Locking your bike

The worst thing that could happen to your bike is that it gets stolen. People often think that this is inevitable, and is best left to providence. These people invariably have their bike ripped off and end up riding round on something “nobody would want to steal” i.e. something nobody would want to ride. Fully two thirds of bikes that are stolen aren’t locked up. This is perhaps not always as stupid as it sounds – shed, garage, shared hallway, secure parking area, out the back…
but consider the following:

It is our responsibility to keep our bikes safe. If you make it easy for a thief, they’ll be back to steal someone else’s tomorrow. Once they have sold a few bikes, they might decide to “invest in their trade” and get some tools to attack better locks. Not much withstands a battery disc cutter.

Luckily, most thieves don’t have enough money to buy these things.

How to choose a lock for your bike

Ask yourself a question – How much is my bike worth? Divide this number by 10. Spend this much money on a lock from an independent bike shop, not some rip-off chain or trendy hipster boutique.

Many of these types don’t use their bikes round town and know little of any practical use.

It ain’t heavy? then it’s probably no good. Don’t buy an armoured cable lock if your bike’s worth much over £100, buy a D-LOCK. Have a look at what’s doing the locking. Look inside the body of the lock as you operate the key. If some puny piece of 1.5mm steel is turning in there, then buy something else. As a guide, if the keyhole is in the end rather than the middle, and that end projects, a child could open the lock in about 2 seconds. OK if your bike is only worth £100.

Remember to secure seat-post and saddle, front wheel, and on expensive machines, everything that’s on the bike.

Mountain bikes with famous brands are of most interest to thieves – even now! They want money, not bikes, and want to sell their loot to ‘ordinary bloke’ who is more interested in brand recognition than cycling. Brands that position themselves high in the price range are the favourites. Quality is immaterial. Those expensive brands that are particularly poor value are of course the most targeted as they represent wealth.

Our handy formula is 10% of the bike’s value, so a new £350 bike should have something like an amusingly named Abus Sinus or an imaginatively named Kryptonite Kryptolok. These locks can hold a bike worth up to £500 given location, time of day, and flashiness of the piece.

We can also indelibly mark your bike – it gives the bill something to work with that their system might actually cross reference with a crime, but also discourages a “proper” thief (not an opportunist) as it makes the bike look obviously stolen, so it’s worth less.

A bike left in the garage.
If you're lucky enough to have a garage, remember that thieves love them too.
The bike is in the house.
Remember that a third of people get burgled, usually by opportunist youths, who will see an unlocked bike as a handy getaway vehicle.
I was watching the bike while taking the video back / buying a pint of milk / whatever
You will have to turn away for an instant if only to make eye-contact with the shopkeeper, it's rude not to. Types hang around late night shops and after a few minutes, somebody will turn up on a bike and leave it leant in the doorway. It's not paranoia to consider that they're waiting for you, so the moment you look away, your bike is off, probably down the hill. You have realistically 50 yards to catch them. After this time all but the most wasted junky will outpace you with a mild gradient. 50 yards will take them about 6 seconds. Consider this carefully. I had the good fortune, when by bike vanished in the instant I took the till receipt, to rush outside and find a regular customer of ours hiding it round the corner, pointing out my hypocrisy.
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