Best bike locks in 2024: Tested and rated

Best bike locks: Jump to a section

A strong, well-designed bike lock will help protect your two-wheeled purchase from opportunistic thieves. But before you choose the best bike lock for you, it’s important to understand what the best bike locks in 2024 can and cannot do.

For starters, every single bike lock on the market today can be cut or otherwise destroyed by a determined thief. However, the best bike locks will deter opportunistic, grab-and-go thieves and thwart all but the most prepared thieves with the correct tools. 

The right lock for you will combine usability, portability and low weight with the level of protection you need for parking your bike wherever you’re most likely to leave it. Of all the bike locks we’ve tested, here are the best ones you can buy in 2024 to guard your bike, electric bike or electric scooter

We've divided this guide into sections based on the various types of bike locks available to help you decide which is best for your bike and needs. On the subject of protecting valuables, be sure to keep your head safe, too, with one of our best bike helmets


Chain locks

Folding locks

Cable locks

How to choose the best bike lock for you

Think carefully about your needs in order to choose the best bike lock for you. For starters, think about how much security you’ll actually need. If, for example, you’ll be leaving your bicycle locked outside your apartment or office building for hours or even days at a time, you’ll want a heavier duty lock. But if you’re only popping into the coffee shop for a few minutes, a lighter, more portable lock might do the trick.

Portability is an important consideration as well. A lock you don’t want to carry with you is a lock you’re likely to leave at home. Some locks are small enough to fit in a jersey pocket, while others will need a dedicated mounting space on your bike or some real estate in a backpack. 

While not always the case, locks that focus on portability will sacrifice some burliness by necessity. So smaller, thinner locks may be more susceptible to common tools that thieves use. Still, even a small and portable lock will offer some theft deterrence for quick lockups outside the coffee shop or grocery store. Try to decide whether you’ll need more portability or more theft deterrence. You can always buy two different types of locks to fit different needs, too. 

The lock’s weight matters too, and while that’s closely related to portability, it is entirely possible to find a strong, durable lock that doesn’t weigh a ton and packs down relatively small. Weight becomes more of a concern if you’re stowing the lock in a pocket or backpack. It can be less impactful if you’re mounting the lock on your bike. 

That said, the heaviest-duty locks are also, well, quite heavy. Such locks are best for locking your bike long-term in high-theft areas. But they won’t feel too great in a backpack or slung over your shoulder.

Theft deterrence level depends largely on the materials used to create the lock and the overall design. Keeping in mind that any lock can be cut or destroyed with the right tools, you can hedge your bets by choosing a lock with heavy duty materials like steel chain links or a U-Lock with a steel shackle. Cable locks can be cut quickly and easily with bolt cutters, but burlier locks will require heavier duty tools like an angle grinder. The odds of a thief walking down the street with an angle grinder are much lower than a thief equipped with bolt cutters, so heavier duty locks can act as a deterrent without ever having to face an actual attack.

Finally, prices for bike locks can vary widely, from $20 all the way up to $300 or more. Choose a lock within your budget, and keep in mind that just because a lock is expensive doesn’t mean it’s better for your needs. Consider all of the above criteria before plunking down your credit card. 

Bike lock types

Chain locks vs. U-Locks vs. folding locks

Chain locks differ from U-Locks and folding locks in construction and capability. Chain locks are built with chain links and are connected at the ends with either a small U-lock or an integrated locking unit. 

U-Locks feature a U-shaped metal shackle that inserts into a locking mechanism. And a folding lock features metal links that pivot to open up in a wide circle, then fold up for easy storage.

Each type of lock has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Chain locks are very durable, easy to lock around a variety of fixed objects, and depending on the size of the links, they can be worn around the shoulder for easy transport, and they are very resistant to theft attacks. But such locks can be quite heavy, especially as the links get larger.

U-locks are one of the most common types of locks because they are resistant to all sorts of cutting tools. They stow easily in a backpack, too, and can even mount cleanly on your bike. They, too, can get quite heavy when you get into longer shackle U-locks. U-locks are also limited in locking capabilities because the shackles often don’t reach far enough to be useful.

Folding locks solve that problem by extending outward to create more locking opportunities. The articulated arms extend to form a large circle. These locks fold up compact and can be stowed easily in a backpack or mounted on your bike. The pivots that connect the arms can be a weak point, however, making these locks susceptible to drilling or leverage attacks. 

