Bike Lock Guide
Summary / Key features
- Like your bike? You’re not the only one! A good bike lock is an essential item for any cyclist
- The acknowledged advice is to spend 10% of the cost of your bike on your bike lock
- One bike lock good, two bike locks better! Double up for increased security
- Bike locks come in three main types: D Locks, chain locks and cable locks
A Bike Lock is suitable for?
- Any bike that will ever be left unattended
- It’s not your fault your bike was nicked (blame the knuckle dragging bike thief), but it’s certainly in your best interest to make it as difficult as possible to steal – which is where a good bike lock comes in.
- Some bikes are more desirable than others. Budget your bike lock according to how much your bike is worth AND how much you’d hate to lose your bike.
- All bike locks are not alike. Some of the heavier duty D locks are, generally, harder to crack than your average cable lock. The pay off for the cable lock is it’s (again generally) lower weight.
- A determined and well prepared bike thief (a superior kind of knuckle dragger), will be able to break most locks. Put off opportunistic thieves by using different locks and making sure all removable parts (wheels for example) are secured.
- Most insurance companies require a certain standard of bike lock for their policies to be valid. The British standard most insurers use is called Sold Secure – which sorts locks it recommends into three categories: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Even if you haven’t got bike insurance, it’s a good idea to consider the locks Sold Secure has recognised.
- Most locks use either a combination code or a key for access. Just ask yourself are you more likely to lose a key or forget a code? Don’t forget that key opened locks come with at least two keys.
Nolan at Tredz: “I’ve got two locks – cable lock for when I’ll literally be 20 seconds and the bike is in a safe area, and a d lock for when I’m in town. Using both just makes me feel a lot happier about leaving my bike alone!“
Type of bicycle lock
- D Lock: A good D lock is traditionally one of the stronger types of bike lock. It’s a good choice for those leaving their bikes in higher risk areas. Unfortunately really good d locks generally weigh quite a bit. Probably the best choice if you’re going to only have one lock and want peace of mind. When using a D lock, try to ‘fill’ as much of the lock as possible, this will make it more difficult for the thief to get any leverage when trying to wedge it open. Most D locks come with some attachment, allowing you to carry the lock on your bike when not in use.
- Cable lock: The most versatile sort of bicycle lock. Cable locks can be very lightweight, and as a result pretty easy to break. More secure models are a good go-between, offering solid security and a lighter weight than most d locks.
- Chain lock: Veers from the very bad (don’t use a basic chain from a hardware store!) to the very good. Specially designed chains have unique shape links to prevent cutting and a heavy duty lock. The best chain locks are also usually pretty heavy.
- Folding lock: A lesser known option, folding locks fold up very neatly, offering a similar level of protection as a comparable cable lock.
- Extension cables: Not able to lock anything on their own, but a useful addition to any lock. It allows you to secure front wheels/helmets etc.
Picking a good brand of bike lock is as important as the brand of bike you spent so long choosing! The best bike locks come from a few companies, the ones who invest serious R & D and those who have a good customer support system.
Tips for locking your bike
- Always lock your bike! It takes no time at all for an unlocked bike to disappear.
- Choose something fixed to lock your bike to. No point buying a great bike lock, only to lock your bike to something that can easily be removed. Also, ensure that your bike and lock can’t simply be lifted wholesale over the object.
- Try to secure your back wheel and the rear triangle to whatever you’re locking your bike to.
- Locking your front wheel to the fixed object is a good way of securing your front wheel – but a bad way of securing your bike.
- With D locks, the more space the thief has to lever with, the easier it will be for him to break the lock. Mini D locks are great at combatting this, but can make life difficult when trying to find something small enough for it to fit around. When using normal D locks, try to position your frame and wheels so they take up as much space inside the ‘d’ as possible.
- If you are in a high crime area, most cities for example, seriously consider two different kinds of locks. The bike thief is always more likely to pick the bike with lower/less security.