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BIKE TECH: Locking Up Your Bike

The blink of an eye... That's how quickly your precious steed (bike) can disappear at the hands of a bike thief. While we've all stopped off at a cafe for lunch and leaned our bikes up against the building trusting that your bike would be fine, we really should always lock up our bikes.

I know of many people who have had bikes stolen from places they thought were safe and didn't have them locked. Heck, I even know a number of people who had their bikes (or parts of their bikes) stolen even though they were locked.

A bunch of bikes locked up to a fence in Minneapolis

Now that we've established the importance of locking up your ride, following are a few tips on how to most securely lock your bike:
  1. Simply having you bike locked is likely the biggest theft deterrent, even if you don't have it locked up properly. A bike locked up at all is infinitely more difficult to steal than a bike not locked up at all!
  2. When locking your bike, try to use a good quality U-Lock or thick cable lock by a reputable manufacturer such as Kryptonite or On Guard. Try to lock as much of your bike as possible to the street post or bike rack you're locking up to. A frame locked up is good, a frame and a wheel is better, and a frame and both wheels locked up is best!
  3. While it is very practical and easy to lock up your frame and rear wheel, it is difficult to lock both wheels and your frame with a single lock. With this said, having the front wheel on your bike as a bolt up wheel or using a locking skewer will greatly discourage wheel theft from your locked frame.
  4. If you do need to leave your bike unlocked, be sneaky and do things to make it difficult to steal. For example, I usually strap my helmet to the back side of my front wheel. This way, if someone tries to ride of with the bike, the helmet strap will get stuck in the fork and the wheel won't roll (hopefully they'll crash).
  5. It goes without saying, that when you have your bike on an auto rack, the bike should be locked to the rack and the rack should be locked to the car. If you park your car with bikes on it for any period of time, it may even be a good idea to loop a cable lock through wheels and frames as well, as wheels aren't locked to auto racks.
The author's bike locked up and also demonstrating the "helmet trick" (see number 4 above)

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