One of the most common question that bike owners has in mind is,
How do I prevent my bike from being stolen?
Well, the natural answer to that is to use a bike lock. But having said that, not all bike locks are designed and manufactured the same.
For me, U locks are by far the best and preferred bike locks.
Think about this,
If you've spent a couple of hundreds or even thousands on your bike, shouldn't it be fair to allocate a little budget to make sure it's safe?
I've listed out my top picks for the best U locks.
Best Gold Rated Bike U Locks
1. Abus Granit X-Plus 540 U Lock
The ABUS Granit X-Plus 540 U Lock is well-known to be very sturdy and tenacious against bike theft.
This lock comes with two keys; one with a LED light for increased visibility during dark hours and a code card for free replacement in case you lose your keys.
It has a dimension of 1.6 (H) x 7 (W) x 11.6 (L) inches which most cyclists consider as medium-sized.
The size is more than enough for you to secure both your bike frame and a wheel (if needed) to a fixed structure.
The 13 mm thick shackle is made of high grade metal, making it resilient to twisting, pulling and leverage forces. To protect the paints on your bike, this lock is layered with a 3 mm protective rubberized coating.
Abus’ products are well-known to be very reliable and of high quality. The ABUS Granit X-Plus 540 surely didn’t disappoint and is their flagship bike lock.
2. Kryptonite New York Standard U Lock
Kryptonite New York Standard U Lock is another great yet cheaper alternative that gives you a very high level of protection for your bike.
It's also rated Gold by Sold Secure so you can be assured that it's really secure against theft.
It's made with disc-style cylinder along with double deadbolt system to make it even more secure. It also comes with 2 keys out from the box and another additional key with an LED light.
To protect the prints and paints of your bike, this lock is covered with vinyl coating as with most premium bike locks.
With the shielded double crossbar design, your bike is in for double security protection.
Furthermore, this bike lock is part of Kryptonite’s Key Safe program, which means you can ask for free replacement keys should you lose them.
3. Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini U Lock
The Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini U Lock is a small yet very secure lock.
This shackle secured by a double deadbolt, made of hardened steel and with a thickness of 18 mm. It's the thickest you can find in the market today.
It'll take the thieves a long time to cut or pull this lock apart using the most powerful tools. So you can be rest assured that they'll be turning their attention elsewhere instead.
The key lock hole is covered to protect it from the elements. From my own experience, you'll need to lube it every now and then so to extend the locking mechanism's lifespan.
Like its brother, the Kryptonite New York Standard U-lock, it's part of Kryptonite's Key Safe Program where you can request for a free keys replacement if they do get lost.
Lastly, it has a Gold Sold Secure rating, which means it’s tough and extremely durable to be used in high risk areas.
Best Bike U Locks Under $50
1. Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 U Lock
The Kryptonite Kryptolock Series 2 U lock is probably the most budget friendly bike locks in the market.
The upgraded u lock for 2017 is now rated Gold by Sold Secure, instead of Silver for the older model. It's rare that you'll find a Gold rated U lock at this price point.
Going by the description for Gold rating, it means that it offers the highest level of security.
From my experience, while this might be Gold rated, it's actually sitting at the bottom end of the Gold spectrum.
Kryptonite rates it 6/10, meaning it's suitable to use at medium to low risk areas. Definitely not one to use it you're planning to leave your bike any longer than 2-3 hours.
It has a 13 mm steel shackle which is thick enough to resist bolt cutters and other leverage attacks from the most opportunist bike thieves. The locking mechanism is protected from dusts and water using a sliding cover. Just remember to close them each time you're done locking/unlocking.
To give you more flexibility, this U lock also comes with a separate cable that is 4 ft long and 10 mm thick. You can use it to wrap around other items like your wheels or accessories.
It comes with 2 stainless steel keys. And in case you misplace them, you can get free replacements via Kryptonite’s Safe Key Program for free.
2. Abus Ultra 410 Mini U Lock
The ABUS Ultra 410 Mini U Lock is another great option if you're on a budget.
There are 3 variations to this model with the only difference being the shackle length. You can choose from 5.5", 7" or 9".
From my experience, 7" is the ideal length as it's neither too long nor short and should be enough in most situations.
It has a Silver rating from Sold Secure which makes it suitable to use at low to medium risk areas for entry level bikes.
To prevent bike thieves from picking this U lock, it has a hardened lock body and uses a double bolting shackle. The steel shackle is 12mm thick with an anti-twist protection.
As with all Abus U locks, the Ultra 410 Mini includes a rubberized housing all over the shackle to prevent it from scratching your bike frame. You can also mount it on your bike frame with that plastic bracket that comes with it.
You'll be given 2 keys and should you happen to lose them all, Abus has a program where you can ask for free replacements. Just don't lose the code card.
5 Things to Consider Before Buying Bike Locks
1. Type of Bike Locks
U Locks. Also commonly known as D-locks, these are made from hardened steel in shapes of D or U.
Normally, the U locks are covered in vinyl or rubber to prevent corrosion and also helps to protect the paint of your bike.
Chain Locks. These are made out of steel chains and they usually vary in length, weight and chain size.
Chain locks often come with a built-in lock using combination locks or keyed locks.
