Your bicycle is more than a lump of metal (or carbon, or even wood). Whether it’s commuting, racking up 3hr Sunday rides or keeping it solid and simple with a singlespeed, your bike is an extension of you. It gives you mobility, freedom and exhilaration… which is why there are few things more distressing than some scumbag riding off with your pride-and-joy. It’s also why a bike lock – or better still locks – are an essential component of your cycling set-up. But how do you know which lock to choose? What else can you do to prevent theft? And if your bike is stolen, how do you raise your chances of recovering your bike in-tact? All good questions, which we’ll unlock right now…
You can check out Ellipse Smart Bike Lock at Spin, for smart bike locks that connect to your phone to provide key-less entry, theft detection, bike sharing, crash alerts and more!
Sold Secure rating
Scan the websites of bike-lock brands and you’ll come across the Sold Secure rating. Sold Secure is an independent organisation that grades locks as Gold, Silver or Bronze depending on how thief-proof it is. A bronze-rated lock can be broken into with very basic tools; silver requires a few more tools and around 3 minutes of effort; when it comes to gold, you’re looking at over 5 minutes with highly sophisticated tools. (Common tools used by bike thieves include: cable cutters, bolt croppers, cordless drill; hacksaw; freeze spray, hammer and chisel; and a crowbar.)
The most common bike lock is a D-Lock with many reaching gold standard. Take the New York M18 from lock behemoths Kryptonite. This £90 beast is gold rated for both cycling and motorcycling. Like many gold-standard efforts, however, there is a weight penalty – it comes in at 2.7kg – so it might be more suitable for home. In fact, that extra weight’s often the issue when it comes to ‘locking on the fly’ when seeking strong security. Or it was…
Former aeronautical engineer professor Neil Barron has seen his 2015 crowd-funded project, Litelok, finally hit the market this year. The belt-like Bikesaver has attained the highest standard in cycle lock security yet weighs just 1.1kg. How? It’s down to the flexible strap being constructed from ‘Boaflexicore’ – a multi-layered material invented by the good professor. Each layer cranks up the security, meaning the Litelok can reportedly withstand attack from cable-cutters, bolt croppers and hacksaws. Its neat design also adds flexibility for securing your bike to a range of immovable objects.
That said, it’s clearly not as light as a very basic cable but we’d always suggest choosing at least silver rated, if not gold. Why isn’t solely down to protecting your bike. Many bike-insurance companies demand a gold- or silver-rated lock or your policy is invalidated.
A few other things that you should be aware of are: always lock to a solid, immovable object; ideally use two locks – one around a wheel, frame and the immovable object, and the other around the other wheel and frame. You should also lock your bike at home, whether it’s in your shed, garage or apartment.
There are further security measures you can take, beginning with registering your bike at www.bikeregister.com. This is a national police-approved database where you fill in details like brand of bike, colour and, most importantly, the frame number, which is usually stamped beneath the bottom bracket. Then if your bike is stolen, the police can tap into the database to search for stolen and recovered bikes.
You should also mark your frame with your postcode in two separate locations, one of which should be hidden. The police also run cycle surgeries where they tag your bike with a unique ID to make it easier to identify on recovery. Finally, you can always make your bike undesirable with pink reportedly the most unappealing colour to thieves!