Folding bike locks offer great versatility and flexibility of cable locks, yet the level of security comparable to budget 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.
ABUS Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500/85 – the ultimate folding lock
Foldylock Compact – compact and lightweight
Kryptonite Kryptolok 610 – lots of perks and great warranty
Sigtuna Vidar 8 – solid lock on a budget
ROCK BROS Cube – portable, but still reliable
ABUS Bordo 6100/90 – great brand, affordable lock
Etook ET490 – very solid lock from a new player on the market
Via Velo – good option for short stops and low crime areas
Out of all folding locks, ABUS Bordo Granit series is the most secure and sturdy. X-Plus is the model of locking mechanism (proprietary to manufacturer) – it’s made of hardened steel, unlike some cheaper options that could spare a few bucks by using plastic lock housing or other components.
The plate thickness is also one of the biggest we have seen in a foldable lock. Again, these plates are hardened steel. The same applies to nuts holding the plates together.
The only downside of these locks is their price – they are probably the most expensive among folding bike locks. However, if you need ultimate flexibility, portability, and low weight (compared to other types of locks), this is the one for you.
The mounting bracket for the bike frame is sold separately.
If you want decent security of a folding lock, but even less weight check out this Foldylock Compact.
It weighs only 2.2 pounds and link (plate) thickness is the same as ABUS Granit – 5.5mm. It unfolds into a 33.5-inch loop (again, same for Bordo).
It comes with a mounting bracket included and three keys.
With 39 inches in length and 5mm bar thickness, Kryptolok 610 score 6 out of 10 on manufacturers own grading scale, making it a moderate-security lock.
As a Kryptonite, it comes with all perks like lifetime warranty, Key Safe Program (receive up to two keys for free in case you lost them) and Anti-Theft Protection Offer (should register to take advantage of this deal).
The mounting bracket is included and can be installed either with bolts or straps (also included).
Sigtuna is a Swedish manufacturer of bike locks and their Vidar 8 model for a foldable lock is pretty interesting. First off, the manufacturer claims to use 8-mm hardened steel plates. Secondly, it comes at half-price (or even less) than those from more popular brands.
We found its locking mechanism to be a little flimsy and have worries that it will not stand a twisting attack, even given respectable link thickness.
Again, the lock is good for shorter stops in crowded areas or to be used as a secondary lock.
This lock from ROCK BROS (a Chinese manufacturer) literally is the size of Rubik’s Cube. It means you don’t even need a bracket to place it on the bike (even though it’s included).
This is a great choice if you want a supercompact solution with the added security of a folding lock, compared to cable alternatives. The loop it creates will be only 27 inches, which is a bit less compared to other models above.
Again, not the most secure lock, but a great way to get more peace of mind during short stops, at a pretty low budget.
Another solid offer from ABUS, this time with a combination mechanism, which is not often seen on foldable locks.
This 6100 model is less fancy compared to the manufacturer’s flagship 6500 offer. It doesn’t have an X-Plus lock, but the one installed here is pretty solid, too.
The plate thickness is 5mm and the lock’s total weight is 2.7 lb.
It comes with a solid rubber bracket for easy attachment to the bike – either using velcro straps or screws.
Etook is a Chinese manufacturer of bike locks, mostly serving China’s internal market. They have only recently started offering their folding model in the US.
This is a very solid and heavy lock equipped with a Swiss lock and extremely thin keys (0.3 to 0.6 mm) – all combined these measures make it harder to pick it.
The metal on plates is 5mm-thick with extra 2mm of plastic to make sure you don’t scratch a bike with metal-to-metal contact. The manufacturer claims it can withstand a 9T hydraulic cutter.
Comes with a mounting bracket.
This is a nice budget lock that costs like a cable one from more established brands, yet provides better security.
Specs are pretty standard for this kind of locks – 5mm steel plates (although we doubt these are hardened, at a given price) and key locking mechanism.
The only thing we didn’t like is the mounting bracket – not only does it look strange with long bolts coming through, but with this kind of design you are risking scratching your bike frame, which is not fun at all.
At 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 good 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:
These are also known as links or bars. 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 bolt cutters with them.
With that said, if the model you like has a 5mm plate rather than 5.5mm – it will make zero difference for a thief. If he already started cutting, extra thickness will not stop him. So, we wouldn’t emphasize importance if thickness too much, given that all other parts of a given lock are decent.
What we would research more thoroughly, though is the actual thickness of the metal in these plates. See, some manufacturers state the total thickness of a plate, rather than metal thickness. And this can make a huge difference.
We would rather have a lock with a 4mm steel plate rather than one with 6mm claimed, but only 3mm of that for metal and the rest for plastic or rubber coating.
The coating is important, of course, especially for this type of lock. Foldable locks create smaller loops than chains, for example. So, it will inevitably come to close contact with the bike’s frame – that’s when coating comes handy not scratch the paint on the frame itself. However, be careful with what a manufacturer claims for plate thickness and actual metal thickness.
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 the 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 a thief’s time, and they would rather look for another victim.
Also known as rivets or bolts. 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, the 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 a folding lock.
It’s hard to judge or measure the quality of nuts used in a lock if you’re 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 a 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. A 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 problems.
Unsurprisingly, most of them fall into the ‘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 skeptical 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 using 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, a folding lock is something worth considering, as it’s the most expensive out of three types for the level of protection it provides.