Everything You Need To Know About Bike Locks 

 August 27, 2020

By  Jacqui Cheng

Bike theft is common in most parts of the world. There are some countries like the United States, where bike theft is more prevalent than others.

It is not something that has started occurring recently; bike theft has been happening for countless years and was thought to be seemingly uncontrollable. However, there are numerous solutions nowadays that can prevent bicycle theft from occurring.

History Of Bicycle Theft

According to a survey held in 2000 by several crime departments, people informed police departments about fifty-seven percent of the total bicycle thefts in seventeen countries. Several studies also show that there have been millions or even billions of bicycle thefts up till now.

There has been a significant increase of bicycle theft in the recent years, especially in the United States.

Majority of the perpetrators are twenty years of age or in their mid to late teens. Most records indicate that ease of stealing bikes and the thrill inherent in the act were the main reasons behind these thefts. There can be several more reasons behind the thefts, but the ones we have mentioned above are the most common ones.

In a survey held for the London bicycle theft in 2016, it was apparent people stole more than fifty percent of bikes due to ineffective locks. People showed great concern and weren't satisfied with the security given to their bikes or any other vehicle for that matter.

Common Offenders Of Bike Theft

Even though we briefly mentioned the common types of perpetrators involved in stealing bicycles, there are a few more. Males in their early-teens usually steel bikes for joyriding purposes and entertainment. They are known to abandon the stolen bikes at random places once they stop riding them.

Males in their mid-teens, however, are an entirely different story. Their motivation is more than joyriding, as most of them are looking to pawn the bicycles in exchange for money.

The reason why people buy stolen bikes so quickly is that they are not traceable to their original owner, as most of them do not have any tracking number. Some thieves even trade the stolen bicycles for other goods; so, the primary goalof these types of offenders is financial gain.

Adults aren't common perpetrators of bicycle theft as numerous records have shown very few adults are involved in it.

History Of Bicycle Locks

Bicycle locks weren't as famous back in the day as they are now. There were only a handful of bike locks to choose. Padlocks and chains were common tools for locking bicycles in the early days. After a century, people began to use combination locks.

The combination locks were significantly more effective than the chain and padlocks as it was challenging for the thieves to figure out the combination of these locking systems. It took too much time, and there was always a risk of being caught.

France, United Kingdom, United States, and Germany were among the leading manufacturers of customized and specialized locks. Let us discuss some other locks that were common in the old days.

German Steel Lock (20th Century)

People attached these locks on the rear wheel of their bicycles; they clamped the lock on the wheels by mounting them just below the seat. 

All you had to do was install one end on the rear or front spoke of the bicycle's wheel while the other end on the pedal.

Bike Locks And Chains

These were the most straightforward and cheapest locks that people in the old days used. All they had to do was choose something steady to tie the chain. The other end of the bike chain was then attached to the bike after which people hooked a lock onto it.

These locks didn't have keys in the beginning, but as time went by and theft began to increase, manufacturers began to produce these locks along with keys.

Even though the rate of bicycle theft went down due to the bike locks, but it didn't go down enough as thieves were still able to penetrate through the locks and chains by hammering heavy metal objects onto them. Another technique the thieves used commonly was to melt the steel chains using fire. However, this was time-consuming and risky.

The Optimus

Three German engineers founded the famous padlock company known as Optimus, which meant best in Latin. Their locks were extremely renowned all over the world as they were durable and relatively cheap. No other manufacturer was able to produce quite the same quality of locks as Optimus did.

The reason why they gained so much popularity is that they made bike locks of different shapes and sizes making it convenient for customers to choose from a large variety of different locks.

They made their locks using top quality steel which was almost impossible to melt or break. The demand for their locks kept getting higher and higher, which prompted them to start working on door locks and other different types of locks.

What Methods Do Thieves Use To Steal Bike?

There are conventional techniques and methods that thieves use to steal bikes efficiently without getting caught. We will discuss some of these techniques down below.

The most straightforward thing that thieves do to steel bikes is merely removing signposts to lift the bicycles without any suspicion. Majority of bike owners park their bikes near signposts; these bikes become easy targets for thieves. There are often when the posts are not as steady, and thieves can remove them quickly without any trouble.

