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Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Empty Bike Stand

By Pico Triano

For a cyclist this has to rank as one of the most horrible feelings in the world. You return to the place you locked up your bike and it is not there anymore. Someone stole your ride. This happened to a friend at work recently and I think it’s worthwhile taking a look at how to secure your bike.

Four General Bike Security Rules

1)                  If you pay big money for a bike, you should pay well for a lock.
2)                  A lock doesn’t do you any good, if you don’t use it to lock up your bike.
3)                  A lock is no more secure than the object you lock it to. Don’t lock up to something easy to cut or break.
4)                  If you have quick release wheels or items easily removed from the bike, make sure they are securely locked or take them with you. Tire pumps and cyclo-computers disappear quickly in some neighbourhoods.

Types of Bike Locks

There is a very wide variety of bike locks available on the market today. They vary in price and quality. They also vary in how well they stop potential thieves. Some are worthless and their use is akin to hanging a decoration on the bike.

1)      A quality combination lock will stop a lot of thieves. I recommend against them for one simple reason: I have a brother who can open those up like he knows the combination. He had a job after high school on a maintenance crew. One of his responsibilities was to keep the lawns trimmed. The fact that a dozen cyclists would lock their bikes to a fence where he worked complicated his job.  One day he opened all the locks and moved all the bikes to a section of the fence where he had already cut the grass. There are less honest people out there who can do the same thing.
2)      Chains are vulnerable to bolt cutters and it doesn’t take long for a well-equipped thief to chop your lock. If your thief has lots of time a hacksaw will work as well.
3)      Cables are tougher to get through than a chain but I find some of the cheapest most useless locks use them. A very thin cable will cut easily with a cable-cutting tool. Worse some cables are poorly attached to the locking mechanism and a strong man can pull them apart without tools. It is still possible to chop or cut a thick cable. It’s just more work for the thief.
4)      Key locks also come in good and bad. There are some that are very simple to pick. Low quality locks are also vulnerable to bolt cutters and drills. In general I would say they are a better buy than a combination lock.
5)      Quality U-Locks are currently the best option available. Make sure you are buying a good one. The steel should be hardened to defeat bolt cutters. They should not flex. If they do they are vulnerable to not only bolt cutters but large pry bars as well. They should have a cylinder style key. Those are harder to pick. I find the key itself is not very durable and it would be wise to keep a spare somewhere in case the first gets worn or damaged. U-locks can be awkward to carry on your bike. They usually come with a mounting bracket to resolve that issue.

Final Word

Bike locks no matter how well made are not unbeatable. If a would be thief has the time and the equipment, they can steal any bike. Don’t let that discourage you. Your goal is to make the theft as difficult as possible. In most cases thieves will move on to an easier target.

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