Best bike locks in 2023 | 8 top-rated D-locks, foldable locks and chain locks
Looking for a lock to protect your bike? We tested the best bike locks to destruction to reveal the best bike lock on the market.
Our test included a selection of the best D-locks, foldable locks and chain locks for cyclists, at a range of prices. Carry on scrolling after reading our recommendations to our bike locks buyer’s guide. Buying the best bike lock is only part of the job. You need to use it properly, of course, so we have included a guide on how to lock up your bike at the end of this article.
The best D-locks for bikes
The D-lock, or U-lock as it is alternatively known, is the classic bike lock. The design consists of a big shackle and toughened crossbar with the lock mechanism built in. It has been around for years, and it’s really just a supersized padlock. The benefits are the strength for its size and relative portability. The downsides are the slightly awkward shape if you want to lock more of your bike into it. You’ll want to add in an accessory cable or second lock to cover everything.
The Litelok X1 bike lock is nearly indestructible. Its steel core, armoured with a composite material called Barronium, resisted the attack of our angle grinder for more than 17 minutes. That’s almost three times longer than the previous toughest lock we’ve tested.
Besides its excellent strength, the X1 is easy to attach and remove from your bike thanks to its bottle cage mounting bracket.
At 1.6kg, the X1 is a similar weight to locks that offer inferior theft protection. Considering it’s rated Diamond standard by Sold Secure, the price is competitive too.
Abus Granit Extreme 59
The Extreme 59 is like a lock on a high-protein diet. With a torsional resistance that’s 1,000Nm higher than its nearest rival, and tensile resistance that would handle a couple of vans pulling on each end, it’s impressive.
Weather resistance is impeccable as is its resilience against picking. Under bolt cropping, it’s in the top three of all the locks we tested. If you prize your bike, have somewhere to store your lock when not using it, or want something tough for home use, then the Extreme is perfect.
The high price is the only thing that holds it back from a full five-star review.
Abus Granit X-Plus 540
The X-Plus 540 is one of the cleverest D-lock designs ever, with its patented square-profile shackle that resists torsional attacks better than most, taking a massive 1,750Nm of pressure.
The state-of-the-art lock mechanism beat our lock picker, and has great resistance to bolt cropping (146kN) that far outweighs its relatively light weight.
The quality of the materials and the build meant this one outlasted our corrosion test. The EaZy KF bracket took the full 200 hours of abuse. In cutting tests, it stripped the standard saw blade, and took more than two minutes of cutting with tungsten. The power grinder result of nearly four minutes was only beaten by heftier rivals.
Kryptonite New York M18
The Kryptonite New York M18 proved best for a number of categories in our testing. Immediate Media
The New York M18 is a beast of a lock, at over 2.5kg and, with a massive 18mm-diameter shackle, it’s built of sturdy stuff.
The double-deadbolt mechanism is centred inside the ovalised crossbar using a pick-resistant disc cylinder mechanism. The New York scores with its resistance to bolt cropping, sawing (best on test), tensile (best on test) and torsional resistance (runner-up).
With only its middling performance against the angle grinder going against it, the New York is a tough D-lock built the classic Kryptonite way. It may not be as clever as an Abus in its design, but the results are much the same.
The Hiplok DX is a good shout if you’re looking for a lock to take with you on the go. Immediate Media
Hiplok’s DX combines a compact D-lock with a casing that protects your bike with soft-touch materials. It makes carrying easy thanks to the two built-in prongs that are designed to slip into your jeans. or behind a belt. These ergonomic touches add a little extra to what is a solid-performing little lock.
It’s built to last with excellent weather protection, and it’s a tough cookie when it comes to sawing, twisting and grinding. Only a lowly performance on the tensile (pull) test gave any cause for concern, but being able to withstand 28kN is more than enough to see off most compact, portable bottle jacks easily.
