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What is the best bicycle lock on the market, defined by:

  1. Best security
  2. Easiest usability when securing your bike
  3. Easiest method of transport
  4. Lightest without other compromises

Edit:

In addition, what do you think of the lock design below? Secure? Transportable? Would you use it if you had it? Is there something else that you would prefer, or something about it that would keep you from using it?

Edit 2:

I am looking for a way to convince my roadie friends that securing a bike on a long ride for lunch stops/etc is doable and practical. The weight is a killer, and they just won't buy it. That's also why I'm not just doing something like one of the Kryptonite Chains or a U lock.

This question was inspired by this Kickstarter project. No relation to me. I just think it's cool.

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@Neil Fein I expect this needs to be CW. –  zenbike Jul 17 '11 at 5:00
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@Ambo100 - Related, certainly. This question is much more specific and, IMO, better. –  Neil Fein Jul 17 '11 at 20:08
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@NeilFein: It's definitely better. The old question could have been edited to be this clear. –  Ambo100 Jul 17 '11 at 20:53
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If only this one got as many upvotes. I think people are being stingier when voting these days; it's harder to get upvoted, despite having more people on the site. (I guess that forces us to write better questions!) –  Neil Fein Jul 18 '11 at 23:54
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7 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I don't know about the security, but the hiplock does look easy to carry while cycling. No extra weight on the bike, just some extra weight on your hips.

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Not an uncommon way to carry a cable lock. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 19 '11 at 11:18
    
For short trips, I sometimes carry a U-lock and a cable over one shoulder, like a messenger bag. It's the same weight, but somehow it's easier to manage when it's on me and not the bike. –  Neil Fein Jul 20 '11 at 3:20
    
I like the point they make about the lock being easy to remove from your hips in case of an emergency. –  jilles de wit Jul 20 '11 at 7:05
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I think I'll order one of these, and one of the TiGr locks. See how they work, and what the real deal is. I'll let you know. I'm choosing this answer because the lock mentioned is one that might solve my particular situation. Thanks for all the answers. –  zenbike Jul 20 '11 at 17:54
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Some years ago, Bicycling magazine did a shootout on available locks and the Kryptonite "New York Chain" came out on top. Unfortunately, it weighs more than many bikes and is not easy to carry either.
Fine if you can leave it where you lock your bike.

I'm with the police department at a major university, and we have a program through Kryptonite where we give the kids a (heavily subsidized) Kryptonite U-lock for a mere 20 bucks.
Over the 30 years I've been here, we've had only a handful of these locks defeated. Most all the bikes we have stolen (lots...) are locked with the sort of cable shown above. The thief uses a rather small bolt cutter and removes it more rapidly than you could by using the combination. The U-locks are easy to carry, not overly heavy, and offer a "good" level of security.

Anything can be defeated with the right tools, time, and opportunity. Deny the thief these things and you have a better chance of hanging on to your bike. Or....Buy a beater and save your nice bike for weekend rides.

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+1. U-locks have the fewest weaknesses of any lock that you can reasonably transport on your bike. The smaller the better, and you can get away with a quite small one if you lock your bike correctly (e.g., the "Sheldon Brown" method). If you don't mind leaving the lock somewhere permanently, get the thickest gauge, heaviest chain lock you can find. OnGuard Beasts are expensive, but are great if a chain lock will work for your situation. –  Stephen Touset Jul 17 '11 at 20:56
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I've got this one.

http://www.abus-bordo.com/html_en/bikelock_bordo_lite.html

It's heavy, but very strong. Unlike U-locks, it is easy to carry on the bike.

Update : video showing operation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57zc9kregqs&feature=related

Pretty simple : unfold like an accordion, wrap around frame, front wheel, and some "urban furniture", lock. It only takes a few seconds.

The short version is a bit short. The long version is ... longer but heavier.

The weak point of U-locks is the U-lock holder which is always made of crap and will break at the worst possible time, like hitting a pothole while going fast. That happened to me. It's annoying.

