Different Types of Bike Locks

By Published On: June 16th, 20220 Comments

If you ride a bike, it’s simply a smart idea to purchase a good bike lock to protect your investment. Bicycle theft has always been a concern for bike owners, but the pandemic has seen a large increase in bike thefts. With six styles of locks to choose from, a little guidance might be in order. Below is an overview of these six types of locks, to help you make the best choice for your bike.

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The most popular kind of lock, U-locks are the strongest options next to comparably equipped locks of other styles. U-locks feature a U-shaped bar that gets inserted into a cylindrical bar and locked into place. They come in various sizes and materials, making them a good choice for bikes with one removable component. On the downside, one U-lock alone might not be enough if your bike has more than one removable component. In that case, you might consider using two locks or a cable with one lock. Likewise, smaller U-locks might not fit your tire, frame, and an immovable object to which you secure your bike.


A more flexible option the U-lock is a chain and padlock. Chains come in all lengths and sizes, making them versatile for locking your bike to immovable objects. Well-rated chains—with tight, close links—can frustrate a would-be thief’s attempt at stealing your bike. Many bike chains are covered with a protective sleeve that can guard against corrosion, damage to your frame and, in some cases, against theft. While a chain and padlock combo can be a versatile alternative to a U-lock, it does have its drawbacks. Chains can be too long and heavy to carry on the frame, meaning that you’ll need to wrap it around your body or carry it in panniers. You also need to make sure that the padlock’s protection is as strong as the chain’s.

Cable Lock

Cable locks feature straight or coiled cable wrapped in a protective coating. They are lightweight and flexible enough to offer the benefits of a chain without the heft. A cable lock can be considered a theft deterrent because anyone with bolt cutters will be able to cut the cable rather easily.

Folding Lock

Folding locks consist of metal plate bound by rivets at the joints. They are flexible, lightweight options that make it easy to lock your bike to all manner of object. Like the cable lock, a folding lock is rated fairly low for security, in part because its multiple joints are perceived weaknesses for thieves to exploit.

Cuff Shackles

Cuff shackles are handcuff-style locks that secure your bike frame to an immovable object. Lightweight and compact, they are easy to carry. Their main drawback is that you theoretically need three to lock your bike up properly—one for each wheel and one for the frame. You also need to lock and unlock each one individually.


Skewers are permanent locking mechanisms that are meant to deter thieves from stealing your quick-release wheels and seat. Skewers require special tools to remove, making it a pain for would-be thieves to steal these components. They’re best used in conjunction with another lock for the frame.

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