It’s a hard thing to stomach when you realise that your bike has been stolen. Pacing around after the fact, searching the area, sure that a friend has played a practical joke. You locked it up and it still disappeared! How do we prevent this misfortune from happening again?
The first thing to understand is that all locks are not created equal. Most people buy a cable lock, mainly because they cost the least. They can be highly effective when used in the right situation. Use these locks for that trip to the coffee shop, where your bike can be seen from the window. A quick dash into the local variety store will be okay. Cable locks are also extremely useful as a secondary lock. Security? We’ve cut a low quality department store lock with a pair of bicycle gear cable cutters. If you choose this type of lock, go to a bike shop and get the stronger 12mm thick cable. For added strength, look for one that also has a mesh outer layer.
Chains are a better choice. The links are made of hardened steel and although they are heavier, they are easy to carry around. They also tend to be longer, giving more options for locking. Most chains offer medium security. Some of the heavier chains go well beyond this. The Hip Lock, pictured above, can be worn around the waist as a belt, further simplifying the method of bringing it with you.
A new type of very portable lock uses hardened steel flat plates that are pinned together to form a type of flexible chain. These tough locks are difficult to defeat because they tend to move around when tampered with. The plates fold in on each other, creating a very small lock to stow. This lock seems to offer the highest amount of strength for it’s ease of transport. Security is mid to high, depending on the size of the plates.
A decently priced, good quality U-lock still offers the best general security. Although heavy and cumbersome, if you have to leave your bike unguarded, it will usually still be there when you return. These locks are available with many different lengths of shackles and styles of key cylinders. Some, like the Bike Guard lock above, come with a secondary cable for a completely thorough way to secure your bike.
Which ever lock you choose, use the lock through the rear wheel and around the seat tube of the frame, then around the parking rack. If your front wheel is not nutted to the fork, remove it and lock it beside the rear wheel. Consider using a cable lock for the front wheel in conjunction with a heavier lock for the rear of the bike. Another option for removable wheels is to add theft proof axle skewers.
Reduce the opportunity for theft by locking in a well lit, trafficked area. Finally, use your lock, no matter how brief your stop, and keep your bike yours.