This one has a neat holder, very easy to use, doesn't fall off the bike.

Safety :

Doesn't open with a pencil.

Breaking a good U-lock requires a scissor jack (easy to find, you probably got one in your car) or some lock-picking, or an angle grinder.

This one is immune to the scissor jack, and very hard to saw, so you'd need an angle grinder (VERY noisy) or a specially machined key (I can't believe this age-old lockpicking technique still works)...

If you want more info and tests of many locks, check this french site :

http://bicycode.org/html/pg_htm/antivols.php http://bicycode.org/html/telechd/antivols-testsFUBicy.pdf

The test results are in the PDF (updated yearly).

  • 1 star : resists discrete attempts using tools not larger than 30cm, corresponds to thieves operating in public
  • 2 stars : resists much less discrete attempts using tools not larger than 75 cm, and a much longer time "allowed" for the attemps. Corresponds to thieves operating in at night with noone to see them.

The test report has weights and security level for many locks, I hope you find that useful.

Best security

Nope, but best security means 2 locks which need 2 different tools (like a frame lock and a U or bordo)

Easiest usability when securing your bike

Yes

Easiest method of transport

Yes definitely

Lightest without other compromises

No, it is heavy as hell (like a U) but does that matter a lot for the daily rides to work or groceries ?

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Interesting, I've never seen one of those. How does it work? Would you be able to tell us more about it, and why it meets zenbike's criteria? –  Neil Fein Jul 17 '11 at 18:37
    
Odd that their fancy video doesn't show them in operation. Makes one VERY suspicious. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 17 '11 at 19:03
    
Their videos suck big time. I edited my post. –  peufeu Jul 17 '11 at 21:10
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+1 for a very thorough post. Clearly a lot of effort, and very appreciated. I don't think this lock will work for me because I am looking for a way to convince my roadie friends that securing a bike on a long ride for lunch stops/etc is doable and practical. The weight is a killer, and they just won't buy it. That's also why I'm not just doing something like one of the Kryptonite Chains or a U lock. Maybe I need to add that to the question... –  zenbike Jul 18 '11 at 10:07
    
"How can I convince my roadie friends that carrying a lock is worth the weight" would make a nice question on its own, covering the psychological aspects of this. (I think this one has enough answers that it'd be tough to edit it too much now.) –  Neil Fein Jul 18 '11 at 23:57
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If you spend any time working in a bike workshop then you get to learn what bike-locks are vulnerable 'in the wild' and you also get to learn what bike locks are removable with 'special tools', e.g. the bolt-cutters with five-foot long handles.

The truth is that a surprising amount of affordable D-locks are do-able in the wild and everything else can be removed in seconds with proper tools. This is particularly shocking with those cable locks with the outer steel protection as they appear tough, but, with the big bolt-cutters are no more problematic than a cable-tie is to pliers - snip and you are done. Another tragedy are the plastic-coated multi-strands-of-steel cables - with the world's bluntest hacksaw you can get through them very easily because the plastic coating acts like a guide for the saw. This approach takes longer than using the key, but, for the thief with a big van and lots of railings to collect bikes from, he (and it is never a she...) will be able to get those bikes unlocked quicker than their respective owners can. That is the scary reality.

So this question is a bit like asking 'what is the best colour' - there is no exact answer. There are many factors - you have got to be able to carry the lock being the prime one. In the Netherlands the general idea is to carry a big ugly lock, more akin to what people use for a motorbike or to lock the gates of a factory. However, in the Netherlands there are lots of tooled up thieves, the terrain is flat and the big-ugly lock can be left on the railings at the workplace, i.e. not carried back and forth.

