Is Your Bicycle An Easy Target? 2


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Unknown

Just as preventative measures are useful in the field of medicine, so they are in the arena of bicycle security. With a remarkably-low 5% of stolen bicycles ever being returned to their owners, according to bicycle law specialist Bob Mionske, we should prepare for the worst by documenting and registering our bicycles, but then we should focus our efforts on theft prevention.

By following the simple guidelines explained below, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of the average biker and will make your bicycle a much less-tempting target for opportunistic bike thieves.

Purchasing the Right Locks

First, you need to purchase the right bicycle locks. No, that was not a typo; you really should use multiple locks.
When you buy your bicycle locks, you will have three main categories from which to choose:

  • U-Locks – Solid metal locks in the shape of a “U”.
  • Chain Locks – Heavy duty chain links combined with sturdy locks.
  • Cable Locks – Locks that combine metal cables and some type of locking mechanism.

Depending on the distance you are riding and the weight you want to carry, you should choose some combination of those locks. In general, the cable locks are easily cut by a pair of cable cutters, but cable locks combined with one of the other types will deter many thieves.

Remember that even the best lock will not stop a determined thief with the right tools. At the same time, strong locks will encourage potential thieves to find easier targets. Use strong locks, but do not rely on them too heavily.

Installing Locking Skewers

The tires and seat of many bikes are attached with quick-release skewers that make them easy to adjust and remove. While this is useful to the bicycle’s owner, it also makes it easy for a thief to steal the tire or seat quickly.

To avoid finding your bicycle stripped of these necessary and sometimes expensive components, replace your quick-release skewers with locking skewers. Although “locking” skewers do not really lock, they will take more time to remove – convincing any prospective crook to look for a less-prepared victim.

Using the Best Locking Method

Even when you have good locks and locking skewers, you can still be an easy target if you use poor locking methods. For instance, bicycles locked by only the front wheel can be stolen by simply loosening the quick-release or “locking” skewer and taking the bicycle without the front wheel. This type of theft is demonstrated in the picture at the beginning of this post.

One excellent way to lock your bicycle combines a U-lock and a cable or chain lock. Use the U-lock to secure the bicycle frame to an immovable bicycle rack, and use the cable lock to connect your front and back tires to the U-lock.

Choosing Your Rack

(In bicycle jargon, the term “rack” refers to the structure to which a bike is secured.)

Choosing the right parking rack is another major issue when securing your bicycle. For instance, a bicycle locked to a parking meter can simply be lifted off by a thief!

In fact, even trees are not safe locking posts. Although bicycles cannot (normally) be lifted of trees, a thief can easily cut down the tree and quickly rob you of your cycle.

To make your bike as safe as possible, make sure that your bike “hitching post” is…

  • solid and immovable,
  • not easy to disassemble or cut,
  • and not something that your bike can be simply lifted off.

By following these basic bicycle security guidelines, you cannot ensure your bike’s safety. However, you can make your bicycle a difficult target that all but the most-determined thieves will avoid.

Have you ever had trouble with bike thieves?

Image Credit: Flickr

2 thoughts on “Is Your Bicycle An Easy Target?

  1. Reply John Mar 12,2010 6:42 AM

    I love this post on How To Deter Thieves by Ugly-ing Your Bike from Lifehacker–

  2. Reply Nate Desmond Mar 12,2010 8:40 AM

    @ John – That is an interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

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