The bane of cyclists everywhere is bike theft. The best bike locks for mountain bikes can go a long way to fending off would-be thieves. Unlike a car, which requires thieves to be a bit more crafty, bikes can simply be ridden away with (and if the if the worst comes to the worst you’ll want to be covered by the best mountain bike insurance).
The best advice to protect against a stolen bike is to store your bike in a secure location at home, and if you must leave your bike unattended in public, secure it with a sturdy, purpose-built lock.
Bike locks come in many varieties, and the best bike locks for mountain bikes will protect against thieves armed with bolt cutters. The rule is that a heavy-duty U-lock will most always be more secure than a cable lock, but if you're unsure which type of lock is the best choice for you, we've also got some general bike lock buying advice at the bottom of this article.
Ensuring you have a new lock when buying a new bike is a great idea, if you're still considering which new bike is right for you, however, have a look at our guides to the best mountain bikes and best budget mountain bikes.
Best bike locks for mountain bikes
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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 0.5in / 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. Rubberized coatings mean it won’t ruin your paint in use either.
If you’re after maximum security, check out the 0.6in / 16mm shackle Granit Extreme 59 but only if the 5lb 15oz / 2.7kg weight or the price tag won’t cripple you. As for the high price, consider that a good investment as Abus has some of the best weatherproofing and most reliable operation of any bike lock brand, in our experience.
The 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, Lifeline delivers a 0.5in / 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, medium, and large options, 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 0.4in / 10mm extension cable for locking wheels and other components.
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 0.7inch / 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 nighttime use. 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” colorway is a clever way to piggyback Kryptonite’s “don’t bother” reputation among thieves.
If you’re looking for decent security at a good price with a bonus front wheel or saddle securing cable added to the package, Master Lock makes just the thing. The hardened-steel 0.5in / 13mm shackle comes in either 8.3in / 210mm or 11in / 280mm length loops which slot into the plastic-covered crossbar.
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.
Hiplok’s cunning armored 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 about twice the price. At 0.7oz / 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.
Rather than a traditional linked chain, the LITELOK Gold uses a strap of Boaflexicore –essentially high-tensile steel cables in a nylon mesh sleeve. This makes for a flexible 29in / 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 makes it harder for thieves to get to.
If you want a longer strap then the Wearable version comes in small (36.6in, 2lb 14oz / 93cm, 1.3kg), medium (39.4in, 3lb 1oz / 100cm, 1.4kg) and large (43.3in, 3lb 3oz / 110cm, 1.45kg) sizes for a little more cost.
Just make sure you have your keys with you before you click it shut as it locks automatically.
Kryptonite is one of the most recognizable names in bike security for good reason, with a history of cutting-edge bike locks and a well-deserved reputation for brilliant customer backup. 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 on both sides for easy removal, and the 0.5in / 14mm hardened steel will put up a good fight if you try it. The smaller ovalized 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 the company prides itself on. If you want maximum security, stump up the extra for Kryptonite’s iconic yellow-and-black New York range, though.
Hiplok specializes 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 1.2in / 30mm steel locking bolt into place. The whole setup is built from 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 $197 AIRLOK+ comes with a 79in / 2m cable to stop your wheels from 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 color-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 there’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 34.5in / 90cm length with a 47.2in /120cm 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, but Abus build quality and reliability mean the generally higher prices are a good long-term investment.
How to choose the best bike locks for mountain bikes
How much protection do I need?
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 the top Gold standard but it’s the one you’ll see quoted a lot and a decent guide for how long a lock will 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.
How much should I spend?
Our rated bike locks start at under $30 / £20 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 rubberized 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.
Which design is best?
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 are very hard to burst or lever open. They’re also easy to store and carry in mountain bike backpacks – though weighing a ton – and they’re generally expensive, so shop around for the best prices (hint: 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.
Do brands offer insurance/customer support?
Some brands back their bike locks up with potential payouts if your bike gets 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.
What are some more security hacks?
Even if you’re using the very best bike locks for mountain bikes, you can always improve security by being smart. For a start make the bike lock awkward to get to with saws/bottle jacks/freeze sprays/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 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 Komoot or Strava user, make sure you set the privacy zones to stop your home and workplace from being pinpointed online and make sure your mates do the same.