Bike locks come in a dizzying variety of styles, sizes and weights. There are key locks and combo locks, of course, as well as lightweight 1.5 pound mini u-locks and big, bulky 14 pound chain locks. No single model is the best bike lock for every situation—the best bike lock for you depends on your riding style and how much security you need for any given ride. If you typically lock up in high-theft areas, invest in a heavier lock or chain. And the longer you leave a bike unattended, the more you should lean into a heavier lock. Why is that? Simply put, it’s easier to slice through a lighter chain with a pair of bolt cutters or to smash a lightweight lock with a hammer.
That means you generally need to choose between weight and security. Mini u-locks are easier to store—some can even fit in your back pocket. But these locks are so small you can generally only secure the frame, leaving your wheels at risk. Quick-release wheels are especially vulnerable unless you invest in a folding lock, larger u-lock or a chain that can accommodate both frame and wheel. For these reasons, many people own more than one lock—one for short trips to the corner store, and another for occasions when you need to leave your bike unattended for hours at a time.
Regardless of which bike lock you choose, keep in mind that it serves no purpose if not used properly. Make sure you always lock the frame—not just the wheels—to a pole, post or bike stand. And your bike isn’t the only thing that needs to be kept safe. Check out our roundup of the best bike helmets to keep your noggin safe and sound out on the road.
Best Lightweight Lock
A Lock That Balances Security And Convenience
For longer rides in which you won’t need to lock up very much, you’ll probably want a lightweight lock that won’t weigh you down—but will still provide some security in low-risk situations. This compact, lightweight u-lock by ABUS is a great option because it weighs just over a pound but still provides relatively high security. Part of the reason it’s lighter is because it is smaller than full-size u-locks. That means you won’t be able to fit this around your frame, wheel and a bike rack. But it’s wide enough to lock your frame to most poles, parking meters and bike racks.
The Granit Plus Mini locking mechanism bolts four times into the lock body (two times per shackle side), which provides excellent protection against twisting/torsion theft attempts. Meanwhile, the cylinder provides protection against picking. The lock comes with two keys (including one with an LED light) and a code card for easy key replacement.
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Best Small Heavy-Duty U-Lock
A Compact Lock With The Highest Level Of Security
Kryptonite New-U New York Fahgettaboudit Mini U-Lock
Clocking in at about 4.5 pounds, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini lock is the most secure small (3.25 x 6 inches) u-lock you’ll find on the market. It scores a full 10/10 on the brand’s own safety scale, thanks in part to a patent-pending hardened double deadbolt design that provides enhanced protection against twist and cut attacks. The disc-style cylinder on the lock is both pick- and drill-resistant, and the sliding dustcover helps prevent dirt and debris from finding their way inside the lock.
This small u-lock is about three times the weight of the lightweight ABUS U-lock that we ranked as the best light-weight u-lock. Why? Because lighter locks just can’t provide the same level of protection as heavier locks. And sometimes you need the highest level of security. If you need to lock up a lot, particularly in high-theft areas or for extended periods of time, you need more security. The additional 3 pounds are what make this a more secure lock and, compared to other heavy-duty locks on the market, 4.55 pounds isn’t really all that heavy. And an added bonus: The lock is covered by Kryptonite’s lifetime warranty.
Best Full-Size Heavy-Duty U-Lock
Big Enough To Fit Both Your Frame And Wheel
This lock is pretty similar to the Fahgettaboudit Mini—with the caveat that it’s a full-size version. If you don’t need to lock your wheels or if you plan to carry a separate cable to secure them, you can get away with a lighter mini lock. But if you want to secure your frame and a wheel—which affords maximum protection—with a single u-lock, get this Kryptonite.
Weighing 4.5 pounds, the New-U New York Standard u-lock (4 x 10 inches) is actually 1.6 ounces lighter than the mini. It employs the same anti-drill, anti-pick technology and clocks in only slightly less secure than the mini version, receiving a 9/10 on Kryptonite’s safety rating system. Why go with a full-size 9/10 instead of a 10/10 mini? Because 9/10 is still very secure, but the mini is unlikely to fit both your wheel, frame, putting you at greater overall risk. This lock includes a versatile Flexframe-U mounting bracket so you have several options for mounting your lock directly on the bike. That means there’s no need to carry it in a bag. The lock comes with three stainless-steel keys (including one LED replaceable key fob) and is covered by Kryptonite’s lifetime warranty.
