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7 Types of Bike Locks You Should Be Familiar With!

Written by Joshua Fernand
Last Update: August 16, 2023

There are so many types of bikes out there, and the same is true for bike locks as well. But not all types of bike locks can provide the same level of theft protection and you need to pick one or more based on your own needs.

Get familiar with the different types of bike locks out there and see which one can give you the optimum level of protection within your budget!

4 Main Types of bike lock

types of bike lock

1. D/U locks

Types of bike lock - U-locks

D-locks or U-locks are one of the oldest locking mechanisms used for locking up bikes and are known to provide maximum security. They are bulky shackle locks that come in various sizes, strengths, and weights.

The design leaves less space for thieves to do their heinous crime, so they fail to push their crowbars in and leverage an adequate amount of oomph to rip the lock apart.


  • Simple proven design
  • Mostly unaffected by bolt cutters
  • Lighter than most chain locks
  • Resistant to leverage attacks and picking
  • Inexpensive
  • Most come with brackets for mounting to bike frames


  • Heavy and hard to carry around
  • Inflexible and awkward when it comes to looping around certain objects

Protection level: High

Average cost: $20 to $150

2. Folding locks

Types of bike lock - Folding locks

Folding locks have flexibility like chain locks, you can just unfold the lock chain and get it through your frame, wheels, and railing to secure the lock. The compact design and striking appearance makes them very popular. You can easily store or mount them on the bike on the go.


  • Easy to secure to various objects and stands because of their small size and features
  • Seamlessly mountable on the frame and easy to carry
  • Lighter than D-locks and chain locks


  • Not manufactured widely yet, so you may have limited choices
  • Still is not a very popular option due to their recent arrival

Protection level: Medium to low

Average cost: $60 to $200

3. Chain locks

Types of bike lock - Chain locks

Chain locks are a highly secure option – if the lock shackle and chain are made of hardened steel. Most chain locks are large and flexible enough to reach through the bike frame, wheels, and the pole or railing so you can loop the chain around and secure the lock.

Some chain locks are made to fit around your waist so you can carry them easily when you need to. But they usually are pretty heavy.


  • Tough appearance
  • Sturdy enough to resist hacksaws and chisels to some extent
  • Great flexibility
  • Designed to keep your bike secured in high crime areas


  • Heavy and bulky
  • Most of them are vulnerable to a bolt cutter
  • Does great damage to the bike paint when the protective plastic layer over the chains is gone

Protection level: Medium

Average cost: $40 to $250

4. Cable Locks

Types of bike lock - Cable Locks

Cable locks are handy and versatile but they may not offer as much deterrence as U-locks. They can’t resist bolt cutters and real thieves. They may only be appropriate for your local neighborhood and low-crime areas you know about.

But you can combine a cable lock with a U-lock to protect easy-to-remove bike parts like the seat. Some cable locks have keyless integral combinations, and some have separate padlocks. They can be pretty stylish with sliding features and armored coating designs.


  • Extremely flexible
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Can be used as additional protection for vulnerable bike parts
  • Visual deterrent in relatively safe areas
  • Cheapest of all bike lock options


  • Not a primary lock
  • Inappropriate for high-crime areas
  • Very low in security level

Protection level: Basic

Average cost: $15 to $50

Other Popular Types

1. Lightweight Locks

Lightweight Bike Locks

You’ll find a variety of lightweight lock options – from zip tie designs to coiled cables. They’re not recommended for risky areas as they are the weakest bike lock types you can get on the market. These locks may work well in light security circumstances, like a stop at a coffee shop where the bike will still be in your sight or a quick trip into a neighbor’s house.


  • Easy to use
  • Cheaper price
  • Better than no protection


  • Easy pick for thieves
  • Not an ideal choice for security

Protection level: Extremely low

Cost: $5 to $50

2. Ground anchors

Ground anchor bike lock

A ground anchor is more of an accessory than a lock. You drill them into concrete and they work as a strong anchor point to attach to your bike lock. They’re primarily for installing in your garage since a high number of thefts take place at homes.

Consider using a ground or wall anchor to your garage or where you like to keep your bike in to reinforce the security level. These bike anchors have various types and security levels just like the different types of bike locks.


  • Sold Secure rated
  • Offers a convincing locking point
  • Frustrates the thief


  • Requires power tools and a bit of DIY skills for installation
  • Requires a dedicated spot to drill some bolts into
  • Using any bike lock other than the long-chain and can be quite awkward

Protection level: Medium to high
Cost: $30 to $100

3. Accessory locks

Bike Accessory locks

Bike thieves mark the quick and easy targets first. If you leave your essential bike accessories like lights and cyclometers unlocked on your bike, it might not be long before they’re gone. You need to lock your quick-release wheels so they’re not stolen before you know it.

Luckily, there are some smart locking solutions you can get that are designed to secure all your vital components and accessories of your bike. The anti-theft locking attachments are installed into the hexagonal bolts of your bike so the thief can’t loosen the hex bolt and fail to steal your accessories.


  • Keeps your accessories safe on the bike (Not a 100%)
  • Gives you a sense of security
  • Makes it harder for thieves to harm your bike


  • Extra cost
  • Not widely available

Protection level: Medium

Cost: $15 to $200

What Kind of Bike Lock Should You Get?

What kind of bike lock should you get

For relatively safe areas

Pick the type of lock that seems to work best for your needs and conditions. If you’re in a safe area where the crime rate is extremely low, go ahead and get one of the lightweight bike locks to match your needs.

For high-crime areas

You need a U-lock or a heavy chain lock in case you work in a high-risk area and leave your bike outside all day long. Don’t forget to put some hex locks into the hex bolts and install a complete anti-theft technology to keep your accessories safe and secure.

For home

If your house seems to be open to theft and burglaries, make sure to use some wall and ground anchors in the garage with long chain locks to maximize the amount of security.

For fashion statement and safety

You may want to go with a folding lock or a cable lock if you’d like a lock that’s as stylish as your bike. Head to your local bike shops and try out a few locks to see which one feels more convenient before finalizing your pick.


Q. Which bike lock is the strongest?

U-locks are no doubt the most secure type of bike locks you can get. The “Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini” is arguably the strongest portable bike lock you can get today.

Q. What is a bike lock called?

Along with the name “bike locks,” they are also called frame locks, O-locks, wheel locks, or ring locks.

Q. Are D locks secure?

Yes, they are! In fact, D/U-locks are considered the most secure bike locks since the 1970s.

Q. Can bolt cutters cut a Kryptonite lock?

The strongest “18 mm shackle Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini” is claimed to be the “completely bolt-cutter proof” bike lock. This 16mm thick lock is also rated 9/10.

About the author

Joshua Fernand

I’m a 38-year-old father of two and an avid adventurer with a history of road bike racing in the mountains. I’m also a member of the Mountain Top Cycling Club, Colorado. I took part in several cross country rides across the states with my cruiser bike.

Tell you what, each tour was over a thousand miles long and it wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t studied bike mechanics. Most of the fixes required during my travel had to be fixed by myself. Cruiser became my favorite category since then.

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