Hey there fellow cyclist! If you’re anything like me, figuring out where to put your bike lock while riding around can be a real headache. Those things are bulky, awkward, and seem to get in the way no matter where you try to stash them. But bringing a lock with you is absolutely essential to keep your wheels safe from sticky fingers looking for an easy score.
According to statistics from the National Bike Registry, over 1.5 million bikes are stolen in the U.S. every year, that’s one every 30 seconds! And the best way to prevent your ride from becoming just another sad statistic is to always, always bring your lock with you and use it whenever you park up.
So in this complete guide, I’ll walk you through the main types of locks, the best places to put them on your bike and body, and some key factors to consider when choosing the right transportation method for your needs. Arm yourself with the knowledge to ride secure in the knowledge your bike will still be there when you return!
Types of Bike Locks
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to carry the darn things, let’s quickly run through the main types of bike locks so you understand the unique transportation needs of each.
Thesebad boys shaped like a ‘U’ are one of the toughest locks around thanks to their hardened steel construction. A good u-lock will deter all but the most determined thieves. They’re a decent weight at around 3-5 lbs and come in a range of sizes. Smaller ones can be easier to carry but provide less locking room.
As the name suggests, chain locks are made of interlocking metal links, either in a loop or as a straight chain. They provide loads of customizable locking options thanks to their flexible shape. But they tend to be on the heavier side at around 5-15 lbs. More metal = more weight!
Cable locks are the lightweight flexible siblings of chains. They use braided steel cables which can be threaded through wheels and frames. Convenient to carry but offer the least protection from bolt cutters.
Folding locks give you the best of both worlds – tough hardened links like a chain, but can fold down into a compact size. They’re ideal for portability while still offering decent security. Weights range from 2-4 lbs.
Transporting Your Lock on Your Bike
Let’s start with options for lugging your lock around while keeping it attached to your bike in some way, shape or form. This has the benefit of always knowing exactly where your lock is without having to carry extra weight on your body.
Use a Lock Mount
Many locks, especially u-locks and folding locks come with specially designed mounts included that allow you to attach them securely to your bike frame.
These lock mounts clip or slide onto different tubes like your top bar, seat tube, or down tube giving you flexibility to find a good fit. It keeps the lock stabilized and right at hand for swift deployment when locking up. No more awkward fumbling around in bags for that hunk of metal when you reach your destination!
Smaller u-locks and foldable locks are most stable in their mounts as the weight is centered close to the frame. But don’t rule out securing larger u-locks in a mount too. Brands like Kryptonite have sturdy mounts that can handle their beastly New York Fahgettaboudit mini u-lock.
If your existing lock didn’t come with a mount, you can buy universal mounts like the Oopsmark leather holster or Huldit strap mount. Take care to install them properly so they don’t come loose and turn your lock into a projectile!
Use a Basket or Pannier
If you’re rolling with some storage like a front basket or pannier, utilize the extra space to toss in your lock when riding. This helps distribute the weight evenly across your bike.
Just keep in mind that tossing a heavyweight chain or u-lock into a basket can make your steering feel a bit sluggish and unbalanced if the weight isn’t centered. But it’s great for lighter cable and folding locks.
And don’t forget to stow your lock in a weatherproof bag or case within the basket/pannier to avoid scratches, rust, or greasy bike chain lube stains from mucking up your other stuff!
Get Creative With the Frame
While probably not recommended for long term use, in a pinch you can get creative about temporarily securing your lock to parts of your bike’s frame as you ride. The key is finding a way to stabilize the lock and prevent it from bouncing around or slipping during your travels.
For example, weaving a cable lock or chain lock through your seat rails or around the seat post can work. Smaller u-locks may be able to thread through saddle rails or onto handlebars.
Just take care that hard u-lock metals don’t scratch up your bike’s finish. And avoid carrying in your hand – that’s an accident waiting to happen if you need to brake suddenly!
Lock Transportation On Your Body
Let’s shift gears now (see what I did there?) and talk carrying your lock on your body rather than the bike. This puts the weight on you rather than adding bulk to your ride.
Use a Bag or Backpack
The simplest way to lug a lock around on yourself is tossing it in a bag or backpack. This method works for all lock types as long as they physically fit and the weight doesn’t overload you.
Smaller u-locks and folding locks have a nice compact form factor that slides easily into almost any bag. Unfolding your folding lock helps save space too.
Of course, this does mean remembering where you put the lock when not riding so it doesn’t end up rolling under your bed for months only to be discovered when you move apartments… but who would ever do that? 😅
Clip It To Your Waist or Belt
Here’s an option to keep your lock easily accessible – clip it or thread it onto your belt, pants belt loops or waistband. Many u-locks are small enough to hang from a belt or pocket.
You can also buy holsters to securely attach locks to belts or waistbands. And wearable locks like those by Hiplok come with clips to fasten right to your waistline. No more diggin’ around for keys!
Now just be careful that the lock doesn’t start swinging around and banging into your legs while pedaling. Ouch!
Go Fully Wearable
Speaking of wearable locks, there are a few products designed specifically with on-body wearing in mind for cycling.
