High Security Chains: Pragmasis Protector - The Only Police-Approved High Security Chains on the Market!
- Protector Security Chains - Range Overview **Video**
- The Ultimate Security Chains
- Mobile and Bicycle Security
- Magazine Awards
- Chain Lengths and Weights
- Security Approvals from Sold Secure and the Police
- Link Dimensions
- Noose Chains
- Important Advice - How to Use a Chain
- How to Fit the Lock to the Chain **Video**
- How to Choose the Right Length of Chain
- Buy online
We offer a wide range of security chains, from portable but still tough chains typically for bicycles etc, right up through motorcycle security chains to military security chains! These are all made from high-grade European steel with specialist heat treatment and finishing done in the UK to our precise specifications. These are available individually and as Package Deals for the best pricing when bought in popular combinations with Torc ground anchor, Shed Shackle and/or your choice of padlocks.
Sold Secure and Police Approved: The Protector 11/13/16/19mm chains are all Sold Secure approved and accredited under the Police ACPO Secured-by-Design scheme. The Protector 16mm and 19mm are the only high security chains at this level that are genuinely Police-approved.
New: The Protector 22mm Titan Chain! The biggest and beefiest production security chain in the world, as far as we know. Absolutely massive and only recommended for exceptional situations or where a succession of thefts have defeated lesser chains.
RiDE Magazine Best Buy and Recommended awards for our Protector 19mm and Protector 16mm chains, respectively. More details below.
The Protector 16mm, 19mm and the 22mm Titan chain are all guaranteed impossible to bolt crop by hand. A ground anchor/chain/lock combination is only as good as its weakest link (if you will forgive the pun!) and there are many inferior chains on the market. Be wary of chains that are described as "resistant" to bolt cropping.
The Protector 11/13/16/19mm chains are all approved by the UK Police. We are the only manufacturer of such high grade security chains with Police approval!
This page provides details on: the chain types & lengths available; link dimensions; how to choose the correct length; and how to fit the padlock to the chain.
Protector 22mm Titan, 19mm and 16mm - The Ultimate Security Chains for the Most Demanding Applications
These high grade Protector 16mm, 19mm and 22mm Titan chains really are impossible to bolt-crop by hand. The thieves use Irwin Record 42" bolt croppers as their tool of choice. They are expensive, but of course they don't always buy them... The Protector 16mm and 19mm and 22mm chains are impossible to crop even with this powerful tool. Indeed, if you keep trying to crop one of these chains, it is likely to be the jaws of the bolt croppers that break! If you are considering a chain from another manufacturer, ask if they will guarantee it as impossible to crop with Irwin Record 42" bolt croppers.
The Protector 16mm and 19mm are the highest-approved chains on the market, being the only ones that have Sold Secure Caravan Gold as well as Motorcycle/ATV/Motor Scooter/Bicycle/Commercial Vehicles & Plant/Car & Van. This is a reflection of the high grade European raw material we use and the heat treatment process we have evolved over several years. You can't buy better! There are videos on the Internet showing inferior, invariably Far Eastern-produced, chains being cut in seconds with bolt croppers. You won't see our Protector 16mm or 19mm or 22mm chains being bolt-cropped, guaranteed!
The Protector 19mm chain is way too big for the 42" bolt cropper jaws to get even the slightest grip and it is so chunky that we now have Squire manufacture a special "XLN" version of their top-of-the-range SS65CS padlock to fit this monster chain! Don't worry: Both Squire and Sold Secure have confirmed that this special variant provides exactly the same security level as the standard SS65CS padlock!
The Protector 22mm Titan chain is bigger still. We waited for Squire to produce their new SS80CS padlock - the strongest production padlock in the world - and now they have, we have a chain to match it!
Protector 19mm Chain Selected by the MoD: We are proud that the UK Ministry of Defence has purchased a large number of our Protector 19mm chains with the special Squire SS65CS locks for some very demanding security situations. They reported that they were "Extremely impressed with the superb quality of the chain". We are not at liberty to disclose more details...
