Bike Security

locktechnique1There isn’t much I miss living in a small Mexican town except riding a bike. That’s mostly because of cobbled roads and the short distances to cover.

My best friend commutes in NYC by bike every day. He was just here on a visit. Of course we talked about bikes and riding (if you’re not a cyclist, now’s a good point to stop reading).  Securing your bike is important in NYC.

For example, in the winter he’s had problems with brake cables freezing inside the cable housing, meaning he can’t squeeze the brake lever. It’s a rare occurrence, but it happens and is dangerous. So he bought hydraulic brakes.

Problem solved, until someone stole his new brakes while his bike was locked outside his apartment at night. So he bought another set and melted solder into each allen screw so no tools could be used to remove the brakes from the bike. If he wants to remove the brakes, he has to melt the solder and it comes out of the allen screws.

That’s sort of advanced anti-thievery. But even the most basic bike-thief-foiling ideas aren’t often followed by bike owners.

Here’re some good NYC bike security ideas to follow wherever you live.

First, ride a cheap bike or one that’s cheap looking, and let it get dirty. It can still be a nice rig that rides well. Reselling your bike is where a crook makes money. An older frame without high-end components isn’t attractive to a crook’s potential clients, so it’s not attractive to a bike thief either.

Most bike thefts are crimes of opportunity. And if locked, the stolen bikes’ owners usually used cable locks. The consensus is a U-lock (like a Kryptonite) is your best choice to protect your bike against common thieves and maybe even dissuade (the rare) portable power tool using pro.

How you use the U-lock is important.

Look at the picture above. The U-lock only goes around the rear tire and rim just above the bike chain. Then lock it to an immovable object, like a metal railing. The lock doesn’t actually go around any part of the frame since the rear wheel is now trapped inside the frame’s rear triangle.

You can remove the front wheel and put it in there too. Or run a cable from the U-lock through the unremoved front wheel. Seeing this will deter most crooks.

Get the smallest size U-lock that fits around what you lock to. A smaller U-lock has less extra room for a thief’s crowbar or jack. It’ll be easier to carry too.

How do you make your bike harder to case? Lock it up in a different spot each day.

What about those chains with enormous links? They give a marginal amount of additional protection for a large amount of money and lots of weight to lug around. Why marginal? A determined pro’s power tool will cut through them too.

So remember, a good U-lock (and maybe a cable), used with the right technique, on a non flashy bike, will be strong enough to let you ride around NYC for many years.