How to Lock Your Bike Properly

You can now relax and stop worrying about your bicycle, because today I’ll teach you exactly how to lock a bike properly!

How do I lock a bike properly? What’s the best way to lock a bike? & How to lock your bike? These are just three examples of hundreds of questions you can find across the internet. This suggests to me that many people struggle with locking a bike properly and fully utilising their locks features.

Bike theft is a huge problem not just in the UK but across the globe. A Crime survey from 2017 shows that roughly 300,000 bicycles were stolen in England & Wales in one year!

Using a top-quality bike lock is no longer enough to prevent theft, so below I’ll teach you how to lock a bike using several different methods. 

The strongest bike lock, a map displaying bicycle theft hotspots in the United Kingdom
This map displays the cities most effected by cycle crime in the UK. Watch out Londoners!
Table of Contents
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    When I’m out and about it pains me to see badly locked bikes, so take your time to read the steps below and make sure your bike isn’t left vulnerable to theft!

    After all, there’s no point in using an affordable, top-quality bike lock if you have no idea how to use it!

    Poorly secured bicycle bike secured to tree
    If you can't already see what's wrong with the way this bike's locked, don't worry, you'll be an expert on cycle security if you follow the steps below!

    Take your time to find a bike lock that suits you, don’t make any compromises when it comes to security. 

    Below I’ll teach you how to lock a bike properly and you’ll be able to implement some of these steps to increase the security of your bike whilst you’re away from it!

    Best Way to Lock a Bike - 12 Simple Steps

    Locking a bike and leaving it unattended anywhere is a risk. A bicycle is stolen every 90 seconds in the UK, so your bike will never be 100% safe and secure.

    Luckily, there are several precautions that you can take to reduce the chances of your’s going missing. Stick with me and I’ll let you in on the best cycle security tips. 

    1. Choose a Busy Area to Secure Your Bike In

    When selecting an area to lock your bike it can be tempting to lock it to an object closest to your destination, however, this is not always a good idea.

    Your bike won't stand out so much in a busy public bike park. It's likely someone else will be using a worse bike lock than you, so chances are their bike will be targeted instead.

    You should always aim to lock your bike in a busy area, where foot-traffic is constant. Bike thieves don’t want to be seen whilst attempting to steal a bike so will often target bikes secured in quieter areas. 

    Selecting an area in the centre of town is often your best bet as most areas here are covered by CCTV and people are always present.

    Another reason to secure your bike in a busy area is that other people will secure their bikes here too. Whilst it may sound selfish, someone else’s bike will probably be less securely locked than yours, meaning that the chances of yours being targeted are lower.

    There’s no point in going to all of this effort if you’re using a cheap and unbranded bike lock. Get a lock that will protect your bike.

    2. Choose an Immovable Object to Lock Your Bike To

    You could have the most secure bike lock in the world, but if you lock your bike to an insecure object you leave it vulnerable to theft.

    In other words, your bike will only be as secure as the object it’s locked to.

    The video above shows thieves stealing bikes that are poorly secured to some interesting objects. Make sure you don’t repeat these mistakes, pay attention to the tree!

    I would never advise you to lock your bike to an object made of wood. Whilst it may look secure, a wooden fence or small tree would only teak seconds to snap. Don’t get caught out!

    Furthermore, trees are not designed to be a locking point for bikes and can easily scratch or damage your ride. Also, your bike could scratch and damage the tree, so think twice before locking to one!

    Small trees can be snapped or cut down relatively easily. Don't use them as bike parks!

    It’s important to remember that all areas of land have an owner. Some landowners won’t be happy if you secure your bike on or to their property. 

    You should also remember that the pedestrians have the right of way, and your bike may well be removed if you obstruct access in public areas. 

    Try and secure your bike out of harm’s way and in areas that you know bikes are allowed to be secured in.

    Damaged bicycle with buckled wheel
    This bike was left secured to a fence on a busy road, and appears to have gotten in the way! Secure your bike in a bike park/shed where possible!

