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On Lock Down

What is the best way to lock my bike? In my previous article titled “Regarding Locks” I discussed the different levels of protection provided by different locks. But regardless of which type of lock you use, there are some things you should pay attention to when locking your bike.

1.  Always put your lock through the frame and rear wheel.

Why? The most expensive parts of your bike to replace are the frame and rear wheel. If you only put your lock through one wheel, a thief only needs one wrench to unbolt the wheel and take the rest of the bike. If you have quick release wheels they don’t need any tools at all.

2. make sure that your bike is locked to a closed loop object.

Why? I see people put cable locks around parking meters all the time.  If you do this, all that a thief needs to do to remove the bike is lift it and slide the lock over the top of the meter. I know people who have lost their bikes this way. So always make sure that  the object that you are locking to won’t allow the lock to slide off. Also be aware that some objects are not fixed to the ground. For example; If you put your lock around the leg of a park bench that isn’t bolted down, a thief can simply lift the bench and slide your lock off the bottom.

3. Don’t lock your bike in the same place at the same time every day.

Why? If a thief gets to know your schedule it is easier to plan on when to steal your bike. For example: if you leave your bike locked on the same rack every day from 9am – 5pm, a potential thief will know that your bike is vulnerable during this time. Even worse is if you lock your bike outside in the same place every night! Try mixing it up a little. Find other bike racks nearby, and start a rotation. Lock your bike on different racks different days.

4.  If you have removable parts on your bike, like lights or cycling computers, take them with you.

Why? A twenty dollar light that snaps onto your handle with no tools is like a twenty dollar bill sitting out in the open.

5. Don’t leave valuables in your cycling bags.

Why? This is self explanatory. These bags don't lock. Think about it.

6. Replace any quick release levers with nuts and bolts.

Why? Not all bike thefts involve the entire bike being stolen. Often times a thief will just take a wheel or a seat. Any parts that are held on with a quick release can be removed without any tools what so ever. This means that any passerby that feels the urge to take something can. By replacing the quick releases with nuts and bolts, these parts require tools to be removed. This drastically reduces the number of potential thieves.

7. If you leave your helmet with your bike make sure that you put your lock through the straps.

Why? To get the helmet a thief would have to cut the straps of the helmet rendering it useless.

8. If you’re just running into a store for a minute, and don’t want to lock your bike, leave it where it is visible from inside the store.

Why? Even if you aren’t watching the bike, a potential thief will assume that you are. (note: This may have limited effectiveness. It’s always best to lock your bike to something.)

9. If you can’t find something suitable to lock your bike to, put your lock through the frame and rear wheel.

Why? This won’t stop someone from carrying the bike away, but it will stop them from riding it away. (I usually only do this if I’m running into a store for a minute. I wouldn’t leave my bike unattended like this for long.)

10. Lock your bike next to a more expensive bike.

Why? It sounds funny, but if a thief is going to steal one bike it will probably be the most expensive one on the rack.

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