There are hundreds of bike locks out there and they make confusing claims as to their abilities. Here are eight steps to go through in making your choice for a suitable bike lock:
Do not buy a cable lock
That is to say, do not buy a cable lock. Never buy a cable lock. Get me? They are easily cut and are a waste of money.
Look for a Sold Secure rating
Sold Secure is the best independent bike lock rating companies and is the benchmark for bike security in the UK. It comes in Bronze, Silver and Gold ratings. In this piece we are going to ignore Bronze as that is fairly easy to break – you can buy a Silver rated lock for only £30 and even for a £500 machine that is a worthy investment.
Assess the diameter of the shaft or chain
Only the biggest, 1 metre long bolt crops can break a shaft or chain that is 13mm – 15mm in diameter. That means the bike thief will need to be very obvious if they are out to steal your machine.
A 16 mm diameter is unbreakable even with huge manual bolt crops that the serious bike thief will have to use. However you often pay for this in weight.
It is all very well having a 7 kilo bike chain to protect your carbon fibre, tailor made machine but if you have spent obscene amounts of cash on a lightweight machine why would you carry a lock that is a similar weight to the whole bike?!
This is broken down into three elements. These will inform you as to the sort of bike lock you will use:
Desirability of the bike – A £100 clunker isn’t as attractive to a passing kid with an ASBO as a £1000 carbon fibre machine.
Location – Are you leaving your bike on a busy street in London where no one would interrupt a shoddy looking oik with a 1 metre set of bolt crops? Are you locking it to a strong point in a forest car park where no one will notice a professional gang attacking it? These are high risk areas.
Are you locking it in front of a country pub while having lunch? Do you live in a quiet suburb where neighbours care about each other? These are low risk areas.
Time – If you are locking it on a busy London street but only for an hour you could get away with a lighter lock than you would if going to work all day and unlikely to see it until evening.
Generally you get what you pay for (as long as it is a mechanical lock that only does lock type things). Ignoring the internet enabled smartphone operated gadgets (which cost a lot more for less relative security), bike locks that cost more will protect more.
The best locks on the market are D (U) locks. You can’t always lock the bike to an object though, so if you are likely to have to lock to a lamppost or tree, then consider a chain or folding lock.
D Lock, Folding lock or chain lock?
The best D locks with a Sold Secure Gold rating are almost unbreakable. They are heavy and small so may only lock your wheel to the frame or frame to a bike post.
According to a number of other reviewers, there is only one make of folding lock on the market that you should consider – the Abus range. Again, do check their Sold Secure rating. These have greater reach than the D lock and if you’re using a 13-15mm diameter one then the thief is going to have to work harder for their crime. Being folding you can carry them on your frame, and yes, the longer ones can reach around a larger object.
These are almost as good as D locks and are longer. The biggest heaviest monsters can weigh almost as much as the bike, so are best used attached to a strong point in your garage or home. Check the Sold Secure rating and the diameter of the chain links. You should go for a Sold Secure Silver or Gold and a diameter of 13-15mm for a portable one.
With these eight factors in mind, you can make a better assessment and if harassed by a sales person in the bike shop, be able to ask them the right questions. Besides, it is sometimes fun to ask sales people questions that they can’t answer as they’ll stop harassing you!