Best Folding Lock
A Soft Coating, Corrosion Resistance And It Folds Like An Accordion
Can any folding lock provide the same security as a hardcore chain or u-lock? Due to the technology required to make the lock bend and fold, no—probably not. But the convenience of a flexible, foldable and lightweight lock that’s easy to carry, store and use can more than makes up for the compromised security for some riders.
To make this compact, foldable lock, Bontrager partnered with ABUS to create a keyed folding lock with industry-leading corrosion protection, anti-pick protection and a soft-touch finish so the lock won’t scratch up your bike’s paint job. Weighing just under 2.5 pounds, the lock is also pretty light. It comes with two keys (replacement keys are available) and a storage mount that can easily be affixed to your top or bottom tube. This particular model comes keyed but there’s also a convenient combination lock version as well.
Best Lock For Lots of Stops
A Light, Sturdy Lock That Protects Your Frame And Wheels
Lightweight u-locks are best if you’re in low-risk areas, while heavy-duty u-locks and chains deliver serious protection in high-risk environments. So, what if you find yourself frequently in high-risk environments but prefer something smaller and lighter? This is where the Kryptonite New-U Messenger Mini+ lock comes in. The lock was designed for bike messengers (many of whom reside in New York City) since they are locking and unlocking their bike in high-theft areas dozens of times per day.
At only 2.6 pounds, this mini u-lock weighs about half what the Fahgettaboudit Mini weighs but it still delivers an impressive 7/10 safety rating. Why choose this u-lock over the Abus, which is even lighter? Because this lock has a brilliant feature—a wheel extender that folds out to secure the front or back wheel while the main lock secures the frame. Since the wheel extender fits within the main lock, it doesn’t take up any more space on your bike or in your bag but it provides crucial additional protection without needing a second lock. If you need to lock and unlock your bike many times on the same ride, this lock provides quick, convenient and secure protection.
Best Chain Lock
A Seriously Strong Chain That’s Half The Weight Of Others
There’s a reason why so many locks target New York City cyclists or have “New York” in their name. New York City bike thieves are smart, quick… and there are a lot of them. The emergence of new lighter locks mean you see fewer cyclists riding around with 15 pound chains wrapped around their waist, but there’s still a place for ultra-secure steel chains that you can thread through your frame and wheels.
What’s great about the Kryptonite New York 1210 Chain Lock is that it provides very high security (it gets a solid 9/10 on Kryptonite’s own safety rating system) but it weighs only 8 pounds. Sure, you could step up to a 10/10 secure chain, but those will weigh you down with nearly 15 pounds of steel—far more weight than most people want to ride around with. Not only is this a great lock for securing your bike on the street while you’re out and about, it’s also a great lock to secure your bike outside overnight (assuming you can’t bring it inside for some reason). Or you can use the chain to secure your bike to your car’s bike rack during a road trip. Some people even use this chain to lock up mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles.
Most Fashionable Lock
A Foldable Lock That’s Easy On The Eyes
Who said bike locks have to be industrial and unattractive? True, most of them are cold steel—usually gray or black. If you’re lucky, there may occasionally be a splash of orange or yellow. Lesser-known brand Seatylock has a collection of secure folding locks that come in a variety of colors, including this rainbow-colored Foldylock Pride version. Seatylock may not be a household name (yet), but the company won the European 2020 Design Award for its innovative bike lock design.
This compact folding bike lock is designed to be bolt cutter-, drill-, and saw-proof and Seatylock backs up that claim with a three-year warranty. The lock weighs 2.2 lbs. and neatly folds up into a handy frame mount that won’t jiggle around when you ride—no more metal-on-metal clanging. According to Seatylock’s safety rating system, this lock clocks in at an impressive 14/18—the most secure lock in the lightweight category. Nearly 2,000 Amazon reviewers collectively gave the lock 4.7 out of 5 stars as well.