A Guide to Choosing the Right Bike Lock

According to recent FBI statistics, there are some 1.5 million bicycles stolen each year in the United States alone. Although these thefts occur everywhere, our major cities is where thieves strike the most. The good news is that in late 2005 Senate Bill 1891 passed and as a result all bikes must have a serial number displayed. This along with easier internet bike registration helps police track stolen bikes.

So what’s a budding cyclist to do? Ditch the bike and walk? That’s blasphemy. Read on to discover more about securing your next bike with a great lock and ideas about safer methods to secure your baby.

Types of Bicycle Locks

In recent years, the U-lock has become more popular than the Chain lock although both are widely used across the country. The U-lock is considered by experts to be more superior than a chain lock mainly because of the way you use this lock to secure the bike to a fixed object. When placing 2-3 parts of the bike (the frame + a wheel) in the U-lock along with a solid, fixed object (a bike rack, a post, etc.) you will increase your chances of being secure.

Lock thickness matters. With a pair of medium bolt cutters, a thief can cut through 9mm-12mm locks. With the largest of bolt cutters, a thief can cut through 13mm to 15mm locks. If your lock is 16mm or higher, a thief cannot cut through with manual cutters. The top locks are either 16mm or 18mm thick. Even these can be defeated, but would require time and power tools.

Weight is also a consideration, as bike lock manufacturers sell locks ranging from 1.5 pounds to around 5 pounds. The heavier the lock, the harder it is for a thief to use a tool to pressure it open. Locks can also be single or double bolted with the latter being a stronger option.

Lock Brands

According to GearPatrol.com here are a few of the top bicycle lock makers in the industry:

Blackburn, Kryptonite, MasterLock, Abus, OnGuard, and Knog

While these manufacturers all make solid products, your personal choice will be whatever suits your needs and lifestyle. For some, a thick chain wrapped around a seat post until ready for use is ideal, and for others a U-lock all-in-one design is the only choice. It’s good to have choices.

How to Secure Your Bike

Just as important as the bike lock you choose, where and how you secure your property will make it easier or harder for thieves. We all know that a bike rack, bollard, or street sign with thick steel is a good place to secure a bicycle. But how? Experts agree that you want to include one wheel and as much of the frame or other components as possible and secure both to the fixed object. Many cyclists go above and beyond, carrying two locks and securing both ends of the bike to separate solid objects.

Keep in mind, that while a bike lock is important the general rule is that no matter what lock you carry and use, if a thief has the right tool and enough time ANY bicycle can be stolen. This is a great reason to register your bicycle with the National Bike Registry or the Bike Index – these are free services that work with local law enforcement agencies to help recover stolen bikes.

What Should You Do if Your Bike is Stolen?

There are several things you can do if your bike still gets stolen, even if you used a good lock and were careful to lock it up correctly when out and about. We could provide a list, but the great folks at TheBestBikeLock.com have already got one. Here are their 7 things to do after a bike theft:

  • Alert Social Media
  • Report the Theft to Police
  • File a Claim with Your Insurance Provider
  • Report the Theft to the Lock Manufacturer (OnGuard and Kryptonite offer anti-theft protection, you must report the theft within 7 days)
  • Check ebay, Gumtree, craigslist (stolen bikes may show up for sale)
  • Check Pawn Shops and Flea Markets
  • Alert Your Local Bike Shops
  • Put Up Some Posters
  • Buy a New Bike (because you’ve got to keep riding!)

Larry Hall is a Marketing Manager at SRP Playgrounds, a commercial playground equipment company. He has been a community coach for soccer and tennis for over 15 years. SRP Playgrounds offers play area structures and equipment to encourage the physical and mental development of kids.