    In central city areas, you will often come across bike parks and other spaces specifically designed for bike storage. How to lock your bike properlyThese areas are your best bet when it comes to securing your bike. 

    A standard bike rail will be safely secured into the ground and a thief would have a hard time breaking it free.

    That being said, it’s very important that you check the security and condition of the object you’re locking your bike to. It has become common practice for thieves to damage bike rails, so that once an unsuspecting cyclist has “secured” their bike the thief can easily remove it. 

    Look out for damage such as cuts, dents, rust or any other type of weakness. 

    A bike rail that has been damaged and is no longer usable.
    A bike rail that has been damaged

    3. Know Your Surroundings & Understand the Risk of Bike Theft

    If you’re unfamiliar with the area you’re in, it may be worth travelling to somewhere else where you know your bike will be more secure. 

    Some areas of town are likely to leave your bike more vulnerable to theft. This means it’s important to gain knowledge of your surroundings and avoid these more dangerous areas if possible.

    4. Use a Good Quality Bike Lock to Lock Your Bike

    How much does a good bike lock costGood quality locks aren’t always super expensive. Sure, most of the strongest bike locks are reasonably expensive, but they’ll provide a higher level of security for your bike. 

    I’d recommend using a Sold Secure Silver or Gold rated bike lock. If the lock you use isn’t Sold Secure rated, it might be a good decision to upgrade.

    For those on a tighter budget, I recently reviewed the best cheap bike locks. The 6 locks in this review are all Sold Secure Gold rated and will provide a very respectable level of security for your bike.

    The table below includes three of the top-performing locks from the review.

    Preview
    Model
    OnGuard Brute
    Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 with Flex
    OnGuard Mastiff
    Pros
    • Bolt cutter proof shackle
    • X4P quad bolted locking mechanism
    • Sold Secure Diamond
    • LED key fob
    • Double bolted shackle
    • Lifetime guarantee
    • Extension cable included
    • Key replacement scheme
    • Multiple locking options
    • 10mm hex hardened steel links
    • Capable of securing multiple bikes
    • Sold Secure Gold rated
    Cons
    • Heavier than other D locks
    • Low quality mounting system
    • Fiddly to attach mount
    • Only bolt cutter resistant
    • Not bolt cutter proof
    • Heaviest option
    Conclusion
    The OnGuard Brute is the best budget bike lock on the market. It's bolt cutter proof, and will resist even the most brutal attacks. It was the first bike lock to receive the Sold Secure Diamond Bicycle Rating, enough said.
    The Evolution Mini 7 is another quality lock from Kryptonite. It's not quite as strong as the OnGuard Brute, but is much more portable and includes a handy extension cable. A great choice if you're looking for a budget friendly lock.
    The OnGuard Mastiff is the best budget chain lock. Compared to the Brute and the Mini 7, the Mastiff is much more versatile and is suitable for use in high risk areas. It's 10mm links aren't as secure, regardless, it's the best budget chain lock.
    Shackle Diameter
    16.8mm Hardened Steel
    12.7mm Hardened Steel
    10mm Hardened Steel
    Weight
    4.1lb (1.86kg)
    2.5lb (1.13kg)
    6.94lb (3.15kg)
    Lock Dimensions
    • Width: 4.53" (11.5 cm)
    • Length: 7.96" (20.2 cm)
    • Width: 3.25” (8.2cm)
    • Length: 7” (17.8cm)
    • Length: 3.5’ (1.06m)
    Security Ratings
    Preview
    Model
    OnGuard Brute
    Pros
    • Bolt cutter proof shackle
    • X4P quad bolted locking mechanism
    • Sold Secure Diamond
    • LED key fob
    Cons
    • Heavier than other D locks
    • Low quality mounting system
    Conclusion
    The OnGuard Brute is the best budget bike lock on the market. It's bolt cutter proof, and will resist even the most brutal attacks. It was the first bike lock to receive the Sold Secure Diamond Bicycle Rating, enough said.
    Shackle Diameter
    16.8mm Hardened Steel
    Weight
    4.1lb (1.86kg)
    Lock Dimensions
    • Width: 4.53" (11.5 cm)
    • Length: 7.96" (20.2 cm)
    Security Ratings
    Preview
    Model
    Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 with Flex
    Pros
    • Double bolted shackle
    • Lifetime guarantee
    • Extension cable included
    • Key replacement scheme
    Cons
    • Fiddly to attach mount
    • Only bolt cutter resistant
    Conclusion
    The Evolution Mini 7 is another quality lock from Kryptonite. It's not quite as strong as the OnGuard Brute, but is much more portable and includes a handy extension cable. A great choice if you're looking for a budget friendly lock.
    Shackle Diameter
    12.7mm Hardened Steel
    Weight
    2.5lb (1.13kg)
    Lock Dimensions
    • Width: 3.25” (8.2cm)
    • Length: 7” (17.8cm)
    Security Ratings
    Preview
    Model
    OnGuard Mastiff
    Pros
    • Multiple locking options
    • 10mm hex hardened steel links
    • Capable of securing multiple bikes
    • Sold Secure Gold rated
    Cons
    • Not bolt cutter proof
    • Heaviest option
    Conclusion
    The OnGuard Mastiff is the best budget chain lock. Compared to the Brute and the Mini 7, the Mastiff is much more versatile and is suitable for use in high risk areas. It's 10mm links aren't as secure, regardless, it's the best budget chain lock.
    Shackle Diameter
    10mm Hardened Steel
    Weight
    6.94lb (3.15kg)
    Lock Dimensions
    • Length: 3.5’ (1.06m)
    Security Ratings