The relatively shallow shackle is bolstered by a big 85mm width, so even with its compact size our tester was still able to safely get it through the frame and back wheel of their bike. You will definitely need a second lock or some accessory cables to properly secure all the extremities of your ride though.
The best folding bike locks
Sometimes you need a lock that’s more portable than a D-lock or chain, but one that’s stronger than a simple cafe stop cable lock.
If you want a combination of light weight, portability and toughness that you can trust for shopping stops and long lunches, these might be for you. The best folding bike locks are also suitable for securing touring bikes and bikepacking bikes for short periods.
- Price: £89.99 as tested
- Weight: 1,120g
- Shackle size: 265mm (circular diameter)
- Size: 736×50mm
- Rating: Sold Secure Gold
The Litelok Gold’s design combines a heavyweight disc lock mechanism with a mushroom stud and socket connection set within a sturdy steel casing joined by a nylon mesh-clad series of steel cables. The design keeps weight down and provides plenty of flexibility.
Carrying the lock is easy, either leave it straight and strap to your top tube or lock it into its circular shape and strap it between the seat and top tube.
The flexible nature makes it adaptable to what you lock it to, though it can be a little stiff, so hold the pressure while pushing the two locking ends together.
It performed perfectly after weather testing, and chilling and hammering only left a dent in the lock case. A standard blade sawed through the cables in 52 seconds and just 15 with a tungsten blade.
The Litelok took a massive amount of abuse (222.5kN) from the bolt cropper. Torsion tests had little effect, and it proved itself in the tensile test too. It didn’t last long against the angle grinder though.
Abus Granit X-Plus Bordo
- Price: £139.99 as tested
- Weight: 1,520g
- Shackle diameter: 5.5mm-thick plates
- Size: 6×150mm plates
- Rating: Sold Secure Gold
The much-imitated Bordo design uses 150mm long hardened steel plates that are linked together by domed hardened rivets for a strong lock that can fold into a compact 190×70×40mm package.
It sailed through corrosion testing and the lock mechanism, being an X-Plus unit, couldn’t be picked. You can’t pull the barrel either because it’s set within a hardened steel case with folded-over ends.
Under saw attack, it’s unfazed by a standard blade, though a tungsten blade got though in under a minute. Bolt-crop resistance was impressive for such small steel sections and it out performs plenty of D-locks here. A grinder will make pretty short work of the plates however.
Best chain locks for bikes
A chain, by its very nature, is adaptable. You can wrap it around pretty much any shape and thread it through your bike. Its shape also makes it difficult to attack with traditional tools – just try crowbarring a chain.
Chains make sense for your place of work or home because they are usually quite hefty and ungainly to carry safely in a cycling backpack.
The Homie, at 1.5m long, is designed to thread through multiple bikes, and as the name suggests, is for home use.
The individual links are made from hardened steel, as is the shackle to protect the cylinder lock.
When using the Homie, be careful not to drop it onto a frame tube becaues that 4.2kg of weight will cause some damage.
The Homie is well protected against corrosion and hammer tests didn’t affect it either. Bolt-cropping on the links was middling, but on the lock shackle much more impressive.
The lock cylinder is good against pick attacks and the links are some of the toughest on test. It’s a strong solution and one we’d recommend for home use only.
For the money, you are getting a lot of lock and one that’ll work on multiple bikes at the same time – thread it through a floor or wall anchor and you can secure two or three bikes.
However, be careful how you handle it and don’t drop it on your favourite lightweight carbon frame.
What to look for in a bike lock
Before we begin, the first thing to realise is that no single lock is unbreakable. Armed with the right tools and knowledge, someone who really wants to steal your bike will be able to, no matter what you lock it up with.
Whether your pride and joy is one of the best road bikes or mountain bikes, it’s unwise to ever leave it unattended outside – even secured by the best bike lock. The temptation could be too much to a thief.
What you can do is deter the bike thief looking for an easy steal. With that in mind, one of the best bits of advice we can give you, after many years of busting and picking locks in our tests, is to use two locks of different types and brands.