Protector 19mm Chain Selected by NASA: We are proud to be supplying NASA with our Protector 19mm chain. We don't think there are problems with security on Mars, yet...
Thinking about a 14mm chain? There are some 14mm mid-link chains on the market but the ones we have seen use a square-ish section with minimum thickness actually only 12.0mm (the maximum on the diagonal is 15mm, but the thickness varies due to distortion of the material during link formation as well as due to the non-round section). We believe that round section chains are the hardest to cut with bolt-croppers as it is harder to get the initial 'nip'; once you get that you are virtually halfway through. All of our Protector range uses round-section European steel. Anything that is not round makes it more vulnerable, in our opinion. Suppliers also seem reluctant to disclose the source of the material or spell out the weights of the 14mm chains. Perhaps this is not surprising as weight isn't massively different to our Protector 16mm long-link chain, so why compromise?! If you really want to stop bolt croppers, you should use a 16mm chain as a minimum.
Mobile security has different priorities as it is often impractical to carry heavy locks/chains. Remember that over 80% of bike thefts occur from the home so security at home should generally be the first priority.
However, there are situations where the 16mm or larger chains and the locks that go with them are simply too bulky or too heavy. This is why we also supply Protector 13mm and 11mm long link chains. These are not as secure as the larger chains but they are by far the best of the rest. They are easier to handle and you can use a lighter-weight lock.
Bicycle security is also generally better handled with the 13mm and 11mm chains. The 16mm and larger chains will not always fit through the spokes of bicycle wheels and it is easy to damage a bicycle frame with the heavy SS65CS padlock. The lighter chains and smaller SS50CS and SS50-P5 padlocks are generally better suited for bicycles and various medium-value items.
RiDE Magazine Best Buy and Recommended awards for our Protector 19mm and Protector 16mm chains, respectively. RiDE Magazine March 2014, Locks & Chains Product Test. RiDE Magazine's product test awarded a prestigious Best Buy for the Protector 19mm chain and Squire SS65CS-XLN lock for "its mix of usability and security", saying "This is a lock set good enough to be issued to the Ministry of Defence." "First stage attacks didn't touch the chain or the lock. Our mechanical attacks did get through eventually but had to make a lot of noise for some time in order to do so." The Protector 16mm gained a Recommended award "because it offers nearly as much security at the 19mm chains but being smaller it is easier to use and to insert through bikes and ground anchors."
What Mountain Bike "Beat the Thieves": Protector 13mm and Squire SS50CS: WINNER! 5/5 "Massively strong against any tools, but its weight means it's for home use only. After five minutes almost every tool we threw at it was well worn but the 2m chain withstood them all. The chain also beat our 5 minute power tool attack." What Mountain Bike September 2011, p69
Cycling Plus Magazine "Toughest Security Test Ever": Our Protector chains and Torc ground anchor are awarded Best Buys and Editor's Choice. "After five minutes almost every tool we threw at the Protector was well worn but the chain withstood them all. Massively strong. 10 out of 10 Best Buy" [Protector 13mm]; "At less than £100 this stands head and shoulders above its competitors; at under £50 it's simply astonishingly good value. Hands down the best chain you can buy for less than £50. 10 out of 10 Best Buy" [Protector 11mm, 1.2m, M50D lock] Cycling Plus, October 2010, p74
What Mountain Bike Magazine Awards our Protector Chains 5/5 in Mammoth Lock Test: The Protector13mm with the Squire SS50CS lock was the top-rated lock/chain on test, and the only one to resist hand and power tool attacks for the entire duration of the test. "This chain is awesome: the jaws of our croppers bent and blunted while the links showed almost no marking at all" "The toughest chain on test, and at a very reasonable price." The Protector 11mm chain with M50D lock was described as "Made of the same tough stuff, this is the best chain you can buy for under £50." (WhatMTB November 2009, p92)
Cycling Plus awards 10/10 Best Buy for the Protector range of chains! (Cycling Plus June 2008)
Normal stock lengths are 1.0m, 1.2m, 1.5m and 2.0m for the Protector 19mm chains (with the option of custom-cut lengths from 0.7m up to 6.0m!), and 0.8m, 1.0m, 1.2m, 1.5m & 2.0m for the Protector 16mm, 13mm and 11mm chains, this time with custom lengths available up to 6.0m! The 16mm and larger chains are quite weighty - they are a fantastic deterrent to even professional thieves, but not suitable for all applications as a result of their size. The picture below gives you an idea of the size and thickness of the links of the Protector 11mm, 13mm, 16mm and 19mm chains, compared with a 50p coin. The 11mm chain is at the bottom right; 13mm bottom left; 16mm top left, and the 19mm is at the top right of the photo.
