A friend of mine recently bought her first “real” bike. When she asked the salesman how to protect the bike from theft, he answered, “Lean on it.” That’s good advice but it’s not very practical. Bicycles are subject to theft virtually all of the time, and cyclists should always lock their bicycles. Techniques for preventing theft are discussed in the following article.
Bring it in
It’s sad but true: Your bike can be stolen anytime it isn’t joined to your body. You may not always be able to lean on your bike, but you can often take it inside with you. Banks, grocery stores, specialty shops, cafes, and office buildings will accommodate you if you ask..
Lock it up
There will be times, however, when you’ll have to rely on a lock to keep your bike safe. The most popular is the “U-Lock” which is a hardened-steel loop with an integrated key lock. These are very tough, and some come with insurance that covers whole or partial replacement of a bicycle should the lock fail. Because of the fact that the loop isn’t large enough for both wheels, the front wheel must be locked separately. The best method is to thread a cable through the front wheel and lock it to the U-lock.
For light security, buy a standard coil cable and lock. They’re inexpensive, easy to carry and long enough to thread through both wheels. They serve mainly as a deterrent because a cable is no match for a pro. No matter which lock you choose, never leave your bike where someone could work on it undisturbed for even a few seconds. Bring easily removable parts such as the seat, front wheel and air pump inside with you.
Follow these same precautions at home: Bikes are stolen from garages, off second-floor balconies and even out of cars. If you keep your bike inside your car, cover it with a blanket. Never leave it unlocked on a roof rack or in an open trunk.
If you’re caught without your lock, try the following:
* Turn your wheels’ quick release levers to the open position. If someone tries to ride away on your bike, the wheels will fall off. (Don’t forget to close the levers before you get back on.)
* Move both gear shift levers to their opposite positions without shifting the gears. When the thief attempts to pedal, the crossed gears will grind him/her to an abrupt halt.
* Clip your helmet strap through the wheel spokes.
* Once inside, peek at your bike every 15 seconds.
When it comes to protecting your bike, employ a healthy paranoia. Another friend of mine was obsessed by the fear of her expensive racing bike being heisted, but she slept peacefully every night with it chained to her bed.