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There are many different types of security devices available for securing your bike against theft, but which ones are the best?

  1. Cable locks
  2. Chains and padlocks
  3. D-Locks/U-Locks (Shackle Locks)
  4. Ground Anchors
  5. Theft recovery devices
  1. Who are Sold Secure?

Bicycle theft

Bicycle theft has doubled in the UK since the mid 1990s, with reports showing that over half a million bikes are currently stolen every year. The majority of bike thefts are committed by opportunist thieves. Someone sees a bike which is not secured or secured poorly and they take it because it's an easy target. This is particularly common when cyclists pop to the shops and are away from their bike for just a few minutes. The problem is that it takes just a few seconds for someone to take a bike which is not locked securely. Furthermore the introduction of online market places, such as Ebay and Gumtree has made it easy for stolen bikes to be resold without arousing any suspicion.  

Preventing bike theft

To prevent this type of theft you should ensure that your bike is secured in such a way that it cannot be ridden away. This can be achieved by securing it to a fixed immovable object, simply immobilising your bike main not be sufficient. If you have bicycle insurance you should always check the policy terms and conditions before leaving your bike in a public area, as your insurer may require you to use a lock which has been approved by Sold Secure.

Who are Sold Secure?

Sold Secure award three levels of accreditation according to how secure a lock is. They perform a variety of tests on a brand new lock, including a number of attacks with different tools and time the period taken to break into the lock. The award is granted according to how many of these set tests a lock withstands.

Sold Secure security grades/categories:

BRONZE  rated products offer theft resistance against the basic tool list (aimed at preventing opportunist crime)

SILVER – rated products offer theft resistance against enhanced tool list (aimed at preventing more determined attacks)

GOLD – rated products offer the highest level of approval.

A Gold accreditation may not mean that the lock is impenetrable, however it has withstood all that Sold Secure threw at it within the allocated time.

The majority of bicycle insurers now specify that a Sold Secure accredited lock should be used when leaving your bike in a public area. The value of your bike normally dictates which lock your insurers will require you to use. Before buying a lock you should always check your insurance policy to make sure it’s approved by your insurer. If you don’t have an insurance policy, it is recommended you should spend a minimum of 10% of the total value of your bike on a security device which has been approved by Sold Secure.

Cables locks

Cable locks are often light and offer the advantage of flexibility. Even cable locks that are extendable up to 185cm can be kept in a coiled form making them easy to carry on your bike. The thicker the total cable diameter, the harder it is to cut but it will also be less flexible and heavier. For a lock which you intend to carry around, 10mm or 12mm diameter should be sufficient although it’s not advisable to leave your bike overnight relying solely upon a cable of this size.

If you are looking to buy a cable lock make sure it has been tried and tested by Sold Secure, that way you can be sure it can resist a number of different theft attacks within an allocated time frame.

Cable locks such as the Abus Granite Steel O Flex received ‘Gold’ accreditation from Sold Secure offering the highest level of protection. For the best defense against theft, use cable locks with a shackle lock such as the Kryptonite Evolution. Cables locks are recommended as a secondary deterrent, or for additional protection of quick-release components and accessories.

See more cable locks

Chain and padlocks

Chains can be extremely flexible, although often shorter in length than cables. The strength of the chain is determined by the type of steel it is made from and the free space within the links.

Chains are good at withstanding tensional forces (stretch) but may be broken by torsional forces (twisting). Torsional force is achieved by inserting two long levers into the gaps created between links and moving the levers in opposite directions. Many better quality chains, which have achieved a Sold Secure rating will have a reduced gap between consecutive links and be of hardened steel.

Chains should prove more secure than cables for longer periods, but are considerably heavier. Chains can be virtually any length, and because chain collapses into a pile, they can take up less space.

Some chains on the market have a locking mechanism attached but more commonly have a separate padlock. Bicycle insurers will often require owners of high value bikes to securely lock their bike to an immovable object using a Sold Secure ‘Gold’ rated security device.

A recommended chain and padlock combination is the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit, which comes with an:

  1. Sold Secure ‘Gold’ rating.

  2. Manufactures Anti Theft Guarantee offer of up to £2,250  

  3. Point Security Rating: 12/12

Previous ‘What Mountain Bike?’ GOLD award winner!