    Last update on 2020-10-25 at 11:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    5. Lock Your Bike’s Components in Order of Worth

    The frame is almost always the most expensive component of your bike, followed by the wheels. This means that you should prioritise the security of the frame over other accessories. 

    Once the frame is secure you can secure the next most expensive part, normally the wheels. Regardless of where you secure your bike, you should always follow this procedure.

    Best way to lock a bike
    I used an ABUS Cobra extension to secure my front wheel, whilst removing my seatpost and saddle.

    If you have customised your bike and added, for example, an expensive wheelset then you’ll need to know which components are the most valuable. Make sure you prioritise their security.

    By sticking to this method you’ll minimise your chances of your bike being stolen. You’ll deter thieves, as they’ll see you know the best way to lock a bike!

    If you can lock your saddle & or handlebars, then do. A desperate thief would happily strip your bike of its components one by one.

    This owner could have used their D lock to secure their frame & rear wheel at least! An expensive error to make, take note.

    6. Remove or Secure Your Bike's Accessories

    As previously stated thieves will target the more valuable parts of your bike. However, if they are able to quickly release and make off with small accessories such as lights or seat posts, they will.  

    A good quality set of bike lights can bear a hefty price, so never leave them attached to your bike whilst it’s locked up. Lights take seconds to remove and anyone is capable of doing so. Take them with you.

    Bulkier accessories such as seat posts and saddles take slightly longer to remove and often require Allen keys (Hex Keys) to do so. This does not mean they are secure by any means. It’s a good idea to remove these parts yourself before someone else does!

    If you’re unable to remove any bulky accessories, consider using HexLox. They have designed a unique selection of locking nuts that are only operable with the key special that you receive.

    Thieves will not be able to use Allen Keys to remove your components without a Hexlox key. Fortunately, almost all of the accessories you’d find on a bike are secured with standard hexagonal bolts, which means all of these can be protected and secured with Hexlox.

    7. Use a Bike Cover to Keep Your Bike Out of Sight

    Thieves will always target the least secure looking bike as they won’t want to hang around for long. An effective and cheap way to deter bike thieves is to use a simple bike cover. 

    See how much of a difference this makes using the slider below. 

    Before After
    I use the Goose Premium bike cover. No thief would know that an expensive bike was locked underneath without taking the time to look.

