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Securing your bike properly should mean that niggling fear of finding your bike isn’t where you left it will never become a reality.
But with so many different types of bike lock on the market, it can be hard to know which one to choose. So we’ve put a range of top-selling bike locks through their paces, pitting them against an expert lock-breaker to see which locks hold up against even the toughest tools.
Plus, how and where you secure your bike can matter as much as the lock (or locks) you use. Read on for our six top tips to help keep your bike safe and your mind at ease.
How to secure and protect your bike – read our full guide to keeping your bike safe
1. Get a Best Buy bike lock
Good security starts with the strength of your lock.
We put every bike lock we review through rigorous tests, including:
- Using machines to put a lock under pressure and assess how resistant it is to being cut or pulled apart
- Employing an expert lock-breaker attempt to ‘beat the bike lock’, using up to 14 different tools that a professional thief might use. These included lockpicks, bolt cutters and hand saws – and even a battery-powered angle grinder.
A Best Buy bike lock will keep even the most persistent thieves, armed with the toughest tools, at bay for several minutes – long enough that most would be interrupted or simply give up.
Our tests have found that securing your bike doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Bike locks can cost more than £100, but we’ve found a Best Buy for a typical price of just £35.
Read our bike lock reviews to find the perfect one for your bike
2. Get a second Best Buy bike lock
This may seem like a stretch, but hear us out. The Metropolitan Police and other security experts recommend that you use two different types of lock to secure your bike, one of which should be a U-lock (also known as a D-lock).
Using two locks means that you can properly secure more parts of your bike (frame and wheels), and will slow down and make it harder for a thief to steal yours.
So if you need two locks, it really should be two Best Buys – one U-lock and one alternative. Alternatives include:
- Chain locks These are tough and flexible, but often the heaviest type of bike lock, so can be less convenient to carry.
- Folding locks These are made up of solid steel arms, joined by steel rivets. They can fold up into a compact size, making them easy to transport. However, if poorly built, the hinges could act as weak spots that would be easier for a thief to break.
We’ve found Best Buys in a number of categories, so read our full bike lock reviews to identify the best combination.
3. Look out for extra bike lock security features
Regardless of the type of lock you buy, there are some security features that are worth looking out for.
- Hardened steel makes the lock tougher to break
- Deadlocks are a type of lock that is harder for thieves to force open
- Pick-resistant locks These have extra mechanisms in the barrel that make it harder for a thief to pick the lock.
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4. Lock your bike securely – even at home
Strong and secure locks are a must, but they may not be enough to protect your bike if you don’t lock it up correctly or in a sensible location.
Half the trick with securing your bike is making it as unappealing to thieves as possible, deterring them from even trying to steal your bike. How you lock it plays a major part in this.
And don’t assume that it’s automatically ‘safer’ once you’ve got your bike home. Many bike thefts happen while a bike is parked outside the owner’s home – usually because people assume the area around their home is more secure, so take fewer precautions.
Here are some of our top tips:
Use secure cycle parking in public (if possible)
These racks or hangars to lock your bike will be classed as ‘immovable objects’. This means that thieves can’t easily break or move the object you’ve secured your bike to, making it much more secure than a fence post. Go for one that’s in a well-lit area, preferably with CCTV, where thieves are more likely to be spotted and identified if they attempt a theft.
Never lock your bike to an easy-to-cut object
Avoid wooden fence posts, sign posts and plastic drain pipes, for example. These can all be cut or broken even by an opportunist thief, making even the toughest lock pointless.
Lock the frame and both wheels to the bike stand
Thieves can sell bike parts, so any that they can take without breaking a lock are a potential target. Make sure your bike’s frame and both wheels are secured to the stand.
Lock your bike securely even at home
If you can, bring the bike inside your home as this will be the most secure option. This often isn’t feasible, though, so the next best solution is to lock it up in a shed or garage that is also locked. If you have no alternative but to leave it outside, then consider getting some form of bike storage or installing an anchor that’s cemented into the ground.
Our guide on how to lock your bike has more tips, including how to secure detachable bike parts such as your saddle
5. Security mark your bike
Security marking your bike can be a valuable visual deterrent. Getting a security mark will also register your bike on an official database, so you’re more likely to get it back if it’s stolen and subsequently found.
Thieves know that if they’re caught with a registered bike, it’s easier for the police to prove the bike is stolen and arrest them.
A variety of security marks are available, from tamper-resistant stickers to permanent marks that are chemically etched into the bike frame. They range in price from £10 to about £30.
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6. Insure your bike
If you have an expensive bike that you would struggle to replace, or just want peace of mind, then consider getting your bike insured. There are two main options:
- Adding ‘away from home’ bike cover to an existing home contents insurance policy. This is usually the cheapest way to insure it, but is often best for cheap-to-mid-range models as there may be a limit on the maximum value and cover may not be as comprehensive as dedicated bike insurance.
- Standalone bike insurance. Policies typically start from around £150 a year. Standalone policies are likely to offer higher-value limits, plus extra features such as damage to accessories, or cover for races.
Contents insurance explained – find out how it works and what it covers
What to do if your bike is stolen
No lock is completely unbreakable. If the worst happens, following these steps will give you the best chance of being reunited with your bike:
- Contact the police Call 999 if the theft is in progress, otherwise report it online. BikeRegister has a police contact database with contact information for your local police force. Give as much detail as possible.
- Alert a bike database Even if your bike wasn’t registered when it was taken, you can still report it missing to a dedicated database. This makes it easier for the police to prove a bike’s been stolen. BikeRegister’s page on reporting a stolen bike can guide you through the steps.
- Keep an eye on online ads Most thieves put up ads for stolen bikes within 24 hours (although some can wait months). Find that Bike and London-only Bikeshd list ads for those that appear on online marketplaces, making it easier for you to spot yours if a criminal tries to sell it.