You already use a lock and park your bicycle in a well-lit area. But are you doing enough to prevent a bicycle thief from targeting your ride?
Lose the style points. Save the flashy carbon, color coordinated bikes for the Tour de France weight weenies. When buying a commuter, look for a basic bicycle that works. Keep the drive train cleaned and lubed, but don’t worry about polishing the frame or decorating it. Bikes that appear cheap and ugly are less likely to get stolen. Record the serial number found on the frame and see if you can register the bike with your city.
Secure your parts. One way to deter a bike thief is to swap out your quick release seat post clamp to a clamp with a bolt. This forces a thief to use a hex wrench to detach your saddle and seatpost. For the wheels, swap the quick release skewer for security, torx or hex head skewers. Just be sure to carry the proper tool for if you need to pull the wheel to change a flat.
Consider the location. Many employers will let you park your bike inside the office and some have dedicated bike parking or storage. This may not be widely known, so check with your employer. Some cities, like New York City, have laws requiring certain commercial buildings to accommodate bikes and another law secures space in parking garages for them. If you must park on the street, avoid locking the bicycle to illegal objects, such as mailboxes, subway and bus stop entrances, street posts and streetlights. Research your local laws first.
Choose your weapon. The most effective way to secure your bike is with a cable, chain, U-lock or some combination of the three. Consider the value of your bike first before you drop a chunk of change on a fancy lock. A U-lock is more secure than a padlock. And cable locks that use round keys are more difficult for a thief to pick. Try to keep the cable or U-lock short and keep the lock in a position that makes it difficult to reach with cable cutters. Look for cables that already have an integrated lock and avoid coiled cables, which are difficult to wrap around the bike.
Lock your bike. Before you lock your bike, be sure it’s attached to a secure object that cannot be moved and that the bike won’t fall into the street. Try to park it amongst other bikes or next to a bicycle that is much nicer than yours. If you have a U-lock, securely wrap it around the seat tube and rear wheel before locking it to an object. If you have quick releases, wrap a security cable through the wheels as well. And take all lights and accessories with you.
Lock it up every time. If you’re running a quick errand, you should still lock up your bike. But if you’re caught without a lock, try this quick fix. Shift into the big ring and hardest gear on your cassette. Then wrap your helmet straps through the front wheel and headtube. Cross your fingers and quickly run your errand!