    Good quality bike covers will not only keep your bike dry and free from unnecessary wear but will also keep it out of sight. 

    The last thing a thief will want to do is to be rummaging around with a bike cover, attracting unwanted attention and increasing the chances of getting caught.

    This method is especially effective if you are securing your bike in a communal area where there are other bikes. Thieves tend to overlook covered bikes, and for the price a good quality cover costs it’s a worthy investment.

    I’d definitely recommend a Goose Cover [Amazon link] if you’re looking for a bike cover to lock your bike with.

    8. Lock Your Bike in an Area Monitored by CCTV

    When learning how to lock a bike, you could easily become too focused on how you use your lock and forget about your surroundings. In many cases, they’ll help to increase the security of your bike.

    Not all of us have the luxury of CCTV monitored bike storage, but if you are one of the lucky few then it’s worth securing your bike in a place that does.

    Bicycle security area monitored by cctv
    A bicycle park that is monitored by CCTV is likely to deter chancers. If anything it will give you greater peace of mind!

    As stupid as bike thieves may be, they’ll understand that if an area is monitored by cameras, there is more chance of them being identified and caught. If you don’t have CCTV set up already, it’s definitely something to consider. 

    You’d be surprised at how inexpensive yet effective these systems can be. Often just the presence of a camera (working or not, and regardless of its cost) is enough to scare off chancers. 

    This makes CCTV a very sensible and affordable option when it comes to bike security.

    9. Secure As Many of Your Bike’s Components As Possible

    Many cyclists make the mistake of only securing their bike’s frame and not utilising their lock to its full potential. I touched on this point already, but you’d be surprised how many people waste locking space!

    I lock both of my wheels along with the frame of my bike. I also make sure to remove my seatpost.

    You should always try and secure as many parts of your bike as possible with the lock/locks you have available. I remove my saddle and front wheel. This way all of the easily accessible components are protected.

    10. Fill the Shackle/Inside Area of Your Lock

    If you leave large amounts of space open inside the shackle of your lock, then it leaves you vulnerable to hydraulic or twist attacks. 

    A hydraulic attack is where large amounts of pressure used to force a lock open, these attacks are commonly carried out with carjacks or similar equipment.

    How to lock a bike kryptonite fahgettaboudit
    The shackle of the Fahgettaboudit Mini is completely full, which leaves no room for twist attacks.

    Twist attacks are more common as they do not require expensive tools. These are executed by inserting a crowbar through the locking area of a bike lock, and simply twisting the locking mechanism until it snaps open.

    By completely filling the locking area of your bike lock, it means there is no space for a crowbar or a carjack to be inserted. The video below shows a good example of this method.

    11. Position Your Lock – Keyhole Pointing  Downwards

    If your bike lock is poorly positioned when securing your bike, it can make it easier for thieves to damage or remove. Unskilled thieves will often take to brute force to remove bike locks, so it’s important that you keep your lock off the ground.

    A lock that’s secured on the ground can easily be struck with a hammer or other heavy equipment and bust open. But by keeping your lock off the floor it reduces the damage that a thief could do.

    Whilst it now seems a bit farfetched, lock picking is also much easier if the keyhole is easily accessible. By having the keyhole pointing towards the ground, a thief would have to pick your lock from below!

    12. Use a Bike Lock and an Extension Cable/Chain

    Whilst I’d never advise you to use a cable lock as a primary bike lock, a cable extension is a lightweight affordable solution to securing more of your bike’s accessories.

    Many D locks are now supplied with an cable extension. Whilst cables don’t provide a great level of protection, the more parts of your bike are secured, the better.

    Kryptonite fahgettaboudit mini
    Whilst small cables and chains don't provide a huge amount of protection from bike theives, they will deter chancers and increase your bike's security whilst locked. Alongside a good quality bike lock these extra locks will give you peace of mind.

    13. Remove and Secure Your Front Wheel

    If you have recently purchased a new bicycle, it will probably feature quick-release wheels. This is not only convenient for you but thieves too as they are super easy to release and remove, hence the name!

