Sunday, 9 August 2020

How to choose a bike lock

Probably the most important equipment you can have to go with your bike is your lock (or two). It helps keep the bike secure and prevent it getting stolen and you should have it with you at all times. Here’s our handy help sheet for how to pick the right lock…

Choose one tested by Sold Secure as a ‘Gold’ Standard

Sold Secure is a not-for-profit organisation, set up and run by the Master Locksmiths Association which rates locks as Bronze, Silver or Gold in ascending order of security. Locks in the UK do not have to be tested at all, but the best ones are and this is a great way of selecting the best lock. They are rated to withstand progressively more sophisticated and tooled-up attacks as follows:

  • Bronze is rated to hold out for one minute
  • Silver is rated to hold out for three minutes
  • Gold is rated to hold out for five minutes.

Locks are designed to stop opportunist thieves most commonly, so few will withstand a thief that arrives with heavy-duty tools, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in a lock. First off, locks are a deterrent and thieves will pick the easiest target and second, they provide a physical delay between a thief selecting your bike and walking away with it, meaning there’s more opportunity for them to be interrupted.

Choose the right type of lock

Locks range from thin wires to thick chains and some people even opt for motorcycle chains (although these are incredibly heavy). Typically speaking, the more you pay for the lock, the more it weighs, but also the better security it offers.

Put simply, there are two categories of lock: ‘flexible’ i.e. those which move and can be wrapped around your bike, and ‘shackle’ locks which are rigid i.e. D-Locks or U-Locks.

Flexible Locks

Flexible locks have the advantage of being flexible and lightweight and many people prefer them because they allow you to be more selective about how and where you lock your bike. As they stretch, you can choose a wider variety of places to lock your bike and you can also put the lock through more parts of your bike.

The downside of these locks is that they are usually easier to cut through and can be broken in a brute force attack where the chain is twisted and forced.  They’re a good option, but less secure than the shackle locks.

  • Cable locks: These are more properly referred to as ‘immobilisers’ rather than locks and very from a 2mm wire cable with a standard padlock, through to thicker steel wires. They usually coil so are very easy to wrap around the bike, come in a variety of lengths and are extremely lightweight which is their big advantage. They are also however easy to cut through and the thicker you buy, the less flexible they become. They should only ever be used for very quick pitstops where your concern is an opportunist thief.
  • Chains: exactly as you would expect, these are traditional linked chains, often encased in plastic or fabric tubes. They are more heavy duty (and therefore heavier) than a cable lock but they offer more flexibility than a shackle lock (see below). Chain locks will stand up to more abuse and are best when made from hardened steel. They will however give way to heavy-duty bolt cutters or tensional force and they have a lot of weight. If you do want to opt for a chain, go for a motorcycle chain as these are much stronger than their bike counterparts – beware the extra weight though!
  • Locks with Barrels: some cable and chain locks come with the added feature of a ‘barrel’ design – a sort of exterior coating which rotates around the outside of the chain. They do however lose some of their flexibility and don’t added masses more protective, although they do make it harder to saw or grind through the chain!

Shackle Locks

Shackle locks are more commonly known as D-Locks or U-Locks and are solid steel. They are more restrictive for locking your bike, simply because they are smaller and therefore the bike has to be closer to the object, but they are much harder to cut through, much harder to force and need specialist tools. At minimum, you should be using one D or U-Lock through your frame and back wheel, attached to an immovable object. You can then enhance security with additional locks or cable locks.



Check your insurance

It is worth noting that some insurance companies stipulate what type, make, rating or even model of lock you must buy and use to secure your bike, so make sure you have checked your policy. As a guide, experts suggest spending about 10% of the value of the bike to secure it, so on a £500 that’s £50 worth of lock!

What locks can I buy at the Bicycle Hub?

We are a stockist of Oxford Products and sell a variety of locks from cable locks through to Shackle locks.  Take a look online here or give us a call and one of the team will happily source the right lock for you.