Bike locks are one of those necessary evils, aren't they? Like exercise and taxes, we don't really want to give them the time of day but we're going to be much worse off if we don't. 

One bicycle is stolen every six minutes in the UK, according to research by Direct Line, making cycle locks absolutely essential for anyone who plans to leave their bike unattended.

Not sure where to start? Not to worry – we've compiled a helpful guide to help you understand what you need to be looking for as well as an overview of some of the best bike locks on the market:

There are many different kinds of bike locks made from many different types of metal and steel. Most of the time, you will be shopping for a U-lock (shaped like it sounds), chain lock or cable lock.

Starting at the lower end of protection we have cable locks – typically a steel cable core wrapped in a protective coating. They are utilised best as a second lock, rather than a primary lock, as they present little challenge to experienced bike thieves.

With stronger metal, you get stronger protection. Chain and U-locks (also known as D-locks) tend to be made with thicker and stronger materials like boron manganese, a triple heat-treated steel that is practically unbreakable.

City-built bike racks are going to be your first choice, but there are a number of things to consider should one not be available.

First, that your bike is locked to a secure object that cannot be moved; no random poles (which make it incredibly easy to lift a bike from if two people work together) or structures that can be dismantled.

Secondly, that you’re locking your bike away in a well-lit area with regular foot traffic. Safety first.

"Always lock your bike through the frame," advises Jimmy Challis, Accessories Buyer at Evans Cycles. "Don’t forget to secure your important and easily removable components, like wheels, using extension cables or secondary locks."

Cheap bike locks can be cut within seconds, but the best bike locks put up a fight no thief will bother with.

Cable locks are the most common target - and it makes sense. ‘Protecting’ an expensive bike with a cheap lock is like walking around a major city with your handbag open: an invitation.

Because most thieves use bolt cutters, the best thing you can do to prevent theft is aim for 16mm chain links or U-lock shackles. They can’t be cut by manual bolt cutters. Keeping your frame, back wheel and stand locked closely together also helps, as it makes it difficult for thieves to get the right angle.

"There is a lot of technology in the metal itself on D-locks/chains which is often overlooked," says Challis. "It needs to be hard enough to resist angle grinders, saws, and bolt croppers, but bendy enough to resist leverage attacks. The metal composition of locks is often a closely guarded secret by manufacturers."

Sold secure ratings exist to help customers in understanding the security level a lock provides. Gold/Silver/Bronze ratings reference the length of time they can resist attacks from commonly used tools before failing. The higher the grading, the higher the security provided by the product.

"It's not always black and white with this security rating though. One lock could only just pass the minimum time under attack, when another could carry on for hours after. You get what you pay for with larger diameter shackles, more resistant lock barrels and more," he says.

While most people will opt to store their bike lock in a backpack, there are other options for those who don’t typically take a bag to work or school. Attaching clips (like these) or mounts (such as these) to the frame lets the bike do the heavy lifting itself, while other bike locks (like the Hiplok, below) can actually be worn around your waist as you cycle.

Though lightweight bike locks may seem like the obvious answer, Challis warns against them: "For the optimum security, a bike lock should weigh 100's of KGs and be impenetrable to any attack.

"As with everything in life, there is always compromise. With locks, this is security vs. transportability."

This Kryptonite bike lock is cycle security at its peak. The Fahgettaboudit offers the kind of protection you would want working for you in the most high-crime areas. The lock features one metre of six-sided hardened steel chain links under a protective nylon cover, a max security New York Disc Lock and high-security shackle. Gold standard and all. It's heavy, but worth it.

If you're looking for a heavy duty cycle lock that doesn't get in the way, this could be for you. The hardened steel, foldable chain lock incorporates rivets – specifically designed with VSR technology – to withstand any potential sawing or cutting. Its cylinder is also drill resistant, weather-proof, and attaches to any bike's frame with ease. 

This strong Abus bike lock is a fantastic choice for bike owners worried that a lock might chip away at their paint. The long chain lock is covered with the brand's beloved Abus Plus cylinder and offers unbeatable, fabric-soft protection against picking, drilling, dirt and corrosion – right up to the keyhole. Reviewers praise it for being not too heavy. 

5mm Stainless Steel Shackles

No backpack? Hiplok's Sold Secure Gold-rated lock can not only be worn around your waist as you cycle, but packs a secure punch with a 10mm hardened steel chain and 12mm hardened steel shackle covered in a comfortable but super-sure nylon sleeve. Though it comes with three specially coded keys, all are easily replaceable through the brand's Key Replacement Scheme.

As a thief deterrent, this alarm-fitted U-lock might be as intimidating as it gets. Though the actual lock is made of high-grade hardened steel, its shrieking 120dB alarm (as loud as a fire engine sirens or a chain saw) is its key point of difference, drawing immediate attention to your bike and anyone who tries to tamper with it. The high tech, pick-resistant locking system doesn't hurt either.

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