Whether it’s a laid-back cruiser bike or a rugged mountain bike, riding a bike is one of the best ways to experience the outdoors, commute, skip traffic and avoid crowded public transportation. Bikes are excellent means of transportation, great exercise and a great investment for anyone looking to cut back on their carbon emissions. The tough part about bikes, however, is they’re very easy to steal. Bike thefts skyrocketed during the pandemic, with Bike Index estimating a 26% jump between 2019 and 2020, partially due to the increased numbers of bike riders across the country. Whether it was to avoid crowded mass transit or to enjoy a socially-distanced afternoon with friends, riding bikes became a common hobby, and thus bike thefts became a more common occurrence. If you’re like me and recently invested in a brand new bike you’re jazzed to hit the pavement with every weekend, then it’s time to invest in a U-lock as well.
How to Pick the Right Bike Lock
Picking the right bike lock is a lot like picking the right bike. You want to assess your lifestyle, locking habits, riding habits and how good you are at keeping track of keys. There are essentially three different types of bike locks: chain locks, wire locks (also known as flexible bike locks) and U-locks. While chain and wire locks have shapes that are easier to maneuver, U-locks are thick AF and much harder for thieves to steal, so long as they’re made well.
Things to Consider About U-Locks
U-locks are pretty much exactly what they sound like. They’re u-shaped bike locks that typically use a key to lock and unlock. They’re sturdy and hard to cut through, but not impossible unfortunately. There’s never a guarantee some thief with all the right tools won’t come along and saw right through, but there are some locks made better than others.
The benefits of using a U-lock include:
- Since many of them use a key to unlock, there’s no need to remember or protect a combination
- They’re made thick, durable and hard to cut through
- They’re portable and easier to carry than some chain locks, which can be quite heavy
The downsides of using a U-lock are that the shape is rigid, and depending on the size of the lock you might not be able to fit it around your bike and any regular lamp post or piece of street infrastructure. However, for the most part, they’re built to wrap around bike racks, skinnier lamp posts, fences and more.
1. Kryptonite Evolution U-Lock
Kryptonite is one of the best U-locks in the biz, and for that reason you’re probably going to see a few of their locks in this list. This is one of their best ones, because it includes a cable you can wrap around your front tire to protect it from getting stolen off of your bike frame. Yes, bike thieves are ruthless sometimes.
It’s got 13mm of hardened steel shackle that resists all sorts of tricks and tools like bolt cutters and leverage attacks. The cable is 4′ long so you’ve got plenty to work with to lock it up, and they’ve got a key safe program where you can send a new key to yourself anywhere in the world, in the event that you lose one.
This company also insures the bikes using their locks, which is a major testament to how confident they are in them. This one offers protection up to $2,500.
2. Via Velo U-Lock
This U-lock bike lock is available on Amazon for a much lower price point than some other, more expensive brands, and has excellent ratings to back up its effectiveness. It’s built durable and all-weather, and contains both a U-lock and cable for double protection when locking up your investment. It comes with two keys for convenience and the no-hassle is designed to let you lock and unlock your bike easily. It’s also got an easy-to-install bracket that makes it super simple to take your lock with you wherever you ride.
3. KASTEWILL Bike U-Lock
This bike U-lock is made from high-quality steel alloy with a silicone cover for extra protection, and has a super affordable price tag. It comes with four feet of steel cable for added locking capabilities and it’s got a zinc alloy core and serpentine key slot that prevents forced entry by a thief. This bike lock is easy to install, heavy enough to keep your bike safe while also being light enough to carry with you.
4. Kryptonite New York Heavy Duty Lock
This bike lock from Kryptonite will set you back a few buckaroos, but it’s got 16mm of hardened shackle that’s resistant to nearly all the tricks of the thievery trade, and is large enough to fit around most bike racks, lamp posts, etc. This one also comes with the standard perks of a Kryptonite lock — including free key replacement and $4,000 of bike insurance if your bike gets stolen while using the lock. It’s also got hardened double deadbolts that increase the lock’s holding power, and the disc-style base cylinder is both pick and drill-resistant.
5. Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboutit Mini Lock
This bike lock from Kryptonite doesn’t just have a hilarious name, it’s also got 18mm of steel shackle for thieves to cut through before they can get to your bike. This is some serious protection, designed for bikes on the big, bad streets of NYC, that’ll lock any bike in any city down for good. And just in case it doesn’t, this lock offers $5,000 in bike insurance for any users whose bike gets stolen while using it.
6. Kryptonite Kryptolok Combo Bicycle Lock
BEST COMBINATION LOCK
This is a rare combination U-lock that’s got a 4-digit, resettable combination built in so you don’t have to worry about losing a key. It’s got a high-security Bent Foot design that makes it super easy to use and has 12mm of hardened steel shackle that resists hand tools, bolt cutters, etc. This lock comes with $1,750 worth of protection with its use, which is still a great deal given the price.
7. Hiplok DX Bicycle U Lock
EASIEST TO CARRY
This bike U-lock from Hiplok doesn’t just include an 88mm-wide shackle that’s great for fitting around street furniture and bike racks, it also has a “CLIP + RIDE” system that attaches easily to belts, bags and pockets. The steel shackle lock itself is 14mm thick and contains double locking mechanisms as well as anti-rotation tabs. There’s rubberized coating around the entire piece for frame protection, and it comes with triple-coded, replaceable keys.
8. Via Velo Bike U-Lock
This bike lock from Via Velo comes with three keys, a super convenient feature especially if you tend to lose them. One of the keys also comes with an LED light built in which makes it easy to use at night. The bike lock is 15mm thick, a decent size protection-wise, and it’s built durable for all weather conditions. The U-lock has a PVC cover that’s corrosion-resistant, and it’s got a cable for extending the protection to your wheels as well.
9. In-Gauge Bike U-Lock
This bike lock from In-Gauge is built tough, with 14mm thickness and a rubber casing for added durability, and costs less than $26.00. It’s got a PVC cover to protect from water and dust getting in and eroding the functionality, and it comes with three keys so you’ve got plenty of backup in case you lose one. It’s got a mounting bracket for attaching it to your bike and taking it with you wherever you ride, and it’s got a cable for locking up your wheels once you reach your destination.
10. UBULLOX Heavy Duty Bike U-Lock
EASY TO INSTALL
This is another very affordable bike U-lock that’s built sturdy, with 16mm thickness for protection, and a silicone cover to protect the steel alloy frame underneath. The lock is built to be drill-resistant, cutting-resistant and leveraging-resistant as well. The lock cylinder is made using a C-grade copper blade that prevents forced openings, and it comes with three rust-resistant keys. It’s easy to take on and off, and comes with a mounting bracket for easy portability during your rides.