If you have a bike, you'll be all too aware of the need for the best bike lock. It's a jungle out there, and the inhabitants are keen to steal your bike and are often equipped with angle grinders. Having your bike stolen is a nightmare for all cyclists, and while bicycle insurance is a sensible option for cyclists, prevention is, of course, better than cure – a solid bike lock will act as a deterrent to would-be thieves.
If you plan on leaving your bike unguarded for any period of time, you should buy a lock, and not just any lock, but a lock that will actually keep the bike safe when you aren't around. In this bike lock guide, you'll find options from super-portable locks to use when popping into a countryside cafe to designs that wouldn’t look out of place at the gates of Fort Knox.
It's now possible to get bike locks that are small, sturdy and smart and can be whipped on while you're in the shops to deter opportunist bike thieves. Some modern bicycle locks even come with hi-tech features such as the ability to unlock via your phone's Bluetooth and even GPS tracking and alarm systems. Here is T3’s pick of the best bicycle locks on the market.
Best bike lock to buy right now
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The LiteLock X1 bike lock is an excellent addition to the product portfolio of this respected brand. If you need to step up the security, there’s the LiteLock X3 too, which is more expensive but features an even more impressive locking mechanism.
Either way, both D-lock designs feature a dazzling three-layer construction, with a magical material called Barronium making life harder for thieves and their angle grinders. The LiteLock X1 is topped off with a brilliant eco-rubber outer layer, which guards against scratches and rub marks if you’re the type to hang a lock on your frame.
Read our full LiteLock X1 review
The Kryptonite New York M18 U-Lock is a chunky and rather heavy D-lock that might put some off due to its bulk. However, if you’re looking for a reassuring lock that is designed and built to fend off cycle thieves by using quality materials, then the extra weight is worth putting up with.
The other benefit of this lock is the styling, with a brash yellow lock bar that makes it stand out from the crowd. If you want a visual deterrent backed up with solid engineering, this, therefore, makes a great bet, even though the price tag is a premium one.
Read our full Kryptonite New York M18 U-Lock review
There's a lot to like about the Cycloop GPS. It's easy to fit onto your bike, and everything is included to do just that. The supporting app has been honed through its use for protecting motorcycles, so the principle is much the same here. I've found it easy to use and effective, too, with the alert system working well when my bike has been moved around during the course of the review process.
Usefully, the app also allows you to monitor the battery life of the Cycloop tracker, which is a practical addition because, without power, the device is rendered useless. I like how the GPS unit has been designed and built, too, with admirable attention to detail on the fit and finish, plus there's a two-year warranty for good measure. If you can get the Cycloop GPS with the initial money-off deal, then this looks like an excellent idea.
Unfortunately, if you live in broken Britain, the biggest issue with this is what to do when you get the alerts, locate your bike and want to get it back. You either risk trying to retrieve it yourself or get the police involved, which might not result in the outcome you'd like. Other countries with functioning authorities may find it ideal, however. The Cycloop GPS itself is great, and it works. It's what happens next that might not.
Read our full Cycloop GPS review
Despite its diminutive size, the Abus Bordo Lite 6050 offers a level 7 (on a scale of 1-15) in terms of security. This is thanks to the 5mm-thick bars that make up the unique design, with each featuring a core of light steel with a synthetic coating to prevent damage to your bicycle's paintwork.
Better still, it folds down small enough to stuff in a jersey pocket when tackling a weekend ride, but can easily wrap around the rear wheel, frame and lamppost when parked up outside the favoured coffee shop.
This is not going to put off the more determined part of the bicycle-thieving community, but it's ideal for short stops. Pair it with a good D-Lock and you'll have a setup that will make most light-fingered types think twice.
The Kryptonite Kryptolok Standard U-Lock with Cable comes with Gold Standard protection for the lock, though not the cable, which means it’s rated up there with the best of ‘em. It’s a hefty thing, with the added bulk of that cable to keep it under control, although an included bracket makes life a little easier.
The double deadbolt locking mechanism is a tried and tested format, while two keys and vinyl protection add to the appeal. If you’re looking for a lock combination that can hook other bikes or cycling accessories together, then this lock and cable combination makes a lot of sense.
Read our full Kryptonite Kryptolok Standard U-Lock with Cable review
Hiplok's been making very handy, wearable bike locks for years now, but changing over from padlocks to a combination lock with the brand new Spin ups the convenience level even further. Hiplok describes it as the 'perfect' bike lock, and it's probably not far wrong.
The Spin is pretty light at 800g and you quickly forget you're wearing it. Cleverly, while the four-digit combi lock offers solid security when you lock your bike, when you have it around your waist, the Spin always remains unlocked, so it's always ready to deploy. The 75cm length obviously isn't massive, but it seems sufficient for most lock-and-leave scenarios, and the convenience of being able to wear it like a belt makes up for the slight lack of length.
Again, this is not going to put off men in vans, equipped with angle grinders, but opportunist thieves will be dissuaded.