The following table shows the weights per metre for each of the Protector chains and the normal maximum length we can supply:
|Chain||Weight per Metre||Max Length||Noose Chain Available?|
|Protector 16mm||4.5kg||6.2m||Yes *|
|Protector 13mm||2.9kg||6.2m||Yes *|
|Protector 11mm||2.1kg||6.2m||Yes *|
* See below for Noose Chain explanation
Sold Secure is an independent British security testing and approvals organisation that awards Gold standard to the highest security products, with Silver and Bronze for lower grade products. Motorcycle Gold is a higher rating than Bicycle Gold; Caravan Gold is a higher rating than Motorcycle Gold. The Protector chains have been granted the approval ratings shown below.
Sold Secure Chain Ratings: The Sold Secure test regime has been updated to take account of the higher ratings achieved by the 16mm chains so many previously Motorcycle Gold-rated products have not achieved that level when re-tested. Be wary of chains that were granted Motorcycle Gold status prior to 2008 - a recent re-test is the only way to be confident of the grading relative to the current standard. We recommend that you use the best chain that is practical and affordable for your situation, bearing in mind the type of attack that is common for the items that you are protecting. Any application where boltcropping is a common form of attack should use a 16mm chain as a minimum.
Customer Comment: "Guys at our work had to move all our bikes to a new compound and they cut everyone's chains in order to do that. Everyone's except my Protector 13mm, that is, where they obviously decided it was easier to cut the Sheffield stand it was attached to instead!"
|Protector 22mm||Sold Secure Motorcycle/Caravan/ATV/Motor Scooter/Bicycle/Commercial Vehicles/Car & Van Gold (Police Preferred Specification Pending)|
|Protector 19mm||Sold Secure Motorcycle/Caravan/ATV/Motor Scooter/Bicycle/Commercial Vehicles/Car & Van Gold Police Preferred Specification|
|Protector 16mm||Sold Secure Motorcycle/Caravan/ATV/Motor Scooter/Bicycle/Commercial Vehicles/Car & Van Gold Police Preferred Specification|
|Protector 13mm||Sold Secure Bicycle Gold/Motor Scooter Silver (see below) Police Preferred Specification|
|Protector 11mm||Sold Secure Bicycle Gold/Motor Scooter Silver Police Preferred Specification|
The Motorcycle Gold test on the Protector 13mm chain (July 2009) resulted in a brand new set of Irwin Record 42" bolt croppers having their straps being bent such that the jaws no longer line up and the jaws themselves were also wrecked. This was a very determined attack but the chain did fail in the end. We are unable to crop the 13mm chain as it needs someone with a lot more weight to do it. However, even the very best sub-16mm chains are marginal at the new Motorcycle Gold standard as that test is performed by big guys. Whether thieves are all big enough, regularly so determined and frequently wrecking 'their' croppers is another matter, but we still recommend that you use a minimum of a 16mm chain if you are protecting any item where that type of attack is common. Much better to have security that gives you confidence rather than something where the thief may well get lucky.
Police Approval: The Protector 11/13/16/19mm chains are all accredited under the UK Police Secured-by-Design initiative. They are all Police Preferred Specification.
We have our Sold Secure and Secured-by-Design certificates available online so you can print your own copies, should you need them to prove certification for your insurance company etc.
Thatcham is another independent test organisation that is used by some vendors. We respect Thatcham gradings on alarms, immobilisers and similar devices. We do not regard them anywhere near as good as Sold Secure for physical attack testing, such as is appropriate on locks & chains. Some organisations have commercial reasons for using Thatcham (such as a higher profile in other countries), whereas some revert to Thatcham when a product is unable to achieve Sold Secure certification.
All of the Protector chains are long-link design so there is no need for a special elongated end link.
Beware that the largest chains here are too big to fit many 'ordinary' ground anchors. The 19mm and smaller chains fit all our ground anchors, but the 22mm will only fit the Torc anchor out of our range, for example.
The Protector 22mm Titan chain has the following link dimensions (nominal): 164 x 80mm outside; 120 x 36mm inside, throughout its length (an elongated end link is not required). These are nominal dimensions and the external width can easily be 82mm, whereupon the internal width would be 38mm. It is constructed from 22mm diameter bar. The smallest rectangular hole it will fit through is approximately 90 x 60mm and the smallest square hole is approximately 80 x 80mm or a round hole about 86mm diameter. Some extreme applications are best served with the bare chain but this chain can also be supplied fitted with a protective fabric sleeve (to protect your bike/other valuables; not to protect the chain!). The sleeve is usually an orange colour (adding about 4mm maximum to the width noted above).The Protector 19mm chain has the following link dimensions (nominal): 138 x 63mm outside; 100 x 25mm inside, throughout its length (an elongated end link is not required). It is constructed from 19mm diameter bar. The smallest rectangular hole it will fit through is about 65 x 44mm, but that would be a tight fit and a little more space will make it easier to feed through. All but the end links are surrounded with a protective fabric sleeve (again, to protect your bike/other valuables; not to protect the chain!). The sleeve is usually a blue colour (adding about 4mm maximum to the width noted above).
The Protector 16mm chain has the following link dimensions (nominal): 132 x 62mm outside; 100 x 30mm inside, throughout its length (an elongated end link is not required). It is constructed from 16mm diameter bar. The smallest rectangular hole it will fit through is about 62 x 34mm, but that would also be a tight fit. It is again fitted with a protective fabric sleeve, usually a blue colour (adding about 4mm maximum to the width noted above). Also available as a Noose Chain - see below.
The Protector 13mm chain has the following link dimensions (nominal): 106 x 48mm outside; 80 x 22mm inside. It is constructed from 13mm diameter bar and this time has a fabric sleeve that is usually red (adding about 4mm maximum to the width noted above). If you've got a round hole 52mm diameter, the 13mm chain should slide through OK. It will also fit through a rectangular hole, e.g. 52mm x 35mm, but that requires the links to settle against each other, and more closely as the slot gets narrower, down to the absolute minimum of around 52mm x 30mm high (where it would be quite fiddley to get it to go through). Also available as a Noose Chain - see below.
The Protector 11mm chain has the following link dimensions (nominal): 84 x 42mm outside; 62 x 20mm inside. It is constructed from 11mm diameter bar and usually has a grey fabric sleeve (adding about 4mm maximum to the width noted above). It will fit through a round hole about 46mm diameter, or a rectangular hole around 45 x 26mm. Also available as a Noose Chain - see below.
Chain lengths overall are also nominal and subject to manufacturing tolerance as well as being potentially up to a link over- or under-length, relative to the descriptive length assigned. This is because a whole number of links will invariably not be an exact number of metres or half-metres overall, for example.
