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Reviews: We Tested the Best Bike Locks With Bolt Cutters and Angle Grinders

Before we get into our bike lock reviews, we have to start with some bad news. Even the best bike locks aren’t 100% secure, and there is always some degree of risk when storing your bike outdoors.

No one knows for sure how many bikes are stolen every year across the United States, but by any estimate, it’s a lot. Bike theft is so common, in fact, that many thefts are never reported to the police. It’s just a fact of life for bicycle owners.

A recent investigation by The New York Times found that as many as 1.7 million bikes are stolen each year in the United States, and the problem is getting worse. Bike owners have always had to be careful when storing bikes outside, but owning a bicycle has become even more precarious lately. Bicycle thefts have been surging since the pandemic, according to bike registry groups like Bike Index.

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To protect your bike from thieves, we recommend registering your bike, using a high-quality bike lock, and following best practices for securing your bike. When shopping for the best bike locks, we recommend sticking with top brands such as Kryptonite, OnGuard, and OTTOLOCK. These companies make locks that can deter thieves with their look and construction — but do they work? In the middle of the night on an empty street corner, would your bike stay put?

The sad truth is that a determined bike thief, armed with bolt cutters or portable angle grinders, can hack their way through any bike lock. We should know — we bought an angle grinder and tested it on the most secure bike locks for sale in 2022.

Keep reading to find out which bike locks offered the best security.

Taylor Galla | SPY

Finding the Best Bike Lock of 2022

We decided to put the toughest and overall best bike locks we could find up against both a bolt cutter and angle grinder, tools frequently used by the savviest thieves, to see which of them will best protect your investment. We tested how quickly and easily they can be locked and unlocked, and, more importantly, how easy they are to break into.

You can find our full ranking below, as well as notes on the strength of each product’s construction. But if you’re looking for our TLDR conclusion — the safest place to store your bike is inside your home. While many of the locks below will put up a good fight and provide time for a passerby to notice someone trying to saw through them, none of the bike locks we tested were impossible to break with enough time and determination.

Therefore, if you want a near guarantee that your bike will still be yours in the morning, we recommend keeping it behind closed doors. If you need a bike lock for storing your bike outside or in a communal bike shed, our top pick is below.


At a Glance: The Best Bike Locks of 2022

Also Tested: 

Our testing headquarters, complete with a test bike, an angle grinder and bolt cutters. Taylor Galla | SPY

The Best Bike Locks of 2022

Best Overall

Why We Chose It: Its design is easy to use and it was the only bike lock we tested with an alarm.

  • Dimensions: 12.01″ x 5″ x 3.27″
  • Type of Lock: Key
  • Insurance Policy? No

The ABUS Bordo Granit XPlus 6500 lock was the best bike lock we tested with one of the most unique, foldable designs. It expands with a flexible build that’s easy to wrap around your bike’s body, tire, and bike rack. It uses a key lock, the superior locking mechanism, and comes with a mounting device so you can store it on your bike between uses.

During testing of the ABUS bike lock, our biggest impressions were that it’s made of sturdy, durable metal and folds into itself for compact and easy storage. The biggest plus of this bike lock is its built-in alarm designed to sound off if someone tampers with the lock. During testing, the lock’s alarm sounded off when we inserted the key and tried to unlock it but did not sound off when trying to cut the alarm with bolt cutters and an angle grinder. Because these are some of the most popular techniques for thieves, it’s important to note that the alarm didn’t respond.

However, when the alarm sounded it was very loud and would definitely deter theft, especially in daylight or in public.

Pros:

  • 100 dB alarm
  • Foldable, compact design for storage
  • Secure key lock

Cons:

  • The lock’s design is unique, so it might not be intuitive for new users
  • Key lock requires keeping track of a key, lost key inhibits your ability to unlock it
runner up

Why We Chose It: Kryptonite’s most impressive bike lock is as lightweight and portable as possible

  • Dimensions: 3.25″ x 6″, 18mm thickness
  • Weight: 4.55 pounds
  • Type of Lock: Key lock
  • Insurance Policy? Yes, $5,000

Kryptonite is known for making some of the world’s best bike locks and we tested all of them during these trials. This New York Fahgettaboudit one was definitely our favorite out of their entire line for its thick, heavy, and intimidating design. It was one of the easiest locks to lock and unlock, and the bolt cutters didn’t stand a chance with it. The angle grinder definitely struggled to cut through this lock and wouldn’t have been able to cut through it without making a lot of noise, sparking, and drawing lots of attention to the fact that you’re breaking a bike lock.

