Bicycle Security: How To Keep Your Bike Safe

The Problem

There are some blog posts we really wish we didn’t feel compelled to write and this is certainly one of them. Yet this week we've met too many people who have had their bikes stolen. Not to share a little wisdom we've acquired over many years would be a touch irresponsible. 

This post will talk you though both the products which keep your bike safe and also those security concious behaviours which can significantly reduce the risk of bike theft. We've reduced all of this to 9 simple steps. 

Before we attend to those let's deal with the elephant in the room. 

We believe in good locks and good locks cost money.

Yes there are much bigger shops than us and they are more than happy to sell you a cheap 'lock shaped object' completely incapable of keeping your bike secure. We just won't do that. We value you and your bike far too much. 

Towards an Effective Solution

1: COMBINATION LOCKS And cable locks ARE A BAD IDEA

 One sad result of a miss spent youth is that I learnt the ability to break through most combination locks in just a couple of seconds. I can also snip my way though a cable lock in roughly the same amount of time. Give me half an hour and I could teach you to do the same. It's possible not because I'm gifted but because it is so, so easy. Combination locks and cable locks are a dream to any bike thief and must be avoided at all costs.

2: Choose quality over everything else

In recent times there’s been huge talk about the importance of D or U shaped locks and their distinct ability to keep your bike safe. It’s a fair point and in general terms they do seem to make a difference but remember that what really matters is not the shape of your lock but its ability to resist the tools of a thief.  Pop a cordless angle grinder or a long scaffold poll next to a cheap D shaped lock and you may as well have locked your bike with jelly. Seek a sensible correlation between the strength of your lock and the value of your bike.  Using something akin to a high quality Kryptonite lock will prevent the casual thief from easily acquiring your pride and joy. 

3: Develop a Good locking method

Use your U lock to lock through the rear frame triangle including, where ever possible, the rear wheel. To do this you’ll need to make sure you don’t purchase a mini U lock which will have insufficient reach. Use your extender cable to secure the front wheel. Always lock to a fixed artifact which is considerably more solid than both your bike and its lock. You wouldn’t be the first to have both your bike and your garden gate stolen at the same time. 

4: Change your parking location

If you go to work in the same place each day and you also park your bike in the same public place all day then it only takes an opportunist thief to observe your arrival and departure times and they've just spotted their window for opportunity. Simply by locking your bike in a different place each day you've added to it's security. 

5: Lock Your Bike As high as possible

There is however a counter argument to locking through your bike's triangle and it's a counter argument we suggest you take very, very seriously especially if you do not have quick release wheels. 

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When locking your bike through its rear triangle you invariably find yourself locking your bike quite low to the ground. The danger with this method is that in doing so you are creating lots of space for your prospective thief to do his work. If, alternatively, you lock your bike as high as you can then you make it more difficult for a prospective thief to gain sufficient leverage to brake your lock (their tools of the trade have increased visibility and thieves seek invisibility). 

6: Aim to be seen

Your choice of lock is only half of the story. Where you choose to park your bike is another significant chapter in that story. While some people have very limited choices others of us have a significant amount of choice and we need to use that choice wisely. Being in public view is unlikely to deter thieves but being on CCTV presents hard evidence and moves the situation into a wholly different ball game. 

7: Beware Your Beloved Quick Release

Yes they make light work of an inner tube replacement but your beloved quick release also make light work for any thieves looking to pinch your wheels. Either replace the mechanism with locking quick release (not forgetting to carry the key with you at all times) or remove your front wheel and place next to your rear wheel looping your extender cable through both wheels and frame as many times as is possible. 

8: Don’t break your back

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The single defining characteristic of a good lock is its weight, a solid demonstration that it is built from quality materials. For some of us that weight can present a problem. The thought of carrying a heavy lock in an otherwise light as possible bag isn’t exactly appealing and can become very uncomfortable. One solution is to make sure you purchase a lock with a fitting bracket which easily attaches your lock to your bike while you’re riding. The other solution is to wear your lock. See the Hiplock for a great solution! 

9: Register your bike

The guys at Bike Register UK claim that by having your bike registered with a simple unique  stencil you significantly reduce the risk of theft. We particularly like the fact that this is an easy DIY job. But remember your bike's registration is only as good as it is visible. You are trying to present a deterrant. Use the stickers they give you and display them on your bike as prominently as possible. 

Don't forget that you can do a lot to help your thief loose his or her appetite for your particular bike in the first place. Remember that most thieves have very little idea of your bikes actual value they are steeling for cheap scrap and quick cash not long haggle's about the real value of your groupset. 

Remember that if a thief really wants your bike they'll find a way to steal it. Your objective is to make that task as undesirable as possible. 

If you've found techniques which have helped you keep your bike secure please do share them with us. 

Oh and good luck!