Note: All of these dimensions are nominal and they can vary a little from batch to batch. If you are particularly tight in terms of the precise link dimensions or the precise length of a chain, please contact us and we will do our best to clarify from current stock.
Protector 16mm, 13mm and 11mm chains are also available as a noose chain, meaning that they have an over-size ring on one end only so that you can make a loop at one end of the chain without using a lock, and then you would typically make a loop at the other end of the chain and use a single lock to secure it around an item to be protected. I.e. this is similar to a choke chain for a dog, or perhaps like a lollipop at one or both ends of the chain. The photo below shows a bare (unsleeved) Protector 13mm chain, with the oversize end ring used to form a noose in the lower-right of the picture, and the normal chain links looped back on themselves and a Squire SS50CS lock fitted at the other end, forming a second lollipop loop:
The end ring on the 13mm and 11mm noose chains is made from 13mm diameter boron steel bar. The 16mm noose has an end ring made from 16mm thick boron steel bar. As can be seen from the photo, the chain will pass through the end ring, forming a noose, like a lassoo, at one end of the chain. The end ring itself is often an oval shape, rather than the round ring shown in the photo.
Beware: The chain links and the padlock will pass through the end ring so if you want to use a noose chain rather like a normal chain and with a closed shackle lock, you should interlock with the link before the end ring, and use the padlock to secure it.
Note: The end rings are handmade in a forge. This means that the end ring will look different in terms of cosmetic finish and weld appearance compared to the rest of the chain, which is machine-made. The precise material thickness will vary somewhat from the nominal 13mm or 16mm as the forging process involves clamping and shaping the material while it is hot. These steps can put minor 'flats' and indentations into the surface of the material. These variations are only minor and should not cause concern.
This noose chain idea is generally most helpful when you are thinking of a long length of chain, as it can allow you to use a single length to cover the majority of the distance, and locking-off the chain with relatively small loops at each end. Hence, this is not often helpful in lengths below ~1.2 metres, but in longer lengths it can save a lot of chain. For example, if you need to secure items that are 3.0 metres apart, the conventional approach would require a chain that is approximately 6.0m long. That is getting heavy as well as expensive! If it is practical to loop one end of the chain through e.g. a ground anchor and then have a single thickness of chain covering the 3.0m distance, it may be possible to secure the items with a noose chain approximately 3.5m long - much cheaper and much lighter than a 6.0m length!
The normal Protector 11mm, 13mm and 16mm chains allow a similar double-lollipop arrangement by using a total of two locks, but that can be expensive, especially if they need to be keyed-alike for usability. The noose option is available at a surcharge of £20.00 including VAT on any 13mm or 11mm chain, or £40.00 on any 16mm chain. This pricing also applies to any Package Deal containing any of these chains.
Beware that there can be a disadvantage in using a noose chain if either point where the chain is tethered can be compromised. E.g. locking five bicycles to a ground anchor with a noose chain should be fine at the anchor end, because that is designed to be a security-grade fixing, but at the other end it could leave a vulnerability as that may not be as tough against a thief's attack. If the other end was a loop around the frame of a bicycle, a thief could cut the frame of that bike and then unleash all four other bikes. One bike would be damaged but the thief could steal four bikes without cutting the chain or defeating the lock. Conversely, if all five bikes were secured with a conventional loop around them all, it would require a much longer chain, but there would not be such an opportunity to steal bikes without damaging them. Sometimes, this risk may be outweighed by the improved ease of use of a lighter chain and the risk of bike frames being cut is generally slim, so even in these situations a noose chain can be a good idea. It is important to understand all potential weak points in your security in order to make a good assessment of your provisions against theft.
Note that this noose option is only available on Protector 16mm, 13mm and 11mm chains; the 19mm and 22mm chains are impractical to drag through an end ring in this manner and the two-lock technique is then recommended when securing items separated by a large distance.
