Locks For Car Bike Rack

It’s not a good idea to leave your bike on a car bike rack without a lock isn’t a lock. If you leave the car for a few minutes, you may not be able to find the bike when you return. Therefore, you must buy a proper lock for the car bike racks.

However, a lock alone isn’t enough to secure your bike. An old plate lock can be picked nooquickly in less than 5 minutes. New locks with cylinder systems are hard to open, but their cables can still be cut if they aren’t good enough.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right lock for a car bike rack. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best locks on the market, show you how to build a DIY lock, and explain why you mightn’t want to spend that much money on them.

So, here we go!

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Is a $100 Lock Better Than a $25 Lock

If there’s one thing that capitalism has instilled in us, the more expensive a product is, the better it’s. While that’s not true in many cases, it couldn’t be more wrong in the case of a bike rack lock.

When you leave your bike on your vehicle, you expose it to two types of thieves. The first type will steal your bike if left unguarded and unsecured. In other words, if it’s not secured with a lock on the rack.

On the other hand, some thieves can pick up most locks. They will cut the cables if they can’t pick the locks. So, in the end, an expensive lock won’t secure your bike any better than a cheap $25 one. The longer you leave it, the more likely you will lose it.

There are certain types of locks that make it more secure. First of all, there’s the lock system. There are older locks that have a plate on them. These locks are easy to pick, and a thief with the right skills can pick them up in less than five minutes. For this reason, we recommend locks with modern cylinder designs. These are more complicated to pick.

Suppose you get a lock with these complex designs, but then what? In this case, the thief will try to cut the bicycle’s chain. RegulaRegular bicycle chains can be easily cut. That’s why we recommend buying cut-resistant lock chains. These can be cut, but you need a tungsten blade, a saw, and a lot of noise. So it’s almost impossible to cut them in busy places.

Another factor you need to consider is the weight of the lock. The heavier the lock, the more secure it usually is. However, you shouldn’t buy a super heavy lock because then it’ll be hard to carry and use.

These factors don’t depend so much on the price of the lock. Therefore, we recommend you choose these factors over the price when buying a good lock.

Related reading: How to Secure Bike Rack to Car?

Locks For Car Bike Rack

If you want to secure your bike, we recommend buying at least two locks. It would be even better if you bought three. One lock is used to secure the bike to the bike rack. Now you can buy one or two more waves to secure one or both bike wheels to the frame or rack. This increases security because the thief has to cut more locks in these cases.

So let’s take a look at some of the best locks for bike racks so you can make an informed decision.


The best use for U-locks is if you use one of them to secure the rear wheel of your bike on the platform hitch bike rack. Most people use them for the front wheel. However, experienced cyclists say it’s much more expensive to buy and replace rear wheels.

Also, it’s much more difficult to remove the rear wheel. So a thief can’t just remove the wheel and make off with the rest of the bike. This is because both the chain and the rear wheel cassette make it difficult to remove the rear wheel.

If you can’t find a way to attach the U-lock directly to the rear wheel, you can use a chain. Hook the chain to the U-lock and loop it through the rack, front wheel, rear wheel, and back into the U-lock.

The U-lock is a great way to secure your bike frames to the hitch rack post. Depending on the number of bikes you want to secure, you can use different sizes of U-locks. The medium U-lock is suitable for one cycle, while the large U-lock is suitable for two bikes – place the lock around both bike frames and the center post of the rack.

However, there are some disadvantages to using U-locks. First, they can be heavy and damage bikes and racks on a bumpy road. Second, even a lightweight U-lock can scratch your bike. Still, they’re trendy because they’re tough to cut.

There are many good U-locks on the market, but we found the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboutit Mini Bike U-Lock to be the most balanced. It’s an 18mm rod that can’t be cut easily and won’t give up even to professional hand tools. Despite the high-quality construction, it’s comparatively lightweight at four and a half pounds.

Chain Locks

Chain locks are great for securing the wheels to the bike’s frame or the rack. They’re very popular because of the flexibility they offer. Unlike U-locks, you can use chains to secure multiple components. For example, you can use a single chain to secure both the front and rear wheels of a bike to the rack.

This makes it impossible for a thief to steal the bike by removing one wheel, as the other remains locked.

Chains, however, are most effective when used with another type of lock. For example, combining a chain lock and a U-lock is very effective. This provides two levels of security for the bike. Also, chain locks are very lightweight, so you can easily transport them.

If you’re looking for a long and lightweight chain, you can consider the Kryptonite Keeper 785. It’s a 33.5-inch manganese chain and has four-sided links. Despite its high-quality build and length, it only weighs 3 pounds.

