The 10 Best U-Locks

Updated August 26, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

10 Best U-Locks
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Even if your bicycle wasn't super expensive, it's a real pain to return to where you left it to find it's been stolen. These U-locks offer reliable protection against both opportunistic and determined thieves, with some having the ability to resist bolt cutters and picks, while most provide ample room or additional cables to secure your wheels and frame alike. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best u-lock on Amazon.

10. Real People Bike Bundle

The Real People Bike Bundle provides plenty of protection thanks to an 8-inch rounded steel U-bolt that's sturdy enough to keep your investment safe but light enough to travel with. It comes with a 4-foot combination locking cable as well.
  • includes mounts for both locks
  • may produce a strong noxious smell
  • not the most durable option
Brand Real People
Model pending
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Xtreme Bright Illumilock Blade

The Xtreme Bright Illumilock Blade is a bike lock, light, and rear safety flasher all in one, meaning you save space, weight and, of course, cash. The unit is made from military grade steel and is drill, pick, and shock resistant.
  • tail light has multiple settings
  • very bright front light
  • too small for most bike racks
Brand Xtreme Bright
Model BLADE8585
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

8. Blackburn San Quentin

The Blackburn San Quentin is a mighty piece of security hardware, rated at a ten-ton pull strength. Its laser cut key will fit every time, and if somebody does manage to break through it, you're covered by a $4,000 theft replacement guarantee.
  • 18 mm thick steel alloy
  • sliding key hole dust cover
  • included mount is a bit flimsy
Brand Blackburn
Model 2022281
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2

The Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 comes with a sturdy Transit FlexFrame-U mount, which offers a few options for transporting it while on the move. A 4-foot flexible metal cable helps keep your wheels safe and can also be used to tether multiple bikes together.
  • keys have unique ids in case of loss
  • 13 mm hardened steel shackle
  • no match for strong bolt cutters
Brand Kryptonite
Model LK41051
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Bell Catalyst 200

If you're looking for a simple, sturdy option, the hardened steel Bell Catalyst 200 has you covered. It's available in black and silver finishes, weighs 1.6 pounds, and features a dual bolt locking system to keep you protected.
  • free replacement keys if lost
  • center lock secures both bolts
  • prone to jamming over time
Brand Bell
Model 7070734
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Lumintrail 18mm

The Lumintrail 18mm comes with a 7-foot double-looped braided steel cable for a security boost, so you can ensure both your wheels and frame are protected. It's available in a few colors and features a five-digit customizable combination cylinder.
  • great for people who lose keys often
  • dust cover protects cylinder
  • not deep enough for some uses
Brand Lumintrail
Model pending
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Sigtuna Heavy Duty 16mm

The hardened steel Sigtuna Heavy Duty 16mm feels sturdy in your hand and comes with a 1.8-meter braided, vinyl-coated cable for additional security. Its locking mechanism is spring-powered, which should help cut down on the time you'll spend opening and closing it.
  • weighs around four pounds
  • deep enough to secure two bikes
  • does not include a mount
Brand Sigtuna Gear
Model pending
Weight 4.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Abus U-Mini 40

For impressive protection with minimal bulk, the Abus U-Mini 40 packs a strong punch for its size and weight, keeping your bike safe even against determined thieves. It has a double-bolting shackle and comes with four keys, so you don't have to worry about losing one.
  • weighs just 2 pounds
  • available in two bright colors
  • soft coating protects bike's paint
Brand ABUS
Model pending
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

2. OnGuard Bulldog DT

The OnGuard Bulldog DT comes with a four-foot braided steel cinch loop cable for enhanced or multi-bike protection. It also includes a bracket and screws if you'd like to install a permanent mounting solution on your bike to keep it out of the way while you ride.
  • good value for the price
  • end caps protect against bumps
  • comes with five keys
Brand OnGuard
Model 8012
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Kryptonite New York

It's not cheap, but the Kryptonite New York is designed for use in high risk areas where bike theft is a constant concern. It comes with all necessary mounting hardware, so you can store it on your bike when you're riding, and features a patented steel crossbar sleeve.
  • 16 mm steel resists bolt cutters
  • double deadbolt lock
  • one led lighted key and two spares
Brand Kryptonite
Model 152064
Weight 4.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Gone In 60 Seconds

In 2006, in a sleepy college town in western Pennsylvania, the trustees of Allegheny College donated a slew of bicycles to the school and its students. One of the student organizations promptly painted the bikes green (after the school mascot) and declared a bike share program open for use. The bikes were free for students to use. All you had to do was pick one up at a designated bike rack and deposit it at another rack wherever you ended up.