It is important with any chain and lock to keep it off the ground. This is more important with long link chains as the longer sides of the links can be more vulnerable to hammer attacks. The solution: Simply keep them off the floor to make attacks like that impossible! Whatever the chain and whatever the lock, you should always keep them off the floor to get the maximum attack resistance.
All good quality security chains follow the principle of passing the link at one end of the chain through the link at the other end of the chain, and fixing the lock to the bit that pokes through. I.e. the lock goes on a single link. The following video shows this and various advanced locking techniques:
The Protector chains all use long links throughout their length and this helps to reduce weight while giving more versatility (see below). Any chain designs that don't interlock at all force you to put two links through the lock and this makes the combination much more vulnerable as it typically requires you to use an open shackle padlock or one that has a long and potentially exposed shackle (see * below for exceptions to this). Open shackle padlocks have an unprotected shackle and the shackle is invariably the thinnest component of all. There is no point in having a ground anchor with a 20mm shackle and a chain with a 16mm or thicker link if you have to use an unprotected 10 or 12mm shackle on the padlock - the thief will attack the obvious weakest point. It is sensible to have all elements of your security in balance so that there is no obvious weak point.
The end link of the Protector 16/13/11mm long link chains can also be looped through any intermediate link along the length of the chain. You will need to cut a slit through the sleeve if you wish to do this but it gives the major advantage of being able to lock the chain tight against the item you are protecting, helping you to keep it off the floor. All of this makes it much harder to attack. (Note: This intermediate link interlocking trick will not work in quite the same way with the Protector 19mm chain. That chain needs a different approach whereby an intermediate link is flipped outwards and the end link is then looped over that. The general idea does work, but it is slightly more awkward.)
The lighter Protector chains are more compact and therefore easier to route through narrow spaces and may be more suited to fragile items (e.g. racing bicycles). They can also be used with lighter padlocks, again reducing the risk of damage to a carbon fibre bicycle frame if you were to drop it!
The Protector 22mm Titan chain can be locked with the huge SS80CS lock.The Protector 19mm chain can be locked with a special variant of the Squire SS65CS lock (the standard SS65CS lock is too small to accept it!). We offer this special "SS65CS-XLN" lock for sale with these chains. It can also be locked with the SS80CS lock.
The Protector 16mm chain can be locked with the SS65CS lock. It can also be locked with the SS80CS lock or the special Untouchable lock.
The Protector 13mm chain can be locked with the SS50CS lock or with the Eiger Mini disc lock.
The Protector 11mm chain can be locked with the SS50CS, SS50S, or SS50P5 padlocks, or the Eiger Mini.
In general, the best security is given by a closed shackle lock rather than one with an open shackle, but whatever type of lock, if it will accept two links of the chain then do it that way rather than leaving a lot of open space under the shackle.
It is a shame that manufacturers of bikes, quads, etc, do not make life easy when you want to keep these items safe. It is also surprising how long a chain needs to be in order to secure what you want!
We recommend that you put your item to be secured & ground anchor/Shed Shackle/Maxi Shackle in a trial position and then loop a piece of rope through and measure the length. Bear in mind that chains are quite bulky and it is often impossible to pass them through the frame of a sports-style motorbike or off-road motorbike, but you must instead go through the swingarm/wheel and/or over the saddle. A chain and lock should ideally be held off the ground for best security (a lock that is on the ground can be hit with a sledgehammer whereas it will move out of the way if it moves feely in mid-air). Remember also that a chain looped over the saddle may seem ideal but component thieves may push the bike over on its side and drag it clear of the chain if it becomes loose - they don't mind damaging part of the bike if they get most of it quickly and easily! Conversely, if you can position the bike and ground anchor such that they obscure the chain and the lock, you can make them very difficult to attack. The Torc anchor folds so it makes it easier for you and a tougher target for the thief! The Shed Shackle and Maxi Shackle are usually fitted such that chains and locks are well clear of the ground - again, this makes it easier for you and tougher for the thief!
