Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

We see reports every day about bikes being stolen. You probably do, too, and when it happens, only the lucky few seem to get their bikes back. About 200,000 bicycles are reported stolen each year. Here are some good ways to make sure it doesn’t happen to you in the first place.

KEEP AN EYE ON IT

The most obvious tip is to simply do your best to keep an eye on your bike in public places. How many times have you heard the lament, “I just left it for a few minutes!,” from someone running in for a quick cup of coffee only to exit without a bike?! If you’re at a restaurant or coffee shop, make sure where you’re seated has a visual line of sight of your bike. If you’re shopping in a supermarket, you won’t be able to do this. Your best bet is to lock it to something secure that’s in a public place. In a sea of other bikes, your bike won’t appear as an easy target and will be less likely to be stolen.

KEEP IT INSIDE

The most important thing to do, if you can, is to keep your bike inside with you. Designate an area of your home and office to keep your bikes. It keeps them out of the elements and out of the hands of would-be thieves. If you have your own garage that no one can gain access to, that works well, too, though we’d still have some form of lock on it in case someone gets in or you forget to close the garage door “that one time.” Sad to say, we’ve had friends have their bikes stolen after thieves tracked down where they lived using the Strava ride app.

This is properly done. A heavy steel chain through the frame and front wheel. Notice the quick-release front axle? Those make for tool-free easy pickins for thieves.

GET A GOOD LOCK

You’ve spent plenty on your bike. To protect it, you’ll have to spend a bit more on a good lock. Name brands like Abus and Hiplok produce great locks. A good lock is heavy and will take significant amounts of effort to break. Cable locks are some of the easiest to thwart with bolt cutters or an angle grinder.

Not sure what this person thinks they’re anchored to. The lock is around the frame and through the wheel, but not locked to the post.

We like U-locks or beefy folding locks as a first line of defense. Get a U-lock long enough to go through your rear wheel and frame with enough room to reach the bike rack or pole you’re locking it to. Though more expensive, we much prefer the alarmed locks that will offer a warning beep when jostled, then a wailing siren when let loose that can reach up to a rock-concert-level 120 decibels. No thief will want that level of attention while they try to break your bike free. 

“Though more expensive, we much prefer the alarmed locks that will offer a warning beep when jostled. […] No thief will want that level of attention while they try to break your bike free.” 

Most locks can fall victim to an angle grinder, and many of them can make quick work of most locks. Hiplok has one they claim has a graphene coating that will wear down any angle grinder blade. They have a YouTube video showing this, but they have yet to send us one to actually test. 

Remember that some parts on your bike are easier to steal than others. If you have a quick-release seatpost clamp or front wheel, it makes it not only easy for you to adjust it yourself, but also easier for a thief with no tools to walk off with it. 

If you’re buying a rack to carry bikes on your vehicle, consider getting a hitch-mount rack with built-in bike locks. We often use these with additional locks to make it less attractive to anyone. Even using your U-lock to lock two bikes together to make them unwieldy to run off with adds a level of deterrence. 

Folding locks like these take up little room in a backpack, but expand to cover a wheel and the frame. This one from Abus has an alarm and will go off just by being jostled enough.

TRACKERS

There are ways to track bikes; some have connected systems that are built into the hardware. For less-connected bikes, there are other options. Though Tile and Apple AirTags can make it possible to track, they work on Bluetooth connectivity and rely on others with the app to pass close enough to register the device. Cellular-connected devices, like the tracker from Invoxia, offer virtually full coverage everywhere, and even notify you if your bike has been bumped. 

No matter how careful you are, any bike can be stolen. This is why a good lock and your own vigilance go a long way in preventing bike theft. The harder you make it to steal your bike, the less likely it’ll get stolen.

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