Buy one of the best bike locks and you’ll go a long way to ensuring your bike remains yours. Unfortunately, bike theft is a constant concern for riders whether we’re stopping at a shop or racking bikes up at home. Bike Perfect scoured the thousands of locks available, from Hiplok’s cunning Z-Lok armoured zip tie to Abus’ bombproof Granit X-Plus to find the best solutions for all budgets and situations.
Best bike locks for mountain bikes
German company Abus produces a massive range of security products (as well as helmets) with the ‘stronger than it looks’ Granit X-Plus right at the sweet spot of portability and protection from theft.
While the 13mm shackle seems skinny, the square section shackle format makes it more resistant to attack as numerous online tests and user testimonials have proved. That means it still gets a Sold Secure Gold award. It’s supplied with three keys and a frame mount for commuting convenience but will fit in a backpack easily. Rubberised coatings mean it won’t ruin your paint in use either.
If you’re after maximum Thatcham rated security, check out the 16mm shackle £230 Granit Extreme 59 but only if the 2.7kg weight won’t cripple you. As for the high price, consider that a good investment as Abus has the best weatherproofing and most reliable operation of any bike lock brand.
Hiplok’s cunning armoured zip tie is a super convenient way to provide security against un-tooled grab-and-go thieves. While it won’t stand up to bolt cutters or even a decent pair of cable snips, the flexible steel strip under the rubber coating is tougher than simple wire combo bike locks. At 40cm it’s long enough to bundle bags/helmets/wheels together against something solid and can be used for other outdoor accessories if you’re a multi-sport athlete.
The basic version comes with a universal two-pronged release ‘key’ but if you want more security there’s a combination lock version for £20. For maximum value get the twin pack of the basic Z-Lok for £15 and share it with a mate or double your deterrent. At 20g each they’re certainly no trouble to stow in your saddlebag or stuff into your pocket to take along on any ride just in case either.
Wiggle’s Lifeline brand is all about economical but effective products and that certainly applies to its D-Lock. For the price of most brands’ barely-pliers-proof cable locks, Wiggle delivers a 14mm hardened steel shackle secured with double dead-bolts to make prying it open hard even after cutting. This is enough to earn it a Sold Secure Silver rating and the plastic coating means it won’t scratch your frame either.
There are small (143mm shackle, £13) and large (300mm shackle, £15) options as well as this medium option (230mm shackle, £14) and they all come with a simple-but-effective frame-mounting bracket for regular commuting use. The keyhole is protected with a sliding cover too, although you only get two keys. LifeLine also produces a 10mm extension cable for locking wheels etc in situ for equally excellent value at £6 for 120cm or £7 for 213cm, so you can build a great combo for under £20.
Rather than a traditional linked chain, LiteLox uses a strap of Boaflexicore - essentially high-tensile steel cables in a nylon mesh sleeve. This makes for a flexible 740mm strap that can be fixed to a frame with the two included straps or looped around a bag. The cables are slightly more vulnerable to cutting/grinding than a conventional chain or shackle but it’s super-secure against bolt croppers and burst-breaking methods. The neat lock is impressively tough too, giving it a Sold Secure Gold rating overall, and the flexible design makes it easy to snake through congested locking situations which make it harder for thieves to get to.
If you want a longer strap then the Wearable version comes in small (93cm, 1.3kg), medium (100cm, 1.4kg) and large (110cm, 1.45kg) sizes for £100. Just make sure you have your keys with you before you click it shut as it locks automatically.
If you’re looking for decent security at a good price with a bonus front wheel or saddle securing cable added to the package, MasterLock makes just the thing. The hardened-steel 13mm shackle comes in either 210mm or 280mm length loops which slot into the plastic-covered cross bar.
The lock is pick- and drill-proofed enough to get a Gold award from Sold Secure and there’s a dust cover to keep the mechanism clean. The 120cm cable is a useful addition for tethering your front wheel enough to deter thieves and the package is less than the price of the two bits separately.
You get four keys and a frame clip, and while the mount can get a bit rattly in use and the lock can be a bit more glitchy than Abus and Kryptonite, it's covered by a lifetime guarantee for lasting peace of mind. That all makes it something of a bargain for the price.
Kryptonite is one of the most recognisable names in bike security for good reason, with a history of cutting-edge bike locks and a well-deserved reputation for brilliant customer back up. The New-U Evolution family is the latest in a very long line of D-locks from the US-based company. It gets a patent-pending, hardened, double deadbolt so you’d need to cut the shackle both sides for easy removal and the 14mm hardened steel will put up a good fight if you try it. The smaller ovalised base bar includes a new disc-style cylinder lock for extra security and the New-U is Sold Secure Gold rated as a result.
Thick vinyl protects your paint and it comes with a universal fit mounting bracket for commuting bikes. Kryptonite’s key safe replacement program is legendary for saving users who’ve lost or damaged keys and brilliant customer service is something they pride themselves on since the ‘ballpoint pen’ lock hack was one of the first things that went viral on the internet back in the last century. If you want maximum security, stump up the extra for Kryptonite’s iconic yellow and black ‘New York’ range though.
Older OnGuard bike locks had a bit of a rep for bad reliability but the latest generation has really stepped up the game, improving the mechanism’s smoothness and function even after prolonged bad-weather use. For a start, the fat 17mm section shackle is too big for some smaller bolt croppers to bite effectively and it’s thick enough to significantly slow down cutting attacks. Add a four-point X4P Quattro quad deadlock mechanism that acts on both sides of both shackle ends and you’ve got a bike lock strong enough to breeze Sold Secure’s Gold rating and impress in other independent tests.
