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.
Good security starts with the strength of your lock.
We put every bike lock we review through rigorous tests, including:
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.
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:
Regardless of the type of lock you buy, there are some security features that are worth looking out for.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
No lock is completely unbreakable. If the worst happens, following these steps will give you the best chance of being reunited with your bike: