Due to their increased portability and versatile, flexible shackles, folding locks have increased in popularity with many cyclists over the years.
For anyone wondering if folding bike locks are secure enough, you’ll be pleased to know several folding bike locks offer high levels of theft protection for bicycles.
However, knowing what bike you’re securing would be necessary for us to tell you whether or not a folding lock is secure enough.
So, in this short guide, we’ll cover the security of folding locks, what to look for when buying a folding lock, and plenty of folding lock FAQs to help you understand if a folding bike lock is secure enough for your bike.
Understanding Folding Bike Locks
Folding bike locks take the characteristics of a chain lock and a U-lock and fuse them together to provide good levels of security alongside a larger number of locking options.
Unlike U-locks, folding locks use a shackle which can flex around larger immovable objects such as street lights, which can be very useful when securing your bike.
And unlike chain locks, folding bike locks are highly compact and portable whilst still offering respectable levels of security.
To understand how these features are achieved, we should first look at the components of a folding bike lock.
- Rivets – these are the hinges that hold the plates of a folding lock together. The overall strength of a rivet depends on the security features that a folding lock utilises to protect it.
- Plates – these are typically made from hardened steel and normally range between 4-6.5mm thick. The thicker and higher quality the steel is, the more secure the folding lock.
- Locking Mechanism – used to secure the locking plate link in place and unauthorised access to your bike.
Vulnerabilities Folding Locks Face
As with every type of bike lock, folding locks face vulnerabilities that need to be addressed to produce a folding lock that’s secure enough.
Thin Shackle Plates Compared to Other Lock Types
The plates of a folding bike lock usually sit between 4mm and 6.5mm thick. Compared to other lock types, these plates are thin.
U-locks typically use a hardened shackle between 12 to 16mm thick. As you can imagine, these offer improved resistance to cropping compared to the thinner plates of a folding lock.
In some cases, when done right, the shape of a folding lock’s plate makes them very resistant to cutting attempts using bolt cutters.
As we discovered when testing the Foldylock Compact.
Rivets Are Vulnerable to Different Multiple Methods of Attack
Until more recently, the rivets of folding locks were their achilles heel.
Unprotected rivets can be targeted as a weak point, meaning those folding locks that don’t use rivet protection can be easily compromised.
All of the best folding bike locks use some form of rivet protection.
Seatylock’s Foldylock series uses a thick metal coil, which wraps around the rivet, alongside a thick metal washer, which protects the rivet from side cutting and nut splitter attacks.
This is an example of great rivet protection.
We recently tested the Kryptonite 685 folding bike lock, and we’re able to cut through the rivets very easily because the rivet protection washer breaks under a small amount of pressure.
Limited Visual Deterrence
Compared to chunkier chain locks and U-locks, folding bike locks don’t look beefy, which may encourage thieves to target your bike before others.
Ultimately, as we discovered in our affordable bicycle security improvements guide, if your bike looks less secure than other bikes parked nearby, it’s more likely to be targeted by thieves.
That said, several chunkier folding bike locks offer great levels of security, and we explore these in our review of the Best Folding Bike Locks.
What to Consider When Buying a Folding Bike Lock
Looking online across various e-commerce sites, you’ll find folding locks of many shapes, sizes and prices.
There are a vast number of brands selling cheap, “high-security” folding locks.
Typically, these cheap folding locks offer little to no security for your bike.
Read the steps below to learn how to avoid buying a useless, low-security folding lock.
Several independent security testing organisations exist, such as Sold Secure and ART.
These security organisations test and rate the security that different products offer to provide the public with a way of comparing them.
Once a product is tested, the results are analysed, and a rating is assigned to it.
Sold Secure offers two different security rating categories relevant to bicycles:
There isn’t a folding bike lock on the market that’s earned a Powered Cycle rating.
The highest Sold Secure rating we see from any folding bike lock is Sold Secure Pedal Cycle Gold, which is shared by several of the best folding locks.
Real World Testing
Alongside checking for independent security ratings, transparent real-world testing is great for assessing the security of any bike lock.
At BikeLockWiki, we provide transparent testing that allows cyclists to make informed decisions on the security of their bikes.
We regularly publish new content on our website and YouTube channel.
We’ve recently reviewed and compared several folding bike locks on our YouTube Channel, so have a watch if you’re interested!
The Most Secure Way to Lock Your Bike With a Folding Lock
Another tip we recently published in our guide covering affordable bicycle security improvements was the most effective method for locking your bike with any lock.
This method applies to folding bike locks and should be used whenever leaving your bike unattended.
As you can see from the image above, we’ve locked this bike through its back wheel, encompassing the frame simultaneously.
When secured to an immovable object, this locking method stops thieves from stealing your rear wheel and frame, typically the two most expensive components of any bike.
Then, if you want to increase the overall security of your bike, use a cable extension to secure your front wheel in place.
Are Folding Locks Suitable for Use With E-bikes?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a folding lock that’s received a Sold Secure Powered Cycle rating, which means that Sold Secure don’t believe there’s a folding bike lock secure enough for use with e-bikes.
These are the most secure folding bike locks available. You’ll notice that all of them are currently Sold Secure Pedal Cycle Gold Rated or lower.
At BikeLockWiki, we’ve always encouraged cyclists to adhere to security advice provided by Sold Secure.
We agree that there isn’t a folding lock that offers enough security to be used with an e-bike.
So, if you’re looking for a bike lock suitable for an e-bike, you’ll want to check out our review of the best uncuttable bike locks.
Folding Bike Lock FAQs
On average, U-locks are more secure than folding locks.
This is proven by the fact that there are more U-locks with higher independent security ratings.
For example, the LITELOK X3, LITELOK X1, Hiplok D1000 and Hiplok DX1000 (all U-locks) all hold the Sold Secure Powered Cycle Diamond rating. In contrast, there isn’t a single folding lock in this security category.
Until rivet protection for folding locks is improved, it’s unlikely we’ll see a folding lock earn a higher rating than Sold Secure Pedal Cycle Gold.
When buying a new bike lock, it’s important to establish your priorities.
If you’re looking for a lightweight folding bike lock that’s compact and highly portable, the Foldylock Mini is a great shout.
Read about the Mini in our review of the best lightweight bike locks.
If you’re after the most secure folding lock possible, then the Foldylock Forever is your lock.
If interested, read more about the Foldylock Forever and how it compares to the best folding bike locks.
Folding locks have the most moving parts of any bike lock, so keeping them clean and well-lubricated is essential to avoid deterioration.
Monthly cleaning and lubrication are advised alongside regular use. Otherwise, bi-monthly maintenance will suffice.
Our guide on bike lock maintenance will keep your lock rust-free for a lifetime.
If you’d rather watch a video on bike lock maintenance, our YouTube video will talk you through what’s required.
If you’re looking for a bike lock that’s portable, lightweight and offers Sold Secure Pedal Cycle Gold-rated security, there are several very good folding bike locks that will serve you well.
Read our review of the best folding bike locks to learn about the options of folding locks available to you.
Summary - Are Folding Locks Secure Enough?
If you’re looking for a folding bike lock for your e-bike, unfortunately, there isn’t one we’d deem secure enough for use as your primary bike lock.
Instead, check out the best uncuttable bike locks for a lock that won’t let you down.