Unfortunately, the boom in cycling has also seen bike theft rise to an all-time high so protecting your pride and joy is even more important than ever. The best bike locks are often full-sized, full-security chains and U locks, which are great for protection, but are often so heavy that carrying them even short distances can be a major issue.
The good news is that the best lightweight bike locks can offer decent protection at around a kilo (around 2lb) in weight and with excellent portability playing a major part in their design. There are also loads of different ‘better than nothing’ options that are enough to discourage an opportunist thief walking off with your bike without stretching your pockets (or wallet) out of shape.
Our guide on how to lock a bike will guide you through the proper practice to prevent your bike from being stolen, and below, we outline our pick of the best lightweight bike locks. But if you're in need of advice on what to look out for when shopping, head to the bottom for our guide on how to choose the right lightweight bike lock for your needs.
The best lightweight bike locks available today
Super light and convenient protection against bike snatchers
RRP: £9.99 / $12.99 | Weight: 20g
Hiplok’s cunning armoured zip tie is a super convenient way to provide security against untooled grab and go thieves. While it won’t stand up to bolt cutters or even a decent pair of cable snips, the flexible steel strip under the rubber coating is tougher than simple wire combo locks. It’s enough to stop tearing, twisting or yanking attacks for long enough to protect your bike if it’s in sight at a mid-ride stop and certainly more effective than a helmet strap. At 40cm it’s long enough to bundle bags/helmets/wheels together against something solid, lock bags onto bikes and can be used for other outdoor accessories if you’re a multi sporter. The basic version comes with a universal two-pronged release ‘key’ but if you want more security there’s a combination lock version for £20 / $25. For maximum value get the twin pack of the basic Z-Lok for £15 and share it with a mate or double your deterrent. At 20g each they’re certainly no trouble to take along on any ride just in case either.
Lightweight version of proven linkage lock
RRP: £69.00 / $69.99 | Weight: 500g
Abus was one of the pioneers of folding linkage locks and the Bordo range is absolutely vast, spanning the ultra-secure Granit Plus to the colour coded, combination locked Ugrip Combo. As the name suggests this lock uses six slimmer, lightweight bars to come in at half the weight of some to the bigger Bordo’s. Hardened steel rivets and automatic cylinder lock mean it still gets a ‘level 7’ security rating from Abus though. At 85cm long fully unfolded there’s plenty of length in the links to lock your bike and wheel round chunky street furniture to help fight off thieves. It’s plastic coated to stop paint damage and it folds up very neatly for pocketing or clipping into the Bordo bike mount. While there are cheaper imitations available, Abus' build quality and reliability mean the genuine articles are a good long term investment.
A high-security U-lock that can be worn holster style for portability
RRP: £69.99 / $89.99 | Weight: 1.1kg
The Hiplok DX is basically a seriously secure U lock that’s been downsized for maximum portability. The shackle only gives a 15 x 8.5cm locking space so you’ll need to get your bike up snug to whatever your anchor point is and potentially use another lock to secure wheels etc. Whatever you can fit inside the 14mm hardened shackle, with anti-rotation double deadlock, will benefit from a full Sold Secure Gold rating. You get three coded keys too which is a bonus if you’ve got a habit of losing them, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. The other neat piece of the design is two long ‘CLIP + RIDE’ belt clips built into the lock bar so you can slide it onto your trousers or any other straps holster style. You’ll need to keep that belt pretty tight though as it still weighs in at over a kilo.
Kryptonite Messenger Mini
U lock shrunk in size without shrink in quality, with optional extra 'extender'
RRP: £54.99 | Weight: 0.86kg
Kryptonite has slimmed down its legendary D-lock tech to create a sub kilo lock that still gets a Sold Secure Silver security rating. The 11mm hardened MAX-Performance steel shackle reduces weight while maintaining the security level of the Evolution Mini series. The patent-pending ‘bentfoot’ double deadbolt design is matched with a high-security disc-style cylinder for pick and drill resistance. A reinforced cuff over crossbar and cylinder adds additional security and a new rotating dust cover includes a stopper plug to keep the mechanism clean and dry. The shackle is still big enough to go round a good selection of securing points and your frame and it’s fully plastic coated to stop paint damage too. You get 2 stainless steel keys with coiled wrist key chains and it’s part of Kryptonite’s Key Safe program with optional ATPO coverage worth up to £1,500.
