-style lock and can instead go with something like Hiplok’s Z-Lok or our budget pick, the Titanker Bike Lock Cable. Each of these locks is reliable enough for short-term use but shouldn’t be your go-to, everyday lock, especially in more populated areas.
Another consideration to keep in mind is portability. Heavy-duty, robust bike locks aren’t always the easiest things to haul around, with some requiring the use of a backpack just to store it while it’s not in use. If portability is a chief concern, and you still want a lock that’s strong enough for city use, consider something like the Lobster Lock which attaches directly to a bike’s frame when not in use.
How we test bike locks
Each of the following bike locks went through several rounds of field testing to make sure they not only provided a reliable method for locking up our bike but that they were easy to use, weren’t a pain to lug around, and offered enough value regardless of their price tag.
Specifically, we looked at these five categories: Ease of use, durability, security, and value. Here’s how each category factored into what locks made the cut:
Ease of use: Using a bike lock shouldn’t be a headache each time you lock and unlock your ride. This means that it should be easy to affix to a bike rack while still being able to secure valuable parts of your bike (i.e. the wheel) without it feeling like solving a Rubik’s cube.
Durability: What good is a bike lock if it starts to fall apart mere months after you purchase it? Bike locks take a beating, whether it be while getting throwing into a backpack or vehicle, someone attempting to disassemble it, or being stored at home in a garage or closet. You want any lock you purchase (especially since you’re spending hard-earned cash) to last you several years, at the very least.
Security: If a bike lock is easy to break into, then what’s the point? A reliable bike lock should be able to stand up to a variety of bike-stealing methods and not only continue to protect your bike but be able to continue to live up to its namesake.
Value: Value isn’t just about how much a bike lock costs — it’s more about how much return you get on your investment. If you pay a premium price, you should expect premium features. This is sort of like the sum of all the categories before it (while still considering its sticker cost).