Many cyclists were shocked and outraged after videos showed how just a flick of a Bic pen could break through even some of the most challenging bike locks available and take away their bikes without much difficulty. But there are ways you can make it harder for thieves to steal your ride.
As soon as possible, secure it to something permanent; however, if this is not an option, there may be other means available to you.
1. Use a U-Lock
U-locks can help protect your bike from being stolen by providing additional layers of security. With hardened steel shackles and double deadbolt mechanisms that make entry harder, U-locks also include cable loops to loop around quick-release wheels to make theft harder – meaning thieves won’t just steal parts of it without even bothering with the frame.
Although u-locks don’t provide 100% theft protection, they do provide some of the strongest available. To increase its strength even more, add a chain or cable lock (it would also be wise to bring along wrenches and tools just in case!). By doing so, your U-lock can be secured to your frame and rear wheel while chain or cable ties are used around immovable objects like fence posts or trees for optimal results.
Or you could use two U-locks together to secure all parts of your bike – an approach known as “U-lock plus double-looped cable,” this security strategy can easily protect all aspects. Also called the “U-lock plus double looped cable” method, it’s simple for even casual cyclists to master this approach, which involves locking one U-lock to an immovable object while another secures your front wheel with double looped cable (see gallery for a photo example of this clever locking technique.). (For an image, click through the gallery to view).
If you don’t own a U-lock, any flexible chain or rope will do. Cables might not provide as quick or versatile protection as U-locks, but they can make it harder for thieves to maneuver your bike into an attack position and cut with bolt cutters.
No matter which lock you use, it’s essential to remember that no lock can provide 100 percent theft-proof protection. By layering multiple forms of security and parking your bike in well-lit areas, various layers can help make it less attractive to thieves and increase its chances of recovery should theft occur. It is, therefore, wise to register it with an established, trusted program in order to give yourself every possible opportunity for its safe return.
2. Get a Nicer Lock
Thieves may still find ways to break through any lock, but that doesn’t have to mean settling for subpar ones. You have the power to invest in something almost theft-proof like kryptonite chains, which come in five and three-foot lengths, respectively, and weigh only 3 ounces, making them easy to transport. Just don’t tie them too securely, as that would invite theft away with you!
Hiplok, described by Chase McElroy of Hilltop NYC Bicycles as “the greatest thing since sliced bread,” is another alternative for locking up bicycles. It features a short chain encased in a nylon belt which can quickly wrap around frames; additionally, there’s a quick-release buckle so it’s easier to secure yourself to whatever it’s being locked to, plus an optional locking loop at the back, which keeps the chain taut while giving more flexibility in tight spaces. Unfortunately, though, its disadvantages include its bulk and price point; nevertheless, many will find these systems more than satisfactory.
While street theft receives most of the spotlight, over 50% of stolen bikes come directly from home, shed, or garage owners. That is because often there is nothing secure enough to lock the bike to and no way of installing an effective solution to protect it.
Lovely Bicycle suggests pegging a thick tarp over your bike when leaving it outside for long periods to slow potential thieves down by forcing them to work through the thick material and make an informed decision as to whether to risk getting their hands covered in grime for a few extra dollars is worth the risk.
Finally, consider installing a ground anchor. They come in all different forms, ranging from levels of security and weight to cost; you could find one certified by Sold Secure or ART for under $50! Some can even be installed directly into your garage floor, and even buckets filled with cement can do the trick if there’s no garage available!
3. Immobilize Your Wheels
However, while street theft gets all of the media coverage, over 50% of stolen bikes come from within their owner’s own homes. There are ways you can help safeguard your bike at home and ensure its security.
An effective lock will deter potential thieves, but you can further immobilize your wheels using an easy trick: instead of using traditional cable or chain locks – which can be easily cut apart – to secure each wheel, use one that connects directly to the frame and passes through one of its quick release wheels instead. This will render them virtually inoperable without tools and prevent theft if you leave your bike exposed for extended periods.
Hiding your bike can also help protect it; placing it behind some bushes or a car will do. Although not foolproof, this tactic should slow a potential thieves down and make them suspicious of what might be going on around them. If possible, attaching your bike securely to something tall like a tree or pole makes lifting it harder while possibly stopping them from riding away on it altogether.
Avoid parking your bike in the same spot each day. Thieves often identify patterns, and thieves will target those they recognize more readily if they know your parking pattern. Try parking it somewhere different each day, especially if leaving it for long periods. When locking to any object (tree, metal railings, or signpost), be sure to ensure that both it cannot be lifted over and the thing cannot be dismantled without difficulties – such as trees, metal railings, and signposts.
Some experts suggest using two locks – one u-lock for back wheels and another separate lock to secure front wheels – to thwart thieves who would attempt to remove both wheels from your frame at the same time. Doing this requires them to carry two locks around with them while potentially preventing the removal of one wheel at once from its frame. If this approach is taken, invest in high-quality locks with both u-locks rated by Sold Secure or ART ratings to do it safely.
4. Get It Behind a Gate or Door
One effective strategy to prevent bike theft is placing it somewhere people cannot reach or view it – such as an apartment complex garage or indoor wall mounts for homes – this way, no one else has easy access. If possible, put it somewhere that no one will see or access. Do so only if it won’t risk your safety! If this option doesn’t exist where you reside, discuss with your landlord about creating some safe space within either space in the garage or indoor wall mounts within the home to park bikes securely.
These tips may not guarantee 100% protection against being taken advantage of, but they should help to reduce your chances of becoming the target of an aggressive and cunning thief. Good luck, and remember: never leave your bike unattended!