The Best Bike Locks of 2023: Staff Picks

Our experts share the top bike locks for every rider.

Updated June 5, 2023

9 reviews with an average rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars
A bike in a bike rack with a person standing behind it holding a lock

Overview

Nearly every cyclist has a story of a stolen bike. Too often, that bike was left unlocked, locked up incorrectly or entrusted to a lock that was too easily defeated by thieves. And while it’s true that every lock can be ultimately broken, a good bike lock used properly can greatly reduce the chances it will be your bike that gets stolen. 

In our quest for the best heavy metal protection for your ride, we looked to in-house experts and also gathered input from REI customers to bring you our top picks available at the co-op. 

Staff Picks
Check out our top picks here or scroll down for in-depth reviews.
Best Bike U-Lock, Upgrade Pick
Hiplok D1000 Bike Lock
Best Lightweight Bike Lock for Basic Theft Deterrence
Hiplok Z Lok Combo Lock

Reviews

Best Bike U-Lock

The Kryptonite New-U New York Lock Standard is a reliable, burly U-lock that’ll help secure your bike in high-theft areas like its namesake city. "Found myself less anxious while grabbing post-ride drinks knowing that a thief would need to make a complete scene in order to break this lock," wrote one REI customer-reviewer.

With a 16-millimeter-thick hardened steel shackle (the U-shaped bar) the New York Lock Standard resists bolt cutters and leverage attacks (or attempts to break the lock with a crowbar or even a small scissor jack), while its vinyl coating won’t harm your bike’s finish. The crossbar features a hardened steel sleeve, sliding dustcover to keep out dirt and weather and a disc cylinder lock that is pick- and drill-resistant. While a shackle this thick is already difficult to defeat with leverage, its staying power is bolstered by a double-bolt design that secures both ends within the crossbar.

At nearly 4 pounds, 7 ounces, it is a hefty piece of gear to carry around, but that’s the trade-off for a lock that’s strong and secure. And in that regard, the New York Lock Standard is hard to beat. If you’re comparing it to other Kryptonite locks, it’s ranked a 9 on the company’s 10-point scale, and Sold Secure, an independent test house for security products, awarded it Gold—the second-highest rating. 

Kryptonite includes three stainless-steel keys, which can be replaced (for a minimal fee) through the brand's Key Safe Program if you lose them. Just remember to register your set in advance because this lock will be as hard for you to open without keys as it will be for would-be thieves.

Best Bike U-Lock, Upgrade Pick

When Hiplok announced a bike lock that could resist portable angle grinders, many in the cycling world took it as a challenge. Cue up videos of people putting blades to the test on the D1000 Bike Lock, and largely giving the win to Hiplok. While we didn't conduct such a test, we think it’s an ideal pick for cyclists with e-bikes or other high-value wheels. For starters, the D1000 Bike Lock from Hiplok gets the highest Diamond rating from the independent security-products test house Sold Secure. “When holding this lock in your hands, you instantly know that this is no ordinary U-lock,” says one REI staffer. “It’s hefty and feels solid, but at the same time, it’s as easy to use as a standard lock.”

Made with 20-millimeter thick, graphene-reinforced, hardened steel that is designed to disintegrate the angle grinder disc blade as it spins, the D1000 can withstand an angle grinder attack for more than 10 minutes. “Theft is all about the time that a thief has got before they get busted,” says Hiplok co-founder Ben Smith. With the D1000, “you’ve suddenly got a complete change in that magnitude of time.”

The D1000 features an integrated shackle and body design, along with an anti-rotation, double-locking function and rubberized outer surface to prevent scratching. It comes with three coded, replaceable keys. It’s also backed by the Hiplok lifetime warranty.  

At just under 4.2 pounds, the D1000 is hefty—and it's also pricey. Multiple reviewers, however, say it’s worth it. “This lock gives me the freedom to ride whichever bike I want, where I want,” says one. “Yes, it is heavy, but it is a small price to pay for the security it provides and psychological safety it brings so that I can live in the moment while at my destination."

Best Bike Chain Lock

The Kryptonite New York 1210 Chain Lock combines thick, cut-resistant links with a robust lock that makes it an ideal pick for parking in high-crime areas. At 8 pounds, 9 ounces, it’s the heaviest lock in our lineup. You might not want to carry it around on a daily basis, but it’s great when you’re locking up somewhere you can leave it, like your home or place of work.

The 12-millimeter-thick, six-sided links made from strong, 3 hardened manganese steel mean the chain is highly resistant to cutting. And at 40 inches long, it’s easy to secure around stationary objects and your frame. Also, a durable nylon webbing cover keeps the hefty chain from scratching your bike.

In addition to strong, cut-resistant links, a good chain needs a good lock to provide any real security. The New York 1210 uses a miniaturized Evolution series U-lock with a thick, 14-millimeter hardened steel shackle and oval crossbar. The shackle resists bolt cutters and leverage attacks while the oval crossbar is stronger than most round crossbars. The lock also uses a double-bolting mechanism that securely holds the shackle at both ends. 

As one customer-reviewer commented: “This is one heavy chain, but the cloth cover provides plenty of protection for the bike. I use this on my electric bike to discourage potential thieves. Probably not the best chain for a commuter because of its weight.”

