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We know that your bike is essential to you. It helps you move around freely, no matter where you live or what time it is. That's why it's important to protect it from criminals through measures that offer you an adequate level of security. With an approved lock, your bike will be safer and you can leave it on the street with greater ease of mind.
Kinds of locks
There are many types of bike locks, but not all of them offer the same level of security or the same guarantees. Depending on your lifestyle, where you leave your bike and how many hours it is parked, you will need a lock with a higher or lower security level.
Another aspect you should take into account is its homologation. When the lock you are going to buy has the FG, VDS, ART, SSL or SSF marks, it means that its design and production have undergone quality control processes and that its security is guaranteed to a certain degree. The CE mark means that it complies with all European Union standards, but there are additional, stricter standards that will improve the level of safety.
As well as the certainty of knowing that your bike is protected against theft, approved locks with an appropriate level of security will give you peace of mind. Using one of these approved locks is one of the requirements for insurers to accept a policy that protects your means of transport.
Regardless of whether they are approved or not, you can find options on the market offering different safety levels. Most lock brands have their own security ratings, which are specified on each model in their catalogue. Obviously, you won't need the same lock if you leave your bike on the street overnight or if you leave it parked outside a shop to run a quick errand. There are different safety levels:
The lowest level on the ranking, it’s only advisable only if you use your bike sporadically and won’t leave it unattended for over some minutes in front of a store, for instance.
Moderate-safety locks are suitable for leaving your bike parked on a place with many people around, or in rural areas.
This kind of lock is amongst the safest, although not on the top. Made with hard and high-security metals, they can even be lighter than medium-level locks. They are ideal if your bike stays on the street for long periods of time during daylight hours, in little-traffic areas.
This is the highest security level. Locks and chains in this level are made with thick, strong metals, and their keys are also reinforced. You’ll need one of this if you live in a densely populated area or if your bike stays outside at night.
In addition to security levels, you’ll need to consider how you use your bike. Depending on their shape, they may not be adequate to your needs (for instance, if you park it on a bike parking rack). Depending on where you leave your bike, you’ll need a kind of lock or another.
Folding locks consist of a safety system on a semi-rigid body, having folding axes that allow them to be folded when not in use. You can carry them in your backpack or keep them at home without them taking up a lot of space.
As they are flexible, thanks to them you will be able to leave your bike locked to very different structures. If you choose one with the right support, you will be able to fit it to you frame. Their weakness is their joint points – if you avoid to place it near the ground, it will be more difficult for thieves to break it, due to the lack of a toehold.
They are considered one of the best alternatives for securing bikes. They consist of a hardened steel shackle in the shape of a U, and an integrated lock and can only be broken using a radial arm saw. To carry them from one place to another when you are not using them, you only need a special clip for your belt or to store them in a backpack or bag.
Their main disadvantage is that, because of their shape, they can only be used on relatively thin surfaces, such as a bike rack. They are often more difficult to lock, as you will need a pole that fits into the shackle. Bike racks are perfectly suitable, but you usually won't be able to tie it to a lamppost or tree.
The main strength of cable locks is their light weight and flexibility. You can use them with your own padlock or with an integrated padlock. Being flexible and light, they are very easy to carry and handle, but they are also one of the most easy-to-break security systems. They are often used as a complement to another padlock to reinforce security.
To find the ideal option, we recommend that you consider the level of security you need depending on where you normally park your bike and the thickness of the cable. The wider the cable, the harder it is to break and the more difficult it is for your bike to be stolen. You can also find models that have a built-in anti-theft alarm.
Although traditionally used to secure motorbikes, nowadays you can also find special models for bicycles, which can be portable or static. The former are lighter and are designed so that you can take them with you wherever you go. You don't need to carry them on your back while riding. You can carry them wrapped around your frame or elsewhere
Fixed chains are much safer because they are considerably thicker and stronger. However, they are also much heavier, so they are not intended to be carried at all times. They are suitable for your workplace or in your building's doorway – places where they can be left permanently.
This is a quite practical security system. On the one hand, the flexibility of the chain allows you to fix the frame almost anywhere. On the other hand, the combination system ensures that you can access your bike at any time, without the need for keys. It is one of the most effective mechanisms, as to unlock it you need to know the code to remove the chains and work in full view of everyone.
To enjoy the full potential of the chains, it is recommended that you place them as far as possible from the ground and avoid too much slack. As they are quite heavy, you can wrap them around the seat post or top tube to carry them from place to place.
Given the way bikes are designed, as well as worrying about choosing a lock for your bike, you need to think about a way of protecting your wheels, saddle, etc. These parts are valuable and, although thieves may not be able to immediately use them, you could lose them if they are not properly secured.
To prevent your wheels from being stolen, you can buy different types of locks. For example, you can replace quick-release hub bolts with locks that require a specific tool and offer a higher level of security. There are also specific locks that attach the wheel to the frame and make it impossible to remove.
As we've just mentioned, bicycle saddles are one of the most commonly stolen components, and it's also a consequence of how easy it is to remove them from their seatpost. Some cyclists remove the saddle and take it with themstrong> when they get off the bike, but you don't have to resort to such an annoying habit.
You can buy a clamp that, instead of the traditional system of cranks and tabs, attaches all the parts in a more complex method. You can find options on the market that fit together like a puzzle and require their own tool or additional ones that, while not impossible to obtain, make it harder for thieves to achieve their goal.
Alarm locks are undoubtedly one of the most sophisticated options for protecting your bicycle. In addition to the security mechanisms we have mentioned, they have a built-in warning system that triggers when it detects that it is being tampered with.
Depending on the option you choose, it will not only warn you with noise. You can easily find models that also track your bike via GPS and, through an app, tell you where they are. You can find them in many formats, both chain- and U-shaped.
This English brand has several product ranges. Its innovation consists of a hardened steel chain covered by a nylon fabric. In addition, the end of the padlock has the same mechanism as belt locks. This makes it particularly versatile when it comes to fitting..
There are three types: lite, silver and gold. They all work in a similar way, but are progressively more secure. The curved keys of the first model, for example, are difficult to copy, but could be obtained with a proper search. The gold and silver options, however, have a unique serial number attached to them.
There are options for every kind of consumer, so you need to think about how you're going to use your lock before you buy one. If you want to find the perfect one for you, keep this in mind:
Where will you be cycling? How long will it stay parked? Are there places where you can leave it along your route?
Do you normally forget your keys? Do you carry a bag or backpack where you can keep the lock? Are you willing to bring a heavy object with you?
As we discussed at the beginning, you won’t need the same lock if you only use your bike for errands in a countryside village, or if you use it for commuting in a big city.
It will be you who decides if it’s worth it to spare some money on protecting your bike – and risking to lose it –or if it’s better to invest in a system that keeps it well protected. You won’t need to choose the most expensive option – consider the risks and take your decision according to them.
The more protection systems are visible, the less attractive your bike will be for thieves. Not only will it be more complicated to get it, but it will also act as a deterrent against people trying to steal it. If you leave it on a busier area, you can use two locks at the same time.
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