The Crime Prevention Website


Bikeoff have assessed the security of different bike locks by comparing user centred values against abuser centred values. It makes interesting reading. Take a look at this link for a fuller explanation. 

Responsible bike lock manufacturers will often self-classify the security level of their locks as a guide to the purchaser.  Whilst this is helpful when selecting a lock within the scope of a manufacturer’s products it’s not that helpful when comparing locks across brands.  The only way that you can get a fair comparison is to seek out locks that have undergone independent third party testing.  In the UK, an organisation owned by the Master Locksmiths Association called ‘Sold Secure’, is the recognised testing and certification body for this type of security product.

At Sold Secure, bike locks are subjected to a variety of timed attacks using a selection of tools to replicate the sort of attack that would be applied in the field (See Common methods used to steal bikes above).  Depending on how the locks perform, Sold Secure will categorise the lock as being bronze, silver or gold, with gold being the highest security level.  Sold secure describe the three levels of security as shown in the table below.  I have added a parking example for each level to indicate the level’s practical application.

It is important to note that if you are going to park your bike for more than a couple of minutes it should be secured with TWO locks.  The recommendation is that you should lock BOTH wheels AND the frame to an immovable object, preferably to dedicated bike parking furniture

Practical applications for the Sold Secure lock ratings  

Sold Secure Security Rating

What Sold Secure says about the rating

An example where this rating would be useful

How many locks?



‘Bronze products offer a good level of resistance against the opportunist thief and should be used in a normal risk environment’

Locks passing at this level are useful for securing your bike if you’ve ridden down to the newsagent to get the paper and you’re only going to leave the bike for a minute or two

One lock at this level is probably enough for the  2 minute stop   

However, if you are aware that bikes have been taken from outside that shop before use a Silver rated lock



‘Silver products offer a greater level of resistance against the more determined thief and should be used in a higher risk environment’

A lock passing at this level is useful for securing your bike if you’re parking your bike at work against dedicated parking furniture, which is in full view of the reception or occupied offices and is located in the private car park 

Use two locks of different types, such as a D lock and a Cable lock.  Make sure you lock both wheels and the frame to the parking furniture



‘Gold products offer our top level of resistance against the dedicated thief and should be used in a high risk environment’

Locks passing at this level are useful for securing your bike when you’re having to park in a place where you’ve never been to before or you are leaving your bike in a public place, even if you are parking it onto dedicated parking furniture

Use two locks of different types, such as a D lock and an armoured cable lock.  Make sure you lock both wheels and the frame to the parking furniture


Cable locks

Many variants of the cable locks described below use a locking mechanism that is permanently fixed to one end of the cable.  The other end of the cable is inserted into the lock and is locked in place either automatically or by turning a key in a cylinder and or by alteration of a combination lock’s numbers.  Some use a separate padlock (which can get lost), which holds the enlarged ends of the cable within the hasp. 

Basic cable

Steel cables of various thicknesses with a plastic cover to prevent damage to the bike and the securing point.  All basic cables are vulnerable to cutting


These use sprung cables, which re-coil after use for storage.  Due to the use of thinner cables these offer only a low level of security when compared to the thicker basic cable locks and the armoured types.


At the top of the tree are the armoured cables, where the steel cable is protected by hardened steel shells that frustrate attempts at cutting.  This type of lock is available at Sold Secure Gold.  As the weight of a Sold Secure Gold standard armoured cable can weigh as much as 2.8 kg they are often supplied with a carrying bracket (or you have to buy one separately)  

Chain with padlock

The chains vary enormously in their weight, length, chain link size and locking method.  All these factors will affect security.  The thicker chains (8mm +) of closely spaced links offer a fairly high level of security, especially if the ends of the chain are locked into a close shackle padlock.  Thick and closely spaced links and a close shackle padlock all frustrate cutting and chains themselves are resistant to levering. 

Chains are generally covered with a protective fabric or plastic sleeve to reduce corrosion and to avoid damaging the bike’s paintwork. 

A Sold Secure Silver or Gold rated chain offers a high standard of security when used with a second lock.  Unfortunately the higher security chains tend to be heavy and cannot easily be carried on the bike.  Therefore you’ll have to carry the chain around your shoulder or carry it in a pannier if you have one.

D and U Locks

These ‘U’ or ‘D’ shaped locks comprise of hardened steel shackles of various lengths, widths and thicknesses, which lock into an oblong shaped lock body.  They are in essence an oversized padlock.  The lock body can either be fixed to one end of the shackle, although there are some which come off the shackle completely.  The various lengths and widths of the shackle allow the rider to lock the bike in a way that minimises the gaps between the lock, bike and furniture thereby minimising levering points.  So, if you’re using it to lock the bike and frame to parking furniture you’ll need one with a longer span than one you might only use to lock a wheel.

Once again you should select one that carries a Sold Secure rating to match the risk and recognise that a D lock will only be one of the necessary two locks for a good level of security.  They are available with Sold Secure accreditation from Bronze to Gold.

The cheaper D locks and many of the non Sold Secure certified D locks are vulnerable to levering and picking.  Many of them will be or can be supplied with a carrying bracket for the bike.

Cuff shackles (or handcuff locks)

Essentially cuff shackles are handcuffs for bikes (but can be used to secure lots of things to lots of things!).  One end is secured to the parking furniture and the other end to the bike’s frame or wheel.  Each cuff contains a ratchet lock, which allows them to be tightened around the locking point and thus reduce levering opportunities.  Because they are limited in size you’ll need three of them to lock both wheels and the frame.  They lock automatically, but need a key to unlock them, with two actions per cuff lock; so that’s quite a lot of unlocking before riding off.

Cuff shackles are easily carried and are certainly available at Sold Secure Silver level.

Secure skewers

These are used to replace quick release and standard bolt fixings for wheels and seats and so are component locks.  These permanently fitted skewers are very difficult to undo using conventional hand tools and are instead supplied with their own unique hand tools, allen keys or spanners that have been specially shaped or otherwise designed to limit their use to the individual skewer.  Arguably, as a ‘skewer’ secured component, such as a wheel, is more or less permanently secured, you need only secure the frame to the parking furniture.  That said, I would still use two highly visible conventional locks for long term parking to deter the thief from even thinking about stealing the bike.

True facts

Next time you visit Amsterdam consider these facts about the city’s bicycle population:

There are around 780,000 people living within the city of Amsterdam with about 700,000 bicycles! 

Around 56,000 of these bikes get stolen every year with around a quarter of them ending up dumped in the canals. It has been estimated that over 50% of the population have a bike parked somewhere in the city that is never used, which is a big problem as they occupy much needed cycle parking space.  Amsterdam’s bike theft has actually reduced a great deal over the past 10 years with the introduction of bike registration, better parking facilities and public awareness campaigns.

And if you need cheering up after all this negative stuff about bike crime take a look at Dominic Waugh’s most entertaining 3 minute film entitled ‘ Stop nicking my bike ’ (2006) in which he demonstrates how easy it is to steal his own bike from various places around London – with lots of people looking on!