There have been some great posts out there on locking your bike, but with the recent bike theft of two friends I felt the need to revisit the subject. Plus who doesn’t love a good refresher that protects your bicycle?
Here’s my process when I lock my bike on New York City streets.
1. Look for a well lit, medium trafficked spot.
I often find a pole or rack in front of an establishment that has traffic going in and out such as a cafe, deli, restaurant. It also helps if the place has glass windows or outdoor seating. It give the impression that someone could be inside watching their bike.
I say medium traffic here because with so many people running around in a high traffic area, your bike is more likely to get scuffed or damaged. It is also easier for thieves to steal your bike when it is so busy. If you have basket on your bicycle, you will surely become a victim of trash basket!
2. Find a sturdy pole or bike rack.
I’m on the fence about locking to street signs. Often times there is no other choice so if you must, look for a strong pole. I always shake any fixture to see if it’s securely placed in the ground. If you lock to a regular street sign, look at the top to see that the sign is large and still secured to the pole. If not, a thief could throw your bike over the sign or worse, snap the sign in half. Bike racks are always your best bet.
3. Use a proper, heavy duty lock.
A buddy of mine whose bike was stolen on the Upper East Side was using a hardware chain and lock. The links were too easy to break and off went her bike.
In NYC I recommend using no less than a 1/2 in thick u-lock like the Kryptonite Evolution. This is the bare minimum. At $39.98 it’s a bargin for protecting your bike.
If you really want to the best lock, I recommend the Kryptonite New York Standard u-lock (pictured) at $58.11. U-locks are my favorite because I find them easier to carry around than chains. But many of my friends swear by their chain locks – just be sure it’s also a heavy duty one.
4. Use your lock right!
Always lock your frame and back wheel to your location if possible. Locking your bike through this triangle is the most secure.
If you have wheels, make sure they are not quick release! A thief can make off with these in minutes. You can remove your wheels and lock as pitcured if they are quick release. But for city riding and easy I recommend changing to bolted skeweres or locking your wheels. I have my wheels locked with Pinhead skewers and have had no problems in three years.
5. Take everything extra off your bike.
Remove all your lights, panniers and bags from your bike. If your seat isn’t locked and is nice, consider locking it down. Make sure it isn’t quick release! My seat is locked with an old chain covered in a tube. Your lock bike shop can do this for you for about $10. Bike seat locks are also available.
Hal explains locking better than I ever could. Check out this oldie but goodie from Streetsblog, “Hal Grades Your Bike Locking 3: The Final Warning!”
Anything tips you want to add? Please do so in the comments!