    Quick release bike wheel

    Even if you don’t have quick-release wheels, they can be removed in a few seconds with a small hand wrench. Consider Hexlox or make sure they are locked up!

    If you don’t have a cable extension to secure your front wheel with, then remove it and you should be able to lock both wheels and your bike’s frame with your chosen primary lock. 

    How to Lock a Bike At Home (Inside & Outside)

    Home, the most common place for people to secure their bicycles. Unfortunately for us cyclists, locking our bikes at home is not be as safe as we think.

    Many thieves target homes rather than stealing a bike in the city centre, simply because they are less likely to be caught. Residential areas tend to be much quieter than bustling city centres, especially after dark.

    “The 1994 British Crime Survey found that most bicycles are stolen from inside or near the home”.

    When you secure your bike in or around your home, these are some precautions that you should take to prevent these chancers from making off with your ride. 

    I’d love bicycle security around the home to be as simple for everyone as the Hiplok AIRLOK (pictured above), but sadly this is not the case! Have a watch of the video below. If you can fit an AIRLOK in your garage or to a wall inside, it could save a lot of hassle!

    How to Lock a Bike Inside Your Home

    If you have the space inside your home, this is definitely the safest area to lock your bike. Keeping your bike inside keeps it out of sight, also thieves are much less likely to break into your house.

    If space is limited inside your home, but you still wish to keep it inside, there are some great wall mounts for your bike available. These help to keep floor space free, and keep your bike free from any unwanted accidental damage. 

    As stated and shown in the video above the Hiplok AIRLOK is a great solution for both locking and storing your bike inside your house/garage.

    Dahänger Dan Bike Wall Mount Pedal Hook
    The Dahänger Dan bike wall mount is one of many solutions for indoor bike storage. Keeps your ride safe inside, whilst keeping them out of harms way!

    How to Lock a Bike Outside Your Home

    As cities become more crowded, space becomes more scarce and there is often not enough space to safely store your bike inside your home. This may mean that you have to lock your bike outside, which leaves it more vulnerable to theft.

    Your best bet for securing your bike outside of your property is to keep it locked up somewhere out of sight. If the public can’t see your bike, then you are less likely to be targeted by thieves. 

    If you have a garden at the rear of your home that is not visible to the public, this could be a good place to keep it locked.

    Locking Your Bike In a Bike Shed

    Bosmere Trimetals A300 Bicycle Storage Unit Bike Shed
    Lockable bike sheds offer an extra level protection from thieves as well as keeping your bike safe from the elements!

    If you’re fortunate enough to have a bike shed, then this can be a great option as it will keep your bike out of sight and keep it out of the elements. 

    Bike sheds are specifically designed for the storage of bikes however, so they are often targeted by thieves. Even if your bike shed has lockable doors, I’d advised that you further lock your bicycle inside.

    When locking your bike anywhere, the more components that are secured, the better. Make sure, as previously stated to lock in order of worth (Frame first, Rear wheel second, front-wheel last).

    How to Lock a Bike In a Garage

    Garages are a fantastic option for locking your bike properly. Much like a bike shed, they will keep your bike out of the elements and out of sight. Garage theft rates are on the rise however, as they are a popular place for people to store items of value.

    Not only should you keep your garage secure with locked doors and windows, but also make sure to lock your bike properly when it is stored inside.

    As I’ve already covered, consider a ground anchor. If you don’t have a ground anchor then attach your bike to an object in your garage that can not be easily moved or removed.

    How to Use a Ground Anchor to Lock a Bike 

    A great way to secure your bicycle inside a bike shed can be through the use of a ground anchor. I have rated and reviewed several of the best ground anchors for you already, to save you from endlessly trawling through unreliable websites.

    How to lock a bike using a ground anchor

    A ground anchor, if you don’t already know is a piece of equipment that is usually attached to the floor or a wall. They are used to anchor your bike down and prevent it from being moved whilst locked.

    If you have been securing your bike outside of the home and haven’t been using a ground anchor already, then I’d advise you to get one.