The key lock works very smoothly with this bike lock, and while its hefty width makes it heavier to carry the small size makes it more convenient to travel with. The lock doesn’t have a J-lock design when attaching which makes it easier to slide the U-lock on and off the locking base.

Pros:

  • Very thick, intimidating design
  • Small, portable size
  • Easy to lock and unlock
  • Key lock

Cons:

  • Very heavy due to the thickness of the metal
best chain lock

Why We Chose It: Chain bike locks offer a more flexible locking experience, and this one is thicker, heavier, and stronger than other ones we tested.

  • Dimensions: 10 mm thick, 35.5″
  • Weight: 6.10 pounds
  • Type of Lock: Key
  • Insurance Policy? Yes, 2700 euros

Chain bike locks have a reputation of being weaker and less protective than U-locks, but anyone who believes that hasn’t met this 1090 Evolution lock from Kryptonite. It’s thicker, stronger, and heavier than many of the other chain locks we tested. It has the big pro of having a flexible design that makes it easier to park your bike at a variety of different racks and saves you time and stress in the process. The lock was very easy to lock and unlock and the chain wrapped around the testing bike easily.

The chain is heavier than other options which makes it slightly harder and clunkier to use. However, the increased protection brought by the thicker metal is definitely worth the added bulk. The bolt cutters didn’t stand a chance against this chain lock, and the angle grinder ripped through the protective fabric covering easily and definitely made a dent in the chain.

Pros:

  • Flexible chain design
  • Key lock
  • Easy to lock and unlock
  • Comes with $2700 of insurance

Cons:

  • Very heavy and bulky
best budget lock

Why We Chose It: The addition of the cable makes the standard U-lock even more protective

  • Dimensions:
    • U-Lock: 115mm x 230mm (W x H x Diam) (4.53″ x 9.06″) x 14mm (0.55″)
    • Cable: 120cm x 10mm (4′ x 0.39″)
  • Type of Lock: Key
  • Insurance Policy: Yes, $751 sport coverage

The OnGuard Pitbull lock impressed us with its sturdy U-lock design and flexible cable for wheel protection. It’s also built with silicone grips that make it more comfortable to hold and manipulate. It uses a key lock that was more difficult to manipulate than other locks we tested, but once we got it locked and unlocked it definitely felt protective.

The bolt cutters cut through the cable easily, putting the wheel at risk, but didn’t cut through the U-lock. The angle grinder would’ve cut through it eventually but would have taken a while due to the thick size. The lock also comes with a mounting device for on-bike storage that would make this lock easy to keep track of between uses.

Pros:

  • Thick, protective design
  • Flexible design includes a cable for wheel securing
  • Key lock

Cons:

  • Key locking didn’t operate as smoothly as the Kryptonite locks during testing
most efficient

Why We Chose It: Kryptonite’s slimmer lock that’s just as protective in a lighter package

  • Dimensions: 2.75″ x 6″
  • Weight: 1.60 pounds
  • Type of Lock: Key
  • Insurance Policy: Yes, $2500 Anti-Theft Protection

The Kryptonite Evolution Mini 6 is another one of the best bike locks from one of the top brands in the space that, like the others, is operated with a key and has a sturdy, sleek design. It slides in and out of its base easily, like the Fahgettaboudit lock, without a J-hook that can slow down use.

It’s not as thick as the Fahgettaboudit but just as narrow, and the rigid shape makes it harder to loop around a bike and rack than a chain lock or something with more flexibility. That being said, its slimmer design gives you more room to maneuver and it’s slightly lighter so it’s easier to travel with.

The Fahgettaboudit is probably more protective due to the thicker metal, but this one provides almost as much protection in a slimmer package, does more with less, and is overall more efficient. In terms of testing how easy it was to break in, it performed similarly to other locks in that the bolt cutters did very little and the angle grinder would’ve broken through it with a lot of time, effort, and noise.

Pros:

  • Thick, protective design
  • Flexible design includes a cable for wheel securing
  • Key lock

Cons:

  • Narrow width and rigid design give you less room for attaching it to your bike and bike rack
  • Expensive price tag
Easiest to use

Why We Chose It: It’s another solid option from Kryptonite that was worth including in the round-up.

