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Types of Bike Locks

By Annette 2 years agoNo Comments

As with most things bike the range of types of bike locks is good so you should be able to find something that matches your needs (also read through our Bike Lock Buying Guide to help answer some of your questions).  Be aware that bike locks will come in two different locking varieties – key lock or combination lock.  This is generally a personnal choice as both systems can be picked or cracked it depends on the skill set of your thief.  Just answer the question, which would be easier for YOU to use?

What are you trying to prevent?

  • Type 1 Thief:  is someone just grabbing a bike and going – an opportunistic thief.  Someone passing by a bike and just taking what has been presented to them.  Any lock will prevent this from happening.  This type of thief is not a specialist and not carrying tools.
  • Type 2 Thief:  tools being used e.g. bolt cutters, crow bars, wire cutters, hacksaw, chisel – an intentional knowledgeable bike thief.  If he or she wants it chances are they’ll have it.  But if you make their job difficult, they may choose to walk on by or choose the bike next to your’s….don’t make yourself an easy target!
Bike theft.  Bike Locks. goRide

If it’s not locked it can be taken…

Oxford Sentinel. U Lock. goRide

The lock packaging should give an indication of the security rating

Coiled combination bike lock fixed to large lamp post. goRide

Choose a sturdy fixed object, NOT a wire fence


Made with a special chain link that prevents thiefs from using a hacksaw or chisel on the chain.    Take note of how it is joined – if the lock has a thin padlock this will be the point thieves choose to cut so make sure the padlock is robust, if not replace it with one that is.   Ideal for at home use if your bike is not stored out of sight or is in a multi tenant garage/apartment situation or to leave at work around your preferred fixed object.  Look for chain thickness of 12mm or more and you will be getter a really high security rating but know that as you reach these thickness’ even the shortest chain will be considerably heavier than any U-Lock.  Keep it off the floor/ground when you chain it to your bike so it can’t be frozen then smashed (yes, you read that right).

Be aware that this lock is sturdy but heavy and not a portable, carry around option.


Will always have better security ratings than a cable lock.  Why?  It is double bolted so needs to be cut twice or alternatively a large amount of force needs to be applied to bust it apart.   They come in a range of sizes.  Don’t get caught out with buying a big one to get more parts of your bike locked. The idea is the smaller the better so the thief can’t get any leverage.  Speedy to use, just click it in place and generally quite portable.  Small U-Locks can be thrown into bags without too much trouble.  As the U-Lock gets bigger look for locks that come with bike frame mounting systems.

Be aware that U-Locks need to be positioned closely to a fixed object to be secured properly…this can really limit their application.  The fixed object also needs to be relatively small…less than 10cm in width.


Provides length therefore it is great for getting around more than one part of your bike or more than one bike.  Will easily reach around what you want to attach to – bike rack on your car, power pole, tree trunk.  The lengths that are available vary from 1.2m up to 2.2m.  Length is important if the bike racks are full or there are none!  This lock is flexible in it’s design and application.  Comes in a range of widths/thickness’.  The thicker the better in terms of a thief trying to cut it, anything over 12mm will have a good security rating.  As thickness and length increase so does the price.  Great to use in combination with the U-Lock in high crime areas.  Cable locks are a must have kind of lock when riding with children or for locking multiple bikes onto a car bike rack.

Be aware that most cable locks are coiled which can be good for portability as they will coil easily around things on your bike like your seat post or handlebars.  It also keeps them compact for carrying in a bag.  However, coiled locks can be frustrating to use because as the thickness of the cable increases it is hard to thread them through areas/multiple bikes and pull them out straight.  So you tend to lose the benefit of their length.  So if you’re looking for a cable lock to lock multiple bikes  together (riding with kids) we think the best solution is an uncoiled 1.5 to 1.8m lock – but it will need a bag to be carried in.

Thin cable – Great for a quick stop.  Designed with portability in mind – they fit in your pocket!  Stops the grab and go thief, who has no tools, and saw an opportunity to get across town faster.  Better than nothing at all, good in low risk areas and low crime areas.  Be aware that most thin cable locks are retracting so if you let it go it will coil back into itself at speed – you will learn quickly because this can really hurt, so show the kids before they use it!

Coiled Combination bike lock fixed to bike rack. goRide

The length of a cable lock gives you fixed object choice

U-Lock, best locking technique. goRide

Learn to use a U-Lock well and it will be impossible to bust open

Final pointers…
  • You need to determine what your greatest needs are or the most frequently occuring way you would need to use a bike lock.  Perhaps more than one type of lock would be the answer or more than one lock.  Please read The Best Way to Lock a Bike coming soon….
  • 50% of bike theft is from the home (USA figures).  Store your bike in a lockable shed or garage and consider using your bike lock as you would away from your house.  Floor bolts with chain locks are a good option if you live in a high crime rate area.
  • Lock your bike to something that is impossible to move/lift/carry/cut, not a wire fence.
  • Avoid dark, quiet places think traffic and good lighting so others can see what is going on.
  • If you have the choice, lock your bike in the middle of a bunch of bikes – try to avoid the end.
  • Remember your bike bits…helmets, lights, tool bags, water bottles.  If it’s not locked down it could be stolen.
  • Unfortunately…quick release wheels & seat posts fit this category as well.  In a high crime area these need to be locked down too or taken with you.
  • The better looking your bike, the more expensive your bike, the more unique your bike is… the more likely it will be a target so protect it accordingly.
get Safe and goRide – Types of Bike Locks

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