See more chain and padlocks 

D-Locks/U-Locks (shackle locks)

D-Locks, also know as U-locks or Shackle locks consist of two parts, the mechanism housing and a U shaped round bar, the ends of which fasten into the mechanism housing. The bar should be made of hardened steel to resist cutting, as should the housing which contains the lock mechanism.

D-Locks fall under two categories

Single Mechanism shackle locks anchor one end of the D into the housing and the lock mechanism secures the other end. The key will operate the lock at one end of the housing.

Double mechanism shackle locks have a centrally located mechanism which secures both ends of the bar independently. The key will operate the lock from a central position (most commonly on the underside) on the housing.

Is a double mechanism better than a single? Most of the better quality D-locks are of double mechanism type and are harder to penetrate as a result. Both mechanisms would need to be broken for the bar to be released.

D-locks which have achieved a ‘Gold’ rating from Sold Secure are some of the most secure types of lock you can buy, offering maximum security and mobility.

For a top quality D-lock why not try the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit D-Lock which comes with an

  1. Sold Secure ‘Gold’ rating
  2. Manufactures Anti Theft Guarantee Offer £2,500
  3. Point Security Rating: 12/12

See more D-locks 

Ground anchors

Ground anchors can be secured onto a wall or into the floor, providing a fixed point to lock your bike to within a garage or shed.

Bikes are commonly stolen from sheds and garages even though they have a lock on them, just not locked to anything. To reduce the risk of your bike being stolen consider fixing a ground anchor to your shed floor and using a chain and lock combination. A recommended ground anchor is the Oxford Brute Force Ground Anchor which is both affordable and Sold Secure approved.

Ground anchors are most effective when used with a Sold Secure approved chain and lock combination. Try the PJB Secure A Bike Security chain and lock.

See more Ground anchors 

Theft recovery devices

Security Marking Systems are available from companies such as AlphaDot.

The Alpha Dot marking system uses thousands of tiny microdots all of which display a unique pin number. The owner must register their pin on a secure database, which the police can use to identify the rightful keeper of the stolen bike. The microdots are suspended in a powerful glue, which can be easily applied to multiple locations on your bike and is permanent. This system will not prevent your bike from being stolen, but with many owners being unable to prove that a stolen bike is actually theirs, it will improve the chances of it being returned to you if it is recovered.

Electronic tagging devices are available from companies such as Datatag. The kit is simple to fit and includes both visible and hidden identifiers including a Datatag transponder that gives your bike a unique electronic finger print.

The added advantage of using security tagging system is that they often come with highly visible warning labels. This clearly identifies your bike as being electronically tagged, which may reduce the chance of it being taken in favor of one which is not marked.


As the majority of bicycle thefts are opportunist ones, it is essential that, no matter how long you leave your bike for, you take adequate precautions to ensure that your bike is still there when you return.

If you will only ever be leaving your bike for a few minutes at a time, then a
Sold Secure ‘Gold’ rated cable lock should suffice, but for longer periods you need to look for something a little more secure, such as a Sold Secure approved D-lock or chain and padlock combination. Your individual needs will determine which lock, or collection of locks will best fit. Its always worth investing in a good quality lock, which has been tried and tested by Sold Secure, this will help to minimise the risk of your bike being seen as an easy target by an opportunist thief.

More on bicycle security

Find a Sold Secure approved:






Select either Gold, Silver or Bronze.

Information on insurer guidelines  

Information on bicycle security tips  

The content within this website is not exhaustive and should only be used as a general overview. Insurers will stipulate specific warranties within their terms and conditions, which can often be modified from insurer to insurer. Always refer to your policy wording to ensure you have met their warranty requirements. Prices quoted are correct as at December 2010, and are subject to change. The products recommend within this website gives the reader an insight into the more effective security products available in the market, it does not give any form of guarantee that these products will be 100% effective in combating crime. Also, it does not guarantee that these methods are suitable for specific applications. It is the responsibility of the equipment supplier and equipment purchaser to ensure that their chosen security device is suitable to its particular application and that it complies with all legislation, standards, codes of practice or any other requirement. Every effort has been made to ensure the contents of this site is accurate, however CSP does not accept any responsibility for losses arising from decisions based upon the content herein.