  • Dimensions: 4″ x 8″
  • Weight: 4.45 lbs
  • Type of Lock: Key
  • Insurance Policy? Yes, $4,000

The New York Standard lock from Kryptonite was super user-friendly and easy to use, with a smooth lock and unlock operation that was the quickest of all the locks we tried. It’s more lightweight than other options from Kryptonite and is perfect if you want a simple bike lock without a lot of bells and whistles. It uses a key to lock and unlock, and protected the bike just about the same against the bolt cutters and angle grinder.

Pros:

  • Very simple, standard design
  • Key lock
  • Kryptonite insurance policy
  • Heftier anti-theft protection than other Kryptonite locks

Cons:

  • Not as thick as other options, could be less protective
  • Expensive price tag
best tire protection

Why We Chose It: Kryptonite’s lock that includes cable protection functions very similarly to others, with the added benefit of insurance protection

  • Dimensions: 4″ x 8″
  • Weight: 4.45 lbs
  • Type of Lock: Key
  • Insurance Policy? Yes, $4,000

This lock from Kryptonite functioned similarly to their other products with a smooth lock and unlock function, easy operation, and the added bonus of a cable for looping through a wheel and attaching it to the main lock. The cable, like all of the others we tested, didn’t stand a chance against bolt cutters or even a strong knife, but if someone was just planning on unscrewing and walking away with your wheel it would definitely deter them from that.

Pros:

  • Dual functionality of a U-lock and cable accessory
  • Easy lock/unlock
  • Key lock
  • Kryptonite insurance policy

Cons:

  • Expensive price tag
best for travel

Why We Chose It: OTTOLOCK makes a chic bike lock that’s small and easy to travel with.

  • Dimensions: 2.75” x 5.75”
  • Weight: 1.65 lbs
  • Type of Lock: Key
  • Insurance Policy? No

OTTOLOCK makes a beautifully simple lock with a powdered silicone exterior and a U-lock design that’s very easy to operate. It’s also a key lock and functioned just as smoothly as Kryptonite’s best locks with the added benefit of a more grippable surface. This makes it easier to hold and grab while locking and unlocking, and the bright orange color helps identify your bike in a sea of others.

The bolt cutters cut through the silicone exterior but couldn’t cut through the lock itself. The angle grinder, similar to all other locks, would’ve been able to cut through the lock easily with enough noise and time while producing plenty of sparks.

Pros:

  • Chic, stylish simple design that’s less clunky and metallic than other bike locks
  • Very easy to use
  • Key lock

Cons:

  • Not as hard or durable as Kryptonite locks
  • No insurance policy

Other Bike Locks We Tested

We tested a few bike locks that didn’t meet our security and protection expectations that would serve the needs of those locking their bike in a secure location indoors. We decided to not include them in the main round-up because they were easy to break into but still wanted to discuss their basic pros and cons to give our readers as extensive an overview as possible of the product category.

Sportneer makes a chain bike lock that locks and unlocks via a 5-digit code. The bolt cutters came close to cutting through this lock, and if a stronger person was testing they definitely would’ve made it through the lock with just sheer brute force. It’s a weaker, lighter chain than Kryptonite’s one but still comes with the perks of a flexible design that’s easy to fit around a bike and through a tire. The 5-digit code worked well and was faster to lock and unlock than using a key. As we mentioned above, however, chain locks are easier to break into than key locks, so with quicker function comes a potential sacrifice in security.

This was the one lock we were able to snap quickly and easily with just the bolt cutters, which doesn’t bode well for its strength against other, stronger tools. It’s a combination lock, which isn’t as secure as a key lock and is very thin. It’s super flexible and can wrap around a bike and bike rack easily, but it’s not as long as other locks which limits its reach. This is the only bike lock we wouldn’t recommend for any outdoor use whatsoever, as it would be very easy to break into compared to some of our top bike lock picks.


How We Tested the Best Bike Locks

In order to test the strength of the best bike locks we tried as hard as we could to break into them. Using a tester bike in one of our editor’s garages we locked up the bike to a cable fence and unlocked it afterward to test how easy the lock is to use. Then we took bolt cutters and tried to clip each lock open. If the bolt cutters didn’t work, we moved on to an angle grinder and tried to saw through the bike lock.

Angle Grinding Bike Locks: Effective, But Obvious

One of our largest takeaways from using the angle grinder to test the best bike locks is it’s effective at breaking bike locks but is not subtle whatsoever. If you’re using an angle grinder on a bike lock and anyone sees you, it’s going to be incredibly obvious what you’re trying to do and draw attention to your thievery. The only way this would work is in the middle of the night on a dark alleyway not near any apartments, bars, or restaurants, as it makes a ton of noise and produces sparks.