OnGuard includes five keys for the forgetful and one has an LED light for night time use. The STD shackle measures 110x260mm but there’s an LS version for the same price and a Mini version for slightly less. The price doesn’t include a frame mount and the thick shaft means it’s heavy for its size but the thick rubber coating helps keep the paint safe on your pride and joy. The yellow ‘New York’ colourway is a clever way to piggyback Kryptonites ‘don’t bother’ reputation among thieves.
HipLok specialises in good-looking, really smartly thought out security solutions and this integrated wall-mounted bike lock is really neat. The A-frame design bolts onto your wall using the supplied fixing kit and looks smart enough for the swankiest art apartment. You then rest the frame of your bike into the rubber-lined ‘jaws’ and slot the 30mm steel locking bolt into place. The whole set up comprises hardened steel to provide maximum cutting, freezing and levering protection for a Sold Secure Gold standard protection rating.
The white, red or grey painted finish is tough enough for outside use and the £160 Airlok+ comes with a 2m cable to stop your wheels being swiped, too. Not all bikes (particularly bikes with a top tube shock mount or significantly angled top tube) will fit neatly in the jaws though, so check before you buy if you’re not sure.
Abus was one of the pioneers of folding linkage locks and the Bordo range is absolutely vast, spanning the ultra-secure Granit Plus to the colour-coded, combination-locked U-Grip Combo. As the name suggests this lock adds a 100dB tamper alarm to deter thieves trying to attack the six-bar lock.
It’s smart enough not to go off when you’re locking it or unlocking or if here’s ambient vibration and it’ll also signal battery levels so it’s not struck dumb when you need it most. The steel links with high-security rivets give it a silver rating from Sold Secure and it folds up into a convenient clip or pouch for easy carrying.
It comes in black or white in the 90cm length with a 120cm length option in black too if you need extra length. The alarm makes it a lot more expensive than the silent similarly Silver-rated Bordo 6000/90 at £90 but Abus build quality and reliability mean their generally higher prices are a good long term investment.
How to buy a bike lock
With the exception of HipLok’s just-in-case Z-Lok strap, all the locks here are rated to at least silver level by independent testers Sold Secure. It’s not the most comprehensive test and there are locks that go far beyond their top Gold standard but it’s the one you’ll see quoted a lot and a decent guide for how long it’ll slow up thieves. Note that we say ‘slow up’ rather than ‘defeat’, as a determined, tooled up bike thief will get through even the best bike locks eventually. If it’s enough to make the opportunists give up - or not even try - that’s a win.
Our rated bike locks start at just £14 with Wiggle’s own brand LifeLine, which has an impressive feature list for the price. As you pay more, you’ll get features like double deadlocks, more keys (sometimes with an inbuilt light) and they’ll hopefully be better made in terms of rubberised paint protection, rattling or reliability over time. Additional cables packaged with D-locks often represent good value too. Don’t forget that professional bike thieves are genuinely professional so they know what brands will put up a better fight. That means while Abus and Kryptonite are expensive, just the sight of them might be security enough.
There are various physical designs to consider. We’ve concentrated on D-locks because they’re generally the most cost-effective protection against the widest range of attacks. They are bulky though and often a fight to fit around tubes/poles/racks etc. Articulated linkage bike locks like Abus’s Bordo are becoming more popular because they pack down easily and can be threaded into more congested/complex locking situations. Heavy-duty chains with mini D-lock closure like Kryptonite’s New York Noose are the most versatile locking solution and very hard to burst or lever open. They’re also easy to store/carry - besides weighing a ton, and they’re generally expensive so shop around for the best prices as motorbike suppliers are sometimes cheaper than cycle stores. Finally, there are smart solutions such as wearable bike locks from LiteLok and HipLok and numerous pocket-sized combination bike locks. Be wary of cheaper combo bike locks and cables though, as thieves will rip them apart in seconds.
4. Payback plans
Some brands back their bike locks up with potential payouts if you get your bike stolen while using their product. The level of proof of purchase/use/broken bike lock returns needed to qualify varies significantly though, so check the small print carefully and make sure you register your bike lock immediately if that’s one of the criteria.
5. Security hacks
Even if you're using the very best bike lock, you can always improve security by being smart. For a start make the bike lock awkward to get to with tools or hard to get to with saws/bottle jacks/freeze sprays or bolt croppers etc. Two different types of bike locks with different key styles mean a thief will have to take longer and use more tools and that’s exactly what they hate doing.
While it’s tempting to hide your bike away when you lock it (and obviously a good idea at home) if the bike is hidden, so is anyone trying to steal it, so parking in view of CCTV is a free and useful deterrent. If you’re commuting, use different locking locations on a random pattern so thieves can’t clock it and come back the next day. If you find your bike lock has been attacked then definitely move location and if it’s been disabled with glue etc so you can’t unlock it yourself, then get the lock replaced immediately as it’s a sure sign that criminals will be back later with the right tools. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can stick a bike somewhere protected too. A local garage or workshop round the corner might be glad of an extra fiver a week for biscuits as payment for letting you lock your bike up inside.
Finally, if you’re a Strava user, make sure you set the privacy zones to stop your home and workplace being pinpointed online and make sure your mates do the same.