If a thief is adept at picking a certain type of lock and has the tools to do so, it’s less likely they will also have the tools or the knowledge to pick a completely different type.
Two budget locks that are wildly different in style and key/lock-cylinder types are sometimes better than just one expensive lock. Here’s a breakdown of all the key lock lingo that you need to know:
- Key: There are various types of keys, but all work a lock mechanism by moving pins or discs into alignment to allow the lock plug to be turned and open the lock
- Shackle: We know the shackle as the D-shaped part of a D-lock/U-lock or padlock. It shackles two things together. In our case, it’s our bikes to something sturdy
- Links: Chains are made up of links; hoops joined together. The smaller the internal diameter of the links the better, as this gives less space for a lever that can be used to break the link to be inserted
- Protection: Nobody wants a bare metal lock clattering against their frame. A cloth or sponge cover is handy to keep your pride and joy looking nice and to prevent the lock from corroding
- Lock barrel: Manufacturers will centre the lock mechanism in the barrel. Check the weight of the barrel because if it’s heavy that’s a sure sign it’s armoured
- Multiple keys: Multiple keys are essential, with manufacturers such as OnGuard offering up to five with a lock. Keep one at home, one at work and one on your keyring
- Maintenance: Check the action of the mechanism because locks spend most of their lives outdoors, so corrosion can be a problem. Use a light lube or water repellent (GT-85 or WD-40) liberally and top up periodically
- Warranty: An extended warranty is always good. It’s not going to cover you against theft but it should be a sign that the lock won’t fall apart or seize up on you
- Anti-theft guarantee: This guarantee is a form of insurance pioneered by Kryptonite. It does bump up the price, but definitely adds peace of mind into the package
How we tested the bike locks
Over the two decades that we’ve been putting together our intensive and independent lock tests, we’ve always used a combination of manual and power tools, and force and finesse to try to break locks.
Back in 2017, we used the facilities of Germany’s biggest security manufacturer, Abus, and more importantly its state-of-the-art test labs.
We devised a full-on torture chamber of tests that fully simulated each and every way a lock can be attacked and broken. For this, we needed multiple models from each manufacturer, so thank you to those who took up the challenge and supplied test samples willingly.
With nine tests on a total of 29 different models (seven of which are reviewed in this article), that’s 261 separate tests, and a total of in excess of £11,000 worth of locks tested to destruction.
Some of the locks come with a handy bracket to fit to your commuter bike. We tested the brackets fixed to a bike that’s attached to a treadmill, with bumps and lumps to simulate road conditions. This ‘rattle’ test runs for a total of 200 hours, which is plenty of time to see if the bracket is up to the job of carrying your lock safely.
One of each lock was subjected to 168 hours in a climate chamber to ISO 9227 standards. The time is equivalent to around 10 to 12 months of outdoor use in a salty-air environment, such as living on the coast. Over the 168 hours, temperature and humidity fluctuate to further simulate real-world conditions.
Freeze and hammer test
This test simulates the use of a plumber’s freeze spray, which chills the metal. The theory is it’ll make metal more brittle when struck with a hammer. Our test lab consists of a chiller cabinet that freezes the lock down to.40°C. It’s then struck with a weight simulating a full-force sledgehammer blow multiple times from 1m and 2m.
Our test machine is an articulated saw. Each lock was cut first with a fresh, standard steel blade. If it survived that test, it was then cut with a high-quality, precision tungsten blade in the same saw.
Bolt crop test
The bolt cropper is perhaps the favourite tool of the modern bike thief. Short, concealable bolt croppers are available for very little cash and can get through most budget locks with little fuss. Higher-standard locks are much tougher, and those that cross over into motorcycle security are stronger still.
Our bolt-cropping rig has to be capable of out-performing hand-operated bolt croppers, so the one we’ve used is a hydraulic jaw that cuts like a bolt cropper, but is capable of applying in excess of 250 kiloNewtons of pressure. That’s around the equivalent of a 1.5m-long set of bolt croppers operated by a couple of contestants from World’s Strongest Man.
