Despite an endless range of bike locks, buying the right lock for you is far more simple than you think, and there are lots of guidelines and tips which can help along the way.
It can seem a bit of a minefield knowing what qualities a good lock has. Does heavier mean stronger?, How much do I need to spend?, What shape and style will work best for my bike?. All these questions and more can cause confusion, but Bikmo are here to help. By covering the 3 main lock types and the benefits of each, hopefully we can point you in the right direction.
Also known as D-locks, these are possibly the most common type of bike lock. Similar in principal to a padlock, they are robust and reliable. The “U” element of the lock should be fixed around the frame of your bike and the immovable object you’re locking it to, then the removable barrel is attached and locked in place, creating a very secure deterrent to thieves.
Available in a wide range of materials and sizes, and an even wider range of prices, U-locks are suitable for almost any location, and for any bike. Because of the fixed dimensions of a U-lock, they are ideal when partnered with another cable lock, which can be used to lock the wheels, quick-release components or accessories to the frame, making them more difficult to steal.
If your U-lock comes with an additional cable, please be aware that the cable is not included in the Sold Secure rating and should not be relied upon alone to secure your bike to an immovable object. See our guide on U-locks here.
Flexibility and light-weight make cable locks an attractive option for many cyclists. With the ability to stretch and fit around a wider range of fixed objects than a U-lock, cable locks are highly practical, and their lighter weight and compact nature makes them perfect for city riders and commuters.
Cable locks also cover the widest budget, ranging from locks that are just a visual deterrent, right through to ultra-secure heavy duty Sold Secure approved locks that are resistant to most cutting tools. See our guide on cable locks here.
Simple and effective, chain locks are frequently used for motorbikes, and are more than suitable for bicycles. Premium chain locks use a hardened metal chainlink, wrapped in a super-tough kevlar lined cover that put up a fight against the hardiest of cutting tools. The weakest link will always be the padlock, so most high quality chain locks come with a very robust padlock, designed to resist lock-picking and impact damage.
Generally starting at a higher price point than U-locks and cable locks, chain locks combine the flexibility and the robust reliability of both, making it a win-win decision. Although they are heavier than their other counterparts, it’s easy to ride with one across your chest or around your waist. See our guide on chain locks here.
Although there are two different mechanisms to closing and releasing a lock;
- Combination code
- Key Release
most higher security rated locks use key release. U-locks will almost always use a key system due to the design of the lock. Chain locks are dependant on the padlock supplied or chosen, so this boils down to individual choice.
Cable locks will often come with a choice; similar models with a similar security level but one key-operated, and the other combination operated. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses, but are still very much suitable and up to the job if Sold Secure approved.
Whilst some key locks can be vulnerable to lock-picking, this is generally not as much of an issue with modern locks, and with a single point of access to internal mechanisms, it restricts how a thief can break into it.
Combination locks tend to be quicker to lock and unlock, as they negate the need to dig the key out of a bag. However, because the mechanism is more exposed than a key system, it can be vulnerable to impact damage, should a thief strike the mechanism repeatedly with a hard object. See our How To Lock Your Bike post to learn how to prevent this from happening.
Knowing which lock is most suitable for you is dependant on a number of factors, such as:
- What immovable object you lock your bike to
- The value of your bike
- Your budget
- Insurance requirements
If you’re frequently securing your bike in a public space, it’s essential to purchase the most secure lock you possibly can with your available budget. Saving a few pounds on a lock may have some nasty repercussions later on, should the worst happen.
It’s advised to spend as much as you reasonably can on a lock; we recommend a Sold Secure Gold lock. This ensures you get one that provides suitable protection, and is robust enough to deter criminals. A £10 budget lock won’t be suitable for locking a £1000 bike in the city centre, as it doesn’t provide adequate protection. Budget locks are designed as more of a visual deterrent to stop an impulse thief, who may seize the opportunity to take an unlocked bike.
One factor people often don’t consider is insurance. In the event your bike has been stolen from a public place, if the lock you used is deemed to have been inappropriate for the circumstances and value of your bike, it may invalidate any claim you attempt to make.
To ensure the lock you’re buying is suitable for purpose, one of the best resources you can use is the Sold Secure Approved Product Search. Sold Secure is recognised as one of the best testing and certification authorities for locks, and with an extensive number of products tested, you’re sure to find a suitable lock.
Their 3 tier rating system for bike locks ranks locks based on security:
- Gold – Highest level of security
- Silver – Compromise between security and cost
- Bronze – Defence against opportunist thieves
To check out the requirements of your Bikmo policy, with the bike value covered for each lock rating, we provide detailed information about Sold Secure here. To see which locks have been approved and their respective ratings, try out the Sold Secure Approved Product Search.
It’s all well and good reading about the various ratings of locks, and how easy some are to break, but what does this look like in real life?
Those lovely people over at Hiplok kindly let Bikmo Ben loose with some common tools used by bike thieves, to highlight just how easy it is to break some cheaper locks compared to a much better quality Sold Secure approved lock.
If you’d like any further help or support in choosing the right lock, or would like to discuss whether your locking circumstances are covered, please just get in touch with the Bikmo team on 01244 470337 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to put your mind at ease.