Bike Lock Types & Reviews

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The Best Bike Locks of 2020

A lock isn’t one of those things you’re worried about on your weekend rides, but on your daily commutes and everyday life it’s an essential piece of kit.

Crankboutique covers the essentials of bike locks and our countdown of our favourite locks into the new decade.

Types of Bike Locks

Broadly there are 4 main types of bike lock – find everything you need to know below.

U/D Bike Locks

A U or D lock is essentially a giant padlock. Generally made of forged and treated steel, they’re incredible tough and generally feature key tumbler locks that are hardened to picking and drilling.

One key thing to remember when choosing a U or D lock is size – you want to minimise the amount of free space between bike and your lock point. More gap provides more opportunity for leverage and a higher success rate for a thief with a crowbar


  • Generally lighter than chain locks
  • Time tested design
  • Very tough – resistant to cutters, picking, leverage (depending on size) and drilling
  • Can be mounted on frame (depending on size)


  • Weight – while lighter than standard chain locks they’re still hefty
  • Size restrictive – smaller or bigger locks can mean difficult placement in certain situations and may increase opportunity for leverage

Chain Bike Locks

What can you say about a chain bike lock – it’s a big, metal chain secured with a padlock! There’s a huge array of options for chain locks with various sizes and ratings – the bigger the chain the better the protection and the bigger the weight. Bike lock specific chains will often be coated or sleeved to provide protection for the bike frame.

One thing not to forgot about when looking at a chain bike lock is the padlock itself – not much point in having a big chain and a flimsy lock. Read our reviews of the best locks and lookup your options in Sold Secure and other raters before you buy. Many chain locks come with a combination lock as pictured, but you can always go old school and get a big padlock.


  • Very tough – resistant to cutters, picking, leverage (depending on size) and drilling


  • Heavy
  • Can be expensive

Cable Bike Locks

Cable bike locks are generally made of braided steel in a sleeve or can be a mix of other synthetic materials. This cable is attached to a combination lock or less often a keyed lock. Cable locks are great for convenience and price, but compared to other types are very weak. Bike thieves love cable locks because they can’t stand up to a pair of bolt cutters!

We would advise that you only use a cable lock in a low risk area. If you need anything stronger use another type!

One thing not to forgot about when looking at a chain bike lock is the padlock itself – not much point in having a big chain and a flimsy lock. Read our reviews of the best locks and lookup your options in Sold Secure and other raters before you buy.


  • Relatively cheap
  • Portable and low weight


  • Lowest security out of all bike lock types

Folding Bike Locks

Folding bike locks are generally a set of steel (or composite) bars held together with secured hardened rivets with a keyed lock built in at one end. As the name implies these locks fold for storage and can therefore be a more attractive option to a U or chain bike lock. The bars are very tough and will resist casual attacks, although options are more limited compared to chain and U locks.


  • Pretty tough
  • Portable


  • Few manufacturers

Locking Bike Skewers

Many modern bikes come with quick release (QR) skewers on the wheels meaning that to be truly secure you need to lock the bike in such a way to prevent the wheel being taken away from the frame which isn’t always possible and carry a lock for both wheels.


Locking bikes skewers vary in their application but all use a locking or keyed nut on a skewer to replace the existing ones on your bike making them much more secure than quick release.


  • Much more secure than QR skewers
  • Lightweight and relatively cheap


  • Only works as a complementary system
  • Will need to replace existing skewers and check compatibility

Key Bike Lock Components

There are many different types of bike locks and standards, however there are a few common components across all lock types.


The shackle is the piece that attaches to the lock. On D/U locks this is the D shaped piece of metal, while on a chain or cable lock it’s hat component.

Cross Bar

The cross bar only appears on D/U locks and is the component that the shackle attaches to that also carries the lock mechanism.


By and large the majority of bike locks still use a tried and tested tumbler cylinder with either a keyed or combination mechanism. It’s pretty rare for the actual lock to be defeated in a theft – it’s usually the shackle that is the target for thieves.

Bike Lock Standards

While most of the major manufacturers have their own scales for rating the security of their products, as with any other product, it’s best not to rely on these. Community reviews and reviews on shopping sites such as Amazon can be useful, but again consider that the reviews may have very different experiences and requirements to you.

While there aren’t any global “standards” around bike locks many countries have bike lock ratings provided by local cycling or locksmithing associations. The output of these bodies can be variable, however we’ve found the Sold Secure ratings system provided by the UK’s Master Locksmith Association, to be a very reliable guide in terms of product performance.

