What cycle lock should I buy?

With cycle theft regrettably at an all time high, it’s important to take precautions when leaving your bike unattended. So let’s talk about different types of cycle locks, the different levels of security they offer and answer the question what cycle lock should I buy?.

The rule of thumb to remember here is that, generally, the heavier and more expensive the lock is, the higher level of security it will have.

Paul Prince, eCycleDirect + ex-cycle shop owner

Sold Secure

Sold Secure is an independent testing house that manufacturers can submit their security products to for testing and accreditation.

They test cycle locks using one of four levels of theft resistance. These specifications vary in the type of attack, tools used, and time spent during the attack. 

We say if you buy any lock make sure it bears the Sold Secure badge.

Sold Secure Bronze

Offering theft resistance against a basic tool list (aimed at preventing opportunist crime)

Sold Secure Silver

Offering theft resistance against an enhanced tool list (aimed at preventing more determined attack)

Sold Secure Gold

Offering theft resistance against a dedicated tool list (aimed at preventing dedicated attacks)

Sold Secure Diamond

The highest level of theft resistance including use of specialist tools (aimed at preventing the most destructive attacks that could include angle grinders) 

D-Locks (U-Locks, Shackle Locks)

These locks are generally the most secure. They feature a D-shaped design which allows you to secure your bike to something immovable like a stand, fence or rack. The size of the D can vary and may sometimes come with an additional cable although be aware the security rating of the lock will not cover the cable. More expensive versions often have the highest security rating. They usually have thicker, hardened steel arms to resist angle grinders and an anti-pick lock. Some also come with built in alarms that will go off when tampered with and a bracket so you can attach it to your bike when not in use.

Oxford D-Lock

Folding Locks

A folding lock offers the security of some D-Locks and the portability of a cable lock. A series of hardened steel plates unfold from a neat pouch to give you upto a 1 metre circumference lock that can secure your bike around the frame to a secure object like a stand. The steel plates are designed to resist attempted theft by grinder or bolt-cutter and they come supplied with high security keys. The locks fold back down to a very small footprint and can be easily carried in a bag or on the bike with it’s own bracket.

Oxford Folding Lock Folded
Oxford Folding Lock unfolded

Further Reading

Cable Locks

These are probably the least secure locks however the most convenient and lightest to carry. They come in various lengths, cable thicknesses and colours and consequently feature either a coded barrel lock or keys. The raw cable is covered in plastic to protect your frame paint. They are usually supplied coiled up to achieve a smaller footprint. The more expensive and heavier cable locks come with a bracket so you can carry them on your bike.

Comparatively, the lightest cable locks (sometimes called café locks) offer the least security. Accordingly, they are only designed as a visual deterrent against an opportunist thief rather than outright theft prevention. They are super convenient if you are just popping into a shop or café and don’t want to lug a heavy lock around.

Oxford Cable Lock

Chain Locks

These are the heaviest of locks and are usually kept at home. They are used to secure a bike in a shed or a garage chiefly in conjunction with some kind of anchor point (see below). The locks feature a long, material covered chain to protect your paintwork. They are either a coded barrel, a keyed lock or a separate padlock. These are popular with motorcyclists to secure their bikes.

Oxford Chain Lock


These are usually securely bolted to the ground or suitable walls in sheds, garages or workplace. They offer an anchor point for any lock so your bike cannot be picked up and taken away. Some are insurance company approved.

Oxford Anchor

Frame Locks

These are keyed locks permanently attached to the rear stays of the bike frame around the back wheel and when locked send a bar through the rear wheel to immobilize it. Some also allow the attachment of a compatible chain or cable to to secure the bike to a rack or fence. Dependant on the model, some bikes come with them pre-fitted, some can have them fitted retrospectively. They are a useful way to carry a lock on a bike but are not the most secure. Ideal for shopping and popping into pubs and cafes.

Some of our Raleigh Motus bikes feature this type of lock as standard

Axa Frame Lock
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