Common technique thieves use for stealing bicycles is using a lever to break the lock or chain. They even resort to using various tools in an attempt to unlock or break the locks apart. Chisels and hammers are standard tools that thieves use to break the locks and chains.

Experienced and skilled thieves are experts in undoing bolts. They disassemble the bike and take it along with them. It usually requires assistance; some thieves leave the wheels behind as they are relatively cheap. They can quickly install new ones later on or sell the bicycle without them.

Cutting is another conventional technique that bicycle thieves use. They use angle grinders, bolt cutters, tin snips, and hacksaws to cut the chains off.

Some thieves are good lock pickers, and can easily find out seemingly impossible combinations within a matter of minutes. However, some thieves require assistance for cracking the lock's combination.

Bicycle thieves always prey on bicycles that people do not lock properly. They are frequently on the lookout for these types of bikes, and once they are sure that they can quickly open the locks, they steal it.

Bicycles that have locks attached to their seats are easy prey for thieves. They can comfortably steal your bike via a method known as the 'quick release.' The perpetrator quickly removes the bike seat, which renders the lock useless and runs away with the bicycle.

A rare and intelligent way to steel bikes is the freezing method. The thieves use a variety of chemical sprays over the chains or locks to freeze them. Once they freeze, the thieves have to hammer them once or twice to break them into pieces completely.

Some thieves who have a lot of experience in steeling bikes use hydraulic bottle jacks to steal bikes. This object comes in handy especially when people lock their bikes with U-locks.

Steps To Take After Your Bike Gets Stolen

Sitting with your hands behind your back and hoping your bicycle will come back will not accomplish anything. You have to be proactive to make sure that you do your best to retrieve your bike. There is never a hundred percent chance of your bike returning.

But trying can at least give you a glimmer of hope. Following are some steps you should consider taking after someone steals your bike.

List It As Stolen

Some people register their bikes with numerous online registrations. You should waste no time in making sure that you list your bike as stolen on all of these online forums. It alerts everyone present on these sites immediately and helps in spreading the message quickly and efficiently.

If you aren't already on these websites, make sure that you join them. It is straightforward and will only take a matter of minutes to sign up. The best part about these sites is that most of them are incredibly cheap or free of cost and are an efficient way of keeping track of your bike.

Be Sure To Alert Social Media

This step is similar to the previous. But some differences make it an even more viable option. The good thing about social media is it doesn't matter if people know you or not, once you post something it becomes available for all eyes to see. Therefore you should take advantage of this feature and make sure that you alert everyone to the fact that your bike is no longer with you.

Another thing that could be useful is to upload a few photos of your bike so that if someone happens to lay their eyes on it, they can contact you immediately. Social media gets a bad reputation because of the way some people use it. However, it can prove to be equally useful if people use it in a better way.

Alert The Police Immediately

A wise thing to do as soon as someone steals your bike would be to alert the authorities immediately. Be sure to inform the police officers about the location you think thieves stole your bike.

They will quickly notify the police officers present in that vicinity to be on the lookout. The police have successfully been able to recover many bikes when people tell them the correct location.

People often don't bother to inform the police about bike theft as they always assume that they probably have more severe crimes to tackle. However, police officers do not take bike theft lightly and start looking into the matter as soon as someone informs them.

Even if some officer isn't able to attend your case, there will always be another one who is free. Reporting also helps police to figure out the extent of bike theft going around which leads them to approach the matter with more seriousness.

Expensive bike owners often insure their bikes. They should always check the insurance policies to find out how soon they should report the theft to collect insurance. Some insurance policies only give 24 hours to report the robbery. Otherwise, they won't provide the insurance money.

File A Claim For Insurance

There are usually two kinds of insurance people have when it comes to bikes. They are either specialized bicycle insurances or either household insurances. Make sure to get in touch with your insurance providers as soon as you file a report with the authorities.

Insurance providers require all of the police reports that you have submitted after complaining to make sure that you are not committing any fraud. They do this because there have been several cases where people hire someone to get their bike stolen so that they could claim the insurance money or get a new bike. 

Check Online Selling Platforms

More often than not - thieves try to sell stolen bikes on various e-commerce websites. Take your time to check all of the numerous online platforms and scan through to make sure you find out if someone has put your stolen bike up for sale.