Giant Surelock Air Loop
Super-pocketable tool-free combo lock
RRP: £7.99 / $12.00 | Weight: 50g
This super-lightweight lock uses a mini karabiner-style hook at one end to secure a coiled 90cm cable lock that can be pulled through the frame, wheels, helmet strap etc. Add a three-digit combination lock mechanism and while it’s not going to stop even a mildly determined thief with snips or a hammer, it’s certainly better than nothing. You can get the same lock branded up by other brands too but they all come in around the same price.
Clever chain lock that can be worn like a belt
RRP: £49.99 / $74.99 | Weight: 1.1kg
Hiplok is best known for its clever belt style locks and as the name suggests, this is the ‘litest’ in the range, although it still tips the scales at around a kilo. The body of the ‘belt’ is a chain with 6mm hardened steel links, secured with an 8mm shackle that gives it a Sold Secure Bronze & SBSC security ratings. That means it won’t delay a tooled up attack for too long, but it’s enough to fend off a casual/opportunist thief. While the locking length is a usefully-lamppost-compatible 75cm, the belt fit can be adjusted from 66cm to 110cm (26-44in) to suit most riders comfortably. It comes with a lifetime warranty and black and white, all black, black and yellow plus silver reflective ‘super bright’ (which costs a little more) colours for style, safety or both.
LiteLok Silver Flexi-U Regular
Serious security in a smart, wearable format
RRP: £69.99 / $100.00 | Weight: 0.64kg
The Flexi-U is effectively a downsized version of LiteLok’s very clever belt style designs, using a similar strap format but in 19 x 10cm Regular or 27 x 11.5cm Large sizes. While it comes curved like a fixed shape U-lock the strap is fully flexible so it can bend around fat lampposts and the like to secure your bike. The flex also makes it much harder to flex or burst apart and it uses LiteLok’s proven locking mechanism. That means it gets both Sold Secure Silver level and ART2 security ratings despite weighing half what a comparable solid U lock would.
LiteLok Gold Original
Gold by name, Sold Secure gold by nature
RRP: £99.99 / $139.99 | Weight: 1.1kg
Rather than a traditional linked chain, LiteLok's lightweight bike locks use a strap of Boaflexicore - essentially high tensile steel cables in a nylon mesh sleeve. This makes for a flexible 740mm strap that can be fixed to a frame with the two included straps or looped around a bag. The cables are slightly more vulnerable to cutting/grinding than a conventional chain or shackle but it’s super-secure against bolt croppers and burst breaking methods. The neat lock is impressively tough and weather/dirt proofed too, giving it a Sold Secure Gold rating overall. The flexible design also makes it easy to snake through congested locking situations which make it harder for thieves to get to. If you want a longer strap then the Wearable version comes in small (93cm, 1.3kg), medium (100cm, 1.4kg) and large (110cm, 1.45kg) sizes for £100. Just make sure you have your keys with you before you click it shut as it locks automatically.
Lifeventure Sliding Cable Lock SG-400
A super-portable lock with clever sliding design
RRP: £14.99 / $15.99 | Weight: 340g
Another appropriately named weapon in the right against casual bike theft the sliding cable lock is exactly that. A two-metre reinforced cable that’ll keep pliers (if not bolt cutters) busy for long enough to make it irritating for thieves and secured with a four-dial combination lock. The smart bit is that the lock slides up and down the wire, as required so you can make the lock as long or as short as you want, depending on where you’re using it and whether wheels, bikepacking kit or multiple bikes etc. need securing, too. The four-digit code is easy to set to your own preference, the cable is coated to stop paint damage and it’s light enough to take anywhere.
The most stylish lightweight bike lock we've ever seen
RRP: $148 | Weight: 1.05kg
Altor started its company on Kickstarter with the idea of creating a beautiful but still effective lock for keeping your boutique bike safe in style. The APEX is the newest Altor lock and the first to use hardened steel links in its patented, four rod folding design. The steel rivet caps are also hardened against power tool attack and the lock mechanism uses a push-button disc-detainer design for protection. The boutique laser engraved finish is protected by a clear coat layer that also reduces paint damage. The modular design also lets you extend the 770mm length by adding extra Apex locks. You get four keys and a bike mount and considering all the locks are handmade in Washington DC, the price is remarkably competitive. There’s even a titanium version which saves nearly 300g for $41 more which again seems pretty fair for a seriously top-spec, gorgeous looking lock.
And if you were wondering what to get the cyclist that has everything at Christmas, look no further.
