A Guide to different types of Bicycle Locks

There are many different types of lock so initially it can be hard to know which one is either the most secure, the most versatile, or the most durable.

But the most important thing is what lock works best for you and your bike.

The company called Sold Secure was established in 1992 by Northumbria and Essex Police with the help and backing of the Home Office. Sold Secure is now owned and administered by the Master Locksmiths Association (a not-for-profit trade association) and works from purpose built laboratories in Rugby.

Sold Secure LogosTheir job is to test all products professionally and accurately then give them a rating of either bronze, silver, gold or diamond. They don’t just rate bike locks, they also rate locks for cars, motorbikes and caravans. They have an additional diamond rating for caravans, trackers, and cylinder-lock security products. This helps you differentiate between the less secure locks and the top of the range locks with confidence.

Some companies have their own rating scale, for example Abus will rate their locks from 1 to 10. These ratings can be useful as there will often be multiple models of lock to choose from of the same brand. All of this information will be found on the packaging of the lock, along with the Sold Secure sticker. Some locks however will not have been tested by Sold Secure, and so won’t be rated. It’s usually best to avoid these locks as they aren’t tested by the industry standard, and also a lot of insurance companies will require you to have a Sold Secure rated lock in order to cover your bike.

This is a table of how Sold Secure rate and test their locks:

Sold Secure Rating Description Attack Methods Used
Bicycle Bronze A good level of resistance against the opportunistic thief, for use as a deterrent in a low-risk area 1-minute attack with hand tools that can be concealed about the person
Bicycle Silver A greater level of resistance against the more determined thief, for use in a medium-risk area 3-minute attack with a higher level of tools
Bicycle Gold/Motor Scooter Silver A high level of resistance against the dedicated thief, for use in a high-risk area such as central-Oxford or London 5-minute attack with tools of a higher level again
Bicycle Diamond/Motorcycle and Motor Scooter Gold An extra-high security grade to deter the most dedicated attacks in the highest-risk environments 5-minute attack with an even higher level of tools, including some power tools and some machine-based testing alongside physical attack testing

Types of Bike Lock

There are 3 main types of lock: chain, d-lock, and cable lock, each having their own different strengths and weaknesses.

Abus D Lock for Bikes

D Lock

To start with, D-locks are the most secure option and hardest to cut through. It’s often best to spend a bit more on them to get a better frame attachment bracket, otherwise they can be inconvenient to carry around. Also they won’t fit around all street furniture.

Chain locks are a good mix between the cable and the d-lock as they are secure and also versatile in that you can lock around wider things like lamp-posts, so a good option if you are concerned about the versatility of a d-lock. On the downside they can also be quite heavy and not as secure as a D lock.

Finally cable locks are the most lightweight and flexible, but they are not at all secure and are the weakness behind a lot of bike thefts.

Another thing to bear in mind is if the lock is opened by key or combination. Most D locks will come with keys but some D locks and most cable and chain locks can either be key operated or have a combination.

Having a key will be more secure but you then run the risk of possibly losing the key or snapping the key. If you have a combination lock someone could crack the code but you don’t have to carry a key with you so it is all about weighing up what works best for you. It’s also worth noting that combination locks will have a low Sold Secure rating, if any rating at all.

Although these are the main 3 types of lock there are many other options such as:

  • horse shoe locks
  • folding locks
  • wall locks
  • alarmed locks
Kryptonite Chain Lock

Chain Lock

Each lock has its own individual purpose, for example horseshoe locks mount on the seat stays of the frame, locking the rear wheel and immobilising the bike. Folding locks aren’t the strongest locks but they are very compact and easy to carry around with you. Alarmed locks normally come as D locks with built in alarms, and they add the deterrent of making a loud noise if someone attempts to steal the bike. They will often be linked in with your mobile phone, sending an alert to it. Alarmed locks are very good but understandably come at a bit of a higher price point than most.

There are some bicycle lock providers who also offer, for an additional cost, an anti-theft guarantee. This will reimburse you up to a specified amount in the event your bike is stolen when you are using their lock (as long as you have used it properly). This may be something you wish to consider if you don’t have bicycle insurance. It is always good to check with the lock manufacturer what their policies and coverage is, because it will vary with all companies.

Hopefully this is an informative guide of what type of lock is most suited to your lifestyle, as there are so many options out there to choose from.

At the shop, we keep a whole range of locks in stock and will be happy to walk through the options with you if you visit our shop.

Our Brands

We stock a range of quality bikes from some of the biggest names in cycling.

  • Brompton Cycling Products for Sale in Oxford
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As well as sales and repairs, we offer a range of other services for cyclists around Oxford.