How we tested the best bike locks

best bike locks

(Image credit: Future)

Portability, price, weight, and ease of use are all fairly easy to determine by simply taking the lock with you on various rides around town. So that’s exactly what I did with each lock in the test. From coffee shops to train stations, I locked up my bike for quick trips and all-day storage. Fortunately, no thieves came upon my bike; if they did, they were deterred enough by the locks to move on. 

I cut a random sampling of locks using both bolt cutters and an angle grinder to get a sense of the effort that goes into it. Not surprisingly, I was able to destroy each one, though the time and effort it took varied quite a lot. Round cables were the easiest to cut with 24-inch bolt cutters I had on hand; large diameter chains and U-lock shackles were the most difficult and required the use of an angle grinder.

But as mentioned previously, it’s possible to cut through or otherwise destroy any bike lock on the market with the right tools and enough time and determination. With that in mind, we did examine each lock for potential weaknesses or obvious flaws that might make cutting or destroying easier. 

Frequently asked questions

Are there testing and design standards for bike locks?

The two most common security ratings you’ll find on bike locks are the Sold Secure designation (Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond), and the ART star rating (5 stars is the highest rating and sparingly bestowed upon locks). 

Manufacturers may also include their own in-house security ratings to give buyers a sense of how much theft-deterrence they can expect from a specific lock. Such ratings do not necessarily adhere to any independent scale or rating. 

Can all bike locks be cut?

Yes. With the right tools and enough time, any bike lock can be cut or otherwise destroyed. It is important to keep in mind that even if a lock can be destroyed, it may take a thief a prohibitively long time to get through the lock with the tools on hand. So locks still serve an important function even if they can be cut. 

Should I still use a bike lock even if I know it can be cut?

Yes. The vast majority of thieves are opportunists. If they can’t grab the bike and go, they are less likely to make an attempt to steal it. A tough lock that actually looks tough to destroy may deter a thief from spending the time and effort to steal your bike. 

What tools do thieves use to cut locks?

The most common tool bike thieves use is a pair of bolt cutters. These can cut through most cable locks and even some U-locks, but other U-Locks and chain locks will require an angle grinder. Angle grinders are quite loud and throw a lot of sparks, so if your lock can withstand bolt cutter attacks, it’s already well ahead in the safety game. For the toughest locks, thieves may use torches or other heavy-duty tools. Less commonly, thieves may use chemicals that will freeze the lock, making it more susceptible to damage. 

Will a lock brand cover the cost of my bike if it gets stolen?

Some brands like Kryptonite and OnGuard do have programs that will reimburse you up to a certain dollar amount if your bike gets stolen. This requires a registration process, and you’ll want to read the fine print regarding what is actually covered. Other brands may have programs that will replace the lock if your bike gets stolen, but not the cost of the bike itself. Both of these options are generally considered ‘add-ons’ and may require additional purchases. 

How should I carry my bike lock?

That largely depends on the size and shape of the lock. Some small locks can be stowed in your jersey pocket. Larger locks may require you to carry a backpack or other storage solution. And many locks come with specially designed mounts that you can connect directly to your bike. Ultimately, you should carry your lock however it is most convenient for you. 

Do bike locks require maintenance?

Not usually. But if your lock is exposed regularly to the elements, you may notice degradation. Key cylinders and combination locks in particular may become more difficult to operate in these cases, though often you can spray those parts with some lubrication to restore functionality. 

Do bike locks wear out?

Yes, but not quickly in most cases. Regular and/or prolonged exposure to sunlight, rain, snow, dirt, and mud will accelerate wear. Any moving parts are more susceptible to wear over time, such as hinges, lock cylinders, combination tumblers, etc. If you notice premature wear or damage to your lock, your best bet is to contact the manufacturer to see if it is covered under warranty. 

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Dan Cavallari

Dan Cavallari is the former technical editor for VeloNews Magazine, who currently reviews electric bikes, bike lights, and other bike accessories for Tom's Guide. In addition to VeloNews, his work has appeared in Triathlete Magazine, Rouleur Magazine,, Road Bike Action, Mountain Bike Action,,, and much more. Dan also hosts two podcasts on his site, Slow Guy on the Fast Ride: One is about cycling and other outdoor activities, while the other looks at mental health issues. Most recently, Dan also covered the 2022 Tour de France. Dan lives outside of Denver, Colorado with his family.