Chain Gang: The 5 Best Bike Locks
Bicycles are a serious investment and they need to be protected as such. Don’t trust a bicycle that cost you hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars to a $20 piece of tin that a penny-ante thief can blow through in seconds. You need a bike lock that not only keeps your two-wheeled pal safe, but also offers insurance so that if it goes missing, you can recoup your losses. The more populated or crime-ridden the area you live, the more seriously you need to take your bicycle lock.
The first thing to know about locks built specifically for 2-wheelers is that no matter how good the lock is, it needs to be secured to a truly stationary object and that isn’t always what you think. Thieves are perfectly happy to unscrew a road sign and simply lift your $5,000 racing bike over the top so that they can cut the lock off at their convenience. They will lever locks, bash them against the ground, pick them, and use every tool they can buy or steal to hack, cut, chop, or smash them. Even if you have the frame locked up tight, expect them to also target your wheels, seat, or handlebars just to annoy you. Often you need more than one lock to thwart them, which is why we have an array of the 5 best bike locks.
Don’t Bother: The first thing to know is that no matter how good a cable bike lock claims to be, they are still easily chopped through using a hacksaw or bolt cutters. They cannot stand up against a determined thief or even just a rank amateur. If you live in a small town where there is absolutely no crime, then your bike might be safe with just a cable lock, but under those circumstances it would be equally safe with nothing at all. Do not waste your money relying on a cable if you value your bike.
OnGuard Beast 8016
Pro: Extremely strong
Con: Very heavy
Unbreakable: Bolt cutters can’t chop it open. It laughs off the meager hacksaw, and even angle grinders won’t get through it unless the thief has an unlimited amount of time. Then they have to get through both sides of one of the 14mm hardened steel links that are reinforced by titanium. This will often send them seeking easier prey. It’s three and a half feet long so it can be used to chain numerous bikes together if you are looking for a bicycle lock that can work for all the bikes in your garage or shed. Though it uses a key lock, the keys are laser cut making the lock extremely difficult to pick. Odds are good that your house is easier to get into. The lock and chain are both big and heavy so unless you bike with a bag or are ready to rock a fanny pack, storage en route is going to be difficult. You can get plans that work with any existing insurance, but they can be complicated. [Purchase: $90]
Kryptonite New York Legend Chain
Convenient Chain Security: This is the first of many offerings from Kryptonite. Frankly, you aren’t going to go wrong no matter which of their bicycle locks you choose, but those bearing the New York moniker have earned a special place since they are meant to survive on some of the meanest streets in the world. Each link on this chain is a full 15mm in diameter and attaches to a 16mm deadbolt lock, making bolt cutters and hacksaws a joke. It can go toe-to-toe with the Beast from On Guard, though the links are larger, they can be cut through more easily with an angle grinder. This is slightly shorter and lighter than the Beast so it is easier to carry but not quite as strong. It might be able to handle New York, but for places with real criminals like Detroit or Cleveland this might not have quite the chops you need. [Purchase: $133]
Hiplok V1.50 Chain Lock
Pro: Easy transport
Con: Sometimes suffers from weak links
Wearable Security: The issue that often arises with chain bicycle locks is they are inconvenient when the bike is in motion because the good ones are heavy and have bulky locks that bump around. The Hiplok was created to not only give you excellent security, but also be easily transported. Rather than being mounted on your bike’s frame or thrown into a backpack, the Hiplok is designed to be worn. It can accommodate waists as large as 44 inches which also makes it longer than most chain locks so it can be woven through more parts of the bike. The chain is 8mm and made of hardened steel with a 10mm lock which also becomes a sexy buckle. It ordinarily shrugs off bolt cutters and saws, though weak links have been known to happen. Once the power tools come out, this will fall away in little over a minute, but a hammer will also be required to get it loose, which increases the time necessary to make off with your ride. [Purchase: $100]
Kryptonite Series 2 Package
Pro: Can protect seat, wheels, and handlebars
Con: Limited insurance
Cable Included: This does include a cable, but it isn’t there to prevent the bike from being stolen, that is what the U-Lock is for. Instead it weaves around to prevent vandals from taking your seat or one of your wheels. Certainly, they can still cut through the cable with a warm knife, but it stops opportunists looking for a quick snag and serious larcenists won’t usually bother with such a meager payoff. The U-Lock secures on both sides which means that cutting through one won’t be enough to take home the bacon. It fights off bolt cutters and hacksaws but an angle grinder will get the job done. The insurance offered by Kryptonite is cheap, just $20 for three years, and will give you $1,500 worth of coverage. The lock comes with a mount for easy transport and the price is right, so long as you don’t need premium protection. This beat out the very similar OnGuard Bulldog DT in every way and yet cost the same. [Purchase: $35]
Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit U-Lock
Pro: Strongest lock on the market
Con: Only protects frame and single wheel
New York Special: This is largely considered the Cadillac of U-Locks and is meant to survive on the streets of the Big Apple. Many bike lock manufacturers don’t even offer insurance if you live in New York, yet Kryptonite made a lock specifically with a New York state of mind. It is a dual-locking 18mm steel monstrosity that is coated in vinyl so that saws and bolt cutters can’t even get a grip, though if they do, they still have no hope of breaking through. The crossbar uses a centralized keyway so that the locks can’t be popped through leverage. During tests in the highest crime regions of New York bikes were stripped of everything that wasn’t attached to the Fahgettaboudit. Though the lock was severely abused, everything attached to it was untouched, even after weeks. Insurance up to $4,500 is available, though hardly necessary. [Purchase: $88]
Coming Soon: This won’t hit the shelves until Christmas, but you can pre-order for a reduced amount through their website. The Skylock looks like your standard U-Lock but it has been designed by former Boeing engineers so odds are it is more than meets the eye. In addition to supposedly strong construction – they’re being cagey in allowing people to test it – it also has on-board WiFi and Bluetooth capability. The reason for this is so that if anyone jostles it, fiddles with it, or attempts to breach it, it will send a cry for help to your phone so that you can take immediate action. The high-tech additions are powered entirely by a solar cell on the lock which Skylock claims will keep it charged for seven days with just a single hour of sunlight. The lock is opened through your phone so keys and lockpicks won’t crack it. It even has an accelerometer that can call the police and ambulance if you are in a crash. No word yet on insurance. [Pre-Order: $159]