“I’d love to bike there, but I’m scared to leave my bike outside.”
This is a genuine fear for commuters everywhere, and it needs to end. There’s always reason for concern about how, where, and how long you lock your bike, but with a few simple tools these concerns can be mitigated. You may even find yourself declining the invitation to awkwardly bring the bike up a set of stairs into a small apartment and instead just leave it secured at street level. You can secure your bike for any kind of outing.
Here is a list of tools that can not only thwart the thieves, but can make your locking experience much quicker and easier. I have a link to a more detailed post on each item mentioned!
If I had a new bike today, here are the products I would buy to make it safe and easy to lock up. Check out my Tips for Using a Small U-lock for locking technique so you can get the hang of locking up your bike easily.
U-Lock (Buy Seatylock Mason – $$)
Just kidding I haven’t found one of those yet. If you want to leave it with the bike, you can usually fit your helmet on your U-lock when you lock it up. Even with my small U-lock I can fit through one of the holes in the top, or maybe just the straps. You can also rest assured that helmet theft is low. I often just clip it into the lock or the frame without much concern.
Don’t forget that you need a good bike rack, parking meter, or pole to properly secure your bike! Make sure the piece of metal you lock to is at least thicker than your U-Lock! That means no metal fences. If you think there is a shortage of bike racks, you can request one from your local municipality!
Home/Renters Insurance (Buy Lemonade)
The last thing you’ll want for maximum peace of mind is some good insurance to cover your bicycle! I use Lemonade insurance to cover one of my bicycles for about $3.50 a month extra. You’ll want to get “scheduled personal property” coverage, or “extra coverage” as Lemonade calls it. This allows you to claim on it easily with a $0 deductible, and it’s still covered even if your bike is stolen out on the street. Chances are your standard home or renters insurance has a deductible that’s above the value of your bike, and that won’t help you at all.
Insurance gives you the greatest peace of mind, because if someone ends up stealing your bicycle, you can always get a new one.
Most of what you’re doing here is preventing thieves from even thinking about stealing your bike. No one wants to steal a bike that’s harder to steal the then next one. If your bike looks inconvenient enough to steal, it won’t be worth it for anyone to even try.
Now that I’ve blazed over some of the tools you need to have a secure, worry-free biking experience, let’s get inside the head of a few typical bike thieves so you can better understand what motivates and ultimately deters these crimes.
First, meet Theo. Theo just wants to make a quick buck. He has some bolt cutters inside his jacket, and he just walks around looking for a bike with a cable to cut. If yours doesn’t have a cable, he’s uninterested. Theo is also looking at those seats, wheels, and lights. If something is noticeably not secured, he may nab it. If you’ve been following my list of recommendations, it isn’t that hard to keep all these accessories secure, so you’ll have nothing to worry about from Theo.
Next up, meet Pam. Pam is a professional bike thief. She set up a fake pole that seems secure, but easily lifts out with the pulling of some pin. This attack can easily be thwarted by giving whatever you lock to a little tug to make sure it’s properly secure. Take a look at how it’s bolted to the ground too to make sure nothing’s fishy.
Pam also has a team working with her sometimes. They look around for expensive looking bikes with weaker U-locks that they can cut while using their large bolt cutters.
Here’s a post with good videos on all the other tools thieves might be using.
Unless your bike is (and looks) very expensive (as in $5k and up), proper locking technique and the gear mentioned in this post should be enough to stop these thieves from even trying to steal your bike. If you’ve been taking the suggestions on this blog, most of you should be able to stop worrying about your bike getting stolen. Without that worry comes so much more freedom.
No big deal. No worrying. More biking. More happiness.