Best Overall Bike Lock
Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock
Attaches to bike
Convenient size for locking up
We are proud to present the Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock
| with our Editors' Choice award. This piece scored well on all of our metrics, thanks to Kryptonite's well-thought-out design. For every perceived problem, there was an answer. This product is insanely secure, winning Sold Secure's Gold designation and our top points in security. Additionally, the New York Standard has a mounting bracket for your frame that makes for easy storage while riding. This product is easy to use, and you can fit both your wheels within its reach (if you remove your front). Kudos to Kryptonite for making a versatile, burly and user-friendly bike lock of such quality. This may well be the only lock you'll ever need to buy.
Best Bang for the Buck
Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock
Secures both wheels
Easy to use
Good security to price ratio
Cable is awkward to transport
Our Best Buy Award goes to a mid-security model with an entry level price: the Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock
. This classic U-lock comes with a four-foot cable that can reach around both wheels and is efficient to secure and unsecure. Although OnGuard makes this style of mid-security U-Lock with cable in their Bulldog DT, we thought that Kryptonite made an all-around better product. From the higher quality cable to the easy locking "bent foot" design, the KryptoLok slowly but surely pulled ahead in points.
Top Pick for Bike Commuting
Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock
Easy to use
Want a lock that you'll love transporting? We do too. It is such a rarity to find one that answers the pesky question of how to effectively lug it around between lock-ups, but our Top Pick for Commuting, the Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock does it with ingenuity
. Hiplok took a beefy 8mm hardened steel chain two feet long and put a nylon sheath around it. Next, Hiplok engineered a padlock (a quite unbreakable one, we might add) with an extra metal bar that serves as a buckle. A swath of velcro goes through the buckle then folds back on itself, creating an adjustable and comfortable design that you wear like a low belt. A simple yet genius design. It is burly and transports well. The everyday commuting cyclist, as well as anyone else wanting a quality product, will appreciate this product.
Analysis and Test Results
Unfortunately, just about everyone has a story to tell about bike theft, whether it was their purple bike when they were seven years old or the heart-crushing memory of the seafoam green Bianchi with hand-chosen components that was left unattended on the porch for just a moment. With this in mind, we started our testing process by learning how these different bike locks performed in-transit; we shoved them in our panniers, bungeed them on trailers, placed in backpacks, installed brackets to stow them on the bike frame, wore them around our waists, and carried them in bike baskets. Next, we rode around town trying out the various styles by attaching them to racks, trees, parking meters, and fences to assess each one's usability. During these test rides, we started the process of examining secured bikes from the eyes of a bike thief. Even if the frame was secured, could somebody steal the wheels or seat? In the last phase of testing, we went deep into the world of bike thievery. We contacted an expert lock pick and used an assortment of tools, brute strength and happenstance to break each one. Read on to find out how each product performed (or didn't) in each phase of testing.
Bike locks should not be viewed not as an item separate from your bike, instead, you should think of them as a bicycle component, like the derailleur or handlebars. This means that even if you don't ride very often or you rarely leave your bike outside, you should probably buy a lock if you own a bicycle. Leaning your unsecured bike on a rack outside a restaurant is analogous to leaving your driver's side car door open with the engine running. You might do it once in awhile, but you wouldn't do it in a big city, sketchy neighborhood, or for a prolonged period of time. This is especially true if your bike is expensive or carries a lot of sentimental value. That said, it doesn't matter if you own a lock if you can't be bothered to lug it around with you, or take the time to secure it to a solid bike rack. During the testing period, we wanted to find the perfect blend of security and user-friendliness.
Here are the bike locks we tested: (L to R) OnGuard's Bulldog, Kryptonite's KryptoLok Series 2, Krypotonite's Fahgettaboudit Mini, Hiplok's V1.50, OnGuard's Akita Cable, KryptoFlex Cable, and Kryptonites' New York Standard U-Lock.
