Anyone who has previously brought their e-bike into a city knows the value of a good lock. These devices can protect your e-bike in several ways, most notably from people just riding away on it. However, there are several styles of lock for you to choose from, and these offer very different advantages and levels of security.
We know that your e-bike is a big investment, and you certainly want to protect it the best you can, so let's look at the different styles that are out there for you to choose from.
The name of this lock, the D-lock, or sometimes U-lock, is very descriptive of what it is. This type of E-bike lock is a large U-shaped piece of solid metal that fits into an oblong locking body. This is essentially a very large padlock.
These come in a variety of sizes and weights, and some will allow the user to completely disconnect the U-shaped metal bar from the locking mechanism, whereas some will simply fold one end over like a padlock.
The lock will generally be inserted through the tire and through the bike's frame to prevent the bike from rolling, and some larger models are big enough to allow the rider to fasten it to a bike rack.
Due to being, for the most part, a solid metal bar, these locks are highly resistant to bolt cutters, drills, and picking. As long as you choose a model that is not oversized for your e-bike, these devices provide little leverage for would-be thieves to break them. One good way to use them is to get the smallest lock that will fit on your bike and then get a chain or cable lock to connect your e-bike to a bike rack or other anchor point.
A D-lock is a very secure choice for your e-bike's safety, and many come with a bracket that you can attach to the frame in order to bring it with you. If you don't want to spend a lot on a bike lock, these are generally the highest security locks available at a low price.
The chain lock is simply a length of metal links joined together with a padlock. These locks vary considerably on their level of security, both based on how thick the chain links are and the quality of the padlock.
Generally, with these locks, the security they provide will be better the thicker the metal links are. However, the increase in weight will quickly lead to these being relegated to staying in one place rather than going with you on rides.
Due to the weight limitations, typically, these locks will provide mediocre protection from cutting or breaking, but they do make it easy to affix your bike to a wide variety of anchor points, providing a great visual deterrent to theft. Plus, because of how the links move when force is applied, they do provide modest resistance to power tools.
Keep in mind that even if these locks do not provide the highest degree of safety, they will provide a good degree, and a lot will depend on the technique you use to apply them and other strategies you use to protect your e-bike. They also make a great means to work in conjunction with other security equipment such as security bolts and other styles of locks.
A cable lock is simply a locking mechanism fastened to both ends of the cables. One end will be strung through part of your e-bike and then passed through into the lock on the other end of the cable. These locks come in two varieties key and combination.
The cables themselves come in three varieties, basic which are various thicknesses of steel cable twisted together, coiled, which are typically thin coiled pieces of wire that spring back into a coiled position when they are not drawn into position; and armored cable, which contains armored shells over top of the wires.
These types of locks are generally the lightest and easiest to carry but generally offer the worst protection of any type of lock. The wires make these locks lightweight, compact, and easy to coil, perfect for bringing with you whenever you ride. Unfortunately, this also makes them easy to cut with coiled, generally offering the least protection and armored the best.
Despite their low security, these locks are easy to keep with your e-bike and offer some visual security and a basic deterrent making them a good choice for low-risk situations and coupling with other locks the same as a chain.
These also couple well with a folding electric bike such as the Espin 21 Nesta due to their ability to knot through even in a folded position and affix the easily carried away bike to an anchor point. Also, unlike a heavy chain, they are easily kept with you when you are transporting your folding electric bike.
You can even use them to protect specific parts such as a wheel. Plus, no matter what e-bike you are using, if you are incapable of storing a heavier lock, they are still better than nothing.
These are a recent development in bike lock technology and are nearly as secure as a D-lock. A folding lock is composed of a series of unfolding metal bars hinged together, kind of like a chain, and serves many of the same uses for lighter weight. This allows it to be used to affix your e-bike to an anchor point or to attach multiple e-bikes.
One of the best features of this bike lock is that it is portable and can easily be brought with you on rides, particularly important as we discussed for folding e-bikes. Oftentimes these locks will come with a frame lock to make transport easy.
Next to the D-lock, these are the next most secure option you can get. These are similar in use to a chain but lighter, making them a good compromise between these two options.
Now you know the four primary types of locks you can use to protect your e-bike. Any of these locks, from the highest level of security offered by a D-lock to the lowest of a cable lock, will go a long way to protecting your investment from theft.
In the end, it is always a good idea to go with the highest security you are comfortable with keeping on hand and making sure to bring it with you on every ride. You can also keep a heavier, stronger lock with your e-bike at home to protect your e-bike when it's not in use.
Espin's recommendation to be as safe as possible is to use multiple locks such as a U/D lock AND a chain and to confirm that it is locked to part of the bike frame and not just the wheel as those can be removable and easily stolen.