Paying a little extra attention to the safety of your bike is worth it. After all, your bike just needs to be harder to steal than the one next to you. Invest the extra time and money to protect your bike and learn what your best options are to get it back if all else fails.
Part 1 of 5: Lock Your Bike Safely
Step 1. Remove the front tire
If your bike has an easy-to-remove front tire, remove it and place it next to the rear tire to secure it.
If you can't remove the front tire or your u-lock is not large enough to secure both tires, secure the rear tire and continue reading the alternatives
Step 2. Secure the tires and frame to an immovable object
Use a D or U lock to secure the rear end of your bike to another object. Place the U-section of your lock around the rear rim tire, the front rim you removed, the back of the frame, and the immovable object. Then, attach the straight bar to the ends of the U-piece to secure the lock.
- If your U-lock is too small to fit around all objects, use it only on the rear tire and stationary object, but place it “inside” the triangle that forms between the three rear sections of the bike frame. This makes it impossible to separate the frame from the rim. This is usually enough to discourage a thief, as they would have to destroy the valuable rear tire to take the bike.
- No attach the U-lock to the bar (or “top tube”) of the bike. This is the bar positioned horizontally or curved down between the seat and the handlebars. Doing so makes it easier for thieves to use the bike frame as a lever to try to break the lock.
Step 3. Secure the front tire (if you haven't removed it)
The front tire is less valuable than the rear; however, you must still apply some level of security or an opportunist could steal it.
- You can loop a cable lock around the front rim and frame of the bike and optionally around the rear rim as well, if the cable is long enough. Secure the cable with its built-in lock or a regular lock.
- For added security, use a second U-lock to secure the front tire to the frame.
Step 4. Remove or secure any accessories before leaving your bike
Backpacks, baskets, lights, reflectors, doorbells, and anything else that can be removed are things you should take with you or secure with your own cable lock.
Step 5. Secure the seat with a long cord
Use a U-lock on the rear wheel, through the frame and an immovable object. Secure the front wheel using one end of the cable by pushing it through. Pass the cable loop through the seat rails; Secure by passing the free end of the wire through the loop. Attach the free end to the U-lock.
Part 2 of 5: Use decent padlocks
Step 1. Invest in good locks
Cheap locks can easily be cut open, especially those at dollar stores and some shady sports stores (and thieves can tell the difference). You can find better locks at a bike store or a general sporting goods store.
Step 2. Use two or more different padlocks
Using at least two good quality locks of different types (listed below) will deter thieves who only have the right tools for one type of lock or don't want to deal with the extra effort.
Step 3. Select a small, mild steel U-lock
Also called D-locks, the inflexible curve of these locks secure the frame and / or wheels to a solid object. The smaller the U-lock, the more difficult it will be for a thief to pry it open with a jack or other tool.
- For added security, choose a U-lock that is only large enough to fit over the rear tire, frame, and the object to which you will lock your bike.
- While the space inside the U-lock should be as small as possible, the material of the U-lock itself should be thick and strong.
Step 4. Consider heavy chains
Thick enough chains (ideally 15mm or longer links) are an excellent deterrent for thieves. On the other hand, they are much heavier than other options.
- Chains are usually secured with regular padlocks, which may be the weakest link. Use as thick a padlock as possible to resist bolt cutter attacks.
- A short chain to secure one tire of your bike to an object will be much lighter to load than a chain long enough to secure both tires. In this case you will need an additional lock (which is a good habit, anyway).
Step 5. Use cable locks only as an add-on
You can buy a thick (20mm) cable lock that is somewhat more difficult to cut, but your best bet is to use cable locks only as a deterrent to thieves and not as your only means of security.
Cable locks can also be used to secure less valuable bicycle accessories, such as a basket, to the frame
Part 3 of 5: Choose a location to lock your bike
Step 1. Get to know the neighborhood
If possible, avoid leaving your bike in areas with a high rate of bicycle theft incidents. The local bike shop or police department should know where most bike thefts happen.
Step 2. Try not to lock your bike in front of lazy people
People wandering near a bike rack may be there to steal bikes or report a bike thief as soon as you leave.
Step 3. Don't use a train station or other suburban location
Thieves know where people in the suburbs tend to leave their bikes unattended all day for work and will feel more confident to spend a long time stealing a bike.
Step 4. Select a well-lit area with a lot of foot traffic
The more pedestrians there are and the easier your bike is to see, the more difficult it will be for a thief to discreetly break your locks.
If possible, place your bike within visual range of a nearby building surveillance camera. If even this fails to deter a thief, you may be able to get footage of the theft on surveillance video to help you get it back
Step 5. Find an immovable object to lock your bike
Don't assume that all bike racks are a safe option. Use an item with the following attributes when locking your bike:
- Thick and robust. Do not choose a wooden fence or a thin steel object that can be cut quickly.
Difficult to disassemble.
. Check parking bolts or metal grates, as a dedicated thief can remove them.
- Firmly attached to the ground. A strong thief or a gang of thieves can simply lift and remove a heavy object with the locked bike. Shake the sign posts to check if they are firmly anchored to the pavement.
- Impossible to lift the bicycle from above. A tall thief can simply lift your bike over the object and take it home to remove the lock privately. Try to use something that is anchored to the ground in two places, like a sturdy bike rack, as a dedicated thief could use a rope to lift your bike onto a relatively tall object.
Step 6. Lock your bike between other bikes, if possible
The bikes at the end of the bike row are the most visible to thieves and also the easiest to steal discreetly.