Check-In Nearby Bike Stores And Pawn Shops

Some thieves try to sell the stolen bikes in nearby locations. It is why we recommend you to check up on nearby pawn shops and bike stores. If thieves are in a panic, then chances are you'll be able to find your bike nearby.

Put Up Posters Everywhere

People often put up posters of their stolen bikes everywhere after someone takes their bikes. However, if you plan to put up flyers, make sure you put them up immediately. It can potentially scare the thieves, and they might leave your bike behind due to the risk of getting caught.

Types Of Bike Locks And Their Effectiveness

Modern times have seen the invention of various kinds of bike locks; all have different functions and features. There are varying price ranges for these locks depending on the manufacturers and the quality. Let us discuss some of the leading bike locks that people use in the modern era.

Chain Lock

Even though people use chain locks are a relatively older locking tool, people still use them today. However, some modifications make them stronger and durable than their previous versions. Chain locks are easily affordable and relatively easy to install. There are secure chain locks as well as lighter ones.

Cable Lock

If you are looking for a lock that is not only practical but convenient as well, look no further than cable locks. Their flexibility and light weight makes them easy to carry and store. The cable lock is one of the most fundamental and practical forms for bike protection.

Manufacturers design them with superior attention to detail to make sure that thieves are not able to break through the cables using cutters and various other objects.

Getting hold of thicker cable locks would be an excellent idea for anyone, as most thieves do not even bother to try to steal bikes with these locks. The reason behind this is that thick cables are almost impossible to break and require too much time and work.


U-locks are light in weight, and it is relatively simple to fasten them up on your bike. However, their shape is rigid, and it can be difficult to carry them around on your bike. It doesn't mean that they aren't useful, in fact, a considerable number of bike owners prefer to have U-locks for their bikes.

You can solve the problem of carrying these looks on your bike by putting them in a bag. You can attach your bike with lamp posts, fences, poles, and numerous other things.

Wheel Lock

Some thieves strangely don't steal the complete bike; they take the wheels instead. However, you do not need to worry as there are locks precisely designed for keeping your bike's wheels intact.

You have to clamp these locks to your bicycle's wheels without using any tools. These locks are small in size and virtually weightless, making them must-have equipment for any bike enthusiast.

The Recent Popularity Of Smart Locks

If someone claimed five years ago that there would be locks that you could control from a distance, people would deem that person crazy. However as time went by, technology became superior and more sophisticated. You will find it surprising to find out that smart locks are not only limited to cars but are now available for bikes as well.

These locks are surprisingly light in weight and are as durable as the manual locks. You can lock your cars from a distance using remote controls or smartphone apps.

Not only will these locks prove to be helpful for securing your bikes from a range, but you will also even be able to track them if they someone steals them. There are numerous other functions that these smart locks possess.

Bike Lock Maintenance

People often ignore maintaining their bike locks thinking that they do not require any maintenance.  However, it is quintessential to make sure that you service your bike locks at regular intervals. Following are some ways that will help you maintain your bikes.

Preventing Jams

Always check the inside of your locks to make sure that it doesn't jam. Small particles like dust and debris can fill up your lock making it difficult to open or close. There are several ways you can clean your locks from the inside.

The most effective method is to use a toothpick or a matchstick as they can quickly enter a look. Just make sure that they do not break and stay inside the lock, as it will make your task twice as difficult.


Cleanliness will not only improve the appearance of your bike's lock, but it will even give your lock longevity. You can use various techniques to clean your look, most of them are relatively simple and do not take up too much of your time. There are numerous cleaners available in the market, and you can even use surf or soap to get rid of the dirt.


Locks often tend to seize due to various reasons. One of the common causes behind seizing is rust. Metal locks are primary victims of rusting and should be lubricated on a regular basis to make sure that you can operate them smoothly. Squirt some oil or any lock lubricant you can find inside the keyhole, and your look will be as good as new.


In this article, we have discussed bicycle locks and their different types. We have also considered bike theft history and reasons for bike theft in great detail which includes gratification and financial gain. You can also read about bicycle lock maintenance and smart locks in this article.

This article is the perfect blueprint for people looking to find out about bicycle locks. Down below, we have provided the buying guide that will help you get the best bike look that would perfectly suit your needs.

Jacqui Cheng

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