Anyone who parks a bike out in the open should use a lock. These days just throwing any old lock around the bike isn't enough. When you shop for a bike lock, it pays to get the most secure lock that you can afford, especially if you ride in a high-crime area. Combination locks are available in many of the main types of bike locks.
Cable locks are generally considered the least secure type of lock, and serve better as a secondary lock used to lock a free wheel. These locks feature braided cable in plastic housing and are more versatile than other types of locks when they are wrapped around the bike.
Some cable locks feature built-in combination locks while others require the use of a separate lock. They come in a variety of thicknesses. If you do choose a cable lock, opt for one that is thick and armored. Cable locks braided from many individual small cables are also more secure than those which use a lesser number of thick strands.
Chain locks are considered more secure than cable locks. They feature heavy, steel links that provide a stronger deterrent to criminals. In a July, 2008 article, "New York Magazine" found the Kryptonite NY chain lock to be a top choice for every day cyclists--even more secure than U-locks. Chain locks often require a separate lock to lock up. Chain locks are easier to wrap than U-locks and more sturdy than cable locks, but they are also bulky and heavy. Some chain locks feature a plastic shell over the metal links. Squared chain links help to prevent cutting.
A U-lock is a secure lock that is slimmer and easier to transport than the other two options. Named for its shape, the U-lock features a rounded shackle that engages with a slide-on bar. These locks may use key or combination mechanisms for locking. When you use a U-lock, its important to limit the amount of space between the lock and the bike to decrease the amount of leverage a criminal could gain in attempting to pry the lock off. While U-locks are secure and compact, they limit the objects that you can secure your bike to given their smaller size and lack of flexibility. U-locks often come with mounting brackets so that you can mount them directly to your bike frame.
Article Written By Joe Fletcher
Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.