How to Choose a Good Bicycle Lock
Anyone who owns a bicycle these days knows that a quality bike is expensive. Prices range anywhere from $500 to a whopping $500,000 for a bicycle. Alright, so perhaps you won’t be buying a bicycle that is covered in real butterfly wings and was ridden by Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France! But, whatever you do spend on your bike, once you own it you don’t want someone to steal it. So, whatever bike you choose, you need a good bicycle lock.
What Makes a Good Bicycle Lock?
There are several different types of bicycle locks, and each has its pros and cons. The four most common bicycle lock types are:
This is the most simple and common type of lock. It is nothing more than a length of thick steel chain links that you wrap around a part of the bike and then attach to an immoveable object. Most manufacturers cover the chain with a soft material to keep the chain links from scratching the paint on your bike.
Bicycle Chain Lock
Bicycle chains and locks offer a lot of flexibility, because depending on the length of the chain, you can attach your bike to a wide variety of objects from a traditional bike rack to a thick, heavy streetlight post. The thicker the links, the harder they are to cut, so a heavier chain is better. To be safe, the diameter of the links should be 13 to 15mm. These would require a very large bolt cutter to get through it, and most bike thieves don’t have that. However, as a result, chain locks are very heavy to carry around. How heavy? The Kryptonite New York Legend Chain weighs in at 10 lbs for three feet and 16 lbs for five feet!
For this reason, these locks may best used as stationary locks. You don’t carry a stationary lock from place to place. Instead, you leave it at a particular location, such as your home or workplace, and use it whenever you go there. If you need a portable chain lock that you can carry with you from place to place, you’ll have to go for a lighter model of chain lock.
Some bicycle chain locks come with integrated locks while others require a separate padlock to secure the chain. Remember that no security feature is better than its weakest part. So, if you are choosing a thick, heavy chain no one can cut through, make sure to add a high-quality padlock to complete the package. Because the links in a chain lock are circular, a thief needs to cut them in two places to free the bike. This adds an additional step (which takes more time) and is a deterrent to theft. If the weight of a good chain lock doesn’t put you off, then chains are a good bicycle lock.
Bicycle Cable Lock
Cable locks for bicycles are very similar to chain locks. They consist of a length of metal cable instead of chain links that secures your bike to a fixed object. As with chain locks, the cables have a soft, smooth cover material to prevent scratching. Unfortunately, most cables are just too thin and can easily be cut with a wire cutter. Even the thicker cables are not thick enough to stand up to a good bolt cutter.
Bicycle U Lock
Just as the name implies, U Locks for bicycles are metal pieces in the shape of the letter U. The ends of the U fit into a locking device. Bicycle U Locks are not flexible like chain or cable locks, so they will only fit around objects that are narrow enough to fit inside the U. Therefore, lamp posts are probably not going to work. For larger U locks, a street sign may work, but narrower U locks may only fit around a bike rack.
Bicycle U Locks are great options for people who need to carry the lock with them. They are lighter than chain locks, and easy to use. However, as with the chain locks, be sure to get a U lock that is thick, so it cannot be easily cut with a bolt cutter. The Kryptonite New York Lock Standard U lock is 16 mm thick and weighs 4.35 lbs. In addition, U locks are generally less expensive than portable or stationary chain locks.
Bicycle Folding Lock
Folding locks for bicycles are relatively new. They are constructed of equal size pieces of metal that are riveted together. The rivets allow the metal pieces to move, which is what allows the lock to fold. Because the pieces of metal are connected by these rivets, the folding lock can be shaped to fit around more objects, similar to a chain lock, however, without all the weight. However, these locks are on the lower end of the security spectrum, so they may not be helpful if you need to leave your bike in a less safe place.
The Bottom Line in Choosing a Good Bicycle Lock
There are three major factors to consider when purchasing a bicycle lock. First, how much security does it provide? Second, how easy is it to use? And, third, how expensive is it? Stationary chains provide the best security, but they cannot easily be carried around. Chains and cables are easier to use than U locks because they offer more flexibility in terms of finding the right object to which you can secure your bike. U locks are the most cost-effective option. Because of the way they fold up, folding bicycle locks are easy and convenient, but offer lower security than the others.
And, if you ever lose the keys to that expensive bicycle lock, don’t try to open yourself. Your local emergency locksmith for bike locks can come to you right away! They will open that lock without damaging it or your bike and have you back on your way in no time!