Knowing what is the safest bike lock will depend on how and where you are locking your bike. There are three main types of bike locks on the market. Before getting into the safest option amongst these locks, a quick lock type review is in order.
The first type of bike lock is a chain lock, but these lock types are in no particular order. A chain lock is exactly what you might expect, a chain that goes through your frame and around a bike rack or other object to lock it in place. Next up is the cable bike lock. Cable bike locks are often referred to as wire locks. Rather than chain links, a cable lock is usually made from braided steel cables or wires. Finally, there are U-Locks or U-Bolt Locks. U-Locks are a steel bar bent into the shape of a ‘U’ with a lid that locks onto it.
For more information on keeping riders safe, read Best Bike Safety Accessories. Lets dive into more detail to figure out what is the safest bike lock.
Combination Locks vs Keyed Locks: Which Is Better?
The type of locking mechanism will vary. There are keyed and combination locks of the cable, chain and U-lock variety. Knowing which is better in the keyed vs combination lock debate will depend on the type of person you are.
For those of us that misplace keys, cell phones and other small items, remembering a combination is the way to go. As long as I remember the combination I don’t have to carry an extra key on my keychain, nor do I have to worry about misplacing my key. The only possibility of problem with a combination lock is forgetting the combination. Worried about that? Write the combination on a piece of tape and stick it somewhere as a reminder.
As long as you don’t mind carrying a key with you keyed locks are more secure than combination locks. If you forget to spin your combination lock after entering it a would-be thief can easily steal your bike. With a keyed lock the only way to break past is by picking the lock, or cutting it. Cable, chain and U-Locks are all incredibly difficult and time consuming to cut.
Is A Chain Bike Lock Good?
One of the most frequently asked questions I would get in the bike shop was, is a chain bike lock good. Yes, chain bike locks are extremely effective at preventing bike theft. High-end chain bike locks will come with cut resistant chain making them extremely difficult to break through.
Aside from cutting through a chain bike lock, would-be thieves will also try to guess easy or common combinations, and pick cheap locks. Avoid using a combination like 1234 or ZZZZ if your chain lock is of the combination variety. Also, don’t be afraid to spend a few extra dollars on a high end chain bike lock. The keyed variety will come with locks that are harder to pick and more resistant to damage. A good combination lock will come with a large variety of possible combinations.
Are Cable Bike Locks Secure?
The second most common type of bike like is a cable lock, also called a wire lock. While chain bike locks are not bolt cutter proof, they do a better job than many cable bike locks do. To answer the simple question of: are cable bike lock secure? Yes, they are a convenient way to secure your bike, but they are not as secure as chain and u-locks.
Bolt cutters make easy work of cable bike locks, but for a thief to cut your cable they would have to plan to bring bolt cutters with them. The odds of someone walking by happening to have a set of bolt cutters on them is slim in most places. I know bike theft is a major problem in many cities and bolt cutters
Are U-Locks Easy To Break?
U-Locks are the most secure bike lock available. They cannot be cut by bolt cutters and U-Locks are even a pain for grinders to cut through. U-Locks are nearly impossible to break. Nearly…
Using a keyed U-Lock means your bike lock is susceptible to a lock pick. Another way would be thieve have broken through U-Locks is by leveraging something large in-between and across the U-Lock to break it out of the locking cap. This is only possible on cheap bike U-Locks. Spend the extra money so you can rest assured knowing your bike is safe.
In conclusion, to answer the what is the safest bike lock debate, it is the lock you remember to use. Bike theft is a crime of convenience the majority of the time. Any lock type will deter those convenience crimes. At the end of the day, if someone wants your bike bad enough they will get it regardless of the type of lock you use. If a bike lock doesn’t give you enough piece of mind consider purchasing bicycle insurance offered by Markel Specialty Insurance. There are also folding locks as an option worth considering. They are hard to cut through, but are expensive locks.