Sold Secure test all manner of consumer locks (including building and automotive). For bike locks they have a three tier ranking system – Bronze, Silver and Gold. Where we review products that have been rated by Sold Secure, we will include their rating in the review.

Bike Safety Tips

Choose the Right Lock

Employ common sense when shopping around. You’re going to need something far more robust in urban or high crime areas than you will somewhere quiet and rural.

Keep it in a Busy Area

It also makes sense not to lock your bike in a secluded space. It may not get as many unwanted glances, but you’re also inviting opportunists.

Keep it in a Well Lit Area

Not all of us have the choice to commute or ride during the day. If you are locking your bike up outisde at night then make sure there’s some foot traffic and the area is well lit.

Keep it Inside

By far the most secure option for securing your bike is to keep it inside, although we’d also recommend locking it while inside and using a ground anchor if your bike is kept in a shed or garage.

Common Ways of Breaking Bike Locks

Bike locks are an important part of kit if you’re out and about and you have to lock your bike in a public space. It needs to be said that all portable locks can be defeated by tools anyone can buy in their local hardware shop. This is why following the above tips are critical – the greatest deterrent to a thief is other people and a lock then will take longer to break.

Wire Cutters

There’s a reason we’re not a huge fan of cable locks – they can be defeated easily, even by a pair of off the shelf wire cutters.


Attacks on locks mechanisms are rarer than attacks on the shackle mechanism, but if your lock is small, older or just plain cheap then a simple hammer attack has a good chance of success.

Bolt Cutters

Bolt cutter attacks or some of the most common on bikes and they are used on smaller pad locks, the shackles of D/U locks, chains and cables.

Crow Bar

Crow bars are most commonly used to overwhelm D/U locks by using the space between the lock, bike and anchor to generate enough leverage to break the lock. This it’s why it’s essential to think about the placement of your lock – deny thieves leverage by using a bigger lock or by filling the lock as much as possible to deny entry.

Bottle Jack

Not a subtle method, but very effective against D/U locks, the bottle jack that is used to hold the weight of your car up is unsurprisingly pretty good at breaking lock shackles.

Angle Grinder

Portable and powerful, the angle grinder is the 21st century bike thief’s best friend for getting through any lock. While its going to make a bit of noise while doing so, there aren’t many locks that are going to last more than a minute – all the more reason to lock your bike in a busier area.

Our Favourite Bike Locks of 2020

Best Overall Lock

ABUS Granit X–Plus 540

In short if you have the cash to spend and you’re looking for a U/D lock then this Abus lock should be on your list to look at – the lock has won multiple accolades and awards including Sold Secure’s Gold accreditation. It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s expensive, but few locks will keep your bike safer. Our Review.

Sold Secure Rating: Gold

Best D Lock

Abus Granit Extreme 59

One of the few locks that will keep your bike safer than the Granit X-Plus is the Extreme, which also comes from Abus. A bigger heavier-duty shackle and double locking mechanism will shrug off opportunists, but that protection comes at a price and weight premium.

Best Chain Lock

Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit

Kryptonite makes some extremely robust kit and the Fahgettaboudit is just about the chunkiest, toughest bike chain that you’re going to be able to get. It’s also paired with a super tough lock which it earned it the highest plaudits from Sold Secure.

Sold Secure Rating: Gold

Best Folding Lock

Abus Bordo Granit 6500

Just like their D/U locks it’s hard to look past the Bordo Granit if you’re looking for a folding lock and we highly recommend you pay the premium. Hardened steel bars and lock have a premium soft coating to keep your paint in good condition if you’re mounting.

Sold Secure Rating: Gold

Best Home Lock

Hiplok Airlok

While Hiplok is better known for their wearable locks, the airlok is their first go at a home lock and it’s excellent. Not only is it secured to your choice of surface with four robust bolts, but the frame is extremely attack resist and it gives you a great way to show off your pride and joy.

Best Lightweight Lock

Knog Strongman

If you’re looking for a lightweight, compact bike lock then you could go worse than the Strongman. While the shackle isn’t that different from others it does come in a soft silicone cover that makes it look unique and gives your bike protection. The double locking mechanism is also tough, but the small size will limit your locking options.

Best Innovative Lock

Litelok Gold

The Litelok Gold doesn’t look like a traditional lock, because it isn’t made like a traditional lock. Instead of a solid continuous piece of metal, the Litelok is made of a patented material called Boaflexicore which is compromised of interwoven strands of steel and polymer. In short it’s very resistant to traditional cutting attacks. Plus it looks cool – always a bonus.

Sold Secure Rating: Gold

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