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Best Cheap Bike Locks
Cheap Bike Locks Buying Guide
A cheap bike lock, according to our research, should be priced under $30. Experts say that an ideal bicycle lock, according to the experts, is easy to transport while you ride, can be affixed to various different objects, is hard to cut through, and is long enough to secure both the frame and the wheels.
High-priced bike locks, like those manufactured by Kryptonite for the New York City market (the Kryptonite NY Fahgettaboudit U-Lock (starting at $65), for example, starts at about $65) are made of better-quality components and are harder for thieves to pick, cut through, or bust with a tool. But you don't need to spend a fortune on complicated locks -- we found cheap bicycle locks that can safeguard your bike for less than $30.
Types of Bike Locks.The most common types of bicycle locks are cable, chain and U-locks. And the best cheap bike lock you should buy depends on where you live, play, and/or work. If you routinely park your bike in a low-theft area, a cable lock should do just fine. But if you live in an urban center (New York City is considered by some to be the bike-theft capital of the U.S.), you'll need a heavier duty U-lock, possibly in conjunction with a chain lock for maximum security. Note that the better chain and U-locks tend to cost more because they're made of hardened steel; cable locks are less costly because they're made from less expensive braided wire.
Cable locks, such as the Wordlock Cable Bike Lock (starting at $13) and the Avenir Coil Combo Cable Locks (starting at $11), are the lightest and most flexible of the three main types of locks. The Avenir Coil Combo lock features six feet of covered, flexible coiled cables and a four-digit combination lock; the Wordlock cable is made of five feet of braided steel and boasts a letter-based combination lock. The best cheap cable bike locks have multiple thin braided wires that are more difficult to cut through than thicker, unbraided wires. Cable locks typically come with a pin and barrel locking mechanism that is opened with a combination. Regardless how they're made, cable locks are considered the least secure and are recommended only for those times when you make a quick stop. Being lightweight and flexible, though, they're easy to carry and wrap around guardrails, bike racks, and the like.
Chain lockscome in two varieties -- woven cable and chain link. The cheaper woven cable locks, such as the Club Security Series 5 Ft Cable Lock (starting at $20, Amazon), are lighter and easier to use than chain link, but are also the easiest to break. If you opt for a chain link lock, make sure it has some sort of cover to protect your bike frame from scratches. Chain locks are usually three to four feet long, and the chain link versions are generally made of hardened steel, as is the Abus Steel-O-Chain 685 (starting at $25), which closes with a padlock and coded key. The best cheap chain locks are made from thick, hardened steel with barely any space between the links and covered with a protective sleeve. The Abus Steel-O-Chain 685 and the OnGuard Beast 5017 Bicycle Chain Lock (starting at $55) are two examples. By the way, experienced riders suggest using a heavier chain at night if you lock up outdoors.
U-locks, such as the Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 Standard Bicycle U-Lock with 4-Inch Flex Cable Bicycle U-Lock (starting at $28), is considered by some experts to be the design that offers the most protection for your ride. U-locks are U-shaped hardened steel with a locking bar that cuts across the top of the U; make sure that both the U and the bar are made from the same metal -- preferably hardened steel -- for equivalent durability. The lock on the bar is usually opened with a key; according to experts at Bellaonline.com, U-locks with two locking mechanisms, one on each side of the bar, are the most secure. Products with double locking mechanisms, like the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-lock, which features a double-deadbolt crossbar and three keys, are generally beyond the Cheapism range.
Bicycle Lock Portability.Whenever the lock is doing its job, you're not carrying it around. But when you're in transit, you need to carry the lock along, either in a bag on your bike or your back, or wrapped around the bike itself. That makes weight a critical factor.
Cable locks are fairly light and flexible, easy to roll up and easy to transport. Chain locks can be a bit harder to tote around because of their heft and bulk. The Avenir Coil Cable lock weighs less than two pounds, for example, compared to the OnGuard Beast 5017, which weighs in at 10 pounds. U-locks can also be cumbersome to carry; some weigh as much as five pounds, although the Krytolok Series 2 weighs in at just under three pounds. The experts at BicycleSource.com suggest that if you opt for a heavy chain or U-lock, consider keeping it secured to the post or rack where you always park (i.e., at work or at home) and carry around a light chain or cable lock to use for brief stopovers. The longer (3.7-foot) version of the Abus Steel-O-Chain 880 (starting at $37, Amazon) is described by one review on Amazon as light enough, at 3.4 pounds, to ride around with; it's cousin, the Steel-O-Chain 685, is only 1.8 pounds and incredibly light for a chain.
Bicycle Lock Attachability.The National Bike Registry recommends locking your bike to a fixed object, like a lamp post or bike rack that's cemented in place. Always avoid securing your bike to anything that can be tampered with or removed, and don't put your lock near the ground where someone can use a tool or some other object to bash it.
Although U-locks are harder to cut through or pop open, cable and chain locks have one thing going for them that U-locks don't: flexibility. With a cable or chain lock that's at least 2.5 feet long, you can secure your bicycle to stationary objects while wrapping the chain or cable around the frame and through the front or back wheel; both the Abus Steel-O-Chain and Wordlock Cable bike locks meet this length requirement.
The U-lock design, on the other hand, makes it hard to attach your bike to objects like lamp posts and trees. U-locks also can't secure both the wheels and frame together, so you may need a second lock for maximum security. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition suggests using a U-lock to loop through the back wheel and frame and a separate lock to secure the front wheel to the frame. The Kryptolok Series 2 Standard Bicycle U-Lock with Cable, for example, includes both a U-lock and a short cable lock that give you some locking options. BicycleSource.com says if you opt for just a U-lock, choose the smallest one you can find and close it around as many parts of your bike as possible, making it harder for thieves to jam their tools into the lock to bust it open.
Best Cheap Bike Lock
Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 Standard Bicycle U-Lock
This key lock combines the sturdy U-lock with a flexible cable and earns high marks from users for keeping their bikes safe and for its good warranty. The 13mm hardened performance steel shackle resists cutting while the 10mm braided steel cable provides additional security for accessories.Read more »
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OnGuard Bulldog MINI 5013TC Bike U-Lock
An inexpensive option for cyclists looking for a lock that is secure but also lightweight and easy to carry around, it also comes with a mounting bracket. Users like that its small size makes it hard for thieves to work around.Read more »
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Good Cheap Bike Lock
Abus Steel-O-Chain 685 Bicycle Lock
At 2.6-feet long and weighing less than two pounds, this chain lock is sturdy yet not too heavy, and long enough to secure your bike in a variety of settings. The Abus Steel-O-Chain 685 uses an integrated automatic locking padlock with a coded reversible key. It loses points with consumers for providing just a general warranty, not an anti-theft one.Read more »
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Wordlock Cable Bike Lock
If you're looking for a simple cable lock, this low-cost model is easy to use (the combination lock opens with letters instead of numbers) and its five-foot length is enough to secure your bike, wheels and all. Users suggest you may want to pair it with a sturdier U-lock for added protection.Read more »
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Avenir Coil Combo Cable Locks Review
OnGuard Beast 5017 Bicycle Chain Lock Review
OnGuard PitBull DT 5005 U-Lock Review
Kryptonite New York Chain with EV Series 4 Disc Lock Review
Bell Hands Off Bike U-Lock Review
Abus Steel-O-Chain 685 Bicycle Lock Review
Wordlock Cable Bike Lock Review
Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 Standard Bicycle U-Lock Review
OnGuard Bulldog MINI 5013TC Bike U-Lock Review
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