Jamie Carruthers recently launched Lock Your Bike, a site dedicated to securely locking your bike to help ensure your trusted steed is where you left it. Lock Your Bike covers bike theft news, reviews of the best bike locks and a guide to the best methods of locking your bicycle.
As cycling becomes more and more popular in urban areas, in part due to improvements to cycling infrastructure such as the rapid expansion of bike lanes in NYC, bike crime is also seeing an increase. London recently saw a 71% rise in reported bike theft which is made up of a mixture of opportunity thefts (poorly locked bikes) and organized gangs with bike spotters, look outs and industrial tools.
If you want to keep your bike, and I’m pretty sure you do, you firstly need two good locks. You will need a primary lock for securing your frame and back wheel, and a secondary lock for securing the frame and front wheel. Both locks should also lock to a bike stand or other suitable piece of street furniture. Any less than two locks and you become a much easier target.
A slightly depressing realization is that no lock is unbreakable. If a thief takes a fancy to your bike, they can get it given they have the tools and knowledge to break your locks, and the time.
You will hear many who cite the rule of spending 10-20% of the value of your cycle on locks. I disagree with this and suggest you spend as much as you can afford. Sometimes a rust-bucket bike worth $150 can mean as much to someone as a $1,500 road bike does to another–and you can cut through some $15 locks with scissors.
Good locks and a good locking technique do two things; provide a visual deterrent, and resist attempts to break or cut through them.
In tests, D locks (also known as U locks) came out best against a whole host of tools. Here are the three very best:
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini
If the double deadbolt mechanism and ridiculously thick 18mm shackle made of hardened steel isn’t enough to deter a thief, nothing will. The lock is small, making it tricky to fit your wheel, frame and an item of street furniture in, but the lack of excess space makes it tough for a would-be thief to try a leverage attack or squeeze a bottle jack in. It is heavy, with a weight of approx. 1.9kg or 4.2lbs and is best transported in a bag.
Price: approx. $90
Abus Granit Extreme 59
Touted by the manufacturer as "˜probably the toughest D lock money can buy'–it's certainly the most expensive I could find. All good locks are heavy, but this tips the scales at approximately 3kg or 6.6lbs! The shackle is slimmer than the Fahgettaboudit (16mm vs. 18mm) but performed just as well in the tests. It is also larger than the Fahgettaboudit, meaning more room for attaching bike to street feature, but the weight of this thing would make Mr. T reluctant to carry it around. This is meant for the meanest streets out there.
Price: approx. $210
Kryptonite New York 3000 STD
Another Kryptonite lock makes the cut, and this time the big brother of the Fahgettaboudit. According to Kryptonite, this lock isn’t as strong as the Fahgettaboudit, rated as 11 out of 15 on their own scale of strength, vs. the Fahg’s 12 rating. What this means in real terms, I am unsure. And I doubt it makes a huge difference. This is my lock of choice because of the strength, the double bolt mechanism, the size (making it easy to lock my bike to things) and the mean looking yellow crossbar.
Price: approx. $60
These locks all come with anti-theft protection from the manufacturer, where they will give you an impressive amount of dollars should your lock be compromised. I can’t help but be cynical about this having read through the terms and conditions, and personally wouldn’t see this as any more than a marketing ploy.
Such heavy locks really need to be lugged around in a bag, as the brackets are often inadequate causing rattling. You really only need to carry these beasts with you if you are to be leaving your bike for any length of time.
Your secondary lock (yes, remember you need two!) can be lighter and used for those short coffee breaks or where you can keep an eye on it.
For my secondary lock, I use the:
Kryptonite Evolution Mini
This lock is awesome. A favorite among the bike messengers and cool kids, it fits easily in to the back pocket or through a belt loop and with a weight of just 0.9kg (approx. 2lbs) is much more portable than the heavy locks mentioned above. This lock has a single bolt mechanism and a 13mm shackle with a rating of 9 out of 15 on Kryptonite’s scale. It isn’t as strong as the beasts above, but it isn’t meant to be. This lock does its job perfectly.
Price: approx. $50
Couple your locks with a robust locking technique and hopefully the thieves will go for a less secure bike, and I see quite a few of these everyday. See Lock Your Bike’s guide on how to lock a bike for more.