Personally I use a £4.99 cable lock with combination numbers set to my birthday. That appears as lame as it gets but I am unlikely to have problems should I lose my keys and the weakness of the cable matters not to the guy with bolt-cutters. I never leave my bike unlocked for '2 seconds' whilst I nip into the shop for a pint of milk which I used to do when it would take me a minute or two to get the D-lock out of the bag, take my gloves off, find my keys, look for some sensible street furniture and ... you get the idea. The always available, always in use £4.99 cable lock is 100% effective against the casual thief whereas, in practical world, the expensive D-lock is not. Convenience matters and it clearly need not come with a premium.

The D-lock still comes out (an evil Abus Extreme) when I go to the West End to watch a play (such an everyday occurrence) and need that extra security. The £4.99 lock still gets used in this situation for keeping the wheel or seat on, the D-lock attaches the frame/back wheel to street furniture. This gives me the peace of mind that I need.

So my vote is for the £4.99 cable lock with combination. Setting the combination to my birthday seems a bit stupidly obvious, but, since not even my own mother remembers my birthday, I think that anyone that guesses the number can have my bike. I would be flattered if they guessed.

enter image description here

My second vote would be for the Abus 'Partner Pack' locks. These consist of a D-lock and a cable-lock that both work from the same key. You can take one or the other locks out depending on the security requirement, or you can take both out. You can also lend one of them to a newbie cycling friend that is not with a good lock. The D-lock comes with a 'sold secure' rating that allegedly means something to insurance companies, not that I personally believe in insurance for bicycles.

enter image description here

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A note about combination locks: DO NOT use one with only 3 wheels -- they can be opened in maybe 3 minutes by someone who knows how to twirl the combinations. 4 wheels extends that time to the neighborhood of 30 minutes, which is probably sufficient for most purposes. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 17 '11 at 11:52
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I have yet to find a combination lock, 4- or 5-wheel that I haven't been able to open (without knowing the combination) in less than two minutes. As far as I'm concerned, they're all crap. Even expensive ones in my experience become loose enough to "feel" the correct combination (with some technique) after a month or two of use. –  Stephen Touset Jul 17 '11 at 20:53
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As answered by peufeu, the Abus Bordo is a phenomenal lock. If you love your bike then this is well worth the [hefty] pricetag. I commute with this lock daily, the weight doesn't bother me because it's compact and snugly secured to my downtube (holster mounts to bottle-cage bosses). I leave a U-Lock at my daily destination so there are actually two different styles of lock on the bike when it is locked-up for any length of time (ie. all day while I'm at work). The Abus lock is easily the best lock on the market IMO.

As Stephen Touset pointed-out in an earlier comment, Sheldon Brown has an excellent article on bicycle locking technique, that is very much worth reading.

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just to be noted that this lock can be broken with a chain cutter tool: youtube.com/watch?v=FDgI_KL7n4o&feature=related –  fady Apr 5 '12 at 19:18
    
@fady I don't think I've ever seen a lock that will stand up to angle grinder. Kryptonite D-Locks, Abus Bordos, Giant thick chains. It doesn't matter. If somebody is willing to take an angle grinder to your lock, the lock is going to break. –  Kibbee Jan 21 '13 at 20:47
    
@Kibbee i agree with your statements. –  fady Jan 22 '13 at 23:16
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my bike was stolen recently (in SF) with a basic ulock, so i decided to get a chain lock & and abus ulock for the front tire/frame. (abus locks our light but with no compromise to protection) If one were looking to have maximum protection, i'd think both of these locks would do the trick.

http://www.amazon.com/OnGuard-Beast-5017-Bicycle-Chain/dp/B000FL3EB6/ref=reg_hu-rd_add_1_dp

http://www.amazon.com/Abus-Granit-Futura-64-Mini/dp/B005F3GZTM/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS?ie=UTF8&coliid=I1GZGPUG77CR3G&colid=3EAWZY1WOUJPO

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To respond to the second edit, if your roadie friends are trying to train, then carrying the extra weight of a U-lock can give them an extra advantage when they're racing with less weight during a race.

Plus, nothing kills your training ride as much as having your bike stolen when you stop for lunch.

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