Bicycle Lock

How Bicycle Locks Work and How to Choose One

Because bicycles are often left outside while not in use, they have to be secured appropriately as they are a frequent target of thieves.

The wheels and saddle of a bicycle are the most vulnerable parts, and most locks and efficient locking mechanisms take this into consideration while creating their locks.

There are several types of locking devices, ranging from small to large ones, and having different levels of security, the most secure being the largest and the most expensive locks.

However, tests carried out on locks by the Cyclists Touring Club, showed that all the tested locks could be broken in less than 42 seconds.

Types of Locks

All of the bike locks on the market falls under one of these four categories

  1. U-locks

Pioneered by lock experts Kryptonite, the U-locks offer the most protection for your bikes, and this makes them the most popular locks among cyclists.

The most secure and largely impregnable ones are made of too-hardened steel while the less secure ones are made of standard steel and susceptible to damage using a crowbar or hammer.

You should know that U-locks are quite bulky and they will definitely add to the weight of your luggage.


  • They are cheaper than chain locks
  • They are lighter than chain locks


  • U-locks are complicated to transport
  • They won’t fasten around bigger objects
  1. Chain locks

These serve as more of deterrence instead of a means of protection, and it is advisable to use a chain lock whenever you wouldn’t be leaving you bicycle outside for too long.

They are commonly used in conjunction with U-locks to provide security in certain places where the probability of the bicycle going missing is relatively high.

Chain Locks

Chain locks can be divided into two broad groups:

  • Chain locks that are light enough to be portable (< 12 mm)
  • Chain locks that are so heavy they are best as stationary security (> 12 mm)


  • Easier to carry than U-locks
  • Easier to fasten around objects also


  • Very heavy and usually expensive

Cable Locks

Cable locks are very similar to chain locks. Cable locks often come with the locking mechanism already integrated. The major advantage they have over chain locks is the ease that comes with transporting them.


  • Cable locks are long, light and cheap


  • Your bike is not safe with a cable lock

Folding locks

Folding locks are made up of a series of metal plates that have been linked together by rivets. These rivets allow for the plates to rotate so they can be folded into a compact package and then folded out to make a stiff shape that you can fasten around your bike.


  • Folding locks are very easy to transport
  • They have a practical length


  • Offers a limited choice
  • There are doubts over the durability of folding locks

Choosing a bike lock

In choosing which lock you go with, there are several factors you have to consider. Some of these factors include:

The kind of environment you live and would be visiting; if “safe area” is the word you would use to describe the areas, then maybe you do not need an overly solid lock on your bicycle.

The amount of time your bicycle is going to be spending outside at every particular time is another factor you might want to consider, as there is a higher probability of the bike being stolen if it stays outside unattended for too long irrespective of the locks on it.

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In Conclusion

Securing your bicycle is mostly an individual thing to do as these locks can only guarantee you so much safety. But depending on your tastes, bike, and surroundings, you can significantly increase your overall bike security by considering the above factors for your physical bike, but also your own peace of mind.

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