Large faired motorbikes may need a figure-of-8 arrangement with a 2.0m chain around the bike and a shorter chain to loop down to the ground anchor with a single lock locking them together. The Protector 16mm design allows you to join two or more chains with a single lock and you can get the chain tight against the bike by passing the end of the chain through an intermediate link (after cutting a slit in the sleeve). It is important that you are sure you are looping the chain through a structural part of the bike - the frame if at all possible - and not through something that can be removed or broken off easily. The frame is much better than the wheel - wheels can be removed!
Off-road motorbikes are frequently targets for thieves and they can be awkward to secure because they often have no opportunity to go through the frame, and the saddle & rear of the bike are so compact that removing the rear wheel would allow the chain to be slipped off. Removing the rear wheel is a quiet thing for a thief to do and it barely takes a minute; compressing the suspension is also easy and that could make the chain go slack. Those bikes that have a gap through the frame or swingarm are much easier and can be secured with a single chain. If your bike has no structural path for the chain like that, we recommend that you look for narrow parts of the bike that are still structural. The headstock area behind the handlebars is sometimes the best with a figure-of-8 approach - a short chain tight around the bike headstock and a long chain looping down to the ground anchor, with a single padlock locking them together. Off-road bikes vary a lot so you need to do some homework to get the best combination. Our Anti-Pinch Pin may give a useful opportunity to lock the heart of the bike.
Quad bikes/ATVs are usually easier to secure than 2-wheel motorbikes but, again, you have to be careful that you really are looping the chain through something structural and not removable. E.g. the rear axle looks appealing but it's no good if the thief can slip off the chain simply by removing a wheel! Suspension wishbones etc are attached with a couple of bolts that can be easily removed. Most quads do have frames with structural members that are suitable but you have to look for them, and ideally loop the chain through several of them.
Bicycles can often be locked with a single short chain as you can easily loop it through the centre of the frame, above the bottom bracket. However, beware that many high-end modern frames are so strong that they can be sawn through, a chain slipped off, and the bicycle then ridden away! The frame may then be worthless but the components can still be very valuable. The best approach is usually to loop the chain through the centre of the frame and the chainstay area (if possible), and through the wheels too if there is sufficient space between the spokes. This can result in the chain not being so short after all but the cost of the chain is usually a very small fraction of the cost of a performance bike! Beware that the Protector 16mm chains are often too bulky to fit between the spokes on bicycle wheels and the SS65CS padlock could easily damage a bicycle frame if it was dropped. The Protector 11mm and 13mm chains with the lighter SS50CS padlocks are generally more suitable for securing bicycles.
Summary: Use a piece of rope to help you find the length of chain, or chains, that you require. Remember the trick of cutting a slit in the fabric sleeve of a Protector 19/16/13/11mm chain in order to lock an intermediate link and thus get the chain really close - if you order a longer chain you can always make it behave like a shorter chain with this technique and you get flexibility with positioning the bikes - you don't want it so precise that you have to spend ages repositioning things to get the lock on! If it's so difficult for you that you don't bother one night, that could be the night the thief gets lucky. The figure-of-8 approach often helps with awkward shapes and can keep the chain and lock off the ground and harder to attack (but this will not work with the Protector 19mm chains). If you have major security worries, the Protector 19mm and even more so the 22mm Titan chain are the ultimate! They are bulky and heavy, but the most secure of all!
If you are securing bicycles in a wooden shed or metal shed/bike store, the Shed Shackle may allow you to use a shorter chain whilst still keeping everything off the floor. The Shed Shackle is usually positioned around cross-bar height for bicycles so you can use a short chain or D-lock if you only want to lock the frame (and maybe the rear wheel). A longer chain will allow you to lock the frame and both wheels. Something like a 2.0m/6' chain will often be sufficient for 2 bicycles and all 4 wheels. Please refer to the Shed Shackle information page for more information about its use.
A bit of time spent now will result in much better security and a much harder time for the thief.