Choosing a Bike Lock | A Buying Guide
There are loads of differing types of cycle locks being sold, all at different prices. So which should you choose?
The first thing to understand is that all bike locks can be broken. Some will take longer to break than others, and some will require the thief to have extra tools with them e.g. bolt croppers. This draws attention to the would be thief making their job more risky and consequently your bike more secure.
You want to look for a "Sold Secure bike lock". Sold Secure is a four tier security grading system for locks developed by the Master Locksmiths Association.
Diamond rated locks provide the highest level of security. Aimed at very high value bicycles and e-bikes
Gold rated locking devices offer the next highest level of security, aimed at mid-to-high value bicycles.
Silver offers a compromise between security and cost.
Bronze level typically offers defence against the opportunist thief.
When deciding on the level of cycle security you need, consider how much your bike is worth, where you will be leaving it, and how often and for how long it will be left locked up. You may even want to consider buying more than one type of cycle lock, which will make your bike more difficult to steal.
With regard to budget, you generally get what you pay for so be prepared to spend a reasonable amount on your bike locks. The more expensive your bike, the more you should be prepared to pay.
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Usually these are heavy and rugged looking. If using this type then the closer fitting the lock is around the bike, the more difficult it will be for an amateur thief to break the lock without damaging the frame. Although this type is often regarded as the most secure, the strength offered varies from model to model and is reflected in the price. Some can be easily opened using only a cap for a ball point pen, where as others require the use of a car jack.
Chain locks are made up of a series of hardened steel links which form a chain and a lock. The lock can be integrated into the chain, or it can be a separate padlock. It is usual for the chain to be covered by a protective nylon sleeve.
Chain locks are popular amongst cyclists for many reasons:
- Their length and flexibility means you can secure your bike to a wide range of immovable objects,
- The shorter ones can be carried relatively easily wrapped around your bike's seat post, or rolled up in a back pack,
- They are difficult to cut with power tools, and they can't be bottled jacked or leveraged open.
The downside of chain locks is that they are very heavy, so some cyclists will use a chain lock at home e.g. in the stairwell or garage where they can leave the lock all the time, and use a D-lock when out and about.
These are more flexible, lighter and more easily handled than a chain. Consequently they are less secure. Cheap versions are easily cut through and should never be relied upon to keep a bike safe.
Having said that, cable locks are useful as a secondary lock, to secure the front wheel or seat. These secondary locks sometimes take the form of thin cable lassos, which are sold together with a primary D-lock.
Small, lightweight and easily transportable cable locks i.e. easily fitting into the rear pocket of a cycle jersey, are often used as cafe stop bike locks. They provide enough deterant to put off the opportunist from nicking your pride and joy when you are enjoying your mid ride coffee and cake. Especially if your bike is visible from inside the cafe.
The Hiplok range of bicycle locks try to solve one of the biggest issues with portable, high security bike locks: how to carry them efficiently and comfortably while you're riding around on your bike.
Their chain locks allow you to wear the chain around your waist like a belt, and their D-locks are designed to clip on to belts and bag straps making them easy to carry.
Many cyclists never purchase a lock because they never need to lock a bike when out riding. Think about it - mountain bikers put the bike on the car, drive to the trail centre, ride and return, roadies are out for a few hours putting the miles in with no intention of stopping on the high street. However with some stats claiming that more than half of all bike thefts occur at home then it is important to make sure your bikes are secure in the garage or shed.
Some insurance companies are now insisting bikes must be secured when at home, with the ideal solution being a ground anchor. These heavy duty rings are drilled into the floor and create a secure point from which to use a chain lock.
Advice on how to keep your bike safe, both at home and away from home. and if the unthinkable happens, what to do if your bike is stolen.
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