Folding bike locks offer great versatility and flexibility of cable locks, yet level of security comparable to average u-locks. If we’re talking about premium U-locks or chain locks, they are still superior to their folding counterparts in terms of protection.
However, they either lack flexibility in terms of what object you can attach the lock to (U-locks have limited diameter) or portability (good chain locks weigh a lot).
If you choose the proper lock, it will be extremely lightweight compared to chain or u-locks, and easy to transport.
Best folding bike locks, as of today, are:
On the first glance, folding locks all seem very similar – they attach to bike and operate in a very similar way (there are some key differences in locking mechanics, but more on that below).
However, the devil is always in the details. You can still buy a decent lock for optimal price, and we help you do so with our recommendations below.
We look at different features of folding locks in a particular order, depending on the tools that thieves carry most often and use to open this type of locks:
Two things you need to consider for plates: type of metal used and its thickness. Good locks should have at least 5mm of hardened steel. Why? Because thieves like to carry cable cutters with them.
There are several reasons for that – first is that many people still use cheap cable locks as their primary method of protection for a bike (and even cheap cable cutters cut those in less than a second).
Another reason, they are compact, fast to use and operate without any noise. From thieves’ perspective it’s the most effective tool in terms carry weight, speed and amount of bikes they can steal (relatively) unnoticeable.
However, most of the cable cutters will have trouble dealing with folding lock plates. It’s not an effective use of thief’s time, and they would rather look for another victim.
This is what holds the plates together, and is a rather tricky thing to research. See, there are two methods for thieves to deal with nuts – bolt cutter and nut splitter. Again, both of them are not very common for thieves to carry.
However, if they want your bike, and they know you lock it regularly somewhere (i.e. your place of work or study), it’s not uncommon for a thief to come back with proper tools the next day.
In order for nuts to become harder to deal with, they both need to be made of hardened steel or have a thicker diameter. While it’s clear why hard steel is better, bigger diameter would mean that perpetrators would need a bigger nut cutter, sometimes as big as 30”, and again, it’s not something easy to carry with you, looking for that one bike using folding lock.
It’s hard to judge or measure the quality of nuts used in a lock if your buying it online. And unfortunately. It’s the part where most of the budget locks fail – it’s much easier to claim you have thick steel plates and slap them together with poor nuts – but in this case thick plates will not help much. The lock will be twisted with a bar and those nuts will fall out easily, regardless of how thick / hard plates are.
Again, this is where cheap folding locks fail. It’s hard for an ordinary person to judge the quality of particular lock – and understand what to look for.
Manufacturers need to save somewhere – and if it’s very cheap to make steel on your plates thicker and make bold claims, locking mechanisms are expensive, and most people don’t understand differences anyway – so why bother?
Due to the nature of these folding locks – the locking mechanisms are often picked. It’s a method with no operation noise, and since there are many poorly-made folding locks out there – they can be picked in under a minute. Great option for a thief even in crowded public spaces – and no need to worry – those few people who look at them think the bike owner is having issues opening his lock – the key is stuck, happens all the time.
As you may understand by now, decent folding bike locks are not cheap. It’s not that we want you to buy the most expensive one out there. But, if you have a limited budget, we suggest looking at other options, namely U-locks or chain locks. You can buy an effective lock in each of those categories for one-third of the price you could pay for a good Abus folding lock.
In recent years there have been more and more companies popping up on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms claiming they have found the panacea for bike theft problem.
Unsurprisingly, most of them fall into ‘folding lock’ category – because of the level of comfort they provide. and the fact that these locks are the most expensive, allowing better margins for manufacturers.
We’re quite sceptical about these locks for two main reasons: they make claims that have no ground and cost a lot.
Here is how easily they can be dealt with (courtesy of one wonderful YouTube Channel, LockPickingLawyer).
So, we’d rather stick with traditional plated folding locks, at least for now.
First, when you need maximum portability and ease of use combined with minimum weight – they attach effortlessly to bike frames in easy-to-install housings and can be deployed in seconds.
Secondly, when you park and lock your bike for short periods or when your bike is present in your view most of the time.
With that being said, we still suggest to use folding locks together with looped security cables which can be passed through easy-to-remove bike parts like wheels (with quick release) or saddle.
And lastly, as said above, when money is not an issue, folding lock is something worth considering, as it’s the most expensive out of three types for the level of protection it provides.