The thing about Allegheny College, however, is that it's situated at the top of a long, steep hill, with the vast majority of the town's businesses–and all of its bars–at the bottom of that hill. Within about two weeks, students had coasted downhill to the bars on all 75 bikes, gotten roaring drunk, and left them there. Every single one of them was stolen, presumably by the townsfolk who were impoverished by the disappearance of American manufacturing some 30 years prior.

All it would have taken to secure these bikes, to guard them against theft, was a U-lock. Sure, the students wouldn't have been able to access all those keys, but the school groundskeepers would have. Any student intending on coasting downhill without the gumption or physical stamina to make it back up the hill could at least lock the bike to a rail for the school to pick up later.

That's because a U-lock is one of the most impenetrable anti-theft devices on the market. Their cores and locking mechanism are made of composite materials that resist blades, saws, axes, and most temperature variances.

With a set of unique keys–and sometimes a combination–a U-lock opens and wraps around your bike and whatever immovable rack or street sign to which you adhere it. Ideally, you can fit the arm of the U-lock through the spokes of your back or front wheel, as well, to further inhibit any attempt at thievery.

Protection With Flair

There's a good chance that you spent a lot of time selecting your bike. The bike you ride, in many ways, is a reflection of your personality, so you probably held out long enough to get that feeling of kinship with a bike before taking the plunge. Or, you're like me, and you found your uncle's old bike in you dad's basement and then took it without telling either of them. Looking back, I guess that makes it part and parcel with my personality, and it's a fine machine.

Still, when it came time to protect it in West Philadelphia (a town not exactly revered for bicycle safety, or any safety for that matter), I wanted to choose a lock that suited the bike's look and feel as much as it would protect it.

If protection is your bottom line, a thicker lock usually corresponds to a better guard against theft. What matters in evaluating the quality of a U-lock is its resistance to bolt cutters more than any other implement. Any locking device can fall victim to bolt cutters in a matter of seconds if the cutters are strong enough. A thick enough U-lock will keep even the biggest bolt cutters from approaching them in the first place, so if somebody wants to jack your bike, they have to spend a lot more time trying to break through your defenses.

The other major variable in your decision is whether or not you think the U-lock by itself is sturdy enough to hold up against a protracted theft attempt. If you ride your bike to work and leave it parked for up to eight hours each day, you might prefer to increase your protection. Some of these U-locks come with thick steel cables you can use to reinforce your locking points, giving you valuable peace of mind.

In The Heart Of The Big Apple

While bicycle theft has been a problem since bikes were first invented in the 1800s, few places on earth manufactured higher theft and violent crime statistics as New York City in the 1970s. It was in this incredibly dangerous environment that the first U-lock was born.

At that point, cyclists were still using chains as their primary method of bike security, but if the chains used were too inexpensive–or not of a particular, hexagonal type–they were profoundly easy to bypass. In response to this danger, a company called Kryptonite developed prototypes for the modern U-lock.

Kryptonite went as far in the early 70s as to lock a bike to a signpost in the middle of Greenwich Village in New York, one of the artsier and more dangerous neighborhoods south of Times Square. They left it there for 30 days, and although thieves manages to strip and steal absolutely everything that could be stripped and stolen off of the bike, the U-lock and the part of the bicycle to which it was secured remained.

In recent years, Kryptonite and its competition have developed metal composites that resist common methods of theft with much greater efficacy than the simple steel of the original designs. The prices of the locks have gone up accordingly, but they work, and you can't restrict yourself when paying for that kind of protection.

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Last updated on August 26, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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