Make sure you don't lock your bike to another bike with just a cable lock
Part 4 of 5: Deter thieves and prepare for robberies
Step 1. Replace the quick releases with more secure options
Many bikes have quick releases for the wheels and seats, which can be removed with a touch of the appropriate tool. Many bike thieves happily settle for taking the seat and tires, or a bike without a tire if you didn't secure the frame.
- Security locks that are available at bike shops or online require a single crank or key to remove (or at least an extra effort on the part of the thief). You just have to remove the quick-release fasteners as normal and insert more secure fasteners in the same space.
- Some cheaper fasteners fit the bike with a hex nut. These locks can also be removed with a common tool (hex key or Allen key), but will deter casual opportunists.
- Never leave the means to remove the fasteners next to an unattended bicycle.
Step 2. Secure the seat in other ways
If you don't use safety locks or want additional security, you can use a piece of chain to tie the seat to the frame:
- Wrap a long length of bike chain in electrical tape. This will prevent the chain from scratching your bike.
- Wrap the chain around the bike chain mounts (the small bars on the frame parallel to the bike chain). Then lift it up and pass it through the metal seat brackets that hold the seat to the post. Secure the chain by securing it with pliers.
Step 3. Write your name on the bike
It is more difficult to sell a bike that is easy to identify. Use a marker to write your name or initials twice on each tire (at opposite points on the circumference) and / or on the top of the frame.
If you decide to write your name on the frame, protect it with several layers of clear tape. This is not difficult for a thief to remove, but each deterrent helps the thief find an easier target
Step 4. Make your bike look less flashy
Before entering an area with high crime rates, dress up your flashy new bike by wrapping easy-to-remove electrical tape around parts of the frame, seat, and handlebars. (Doing so simulates repairs or that you hide defects.)
If you have a flashy and expensive seat, take it with you instead of leaving it on the bike. You can also replace it with a second-hand seat when riding your bike in suburban areas or for routine errands
Step 5. Bring proof of your ownership on the bike
An easy way to do this is to take a picture of yourself with the bike at home, holding a piece of paper with the bike's serial number on it.
Most serial numbers are at the point where the two pedal cranks meet. Other common locations include the headset (under the handlebars) and the rear brackets (the bars parallel to the bike chain). If you can't locate it, ask a friend or someone at your local bike shop to help you
Step 6. Register your bike in a database
Register your bike for free with Bike Shepherd or a different database to get unique scan stickers for your bike, send theft alerts and other similar benefits.
Step 7. Put on a GPS tracker
For particularly expensive or sentimental bikes, invest extra money in a GPS tracker designed to be safely attached to your bike. This will allow you or the police to track the bike's location in the event of theft.
Part 5 of 5: Recover a stolen bike
Step 1. File a police report as soon as possible
Have the bike's serial number ready to give them, if you know it. You can do this online, but showing up in person at the nearest police station may lead to a faster response.
Inform the police of your GPS trackers if the bike has one
Step 2. Mark your bike as stolen in an online database
There are many websites that maintain a local or global registry of stolen bikes. You can register information about the theft for free in these databases.
Step 3. Spread the word
Let your friends know that your bike was stolen, share a post on social media, and tell people who spend time near the scene of the theft (such as workers at the business you locked your bike in front of). The more people know that your bike was stolen, the more likely it is that someone will see it and tell you.
Be sure to include your contact information and a detailed description of your bike
Step 4. Post stolen bike notices on telephone poles and online
Craigslist and other bulletin boards often have sections for posting stolen bikes. If you receive information, notify the police.
Step 5. Ask for security videos, if any
Go back to where your bike was stolen and look for nearby buildings that have video cameras. If you find any, ask the owners if you or the police can review their tapes to help you identify the bike thief.
Step 6. Look out for similar bikes sold online
eBay, Gumtree, and Craigslist are common places bicycle thieves sell bikes. Regularly search for bikes of the model that was stolen to find bikes that might be yours. If you find a possible candidate, notify the police and the store owners.
The easiest way to do this is to set up an automatic alert on each website, which will send you an email every time a bike of a certain model is for sale. The process varies by website: look in the FAQ or ask customer service about "automatic alerts," "automatic search," or "saved searches."
Step 7. Visit local flea markets and other places where second-hand bikes are sold
Find out where they usually sell used bikes in your area and visit those places. If you see your bike in any of those places, make sure it's yours and contact the police.
Step 8. File a claim with your renters or homeowners insurance
Bicycle theft is covered in some plans, but you will have to file a claim within a period of time after the theft.
If you used a high-security lock, contact the manufacturers and find out if they have a theft warranty
Step 9. Don't take chances trying to retrieve the bike on your own
Once you've located your bike, let the police retrieve it instead of risking injury doing it yourself.
- Make things difficult for the thief. If it looks difficult to steal, they will move on to the next bike.
- If you're going to eat something, put the bike somewhere where you can keep an eye on it.
- Some well-known brands of bike locks include Kryptonite, Abus, Trelock, and Squire.
- Make sure the lock is not resting against the ground. This gives the padlock good support so it can be hit with something like a hammer or chisel.
- Never leave easy-to-remove saddlebags or baskets on a bike parked in a place where you can't constantly keep an eye on it. If you are driving through busy cities or tourist areas, take turns with your travel companion to watch the bikes while the other person eats or rests.
- Insurers may require a particular type of lock in order to file a claim. Check before buying your locks.
- Never lock your bike in an illegal location or a location that prevents someone else's access, such as a driveway or a wheelchair ramp. If someone driving a car is riled up enough, they can just smash your bike.