On the other hand, there’s the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit chain. This chain is much shorter. It’s only 40 inches in length. However, it’s cumbersome. It consists of six-sided chain links with a width of 14 mm. You can’t lock many parts together with it, but it provides a solid lock and can also be used instead of a U-lock.

Security Chain + Padlock

Think a U-lock or chain lock doesn’t suit you? Don’t worry. You can also use a security chain in conjunction with a padlock to get the job done. For this purpose, you can buy a regular security chain like ABUS 6KS 6 feet security chain. This high-quality hardened steel chain will be difficult to cut with any hand tool.

Now you can combine this chain with a padlock of your choice. We recommend you buy a new padlock with a cylinder design. These are very hard to pick and even harder to break.

Simply place the security chain around the rear wheel or frame and feed it through the bike rack. Finally, secure both ends of the chain with a padlock of your choice.

This method isn’t as secure as the previous ones, but it offers good value for money, as the components are cheaper if you buy them separately. So if you have a small budget, you can opt for this solution.

Cable locks

If you’re looking for lightweight and inexpensive locks to protect your bike from the occasional “opportunists,” then you can get a cable lock. Cable locks can prevent theft to some degree.

Another reason people prefer them is that they’re pretty gentle on the bike. Since they have a soft rubber coating, even the hardest friction can’t damage your bike. Also, it’s straightforward to loop them around the frame and wheels of your bike. So basically, they work like a bike security chain, but they’re much more flexible and can be passed through tight places.

One unique feature of cable locks is that some of them come with combination locks. A combination lock may seem trivial at first glance, but it can make a big difference in real life. With these locks, you don’t have to carry a key. This saves you a lot of hassle because you’ll never leave a key behind again!

However, these are very easy to cut. Handheld tools can easily cut even the strongest cable locks with steel construction. Therefore, they’re technically ineffective against well-equipped and skilled thieves.

If you want a cable with a combination lock, you can opt for the Master Lock cable. It offers a high-quality combination lock with four digits. Even if you forget the password, you can unlock it with the included pin. The cable is 4 feet long so that you can run it through the frame as well as the wheels.

On the other hand, we have the Lumintrail cable, which is made of vinyl-coated stainless steel. It’s a flexible cable with two loops on the ends. So you’ve to use a padlock or a U-lock to secure your bike with it. This might be a better option for people who want to buy an expensive padlock to have more security. If you’re going to buy a cheap padlock, we recommend the combination lock.

Cable Locks That Come With The Bike Racks

Many bike racks on the market come with a cable lock. These seem like a good, cost-saving options, but they cost more than regular bike racks. Even worse, the locks aren’t worth the money.

They’re fragile and can be cut quickly with even the simplest hand tools. They’re so easy to cut that you may find your cycle missing after leaving it to grab a quick bite. That’s why we recommend you buy a custom lock, even if you get one with your bike rack.

DIY Chain Lock

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and like to build your own things, we have a way for you too! In this case, you don’t have to spend on branded products, which reduces the cost many times over. Besides, it’s not that hard to build high-quality locks yourself. This process can be done by beginners to veterans.

For starters, you need to get the basic materials. Get yourself a heavy-duty tow chain. You can buy grade 70, 80, 90, 100, or even 120 chains. Grade 70 chains, however, are much easier to get. They’re also quite affordable.

If you want chains of higher grades, you’ll have to spend a lot more. This will protect your bike better, but it defeats one of the primary purposes of DIY, which is to cut costs. You can find these chains on online marketplaces or at large home improvement stores like Home Depot. A large home improvement store will also likely help you cut the chains. So, if you don’t have a hydraulic cutter, you should seek one out.

The chain should be at least 8 feet long because you can use it to attach the frame and one of the wheels to a rack or a pole. Once you have the chain, you’ll need a suitable lock that will fit through the chains. Get a good quality lock, but don’t opt for Masterlock products, as they’re easier to break with handheld tools.

Finally, you’ll need to wrap the chain with a rubber-like material. We recommend using pool noodles as they’re cheap and easy to get.

When you’re done with that, you’ll have built yourself a quality chain that can rival Kryptonite. As you can see, you don’t even need tools if you can get the chains cut at a store. So, all in all, it’s a simple process that anyone can do.

Related reading: Can You Use A Bike Rack for a Wheelchair?


We’ve discussed four different types of products so far, and you’ve also learned how to make a DIY chain lock. This, of course, begs the question of which lock you should choose for the bike rack.

If it were up to us, we’d choose U-locks if protection comes first. If flexibility and convenience come first, chain locks are a better choice.

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