After testing both break-in methods we made a judgment about the bike’s security and ranked them accordingly.

Keys vs. Combination Locks 

There are two big categories of bike locks: key locks and combination locks that open with a 5- or 6-digit code. While both offer a certain level of security, key locks are safer due to the fact that they’re statistically harder to break into. They do, however, require you to keep track of a key, so if you’re a forgetful person who frequently loses track of things a combination lock might work better.


Testing the Best Bike Locks: Our Criteria

The testing criteria we used to determine the best bike locks available was of a mix of objective specs, subjective criteria, and most importantly: how easy would it be to break into?

We gathered data on the following objective factors during our testing.

Lock Construction

  • What is the lock made of? Titanium steel? Another metal? 
  • Does the lock use a combination or key to unlock? 
  • Does the lock have a small, rigid fit that makes it difficult to attach to a variety of bike racks? Or is it bigger or more flexible, making it easier to use? 

Ease of Use

  • How easy and quick is it to lock and unlock? 
  • Is it lightweight and easy to carry? Or heavier and harder to store?
  • Does it come with an attachment accessory so you can store it on your bike when you’re not using it? 

Breaking In

  • Did the lock break with bolt cutters? Did the angle grinder make a dent? 
  • How long did it take to break into the lock?
  • How easy would it be to break into it subtly? Would you make a bunch of noise or could you do it without anyone noticing? 

We also considered subjective factors related to the best bike locks.

  • How trustworthy does this lock feel? Would you feel secure leaving your pricey investment with it during the day? Overnight? 
  • How intimidating does this lock look from the outside? If a thief were to approach your bike, would they try to break into it or move on to the next one? 

We noted the following bonus factors that increase the security of locks, but only some locks possessed them.

  • Insurance Policy: Some bike locks come with an insurance policy for which if your bike is broken into they will pay you a certain amount to replace it. The fact that brands feel confident enough in their product to offer financial compensation if it fails is a plus and factored heavily into our rankings. We’ve noted which brands offer an insurance policy below and how much money they’ll give you if you lose your bike.
  • Alarm: Our top pick for the best bike locks of 2022 comes with an alarm that sounds off if it’s tampered with. It went off during our testing, and would definitely sound if someone tried to break into it. This was also an excellent bonus factor that played into our ranking.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Bike Lock

1. Level of Security

One of the first things you should consider when choosing the best bike lock for you is how much security you’re looking for. Do you live in a fast-paced, crime-ridden city where any bike placed outdoors is at risk of being picked up? Then maybe you opt for an option from Kryptonite or another one that offers an anti-theft insurance policy.

If you live in a quieter suburb and need a lock for your kid to store their bike at the library? Thousands of dollars worth of protection and a lock north of $150 with thick titanium metal is probably not necessary.

2. Rigid or Flexible Fit

The next consideration is what type of fit you’d like your lock to have. U-locks are more protective, generally, but their rigid structure can make them harder to use when locking your bike. Chain locks save time and are easier to maneuver but can be easier to saw through or break into. Chain locks are also heavier and harder to travel with, whereas U-locks can be easy to clip onto a backpack or throw in a purse depending on the size.

3. Price and Insurance

The price range of the best bike locks is not nearly as large as other product categories, as most options are between $30-$150. The more expensive locks tend to come with insurance policies wherein the brand will compensate you if your bike is stolen while the lock is in use, and can pay out as much as $4,000 depending on how much your bike costs.

Therefore, in our opinion, it’s almost always worth it to spend more for this protection, as well as the sturdier lock that tends to come with it.


Why Trust SPY

Here at SPY, we’ve written extensively about bikes and bike accessories from the best mountain bike helmets to locks for e-bikes. We’ve tested the best accessories for cross-country and long-distance biking and have fine-tuned our review process to weigh the cost/benefit for things like weight vs. portability, convenience vs. security, ease of use vs. cost and more.


About the Author

Taylor Galla, the author of this piece, has reviewed other high-ticket product categories including spin bikes, fitness mirrors, weighted jump ropes and adjustable dumbbells. She herself is a long-distance road biker who lives in a building a neighborhood riddled with bike thefts. She’s never had her bike stolen, because she stores it behind her locked door in her apartment.