Bike Locks: Which Type Should You Choose?

Having a bicycle comes with the responsibility to protect it from theft. Luckily, there are several types of bike locks you can buy. You might need two or three bike locks depending on what you’re locking your bike to, as well as where. There are some types of locks that don’t always do the job, so make sure you check out our tips below before making a purchase.


This sturdy bike lock is great for use with built-in tough armour. It makes it difficult for thieves to steal your bike and will last through heavy use. To reduce the amount of space a thief can insert a crowbar into, you need an oversized horseshoe shape. Some U-loc models come in smaller sizes to fit around only the wheel, while others come in larger sizes so both wheels can be locked. Your goal is to find a size that fits your frame and goes around objects without leaving gaps that thieves may take advantage of.

Cable Locks

Cable locks are versatile locks that can be used for a wide range of purposes, but these have less theft deterrence power than U-locks and other types of bike locks. Unfortunately, bolt cutters can cut most cable locks. Many cable locks include an integrated combination lock, and this is a good option for low-crime spots. Elsewhere, you might use a key lock or padlock to secure the removable parts of your chain. Some newer models also have stylish designs, and others may come with armour protection.

Chain Locks

This bike lock is tough enough to keep you safe, whether you’re in high-crime areas or not, and the design makes it resistant to all sorts of attempts at breaking your chain. But make sure to buy a padlock that’s just as sturdy—thieves can cut through thin locks, no matter how tough the chain. The only downside is chains are bulky and heavy, so they are best for stationary uses.

Bike Lock with Keys or Combinations

Keyed locks are a common type that can be purchased in two main forms. There are flat keys, which you’re most likely to find in old-fashioned locks where it was easy to pick, and cylindrical keys, which are used in newer versions. Cylindrical keys are also harder to pick with certain tools.

You should keep a backup set of keys with you always in case they become lost or stolen. With certain bike locks, you can replace the keys as well. It’s important to use a keyed locking mechanism if you plan on biking near heavy traffic and other vulnerable areas.

Keys with combinations are incredibly convenient, especially if you don’t want to worry about losing keys or carrying them with you. You just need to remember a four or six-digit code.