How to properly lock your bike: 10 things to check before leaving your bike behind
Are you worried that your bike will be stolen? Naturally, especially if your bike is expensive or your main form of transport, adequate security must be taken into account.
Along with our guide to the best bike locks, we’ve put together this handy checklist to help both new and seasoned cyclists feel secure when locking their bikes in public. Don’t get me wrong: thieves are crafty and sometimes find a way to steal your property, even if you weld the bike to a lamp post every time you need to leave it behind. But you can make your bike a less desirable target with a little effort – here’s how.
1. Get a strong lock
It’s a no-brainer: a quality bike lock is less likely to give way if someone tries to break it. The thicker/stronger the lock, the better. D-locks are probably your strongest option, followed by heavy duty chain locks and solid core cable locks. Be sure to follow the 10% rule: the price of the lock should be around 10% of the value of the bike.
2. Find a solid anchor point
Another obvious thing to check: is the anchor point, the object you’re going to chain your bike against, strong enough, or is it just a 3-foot-tall bollard that thieves can literally pick up the bike and walk away? Most dedicated bike lockouts in cities are strong enough, as long as you can find a space. Also be sure to check if the bike can be chained to the desired object: some owners don’t take it well when they find more than 10 bikes chained to their metal doors.
3. Leave quick-release axles to road racers
Quick-release axles are amazing when you get a flat in the middle of your 100-mile bender with the team, and you need to remove that wheel quickly to change the tire. It’s not so great when you want to make sure the wheels stay on the bike while you’re at work. If you buy a bike with a quick-release axle that you want to use for commuting, we recommend replacing that axle with a more traditional axle with nuts and washers.
4. Take the saddle with you
Similar to the point above, if you have a decent saddle, it’s best to take it with you when you’re not cycling. In this case, we actually recommend using a quick-release solution: this will make it easier to remove and reinstall the seatpost/saddle.
5. Lock out the three critical points of the bike
To ensure that all parts of your bike stay in place when locked, you will need two locks. One to block the rear wheel and the frame, and another to secure the front wheel. Some people will go so far as to remove the front wheel and take it with them to work, but if that’s not an option for you (or if it’s too much of a hassle to remove the wheel), it’s best to secure with a second lock.
6. Be unpredictable
Do you always take the same train at the same time, leaving the bike in the same place? Thieves surveying the area will quickly learn your behaviors and slash your bike soon after. If possible, mix things up and leave the bike in different places and at different times, which makes it harder to learn your routine.
7. Check CCTV Cameras
CCTV cameras aren’t always the most useful thing to rely on – just put on a balaclava and blinds to make yourself less recognizable – but they do offer a bit more security by deterring some people from messing with bikes . It’s worth locking the bike in an area where there are plenty of CCTV cameras, not only pointed at the bike but also elsewhere. We never know; he could detect something identifiable about the thieves.
8. Remove all accessories
The best cycling tech such as bike lights, panniers and tool boxes are easy to remove and carry both by you and by light-fingered thieves, so taking them with you isn’t the worst idea.
9. Be safe – everywhere
It goes without saying that bicycles should be secured when left in public areas; however, it’s also a good idea to keep them securely locked up at home. Lots of bikes get stolen from yards and sheds, so make sure they’re chained to something sturdy no matter where they are.
10. Make your mark
Most people will recommend not having a flashy bike because it attracts unwanted attention. However, a metal plate with your name on the frame in a visible position could make it less attractive to thieves. Whatever detail you can add to the bike to make it more easily identifiable will help you not lose it, or at least find it more easily.
+1. Avoid buying cheap used bikes from sleazy sellers
The best thing you can do to reduce the number of bike thefts is to avoid buying used bikes from sellers who appear to have stolen the bike they are trying to sell below market price. If there is no demand for cheap bikes without provenance, it will eventually stop people from taking them illegally.
If you see an offer on eBay or Craigslist that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Stick to buying bikes from reputable sources and help reduce the crime rate in your area!