Unfortunately, bike theft is a common problem across the globe. Whether you're at the cafe after a group ride or parking your commuter bike at work, ensuring that your bike is there upon your return is a problem facing almost every bike owner. The good news is that the best lightweight bike locks offer decent protection without a weight burden, making peace of mind portable, wherever your ride takes you.
The best bike locks are often full-sized, full-security chains and U locks, but while this usually means great protection, they are often so heavy that carrying them even short distances can be a major issue. Lightweight bike locks, on the other hand, strike a balance between protection and portability.
The best lightweight bike lock for you will very much depend on where you intend on leaving your bike, for how long, and to an extent, the type and value of the bike being left, but in this guide, we've listed options for all. Some prioritise protection, offering great levels of resistance against theft at the expense of weight, while others are hyper lightweight, portable and low cost, serving merely as a deterrent for opportunist thieves.
Our separate guide on how to lock a bike will walk you through the proper practice to prevent your bike from being stolen, 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 best lightweight bike lock for your needs. Alternatively, scroll down for our pick of recommended lightweight bike locks.
- Best bike insurance: Our pick of the best policies for cyclists of all disciplines
- Best bike GPS trackers: Give yourself the best chance of a stolen-bike reunion
The best lightweight bike locks available today
Super light and convenient protection against opportunist bike snatchers
RRP: £9.99 / $11.99 | Weight: 20g
Hiplok’s cunning armoured zip tie won’t stand up to bolt cutters or even a decent pair of cable snips, and the small two-prong 'key' is easily replicated, making the locking mechanism easily picked, but that's not necessarily the point here. What the Z-Lok is, is a super-portable way to provide security against un-tooled grab and go opportunistic thieves. It is ideal for those who don't let their bike out of sight, but might occasionally leave it out of reach, such as at a cafe or fuel station.
The flexible steel strip under the rubber coating is tougher than simple wire combo locks, and it’s enough to stop tearing, twisting or yanking attacks long enough for you to intervene.
At 40cm, it’s long enough to bundle bags/helmets/wheels together against something solid, or lock bags onto bikes. It can also be used for other outdoor accessories if you’re a multi sporter. At 20g each, they’re certainly no trouble to take along on any ride, or leave in your saddle bag just in case.
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 friend or double your deterrent.
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 U-Grip Combo.
As the 'Lite' name suggests, this lock uses six slimmer, lightweight bars to come in at half the weight of some of the bigger Bordo’s. It is fitted with hardened steel rivets and an automatic cylinder lock, meaning it still gets a ‘level 7’ security rating from Abus, on a scale that goes up to 15.
At 85cm long fully unfolded, there’s plenty of length in the links to lock your bike and wheel around chunky street furniture, and the linkage design is much easier to thread around railings than a D-Lock.
It’s plastic coated to prevent it from damaging your bike's paint, 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.
However, anything you fit inside this shackle is protected by the 14mm hardened steel construction and an anti-rotation double deadlock, meaning it will benefit from a full Gold rating from independent testers Sold Secure. You get three coded keys too, which is useful if you have a habit of losing them, and it comes with a lifetime warranty for peace of mind.
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 pocket or onto your belt. 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/ $62.00 | Weight: 0.86kg
Kryptonite has slimmed down its legendary U-lock technology to create a sub-kilogram lock that still gets a Sold Secure security rating of Silver.
The 11mm hardened 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.
At 9.5 x 16.5cm in size, the shackle is slightly larger than the Hiplok DX, but still means you'll need to get your bike snug up against your locking point, and offers limited locking space. However, if this is a turn-off, the Messenger Mini Plus offers a separate loop for added reach.
You get two 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
Incredibly pocketable tool- and key-free combo lock
RRP: £7.99 / $12.00 | Weight: 50g
This super-lightweight lock from Giant 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 etc.
It weighs in at 50 grams and is small enough to pocket or leave in your saddlebag, making it a hyper-convenient deterrent, just in case you need to leave your bike out of reach for short stints of time.
It is locked using a three-digit combination lock mechanism, meaning there are no keys for you to lose, but you will need to remember your code.
Like the Z-Lok above, it’s not going to stop even a mildly determined thief with snips or a hammer, but it will stop opportunists long enough for you to intervene. Just don't leave the bike out of sight.
Clever chain lock that can be worn like a belt
RRP: £49.99 / $64.99 | Weight: 1kg
Hiplok is best known for its clever belt style locks and as the 'Lite' name suggests, this is the lightest in the range, although it still tips the scales at around a kilo.
