Table of contents
- What type lock works best?
- Size matters
- When weight becomes a consideration
- Low theft area convenience
- What does a good lock cost?
- Best places to lock up your bike
- How to carry your lock
- How to properly lock up a bike
- Keep bike parts secured
- Keep your bike unappealing
- Should I get a GPS tracker
- Can a thief steal my locked bike?
Securing your bike when leaving it unattended is a must-do if you expect it to be there when you return. If you commute by bike, it’s likely that you already own a bike lock. If you don’t, you should go purchase one as soon as you’re done reading this article. Yes, it really is that important. Other than providing security, bike locks act as theft deterrents. When given the option to steal one of two identical bikes, thieves will always go after the unlocked one.
Because you will need to carry your bike lock with you every time you ride, it’s important to consider certain lock characteristics, including its dimensions and weight. More often than not, people make the mistake of purchasing a lightweight, flimsy cable lock. While it easy to think that this will suffice, the harsh reality is that for a determined thief, a cable lock is neither a security device nor a deterrent. At best, it’s just an annoyance.
In fact, even a larger sized cable lock is no challenge to even a halfway motivated bicycle thief, as there are a multiple everyday tools that will cut through it like a hot knife through butter. Simply put, relying on a cable lock to save your bike from a thief will eventually result in you being a disappointed ex-bicycle owner.
So now that you know cable locks are essentially worthless in protecting your bike, what do you do? Thankfully there are still plenty of viable lock options to choose from: U-locks, chain locks, and folding locks are the most common, each with its pros and cons.
A U-lock with a 13mm to 16mm shaft will most certainly send a thief onto a less secured bicycle. For even better protection, consider using two high-quality U-locks. When shopping for a U-lock, check the weight of the lock. While none of us wants to haul around a heavy lock, weight is an indication of metal density, and density translates to strength. The denser the metal, the more difficult it is to cut. U-locks are also subject to defeat by twisting attack with a crowbar so when using a U-lock make sure to leave as little space inside the U for a crowbar to fit in. This will also save the lock from defeat by a hydraulic jack.
Chain locks are a better alternative to U-locks. Just like U-locks, they come in different link sizes ranging from 9mm to 16mm. The 9mm chain is easily cut by a medium size bolt cutter, but the 16mm is impervious to all manual bolt cutters. Even a 15mm chain is almost theft-proof. Chain locks are heavy and their most common use in the larger link sizes is for permanent storage locations where the chain can remain in place or be carried in a backpack when moving the bike between different locations. As with all locks, it is important to keep the lock well above the ground so it can’t be broken with a hammer.
Folding locks are not as effective as a U-lock or Chain Lock, but there are several high-quality folding locks that will take a moderate amount of effort for a thief to defeat. If a chain lock or U-lock don’t fit your needs, then a folding lock is a fair alternative.
How much you spend on a lock depends on your budget and how serious you are about protecting your bicycle from theft. If you leave your bike on the street or in a public area like a parking garage, you should buy the best bicycle lock available. If the bicycle’s storage location is inside of a building with locking doors, but still open to the public, you could consider one step down from the best. Unlocked bicycles in building common areas will become a theft of convenience and will not last long before someone rides away with the bike. A solid lock should cost anywhere between $25 and $170. The only time you should settle for less than the best is if your budget is tight.
Thieves target bikes that are locked in low traffic areas or that are left locked on the street overnight. Many bike friendly workplaces are providing bike lockers or chain link fenced bike storage cages, both of which provide a good first line of defense against bike theft. Bikes kept in these locations still need to be locked to an immovable point within the location, such as a bike rack or ground anchor, to ensure a good locking point. No matter where the bike is locked, a professional bike thief will make short work of the theft, but will always choose the bike with the weakest lock. So when shopping for a lock, always go with the strongest and best rated locks possible.
U-locks are both heavy and bulky objects and best secured to the bike frame rather than carried in a backpack. U-locks and folding locks typically come with a bracket that can be attached to the bike for easy carrying when you are riding the bike. Chain locks are not so easily attached to the bike and are best carried in a backpack, over the rider’s shoulder, or around the rider’s waist.
The best way to lock your bike is through the rear wheel and a part of the rear triangle. Make sure to lock it to a solid object that cannot be broken or moved. If you’re using a cable or chain lock as well as a U-lock, loop it through the front wheel and a part of the frame.
In addition to protecting a bike with a solid lock, it’s important to ensure your bike parts are also secure. Quick release levers on your bike’s wheels and seat posts make removing them easy, which also makes stealing them equally as easy. It only takes a few seconds to remove a quick-release front wheel and saddle. Replace any quick release levers with allen bolts or 15mm nuts. This won’t make your wheels and saddle completely safe from theft, but it will make them much harder to steal. You can go one step further with pinhead fasteners, which require a unique key to undo. This unique key increases your bike’s safety as only the bike owner should have it.
Never leave accessories like lights or panniers attached to the bike because thieves will steal anything of value. If the bike is used to commute and locked outside during the day, make the bike as basic as possible, without compromising comfort or performance. Thieves covet glitzy, well-accessorized bikes, such eye-catching bikes are best kept hidden from prying eyes and not left in a public place.
The jury is still out on the usefulness of GPS trackers. If you do install a tracker, never attempt to apprehend the bike thief yourself; that job is best left to the police.
No lock is perfect. With the right tools and enough time, a bicycle thief can steal any locked bike. Being diligent about bike theft isn’t hard. Locking and unlocking your bike only takes a few seconds,is an easy habit to form, and will save you a lot of time, money, and stress in the long run.
Secure your bike with the best rated lock you can afford or the one best suited to your circumstances, such as your preferred storage location.
Vigilance against theft is equally as important as insurance is to protecting you financially if your bicycle is stolen. A Velosurance policy covers your bike for all types of accidental damage as well as theft and you can purchase a policy today at velosurance.com