The Ultimate Guide to Ensuring That Your Bike Never Gets Stolen Again

Thursday, March 2, 2017
Dylan Cayto's, 2015 TE Capstone student and current Lehigh Senior, success with Altor!

Our mechanically impaired writer tested 15 bike locks with the goal of defeating every single one. He succeeded and learned one very important lesson in the process: protecting your bike depends on way more than your hardware. (*Money-back guarantee not included. Some of this really is on you.)


My favorite tool is an iPhone, because I can use it to call a lawn guy or a plumber. So when my editor asked if I’d write about bike security and today’s best bike locks by learning how to steal a bike, I told her to consider someone else.


Turns out, I misspoke. Anyone—even this monkey—can swipe a bike. I learned that the real goal is to discourage someone from stealing your bike. In these prolific bike-thieving times, it’s every rider for himself. “You know the old joke: How fast must you be to run away from a bear? Faster than your slowest friend,” says Nick Watkins, general manager for Kryptonite, a longtime leader in the bike lock business. “Same sort of idea with bike locks.”


Cops, bike-theft experts, and fellow industry insiders all agree with Watkins, who has been with Kryptonite for 15 years. But wisecracking though he may be, Watkins isn’t being cynical or disloyal to his brand. Kryptonite, which has been in business for nearly half a century, produces arguably some of the most robust locks available.


There is, however, competition—some of it quite good. Turns out that compelling bike locks come in shapes other than U. “Our goal is high security and light weight,” says Dylan Cato, co-founder of Altor, a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania–based company that introduced its almost-sexy, foldable titanium 560G lock in late 2016. “Why spend a ton of money to get a 16-pound bike, and then buy a six-pound lock?”


Of the 15 locks I tried, I did find the 560G notable. But when I ultimately finished inserting shackles into crossbars, threading chains through wheels, and turning keys, I also liked others. Great U-style locks include the lightweight Abus Granit Plus 640 and the ambitious (but expensive) Lattis Ellipse. Foldable and chain-style favorites include the Hiplok Lite Superbright and Kryptonite Keeper 810 Fold.