Hiplok’s chains can be worn around the waist or over the shoulders bandolier style, and their clips help distribute the weight. The foldable Texlock slips into an adjustable shoulder strap.
And Litelok makes a flexible lock that functions as a lightweight belt when not in use. Just don’t actually try locking it around your waist…that won’t end well!
Wearable locks allow swift access and keep weight off your bike, but aren’t always the most comfortable depending on your planned rides. Probably best for shorter commutes rather than all-day adventures.
Throw It Over Your Shoulders
In a pinch, you can go old school and just drape a chain or cable lock bandolier style across your shoulders while riding. Not the most high-tech method and certainly not the comfiest.
But it can be handy if you need frequent lock accessibility when running errands around town where you’re on and off the bike constantly. Just don’t take a spill or you’ll end up looking like a metal mummy!
Lock Up When You Arrive
If you want to avoid playing lock-shuttle-body-bike while riding altogether, just bring your single lock along and use it at your final destination.
Leave that puppy locked up securely on a rack there when you head home each day rather than schlepping it around every ride. This avoids the whole where-to-put-it puzzle completely. No fuss, no muss.
You’ll just need to make sure you have a second lock if you also need to secure your bike at home. But having two good locks in rotation ends up providing better overall security than a single lock moved around anyway.
Just be sure to register your locks in case they do ever go wandering so you can be reunited if found. According to the National Bike Registry, 60% of stolen registered bikes are returned to owners vs. 5% of unregistered bikes.
Accessories To Make Lock Transport Easier
Alright, let’s round out this guide with a quick look at some accessories and add-ons that can take the headache out of lugging locks around while riding.
Lock Cases Keep Things Compact
Protect your locks and prevent greasy chain lube from staining your valuables with a dedicated lock case or bag. They compress locks into a neatly packed portable form factor.
Folding locks especially benefit from cases like the Foldylock Holster that keep them neatly collapsed. Or toss your folding lock or mini u-lock into a saddle bag for the same effect.
Hard shell lock boxes are also handy for housing u-locks, keeping them from clanking around while stowed. Check out options from Asgard and Rock Bros.
Lock Clips and Straps Secure It In Place
Special lock clips and velcro straps let you attach your lock tightly to your bike’s frame or to yourself. This prevents bouncing around and guarantees the lock stays put, rather than taking an impromptu ejection from your bike that could cause a crash.
ABUS, Litelok, and Seatylock all make clip systems for their locks. And universal options from Huldit, Transit, and Oopsmark give you flexibility.
Extra Lock Mounts Increase Carrying Options
We’ve already covered how handy built-in brand name lock mounts are. But you can multiply your carrying possibilities with extra third-party mounts.
Cheap plastic mounts included with locks can break or not work with your bike’s frame. So replacing it with something more heavy duty like the metal Kryptonite Transit H-Bar Carrier or leather Oopsmark holster upgrades your storage.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Lock Carrying Method
Phew, we’ve covered a ton of ground here on all the ways to haul your lock on adventures. Let’s switch gears and talk strategy now. When deciding the best transportation method for you, keep these key factors in mind:
Convenience Is Key
First and foremost, how convenient is it for you to access your lock at a moment’s notice when you reach your destination?
Fumbling around trying to detach your lock from a poorly installed mount while your coffee gets cold is no bueno.
Likewise, struggling under the weight of an overstuffed backpack or sore shoulders from an awkward lock position won’t win you any happiness points.
Opt for carry methods that give you quick, easy lock access when you roll up and are ready to park. This ultimately depends on your common destinations, ride length, and preferences.
Experiment to discover what lock carrying approach provides ideal convenience without compromising comfort and security.
Don’t Sacrifice Security
Speaking of security – be wary of methods that could potentially result in your lock getting lost, stolen, or damaged while in transit. This totally defeats the purpose of bringing a lock to begin with!
For instance, tossing an unsecured u-lock into a front basket leaves it vulnerable to opportunistic thieves if you need to pop into a store.
Likewise, an improperly installed mount could eject your heavy lock at speed directly into traffic where it gets crushed by a passing car. Not ideal.
Opt for carry methods that minimize the risk of your beloved lock getting swiped or theft prevention should be priority #1.
Consider Physical Safety Too
Don’t forget to assess the physical safety of your carry method as well. Accidents happen, and you want to avoid turning your lock into a health hazard.
Positioning a lock near moving parts like wheels or pedals risks nasty injuries if it gets tangled up while riding. Carrying an unsecured lock in your hand is just begging for trouble when maneuvers require both hands on the brakes.
Do a mental inventory of potential spoke entanglement or other wheel lock issues that could arise from your chosen storage method before taking off. Your future self will thank you.
Rolling On With Your Lock In Tow
Well my fellow cyclists, we’ve covered everything from lock types to transportation methods to factors to consider when choosing how to carry your beloved bike lock.
Hopefully you feel armed with the knowledge to find a carrying solution that works for your ride style and keeps your bike securely locked wherever you roam. Stay safe on the roads, and always remember to lock it or lose it!
Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.