Generally speaking, we’d advise spending as much as you can afford on a lock, but if you’re on a tight budget then the LifeLine Steel D Lock is a really solid option that will give you plenty of change from a £20 note.
LifeLine’s lock has a Solid Secure Silver rating so, while not as dependable as some of the (much) more expensive locks in our round-up, this is still a seriously strong shackle for your pride and joy. Handily, it’s available in three sizes, with small (80mm x 143mm, 1kg) and large (110mm x 300mm, 1.5kg) alternatives to the medium lock we’ve featured here.
Despite its low price, LifeLine’s lock still has a sliding dust cover and comes with a frame mount. Bargain. The only thing holding it back is the rather cheap and cheerful look, but you could think of it more as 'no-nonsense'.
For full peace of mind when locking your bike up all day, this D lock is the ideal weight, being not too heavy to carry but robust enough to keep your bike secure and resist tampering. It has a 16 mm shackle and is made from hardened steel so any thief would have a tough time trying to get into this lock.
It’s easy to carry in a backpack and it is bigger than your average lock so it’s easy to attach. Hard to beat, when it comes to D locks.
Keeping your beloved bike under lock and key while you’re out and about is one thing, but the Hiplok Airlok takes security to another level. Not only does the Airlok come with a Solid Secure Gold rating, it doubles as a rather stylish bike storage solution for your house or garage.
The Airlok is built around a hardened steel frame, anchored onto the wall by four sturdy bolts. An impact resistant casing with a non-scratch frame holder gives the unit its sleek look, while a 30mm locking bolt keeps your machine safe from wandering hands.
The Airlok is available in a selection of colours – another feather in its cap as a showpiece feature, rather than a simple lock – and Hiplok also offers the option of a custom design, with the colour and finish of your choice.
Live in an area that's riddled with hardened bike thieves? You need to bring out the big guns and, to continue the military theme, the Hiplok Gold is an absolute weapon. Its 10mm hardened steel chain will withstand even the toughest cutting tools, while the steel shackle features an additional 2mm of steel reinforcement... just in case. Luckily, the tough chain is covered in a soft nylon shroud, and there's a cool buckle device at the front, which means it can be worn like a belt when not in use.
As a result, there's also a reflective chevron design on the outer casing, which lights up like a Christmas tree when hit by a vehicle's front lamps. It's overly bulky, yes, but this thing offers superb protection, which is a must if you're thinking of locking up an expensive bike outside for lengthy periods of time.
How to buy the best bike lock for you
There are a number of things to consider before parting with your cash in return for a good lock, including weight, size and convenience.
First of all, what do you need the lock for? For example, a bike commuter who rides to work and wants to lock their machine up on the street will need to prioritise out-right security, compared to a road cyclist who wants something lightweight to slip in a jersey pocket in case they make a rural stop for a cup of coffee. Also consider whether you’ll be carrying the lock with you day-in, day-out (in a backpack or mounted to your frame), or whether you’ll be leaving it behind as you lock your bike up in the same place every day.
From there, you can start to weight up your priorities. Enormous chains from the likes of Oxford and Abus tend to offer the most security, deterring even the hardiest of light-fingered folk, but they will also take up most of the room in your backpack, not to mention weigh you down. If you’re trying to make your bike ride even harder, great; if not, a sturdy D-lock is a more convenient option. Once again, if you live in an area with high bike crime, you may want two locks: a D lock to secure the frame, and a cable to run between that and the wheels.
On the other hand, the smaller the lock, the lighter and more convenient it will be to carry around town, with brands such as Hiplok offering compact designs that clip to belt loops for easy transportation.
These are great if you only want to leave your bike behind for a short time or to use as secondary locks. However, they can be a pain to loop through bikes frames and still have enough lock left to anchor onto something secure, meaning you could leave quick release wheels and saddles vulnerable to tea leaves.
While lock manufacturers don't adhere to one universal security rating, Sold Secure is the most widely adopted, with rankings of bronze, silver and gold. If your bike is insured, the small print might require the use of a Sold Secure lock, so make sure you check. You can also search for approved locks by rating on the Sold Secure website.
Finally, some modern locks also offer additional features such as Bluetooth smartphone tethering for keyless entry, integrated lights for safer cycling and even built-in alarm systems. These will clearly cost extra but the smart features could prove useful for those who have a track record of losing keys or who simply want their lock to work harder when not in use. In truth, however, the most important thing is to find a sturdy lock that acts as a deterrent to thieves, while also being practical enough to ensure you actually use it.
What is the best bike lock?
Our current number-one choice of a bike lock is the LiteLock X1. The D-lock design features a dazzling three-layer construction warranty, with a magical material called Barronium making life harder for thieves and their angle grinders. The LiteLock X1 is topped off with a brilliant eco-rubber outer layer, which guards against scratches and rub marks if you’re the type to hang a lock on your frame.