The body of the lock is a chain with 6mm hardened steel links, secured with an 8mm shackle that gives it a Bronze rating from Sold Secure. That means it won’t delay a tooled up attack for too long, but it’s enough to fend off a casual thief.
The locking length is 75cm, however, the belt fit can be adjusted from 66cm to 110cm (26-44in) to be worn by most riders comfortably. It comes with a lifetime warranty and various colours for style, as well as a high-vis colour for safety.
LiteLok Silver Flexi-U Regular
Serious security in a smart, wearable format
RRP: £69.99 / $100.00 | Weight: 0.64kg
The Litelok Flexi-U is effectively a downsized version of LiteLok’s very clever belt style designs, using a similar strap format but in Regular (19 x 10cm) or Large (27 x 11.5cm) sizes.
While it comes curved like a fixed shape U-lock, the strap is fully flexible so it can bend around any manner of street furniture to secure your bike. The flex also makes it much harder to 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 made from a material called Boaflexicore, which is essentially a collection of high tensile steel cables in a nylon mesh sleeve. This makes for a flexible 74cm long strap that can be fixed to a bike's frame with the two included mounting 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.
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 fight 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 longer - up to two metres - for multi-bike applications, or shorter to give thieves less space to get their tools in.
The four-digit code is easy to set to your own preference, the cable is coated to stop paint damage and at 340g, 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 bike safe in style. The Apex is the newest lock in the range, 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 attacks 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 77cm 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 that saves nearly 300g for $41 more which again seems pretty fair for a seriously top-spec, gorgeous looking lock.
Jobsworth Ristretto retractable cafe lock
Cheap, portable, pocketable and light
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 one metre 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 to.
You can change the pre-set four-digit combination to your own personalised number before using the lock, and the 55g weight and 9.5cm x 6.5cm sizing means it hides in a pocket fine too.
Like the Z-Lok and Giant Surelock above, it’s only really a defence against a non-tooled ‘walk-off’ thief rather than proper protection, but it's an equally great choice for anyone wanting to leave their bike propped up at a cafe.
Ottolock Cinch Lock
Self-mounting zip-tie-style combo lock
RRP starting at: £36.00 / $50.00 | 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 for long-lasting good looks.
The flexibility of the strap also reduces the chance of the lock being burst, 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 than a four-digit barrel too, so don’t go leaving it somewhere sketchy too long.
- Best flat road bike pedals
- Flat or clipless. What is the best pedal for commuting?
- Compare bicycle insurance
How to choose the best lightweight bike lock for you?
The most common guide to security levels of the best lightweight bike locks is the ‘Sold Secure’ standard.
Sold Secure is an independent testing facility that has a comprehensive testing procedure. The locks undergo tests, and based on their performance, are then certified with a rating of Bronze, Silver, Gold or Diamond.
While Bronze is the lowest level of certification, it still has to pass various tests in order to meet this standard, so a good way to think of it is as Bronze = good, Silver = great, Gold = Excellent. Diamond is naturally 'exceptional' in performance, but it is a tier reserved only for specific products such as lock cylinders or ground anchors.
It’s not the be-all and end-all 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, not even try, or take long enough for you to return and interrupt their progress, that’s a win.
However, the level of security you need will ultimately depend on where, when, and for how long you plan on leaving your bike. An opportunist thief who walks off with your un-locked bike can jump on and pedal away much quicker than you can start your chase, so even if you never leave it out of sight, you might still want to mitigate against the risks if your bike is out of reach at a cafe. With that said, you might not want to lug around a 1kg D-lock when a small cable will serve an adequate purpose.
On the other hand, if you plan on leaving your bike at a train station throughout the day, then the increased security of a heavier lock will be more than worth the extra weight.
Our collection of the best lightweight bike locks start at the very budget end of the spectrum, but as you pay more you usually 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.
The design of the best lightweight lock for you will very much depend on your circumstances and how you want to carry it. D-Locks are typically heavier than cable or chain style locks, but they'll usually come with a frame mount, making it easy and unburdensome to carry.
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 retain some of the sturdiness of a D-Lock, but still 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.
Payback plans and warranties
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 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.
- How to prevent bike theft: Top tips to keep the thieves at bay
- How to lock a bike: Tips on proper practice to prevent bike theft
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, so parking in view of CCTV is a useful deterrent.
If you’re commuting, use different locking locations on a random pattern too so thieves don't learn your habits or clock your bike and come back tooled-up 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 by a locksmith, 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 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 from being pinpointed online and make sure your mates do the same.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.