- A reliable bike lock should give you the peace of mind to leave your bike almost anywhere and that it’ll still be waiting for you when you return.
- The best locks do this by using thick steel shackles or cables that are hard to cut through, making the act of actually stealing a bike an arduous (or impossible) task.
- Our top pick, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini Bicycle U-Lock, features anti-theft protection, is easy to mount to your bike, and has a useful double-bolting system.
Whether you live in the country or in a major metropolitan area, there’s no bike lock system capable of stopping a well-equipped thief. However, there are a number of locks that will either slow down or completely discourage a criminal.
Though some thieves will try to drill the lock, the most common way bikes are stolen is when someone cuts through a lock’s shackle, cable, or chain. Of these options, the shackle of a U-lock is the hardest to cut through. The thicker the steel, the longer it takes to get through. Also, if the lock has a double bolt system, a potential thief would then need to make two cuts to free the bike.
But bike locks aren’t exactly a one-size-fits-all type of device. While some offer bulked-up protection for a wide range of use cases, others are designed for when you just need to quickly lock your bike or as a full-on attachment to your bike frame – and we’ve tested dozens of them.
Over the course of several different rides, including mountain bike trips, e-bike outings, or just casual rides around the neighborhood, we tested locks from brands like Kryptonite, Hiplok, and Lobster Lock, intent on finding the best. Here are our favorites.
Here are the best bike locks:
- Best bike lock overall: Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini Bicycle U-Lock
- Best bike lock on a budget: Titanker Bike Lock Cable
- Best D-lock bike lock: Hiplok DX
- Best U-lock/cable bike lock combo: Kryptonite Kryptolok Standard Bicycle U-Lock w/ 4-foot Flex Cable
- Best on-bike bike lock: Lobster Lock
Updated on 12/22/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on how we test bike locks, added more to the copy for the Hiplok DX and the Lobster Lock, checked the availability of each recommended bike lock, and updated the prices where necessary.
If you live in a high crime area, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini Bicycle U-Lock does an excellent job of warding off criminals and protecting your bike.
Pros: Takes longer to cut through than any other lock
Cons: Small, heavy
Kryptonite is the top name in the bike lock industry. That’s why we’ve included three of its locks in our guide. One of the factors that set Kryptonite apart is its Anti-Theft Protection Offer. Basically, when you get your lock, you must register it with the company right away. Then, if your bike is stolen while it is covered by the anti-theft protection, the company will pay to replace your bike. For the Fahgettaboudit Mini, the first year of registration is free. After that, it is $24.99 for five years of coverage.
The New York Fahgettaboudit Mini offers the highest level of security of any of Kryptonite’s locks according to the company. The shackle is made of 18-millimeter hardened “MAX-Performance” steel. For extra security, the crossbar has an oversized hardened steel sleeve. The lock comes with three keys, which disengages the lock using a high-security disk-style cylinder. The cylinder is protected by a sliding dust cover. And, the center keyway is designed to make leverage attacks difficult.
Best budget bike lock
For less than $15, the Titanker Bike Lock Cable is an affordable alternative that offers a variety of locking options.
Pros: 10,000 possible combinations, four-foot reach, flexible
Cons: Cable is relatively easy to cut
The Titanker Bike Lock Cable is made of flexible steel cables that measure a half-inch in diameter. The 4-foot cable is covered with PVC coating and recoils back into its original shape when not in use. The four-digit combination lock has 10,000 possible passcodes. This lock is the lightest option in this guide at 11.2 ounces, and it mounts to your bike with the provided bracket.
The cable design offers flexibility in what you can lock a bike to, and the combination key is also convenient. While a lock is a good deterrent in general, this option doesn’t offer the level of protection as the other locks on this list. Still, the thick cable should deter most thieves.
Note: We previously recommended the UShake Bike Lock Cable, which is nearly similar to the Titanker option. Although many reviewers also recommended the UShake, that lock is not available at the time of posting.
Best D-lock bike lock
The Hiplok DX is a heavy-duty D-lock designed to keep your bike secure no matter where you lock it up, and its lightweight design makes it easy to throw into a backpack or even to wear on your person.
Pros: Heavy-duty yet lightweight design, 14mm steel shackle prevents theft
Cons: Locking area might be small for bikes with bigger tires
Hiplok is one of the who’s who in the bike lock industry (we’ve written about, and loved, its Z-Lok) thanks to its wide selection of dependable products. With the DX, Hiplok not only offers one of the most heavy-duty D-locks on the market, but it challenges the Kryptonite lock that nabbed our top spot.