Jobsworth Ristretto retractable cafe lock
Cheap and portable
RRP: £7.99 / $11.35 | Weight: 55g
There are loads of slightly different versions of this lock type around but this Jobsworth example from Planet-X is one of the cheapest we found. The plastic body hides 1m of retractable plastic coated steel wire that can be pulled out as far as you need for a tight wrap around bike/s and whatever you’re securing it too. You can change the pre-set four-digit combination to your own personalised number before using the lock. The low weight and 9.5cm x 6.5cm sizing means it hides in a pocket fine too. It’s only really a defence against a non-tooled ‘walk-off’ thief rather than proper protection, but they do have a version with a tamper/movement alarm too which will potentially startle villains into scarpering without your bike.
Ottolock Cinch Lock
Self-mounting Zip-tie-style combo lock
RRP: £99.00 / $89.00 | Weight: 260g
Another strap style design, the Ottolock Cinch Lock is 152cm in length to wrap around multiple bikes, wheels and/or securing points but coils up into a
10cm diameter roll for easy storage. At just 260 grams it’s not going to weigh you down either and the resettable three-digit combination means no lost/forgotten key issues.
The Santoprene plastic outer feels soft and prevents any damage to the paintwork of your bike and the Cerakote paint on the lock is chip-resistant Cerakote paint for long-lasting good looks. The flexibility of the belt also reduces the chance of the lock being burst or levered or sawn open although there’s no official security rating besides 'Ottolock is not a replacement for a U-lock'. A three-digit lock also takes much less time to go through all the combinations of than a four-digit barrel too, so don’t go leaving it somewhere sketchy too long.
How to choose the best lightweight bike lock
The most common guide to security levels is the ‘Sold Secure’ standard. It’s not the most comprehensive test and there are locks that go far beyond their top Gold standard but it’s a decent guide for how long a lock will slow up thieves. Note that we say ‘slow up’ rather than ‘defeat’, because a determined, tooled up thief will get through any lock eventually. If it’s enough to make casual criminals give up or not even try, that’s a win.
Our lightweight locks start at just a few quid/bucks, but as you pay more you should get increased security features like double deadlocks, hardened steel alloys and more keys/more combination lock digits. They’ll hopefully be better made in terms of rubberised paint protection, rattling or reliability over time. Don’t forget that professional bike thieves are genuinely professional so they know what brands will put up a better fight. That means while Abus and Kryptonite are expensive, just the sight of them might be security enough.
There are various physical designs to consider too. D-locks are generally the most cost-effective protection against the widest range of attacks. They are bulky though and often a fight to fit round tubes/poles/racks etc. Articulated linkage locks like Abus’s Bordo are becoming more popular because they pack down easily and can be threaded into more congested/complex locking situations. Cables or chains are the most versatile locking solution and very hard to burst or lever open. They’re also easy to store/carry but skinny cables and chains are easy to cut with croppers or even just a pair of pliers in some cases. Finally, there are smart solutions such as wearable locks from LiteLok and HipLok or the radical rod design from Altor.
Some brands back their locks up with potential payouts if you get your bike stolen while using their product. The level of proof of purchase/use/broken lock returns needed to qualify varies significantly though so check the small print carefully and make sure you register your lock etc. immediately if that’s one of the criteria.
However good (or bad) your lock/locks are, you can always improve security by being smart. For a start, make the lock awkward to get to with tools or hard to get to with saws/bottle jacks/freeze sprays, bolt croppers etc.
Two different types of locks with different key styles mean a thief will have to take longer and use more tools and that’s exactly what they hate doing. While it’s tempting to hide your bike away when you lock it (and obviously a good idea at home) if the bike is hidden, so is anyone trying to steal it. Parking in view of CCTV is a useful deterrent too. If you’re commuting, use different locking locations on a random pattern too so thieves can’t clock it and come back the next day. If you find your lock has been attacked then definitely move location and if it’s been disabled with glue etc (so you can’t unlock it yourself) then get the lock broken yourself immediately as it’s a sure sign that criminals will be back later with the right tools.
Don’t be afraid to ask if you can stick a bike somewhere protected too. A local garage or workshop round the corner might be glad of an extra fiver a week for biscuits for letting you lock your bike up in their otherwise unused storage room.
Finally, if you’re a Strava user make sure you set the privacy zones to stop your home and workplace being pinpointed online and make sure your mates do the same.
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