    Not only are ground anchors specifically designed for bikes, but they are also much more secure than a garden gate or fence and will ultimately provide a higher level of protection for your bike.

    The Torc ground anchor, shown below is designed and manufactured by Pragmasis. This ground anchor is the highest security approved ground anchor on the market. The Torc is recommended by UK police and is used by the British Armed Forces. If you want the best protection for your bike, you’ve just found it.

    Different ground anchors operate in different ways, so as always it’s important to select one that best suits your needs. If you don’t have access to a bike shed, then don’t panic! You can use a ground anchor almost anywhere, and there are several other options as well.

    If you are unable to use a ground anchor, or a bike shed then you need to find an immovable object, such as a strong metal fence or a bike rack. It’s always important to carefully consider your locking options, no matter where you are. 

    It wouldn’t make sense to lock your bike to something that could easily be moved or broken, such as a wooden garden fence. This is simply because a thief will target the fence instead of your lock, and your bike will be gone before you know it.

    How to Lock a Bike Onto Your Bike Rack

    If you take your bike away with you on holiday, the chances are you’ll be using a bike rack attached to your car.  Whilst these are an excellent way to transport bikes over long distances, they often provide very minimal security for the bikes they are holding.

    Bike rack, how to lock your bike properly
    Bike racks are a great way to transport multiple bikes whilst travelling long distances. However, many don't provide any security, so make sure

    Thieves operate all across the globe in rural and urban areas. This means that you should make sure your bike remains secure whilst attached to your car. Some of the higher-end bike racks come with locking systems that help lock your bike to the car. 

    The majority of bike racks, provide a very minimal level of security so you should use other locks to secure your bike as well.

    With so many different makes and models of bike racks available, I can’t tell you exactly how to lock your bike to the rack you use. Just make sure that you do lock your bike to the bike rack, this will prevent chancers from stealing your bike. 

    How to lock your bike properly, bike locked inside of car
    I lock my bike's frame to the car door when travelling with it inside. This may seem like an overkill, but theives won't hesitate to smash a car window if they see something of value inside.

    If you know you won’t be leaving your bike unattended whilst driving with it on a bike rack, don’t feel obliged to lock it. However, I always secure my bike with at least one lock whilst it’s on my bike rack, no matter the distance I’m travelling. 

    If you keep your bike inside of your car (in the boot or in the back seats) then it’s a good idea to lock it in place. Thieves will not hesitate to smash your car window and make off with your bike. 

    Consider locking your bike’s frame to the car door, or anything inside the car which makes it more of a challenge to remove. At the end of the day, the more secure your bike is the better.

    If you can avoid leaving your bike on a bike rack, then do so. If possible keep your bike secured inside the house where it is out of sight, but if not then make sure you lock it properly!

    Summary - How to lock a Bike

    The common rule of thumb that you should adhere to is, the more components you secure the better. If you secure as many of your bike’s components and accessories as possible, thieves will move onto a less secure target.

    Make sure to also use a top-quality lock to lock your bike, or your bike will be targeted by thieves and will most likely be stolen. Have a look at some of my reviews at the bottom of the page. I’ve reviewed the best bike locks in detail from each category.

    Keep your lock off the ground when your bike is secure and make sure to fill the locking area to prevent hydraulic attacks.

    No lock is unbreakable. With enough time and the right tools, any bike lock can be beaten,If your bike is significantly expensive, or if you require some extra peace of mind, you might decide to take out a bicycle insurance plan to further protect your investment.

    If you want some top quality bike lock suggestions, check out my reviews below!

     

    And as always, lock it, or loose it.

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    About Me
    Me and My Bike

    Hello! My name’s James, I’m an avid cyclist and the lead editor of BikeLockWiki.

    I’ve invested over four years into researching & studying bicycle security and now want to share the information I’ve learnt with the worldwide cycling community.

    I do this in the hope that people don’t have to simply become a victim of bike theft to realise and understand the importance of bicycle security. Read More…

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