Best Bike Locks to Protect Your Conventional or Electric Bike

CR tests a variety of locks with the tools commonly used by bicycle thieves

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person in lab trying to cut bike lock to test its strength
Senior test program leader Bernie Deitrick plays the role of bicycle thief at Consumer Reports' Yonkers, N.Y., headquarters.
Photo: John Walsh/Consumer Reports

More people are enjoying the benefits of exercise and entertainment offered by bicycles and electric bikes. But a fun-filled day can take a bad turn if you leave the ice-cream shop and find someone has made off with your wheels.

To help make your cycling excursions more secure and worry-free, Consumer Reports tested a number of bicycle locks to see which ones held up best, using the kinds of tools thieves might use to steal your bike. Many bicycles these days—electric and leg-powered—can cost several thousand dollars to replace, and you may need to order a replacement and wait weeks and months, due to supply constraints.

The bottom line: Cables and chains—especially the lightweight ones—are easier for properly equipped pilferers to bust open.

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We rated the locks based on this one aspect: how well they might deter thieves trying to break them open, and not on other variables, such as how easy they were to lug around or carry with you on a bike ride.

"Unfortunately, when it comes to locks, heavier is actually better for security, but worse for portability," says Bernie Deitrick, CR’s senior test program leader. "In fact, the heaviest of all the models we tested comes with a recommendation that it only be used at home."

That said, many people who lock up their expensive bicycles temporarily during recreational rides neither need the added security of a heavy lock nor want to carry around all that extra weight. A simple deterrent is sufficient. "It really comes down to how long it takes to defeat a lock," says Deitrick. "Given enough time, a thief can break open or cut through just about any lock—even the stronger ones."

For urban users—especially those who have to leave their bicycle unattended outside for any length of time—we found that U-locks offer the best security, because they’re the most difficult to break open with a wide variety of tools, including crowbars, electric grinders, hacksaws, and common hand tools. But they can be heavy, which is why users less concerned about determined thieves weren’t interested in them. All tested locks were large enough to secure a bike to a big, square post in our lab.

Note that some of the better bike locks do not come with a means to secure them to the bicycle when riding, meaning you may need a creative mounting solution or have to carry them in a backpack.

@consumerreports We tested a dozen bike locks using an oxyacetylene torch (among other tools) to see which ones will protect your bike best. It turns out U-locks offered better security than any other type of lock we tested. #biketok #bikelock #fire ♬ original sound - Consumer Reports

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