Tensile pull test
This pulling rig had to simulate the bottle jack approach to breaking locks. A small hydraulic bottle uses a jack to push apart the two sections of lock, breaking the mechanism and causing the lock to fail. Our hydraulic test rig does the same by pulling on both parts simultaneously. This rig is capable of more than seven tonnes of pulling power, while your average bottle jack can perform to around three.
The good-old torsion attack, or crowbar to you and me, is a very effective method, but the downside is it usually leaves the bike being stolen with significant damage.
Our test rig can torsionally twist a lock to massive pressures, the equivalent of using a crowbar of more than 1.5m and one of those world’s strongest men doing the crowing.
Picking locks is a learnable art and with many ‘picks’ available online we are seeing a rise in bikes being stolen this way. We used a resident expert armed with an inexpensive homemade pick to try to open the locks on test.
Hand-held powerful battery-operated angle grinders are a fast and effective way to cut through metal. However, they do generate a lot of noise and sparks, so if you park your bike in a high traffic area, and not hidden out of sight, you’re less likely to see this method of attack being used in broad daylight.
For our test, we used an off-the-shelf unit, with multiple batteries and a constant cycle of recharging, along with a fresh grinding disc for each test, so that each lock had the exact same conditions to record the time it took to cut through.
How to lock a bike
Looping the lock through the frame and the front wheel is a good way to stop any thieves from making off with your wheel, and reduce leverage space. Jack Luke / Immediate Media
There’s nothing worse than coming back to where you left your bike to find that someone has stolen it.
Investing in one of the best bike locks is an ideal first step to stopping this from happening, but there are also other things to bear in mind when locking your bike up to make sure it stays safe.
Firstly, you always want to lock your bike to a secure anchor point, such as a bike stand and avoid locking it to things like posts where a thief could simply lift the bike and lock off the top.
Choosing a location where there are plenty of people around is good too, as it will (hopefully) give thieves less time to break a lock before someone intervenes.
A good tip is to also use a second lock, or cable, to secure your wheels because it is relatively easy for a thief to remove these and make off with them.
If you do use a second lock, it’s a good idea to get one that’s a different make to your first one. this is because some thieves might be adept at picking one brand and not another, or have a particular tool that could cut through one type of lock but not another.
If someone does want to try and break your lock, you want to make it difficult for them. Keep the locks off the ground so thieves can’t use the leverage to prise the lock open, and fit the lock tightly around the bike to also reduce the amount of leverage required to break it.
You can read more tips in our article on how to lock a bike properly.
Keeping a bike inside is obviously one of the safest ways to keep it safe and we have an article on how to improve your bike shed security.
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Warren Rossiter is BikeRadar and Cycling Plus magazine’s senior technical editor for road and gravel. Having been testing bikes for more than 20 years, Warren has an encyclopedic knowledge of road cycling and has been the mastermind behind our Road Bike of the Year test for more than a decade. He’s also a regular presenter on the BikeRadar Podcast and on BikeRadar’s YouTube channel. In his time as a cycling journalist, Warren has written for Mountain Biking UK, What Mountain Bike, Urban Cyclist, Procycling, Cyclingnews, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike and T3. Over the years, Warren has written about thousands of bikes and tested more than 2,500 – from budget road bikes to five-figure superbikes. He has covered all the major innovations in cycling this century, and reported from launches, trade shows and industry events in Europe, Asia, Australia, North American and Africa. While Warren loves fast road bikes and the latest gravel bikes, he also believes electric bikes are the future of transport. You’ll regularly find him commuting on an ebike and he longs for the day when everyone else follows suit. You will find snaps of Warren’s daily rides on the Instagram account of our sister publication, Cycling Plus (@cyclingplus).
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Best Bike Lock 2023. Top 5 Best Bike Locks 2023
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