What makes the DX particularly stand out is its rugged and durable design, led by a double deadlock and 14mm hardened steel shackle that would take nothing short of a tank to break through it. This means you should feel comfortable locking up your bike anywhere and can rest assured it’ll be there waiting for you when you’re reading to ride again.
It’s also one of the most lightweight locks we’ve tested and can just as easily slip into a backpack or affix to our belt loops without seeming like we’re dragging an anvil. The DX offers up a sizable locking area, as well, which can easily slide through your tire and around a pole.
At $90, it’s not a budget pick, but with bike locks, you pay for premium quality (and the assurance you won’t have to spend hundreds on a new bike). Hiplok offers a lifetime warranty, so that $90 investment should last you a very long time. — Rick Stella
Best U-lock/cable bike lock combo
The Kryptonite Kryptolok Standard Bicycle U-Lock w/4-foot Flex Cable is one of the most affordable locks, and the 4-foot cable makes locking up easy.
Pros: Easy to use, lightweight, inexpensive
Cons: Only requires one cut to defeat
The design of the Kryptolok Standard Bicycle U-Lock is fairly similar to the Kryptonite locks we covered in previous slides. It has a center keyway, high-security disc-style cylinder, reinforced hardened crossbar, and a hardened MAX-Performance steel shackle. However, there are some key differences. The shackle is 13 millimeters thick, the U-lock is 4 x 9 inches, and there is not a double locking mechanism.
Kryptonite rates the security of the Kryptolok as 6 out of 10 (versus 9 for the New York Standard and 10 for the Fahgettaboudit Mini). The company states that it should be secure enough in rural areas, in the suburbs, and when traveling with your bike on a car rack.
Remember to register your bike lock with the brand immediately after you purchase it to take advantage of its theft protection program.
Best on-bike bike lock
The Lobster Lock permanently attaches to your bike frame so you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to grab a lock on your way out the door.
Pros: Attaches to your bike permanently so you’ll never forget a lock, easy to lock/unlock, inexpensive $75 price tag
Cons: Can rattle on your bike a little bit while riding
We’ve all been there: You’re getting ready for a ride, you’ve packed a backpack, grab your helmet, and jet out the door. As you get to your destination, you realize it; you forgot your bike lock. Now, you’re left with a decision, do you leave the bike there and quickly run inside to get what you need, or do you ride back home? With the Lobster Lock, those forgetful moments cease to exist.
Thanks to a design that allows you to permanently attach it to your bike’s frame, the Lobster Lock goes wherever your bike goes, all day, every day. By attaching to where you’d put a water bottle cradle, the lock is able to stay out of the way enough to avoid hindering you as you ride, yet is perfect for attaching to a bike rack (including through your wheel, too).
Using the lock is easy, too. By simply unlocking it with a key, two arms swing out from the base and attach to each other to create the lock. When you’re reading to ride again, just unlock the two arms from each other, fold them back into the base, and lock it again with the key. Simple as that.
Also, don’t think you have to sacrifice the water bottle cradle — it basically acts as an extension of that area as you’re able to affix a cradle to the lock itself. That’s a ton of convenience packed into one bike lock. — Rick Stella
How we test bike locks
Each of the following bike locks went through several rounds of field testing to make sure they not only provided a reliable method for locking up our bike but that they were easy to use, weren’t a pain to lug around, and offered enough value regardless of their price tag. Specifically, we looked at these five categories: Ease of use, durability, security, and value. Here’s how each category factored into what locks made the cut:
- Ease of use: Using a bike lock shouldn’t be a headache each time you lock and unlock your ride. This means that it should be easy to affix to a bike rack while still being able to secure valuable parts of your bike (i.e. the wheel) without it feeling like solving a Rubik’s cube.
- Durability: What good is a bike lock if it starts to fall apart mere months after you purchase it? Bike locks take a beating, whether it be while getting throwing into a backpack or vehicle, someone attempting to disassemble it, or being stored at home in a garage or closet. You want any lock you purchase (especially since you’re spending hard-earned cash) to last you several years, at the very least.
- Security: If a bike lock is easy to break into, then what’s the point? A reliable bike lock should be able to stand up to a variety of bike-stealing methods and not only continue to protect your bike but be able to continue to live up to its namesake.
- Value: Value isn’t just about how much a bike lock costs — it’s more about how much return you get on your investment. If you pay a premium price, you should expect premium features. This is sort of like the sum of all the categories before it (while still considering its sticker cost).