These features add up to a rating of 9 on the 10-point Kryptonite security scale, offering the kind of security you want for long or overnight stops, big cities and college campuses.

Best Bike Lock for Around $100

While locks under $100 typically won’t offer the same security as their more expensive cousins, the Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 U-Lock with Flex Cable proves its value. It still earns a Gold rating from the independent security-product tester Sold Secure and a “high security” rating of 7 out of 10 on the Kryptonite scale.

The lock and cable combo might not provide the highest protection in major cities like New York, but it’s a great, portable and lighter-weight option for longer stops in other metropolitan areas and suburbs where thefts tend to be less frequent. The Mini-7 uses a tough, 13-millimeter-thick shackle (that's the U-shaped bar) made from the same hardened steel used in the brawny New York 1210 chain lock. Plus, the bent-foot, double-bolting mechanism holds the shackle on both ends while still featuring the familiar, easy-to-use angled closure of other Kryptonite U-locks. A 4-foot-long cable lets you to lock the front wheel up so you don't return to find a missing wheel.

It comes with three stainless-steel keys, and, if you register your key number with the Kryptonite Key Safe Program, you can get replacements for a minimal fee.

Best Lightweight Bike Lock for Basic Theft Deterrence

Light, packable and easy to use, the 2.5-ounce Hiplok Z Lok Combo cable lock is basically a giant zip tie with a steel core, nylon exterior and combination lock. It’s no replacement for a higher-security lock like those above, so why is it here? 

The Z Lok, like other superlight, pocket-size locks, is all about deterrence. When it comes to opportunistic theft, it’s the easiest bike to steal that gets stolen. So think of the Z Lok as the sidekick to your superhero lock. Keep one in your bike bag or jersey pocket, and it’ll be there if you forget your primary lock or are on a road ride and need to make a pit stop while deterring quick-striking thieves. On longer stops, use the Z Lok in conjunction with your burly U-lock to protect accessories, like your saddle or wheels. 

Its nylon exterior shouldn’t scratch your finish, it wraps around items big and small with a 44-centimeter adjustable strap. The Z Lok is also a good basic backup because it uses a three-digit combination that you can reset; no keys to forget.

Buying Advice

What Makes for a Good, Secure Bike Lock? 

A good bike lock is one that prevents your bike from getting stolen. Learn more in our article, How to Choose the Best Bike Lock.

It’s generally best to get the highest-quality lock you can. “Pay attention to the quality of the materials,” says Dustin Kingman, an avid rider and content producer for REI. “It needs to be hard to cut or break with hand tool, and make sure whatever you lock to is as secure as your lock.”

Higher quality also means you’ll get mechanisms that hold up to long outdoor use. How can you tell if a lock is secure? One way is to look for the industry-standard Sold Secure rating of Diamond, Gold, Silver or Bronze, which is based on independent product testing. If you’re in a major city—or another high-theft area, like a college campus—you need at least a Gold-rated lock, says Jeff Schmidt, an REI assistant category merchant for cycle and snow. A Bronze lock won’t offer as much protection, so think of them as deterrents, he says, noting that Kryptonite and ABUS also have their own lock ratings, which can be helpful for comparisons within their lineups.

 

How to Use a Bike Lock

To get the most out of a lock, you need to use good technique. Secure your bike’s frame to a strong, immovable object (bike racks are ideal) in a well-lit, high-traffic area. If you’re using a U-lock, find one that is just big enough to get around your frame and a rack (or possibly around your seat tube, rear wheel and rack), while leaving little room for a thief’s crowbar or other leverage tools. If you bought a kit that includes a flex cable, you can use it to protect accessories, but don’t count on the cable to secure your bike frame.

 

What Locks Are Good for Commuting?

The type of lock you choose will likely depend on how easy it is to carry. Pick one that’s secure enough for your destination as well as anywhere else you might stop along the way.

A U-lock can be a good choice. Schmidt calls them the “gold standard” because “they’re easy to use and hard to pick, cut or leverage.” They’re available with keys or combinations. If you tend to lose keys, a combination may be preferable. If you live somewhere like the Pacific Northwest, you may find that combination wheels suffer in the rain, making keys a better choice. 

One downside to U-locks is that they’re not so easy to carry on the bike itself. Many of them come with mounting brackets, but those tend to rattle or, in the worst cases, break. If you’re commuting with a pannier, backpack or another bag, you can toss your U-lock inside, but a good one will add noticeable weight.

Folding locks offer a solution to this issue: They’re a bit lighter than U-locks but with similar security ratings. Their compact design and sturdy mounting brackets make them easy to carry on your bike. Because they unfold to a much bigger size than any U-lock, they’re great for securing your bike to unusually shaped objects. We’re keeping an eye on locks in this fairly new and growing category to see how they perform in the field.

A chain lock, while a secure option, may be better for locations like your home or place of work, where you can leave the lock until you need it. Or look for a chain lock like the Kryptonite New York 1210 Chain Lock, which has an extra strap that turns it into an adjustable belt so you can carry it on your body.

Methodology

We polled REI staffers for their favorite bike locks available at REI Co-op. We also vetted those recommendations against verified customer reviews and came up with these top picks.