We found that often these qualities were conflicting; lightweight cable locks like the Onguard Akita 8041 and Kryptonite KryptoFlex 1218 Combo Lock are easy to transport and use, but also extremely easy to chop in half. On the other end of the spectrum are the hard core, secure U-locks that weigh up to 5 lbs and are annoying to use because you have to take your front wheel off every time you want to secure your whole bicycle. Our Editors' Choice winner, the Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock
, is a great example of high security that requires a little bit more work to secure both your wheels. Or, if you opt for a more compact option like the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock Mini, you don't even have the choice of securing both wheels due to the small diameter of the "U", and either have to chance it or buy a secondary backup.
Our Top Pick for Commuting, the Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock, seeks to address both of these criteria since you can wear it around your waist while commuting but still have a solid theft stopper. The New York Standard is burly and can also be clipped onto your bike frame while you're riding. Likewise, mid-level security U-Locks like the [Kryptonite KryptoLok Series 2 Standard U-Lock]] and Onguard Bulldog DT U-Lock can also be clipped on. These awesome buys also come with a cable to ensure all of your bike (both wheels and frame) is secure.
As you can see, selecting the right product is much more complicated than choosing your desired level of security. Plus, the broad range of locks on the market can complicate matters further! Read on to learn more specifically how each of these products compare across our metrics. Or for more advice on how to choose the best model for your needs, read our buying advice article
Types of Bike Locks
Nearly all bike locks can be categorized into these three types: U-locks, chains, and cables. Some security devices even combine two of these types. They differ primarily in terms of the level of security they provide, versatility, and ease of use and transport. Your choice will depend largely on what level of security is necessary to deter theft in the areas you'll be leaving your wheels, but you should also consider how easy the lock is to use and whether you'll actually lug it along with you.
These are comprised of hardened steel molded in a "U" shape, and they are usually covered in rubber or plastic to protect the paint on your bike and reduce rattling while riding. The two ends of the "U" (the shackle) connect to the locking mechanism, a crossbar that closes the "U" into a "D" (and is opened and closed with a key or a combination dial). More secure and more expensive U-locks have a super tight dual locking system, whereby if the "U" is cut with an angle grinder (or other such power tool), the ends are still locked tightly. This means that there won't be much movement in the bar ends if it is cut through. In this case, the bike thief will have to make two cuts in order to get it off the bike frame. We found we could also use a hammer or pry bar to get the ends to separate, but it was just as much time as two cuts through. Less expensive models and versions with a "bent foot" shackle design only take one cut before they can be easily pried apart.
This is the Fahgettaboudit with 1 cut through. Notice that there is only ¾" of space between the cut bars due to the burly dual locking mechanism. Thieves have to cut through twice to get this product off the bike frame.
These consist of a steel chain with a sheath to protect your bike's paint. The ends are connected via a padlock of sorts. The variation here really has to do with the thickness of chain and quality of padlock. A thick chain of hardened steel, with smaller gaps between the links, and a top quality padlock will be the toughest chain to break. Chains can be broken by torsional force, so a small gap between the links leaves little space for the insertion of a lever. If a thief has the right tools, however, it only takes one cut of the padlock to defeat a chain lock. Chains are flexible and have a large diameter, which makes securing them to immovable structures easier. However, they tend to be bulky and weigh significantly more than other security devices.
The Hiplok V1.50 around the frame, wheel and bike rack.
These are made of twisted or braided steel with a coating of rubber or plastic, anywhere from two feet and up in length. The ends connect in a lock (sometimes connect with hinges while other cable ends are secured firmly inside the lock). Variability within this category includes cable thickness, lock strength and type (combo or key), and if the cable is coiled or non-coiled. Additionally, cable locks with a higher number of braided wire stands are the strongest, as they will be tougher to cut than cables with fewer braided strands. Cables tend to be lightweight, with the coiled versions being the simplest to transport, either in a bag or wrapped around your bicycle's frame. Their large diameter and flexibility also gives them more versatility in securing your wheels to immovable objects. Generally speaking, cables are the quickest and easiest to cut through with simple and inexpensive hardware. As a result, we rarely recommend them for lock-ups that will last more than a few hours, and we strongly caution against using them for overnight lock-up unless you live in an extremely low crime area.
Chelsea unlocks the KryptoFlex 1218 quickly and efficiently.
Criteria for Evaluation
We based our scoring of each lock in our review on four criteria: security, ease of transportation, ease of use, and versatility. Check out the rating table below to see where each lock ranked overall.