Buying the right lock for your bike is an essential step in protecting it from thieves, but how can you know which lock is the best one to buy for your situation? A longtime mechanic at Bicycle Habitat in NYC hacked through a series of bike locks of various types to see which ones would best frustrate or deter a potential thief. In order to make the tests realistic, he limited himself to only the tools commonly carried by bike thieves in NYC.
None. All of the locks tested provided about the same level of security and resistance to common tools.
Smaller towns where crime isn’t much of a concern.
The Blackburn Angola bike lock, priced at $30, was able to resist bolt cutters thanks to its Kevlar coating which caused the blades to slip off, but it was still easily snipped with wire cutters in less than 75 seconds. None of the cables tested provided enough security for a city setting and these locks are best used only as a deterrent to casual theft or to prevent a sibling or roommate from “borrowing” your bike without permission.
1. Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Mini, $110
2. OnGuard Bulldog LS, $37
While these locks give certainly give the impression of security, they can be cut with a cordless angle grinder making them ideal with lower-crime areas. They can also be used in bigger cities as additional security meant to secure a wheel to the frame.
The Fahgettaboudit Mini is designed to secure both sides of the U so that a potential thief will need to cut both sides. Unfortunately an angled grinder can accomplish this is little over a minute. The Kryptonite lock did take almost twice as long to cut through as the runner up.
Depending on the area and city in which you live and bike, U-locks are often an acceptable level of security that will determine casual theft. A dedicated bike thief, however, will not be stopped by it.
- OnGuard 8020 Mastiff, $90
- Kryptonite's New York Fahgettaboudit
Top of the line bike locks are required in order to keep your bicycle safe in most big cities such as New York or any areas in which bike thieves are known to operate.
The hardened steel links of the Mastiff withstood both a hacksaw and bolt cutters, as well as nearly three minutes of work with an angle grinder. Before the grinder could finish cutting through, the battery died. Another chain lock that was tested – the HipLok L1 Lite priced at $70 – was found to have a weak link and snipped with bolt cutters in just 29 seconds comparatively.
If you are looking for a high security look that will keep your bike safe against all but the most determined of bike thieves, a top performing chain lock is the way to go.