The Best Bike Lock [Gizmodo]

Leave a bicycle locked up on the street, and a pro with the right tool can spring it faster than you can buy a Slurpee. We're not bike thieves—not even close—and we were able to slice through cheap locks with $20 bolt cutters and a hacksaw, on our first try.
So we wanted to see how much a quality U-lock increases the odds that your ride will still be there when you get back. We put four popular brands of locks against those hand tools, and the bike thieves' weapon of choice—a cordless angle grinder. In the end, we found some locks that can buy you a few extra seconds of security. But the results conclusively proved one thing: Your bike is never really safe outside.

Testing Methodology

These four mid-range locks (~$50 street price) are large enough to fit around a bicycle frame, a wheel and a parking meter. All of these manufacturers make locks that are more expensive and heavier, but we chose these for their affordability, convenience, and for the fact that these are the locks we see people using all over NYC. They're made of hardened steel and outfitted with complex locking mechanisms. Beyond the security of the locks, we looked at cost, weight, and how well the locks mount to your bike.
The hand tools in our test included the $20 bolt cutters and the hacksaw mentioned above, the latter of which had a fresh, tense blade ready for each new lock. We went to work with each of those for five minutes and measured the results. (We tried out a Sawzall, which did the same level of damage as the hacksaw, just more quickly.)
For our primary power tool, we used a the cheapest angle grinder we could find—a Ryobi 18-volt lithium-ion tool—which cost $40 for the tool, and totaled just under $100 with a battery. We fitted it with new Bosch-branded 4 1/2-inch-diameter, 7/8-inch thick cutoff wheels. With a little practice, let's just say, we didn't need the full five minutes to measure the damage.
And remember, we're inept. For a pro, a bike locked up on the street must look like free money. Lay out $100 for a power tool, and you could just go get a new bike. Any bike you want. Again and again. And these four locks are usually all that's there to stop you.


  1. Although somewhat of a deterrent, locks are for honest people.


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