Cable Locks are made of braided and twisted wires. They're typically coated with plastic or rubber so that they don't scratch your bike frame.
Folding locks are made out of steel bars connected through rivets.
They have the most distinctive designs among all bike locks. If you’re all about aesthetics and new designs, you’ll love this.
PRO TIP : U locks offer the highest level of security among all as they're typically thick and available in various sizes.
2. Security Rating
If you’re eyeing a specific bike lock, it’s important to know its security level.
This is to know if a certain bike lock is worth paying money for and if it’s durable enough to withstand the various techniques used by thieves to break them.
But as consumers, which ratings do you go to and who should you trust?
Most manufacturers use their own description about how their bike locks are at a certain level, which would probably leave you and I confused and totally puzzled because we have no idea about the real meaning behind it.
Sadly, most leading manufacturers use their own security ratings and only compare among their own bike locks, which make their ratings even more unreliable.
Sold Secure is a reputable non-profit association that evaluates security products sold to the public and provide ratings. Bike locks are one of those products they evaluate among many others.
To have their products rated; manufacturers send their products to United Kingdom.
Sold Secure ratings for bike locks are classified into 3 categories:
By now, you'd probably be asking, what's the difference between all the security ratings?
Sold Secure is the most trusted ratings among all security products like bike locks.
Their ratings are far from biased. So most likely they’re going to tell the truth about certain products.
The scheme is tested by a group of professionals and performs it by doing old and modern theft procedures. You can verify the Sold Secure ratings of a bike lock from their online database.
3. Size of the Bike Locks
Bike locks also differ from thickness, length and weight.
If you want to secure your bike against an immovable object, then I'd recommend opting for a lock with lesser diameter that is just enough to wrap around the bike frame.
But isn't the bigger the better?
Well, not really.
Thieves can take advantage of the extra space available inside the bike lock by using a leverage bar. Also, the weight of the lock also matters since you’re basically going to carry this around wherever you ride.
4. Keys vs Combination Locks
Generally, bike locks can be categorized in 2 types; keyed bike locks and combination bike locks.
Key Locks use circular/tubular shaped keys or flat keys. It aligns the spring loaded pins located inside the lock and opens once the right key is inserted.
Keyed locks are generally durable and hard to break. However, if you buy a cheap bike lock, there’s a high possibility that thieves will be able to pick it by just using a pin.
Combination Bike Locks on the other hand uses multiple dial locks or single dial locks, which means it requires you to remember a series of numeral codes.
It’s convenient to use because you don’t have to worry about losing your keys unlike the keyed bike locks.
In spite of this, combination bike locks can still be cracked by any determined thief in around 40 minutes to 4 hours.
PRO TIP : Keyed bike locks are preferred and provides more security.
5. Brands : Abus vs Kryptonite
While there are hundreds of bike lock brands in the market today, some are always the go-to brands.
Kryptonite and Abus are the top 2 bike lock companies and they’ve both been around since the 70s. But which one is the best?
I'll let you decide.
Abus is a prominent European brand founded in 1971.
They’re one of the first companies to offer bike locks and since then, they've been known for their reliability and good reputation.
Their locks are made in Ruhr Valley located in Germany which ensures that they’re using quality European steel. Abus also offers replacement keys in case you lost it. Each Abus bike locks come with a card where you'll quote the code on it to them for keys replacement.
Kryptonite Locks has been around since 1970 and was founded in United States.
They are usually a little cheaper than Abus, which makes it a good candidate for those trying to save money.
Moreover, Kryptonite provides one of the best customer services. In case you lose your keys, they offer to give replacement keys for free so long as you've had your lock registered.
Additionally, they also offer their own anti-theft protection if your bike ever get stolen because of their locks.
One thing to note though. Kryptonite manufactures their bike locks in China/Taiwan as compared to Abus in Germany.
All in all, if you want to achieve reliability, value for money and excellent service, then Kryptonite it is.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which bike locks are the best?
Taking into consideration of all the pro and cons, the best type of bike locks are definitely U locks. You can see my list of U locks recommendations above.
U-locks offer the highest level of security among all as they're typically thick and available in various sizes.
Because they're made out of hard metal and rigid construction, U-locks are pretty challenging for bike thefts to cut or break.
2. Which U lock thickness should I buy?
For U locks, it’s smarter to select the ones with thicker metals. An average-sized bolt cutter can easily cut through 13 to 15 mm of metal no matter what kind of metal it was made of.
To be safe, I suggest going for U-locks with diameters ranging from 16 to 23 mm and above. This way, even if they use the biggest bolt cutter on the planet, they'd have a hard time doing so.
3. Can bike locks be cut?
This is a very good question everyone who’s buying a bike lock will definitely ask.
In short, the answer is yes. However, it depends on various factors such as below.
4. What can I do if I can't my bike lock keys?
Normally, keyed bike locks come with 2 keys, so you can keep the other 1 as a backup. However, it’s not uncommon to see cyclists lose both of those keys.
Luckily, most companies, especially reputable ones provide replacements, assuming you’ve registered your bike locks or remember the key numbers written on the key.
5. Should I get a bike lock with cables?
Cables are optional and it also depends on where and how you lock your bike.
For example, if you plan to also lock your wheels to your bike frame, then having cables would be handy.