Monday, September 5, 2011

10 Tips on Protecting a Bike from Theft

I had already two bikes stolen in San Francisco (one from the street, one from a locked room at work) and I'm determined to protect my new third bike from bike thieves for as long as possible. Therefore, I'm always on the quest to find new better bike locks and to find new tips on how to better protect my bike from being stolen.

The truth is that there is no way to make any bike 100%-theft proof (even Lance Armstrong's bike got stolen in California...), but it is definitely worth trying to make it as difficult to steal as possible.

Here are 10 tips on how to do it (sorry for stating the obvious):
  1. If possible, do not leave your bike locked on the street, especially during the evening/night. Try to find a secure indoor location for it (e.g. you might have a locked bike room at your work). But even there, as well as at your own home, keep your bike properly locked.
  2. If you have to leave your bike locked on the street, choose a place that is well-lit and where there is lots of pedestrian traffic.
  3. Lock your bicycle to an unbreakable and immovable object. Make sure that the bike rack or pole you chose can not be easily cut or detached from the ground. If you chain your bike to a parking meter, make sure that it can not be slipped off over the top of the pole.
  4. Never leave your bicycle locked in one place for long periods such as overnight, and do not leave it secured in a predictable fashion, e.g. in the same bicycle rack every day. If you do, you give thieves a chance to come back prepared to steal it.
  5. Make your bike more difficult to steal than the other bikes around it. Select a location where there are other bikes. The chances are that there will be a bike with a less secure lock, or even without a lock, and thieves will go for such bikes first.
  6. When you lock your bike, make sure to lock the bike's frame and both of its wheels. Most bikes are equipped with quick-release wheels, so if you forget to lock one of them, you might find your bike without it. Or worse, if you do not lock the frame, but just the wheels, you might be surprised to find your whole bike gone.

    The most effective way of locking a bike is to remove its front wheel, align it with the back wheel and have the U-lock go through both of them, as well as the bike's frame and the bike rack. The less space thieves have to get their tools into position, the better.

    If you do not feel comfortable detaching your front wheel, have the U-lock go through the bike's frame, back wheel and bike rack, and secure the front wheel separately.
  7. Use as good lock as possible. E.g. Lightweight cable or chain locks are easy to cut and offer little protection. U-locks usually offer better protection, even though they are heavier to carry. A tight fitting lock will make it even more difficult for thieves to get their tools into position and to attempt a break. (The smaller the U-lock, the better.)

    Use more than one lock, and even better use two different lock types. Redundancy is the best way to deter thieves. They might have the tools to defeat one type of lock, but not several.

    Examples of good locks:
    • OnGuard Beast Chain Lock
    • OnGuard Brute STD U-Lock
    • Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock
    • Kryptonite New York Chain Lock
    For more info on bike lock go here.
  8. Take with you any easily-removable accessories and components such as lights, pumps, cycle computers, seat bags, quick-release seat, etc. Consider purchasing locking quick releases to safeguard your wheels, such as security skewers, which require a unique key that only comes with the skewers.
  9. Record your bike's serial number. The majority of serial numbers are located under the bottom bracket where the two pedal cranks meet. Consider registering your bike with National Bike Registry. Having the bike's serial number in the registry might help you recover it if it gets stolen.
  10. Identify your bike. Making your bike unique, will make it less appealing to bike thieves.