Even the toughest lock can be beaten by a determined crook with enough time on their hands, but a decent device might encourage them to target a less-secure machine instead of yours.
Make sure you buy a lock that has been tested to industry standards such as Sold Secure. The scheme has different gradings according to effectiveness against various methods of attack, with Gold being the best.
David George, the CEO of bike insurer Bikmo, said his company had seen the number of theft claims rise by 8 per cent between March and July this year.
His advice to bike users looking to secure their steed is: “Make sure you use the right lock! We follow the Sold Secure guidelines and you can pick up a Gold Secure one for under £50.
“Lock the bike in a well-lit public area, to an immovable object – ideally in a bike rack or designated area likely to have CCTV.”
D-locks – sometimes called U-locks – are easy to use and can often be carried in a pocket or slipped over a belt. Chains tend to be heavier, but the thicker ones offer a good level of protection and are easy to wrap around objects such as lamp-posts.
If you want to stay super-safe, use a couple of different types of lock so would-be thieves need to carry a range of tools to defeat them.
Always lock through the frame and the rear wheel. If you don’t have locking skewers on your wheels, then use a second lock to secure the front wheel to the frame, or slip it out and lock it to the frame alongside the rear wheel.
David added: “Remove any items or kit that is not securely attached to the bike, such as lights, panniers, bags etc.
“If you have a nice saddle, or anything posh secured to the bike, then consider securing them further with a device such as Hexlox to prevent them being removed.”
We would also recommend locking your bike even if you keep it in a garage or shed – preferably to an anchor point bolted down on to a concrete base if that’s possible.
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Kryptonite Kryptolock With kryptoflex cable
D-lock and cable combinations are a good idea as they allow you to quickly secure both wheels and the frame. If you’re after something fairly small and light, this one is excellent. Despite its size and bargain price it is still Sold Secure Gold rated. The cable and lock combination weighs in at just over a kilogram, so it’s no trouble to carry in your backpack, but there’s also a frame bracket included if you need it. It comes with two keys.
You can carry this handy D-lock on your belt or a slipped over a trouser pocket thanks to the flexible tabs on the back. That means it’s a lock you can always have with you – even on those short trips where you might otherwise be tempted to leave your bike leaning against a wall unprotected.
The rubber-coated 15cm loop will go through your frame and wheel, around the head-tube or in a multitude of other positions. It’s Sold Secure Gold rated and comes with three decent-sized keys which are easy to handle even with gloves.
Abus 770A smartX
This one’s clever – a Bluetooth enabled 23cm D-lock with an ear-splitting 100dB alarm. It will tell you where you left your bike locked up, and you can allow trusted friends to use it via the associated app. Setting it up is simply a matter of snapping a QR code with your smartphone. You don’t even have to take your phone out of your pocket to unlock it – just slide a switch on the base of the lock and pull it apart when the tone sounds. The built-in battery should last around three months before it needs recharging, which is done via a hidden USB port on the side of the base.
Abus gives the lock its maximum 15 security rating and it has also been awarded Sold Secure Gold. It’s expensive, but it’s an amazing device for anyone who hates fumbling in the dark with keys or combination locks. Given that it is packed with electronics, we would feel safer using it under covered bike shelters where it won’t be left sitting in the rain all day.
If you worry about losing your keys you’ll appreciate a combination lock like this. It can be worn around your waist like a belt for easy transportation. It’s pretty light for a chain – just 800g – so it is quite comfortable. Handily, you can rotate the barrel so it’s easy to line up the numbers correctly – something that can’t be said of some other combination devices. While this lock isn’t Sold Secure rated, it feels solid enough to keep your bike safe for shorter stopovers. At just 75cm, some people may want something a bit longer.
Litelok silver flexi-o
Litelok has got you covered if you like the security of a D-lock but want the flexibility of a chain. The locking mechanism slots together a bit like a jigsaw piece, making it highly unlikely you could pull it apart with brute force. Thanks to its flexible steel/polymer construction you can fit the lock around oversized objects such as trees and lamp-posts – something that can challenge a rigid D-lock.
The lock comes in 52, 70 and 85cm options and there is a velcro strap included so you can wear it as a belt, although it’s not the most comfortable design we have tried. The 70cm version we tested came in at 780g – not as cumbersome as some larger chains while still being rated Sold Secure Silver.
Another Bluetooth lock, this one is a little smaller and lighter than the Abus – 1.25kg compared with its rival’s 1.8kg – and therefore a bit easier to carry around in a backpack, although it comes with a bracket to attach it to your frame too. It also works through a phone app and you just press a button on the base before turning a dial to unlock it. The process isn’t quite as slick as with the Abus, but it worked every time for us. The app allows you to give access to selected people at times of your choosing. It will also give you a list of times when the lock has been opened. Charging is via a USB port hidden under a rubber cover on the base, and it is rated Sold Secure Gold.
It’s big and broad but it’s surprisingly comfortable when you wear this one like a belt as you ride. Litelok uses a special device to stop it locking while it’s around your waist – so no embarrassing trips to the local fire station to be freed if you lose the key. It’s made from a patented bendable composite material called Boaflexicore and has earned Sold Secure Gold.
We tried out the medium-sized version which was long enough to lash our bikes to static objects such as a lamp-post. At just 1.4kg it’s nice and light and comes with a couple of velcro straps if you prefer to carry it on your frame rather than wearing it. You get a bag to store it in plus three keys with a code in case you ever have to replace them.
Abus city chain plus 1010
If you plan to leave your bike all day at your place of work or the station, you will need a hefty chain like this. Given that it weighs in at more than 2.5kg, you might be better off leaving it at your parking spot rather than carrying it on your commute every day. To protect your bike’s paint the big 9mm links are encased in a thick nylon sleeve. The lock assembly rotates for easy access when you have looped the 140cm chain around your frame or wheels. Rated Sold Secure Gold, it comes with two keys plus a code card.
Oxford bruteforce anchor
If you store your bike in a garage or sturdy shed, a ground anchor is a sound investment. While locking your bikes to each other is better than nothing, if they are not attached to something solid thieves could just bundle them into a van and cut the lock later. Fixing your bikes to an anchor in a garage will prevent this. Installation involves drilling high security bolts into a concrete floor or wall, so you will need access to a suitable hammer drill. Ball bearings can be hammered into the bolts once it is in place, stopping anyone unscrewing them. You can then loop a chain or cable through it to secure your bikes to the ground.
The verdict: Bike locks
Our Best Buy – the D-lock and cable combo from Kryptonite – is a bit of a bargain given that it’s Gold rated by Sold Secure. It’s perfect for anyone who wants a smaller lock for trips to the shops or to secure a bike in an area with plenty of passers-by to keep thieves at bay.
If you want the ultimate high-tech lock, take a look at the Bluetooth-enabled smartX from Abus – it’s great to be able to unlock your bike and ride away without searching around for a key. Just don’t lose your phone!
There are some great wearable locks in our line-up too, of which the Litelok wearable is a particular favourite.
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