Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lock your bike


Paying closer attention the stolen bike database I'm seeing that many of the bikes listed as having a u-lock are in fact not locked when stolen. Seems people list the type of lock that they have, not how the bike was locked at the time of theft.


While perusing my bike blogs and feeds in Google Reader, I read yet another stolen bike report from chicago.stolenbike.org. Yet again, the lock in question is a combination cable lock. Why some people in the city of Chicago would spend over $500 on a bike, and put the crapiest lock they can buy at the store on it is beyond me.

A few seconds reading this comparison of locks will have you shaking in your SPD shoes over the prospect of using such a lock as the only thing between you and a crack head getting your nice bike. It litterally takes a few seconds to clip a cable lock.

The stolen bike reports will commonly include phrases such as "only left it for an hour". This is plenty of time. Most people won't even notice someone clipping the cable to you bike.

To backup my point a little, take a look at the statistics for Chicago. When you add up the percentage of bikes stolen with some kind of cable lock you get 42% of all reported cases were using a cable lock of some sort. This in comparison to 21.23% for U-locks and an amazing 1.62% for a bike specific chain lock. This mean, all things being equal (the often aren't), you are twice as likely to lose your bike to a cable than a u-lock.

If you use your u-lock correctly, by positioning it to allow as little room as possible to fit anything inside the u-lock, you should be pretty secure parking your bike. The national bike registry as more information on how to lock your bike. You could also go with Sheldon Brown's locking strategy.

Now, even u-locks aren't perfect and can be defeated also, but it takes some more effort. The game you are really playing is that your bike is harder to get than the one next to it, or down the road.

I don't get why a bike show would still sell a cable lock to a new customer without explaining the danger to them. I guess what the customer wants, the customer gets. :)

I personally use the Kryptonite bike chain. I ended up getting this because there wasn't anything at my appartment that was small enough to lock a u-lock to. It's worked great, but the thing is an eight pound beast. Good thing I'm not a small guy. I normally lock it on my back rack and let it hang down both side while riding. I find this easiest.

Whatever you do to lock your bike, here hopeing that no one ever takes a crack at your bike. I'd hate to find my bike stolen. I hope it never happens to you.


  1. I think I may have posted this on another one of your posts, but I shoul add again.

    ALWAYS lock your bike. Even if it is for 30 seconds, even if it is in you door step. Even if it is in your garage. Lock it. Seriously, even if it is in a locked car, still lock the bike up anyway you can.

  2. Yea, you did when I had a similar one on livejournal.

  3. Here's what you do... get a nice 500-600 dollar bike... put a cheap cable/chain lock on it from wal/k mart... wait around the nearest corner with a shot gun loaded with buckshot... as soon as some one breaks the lock and makes off with your bike, blow his face off. Get 100 people to do this... I guarantee you no one ever steals a bike in that city again!

  4. just in case... i am not REALLY advocating killing people for stealing your bike, but it made me feel better to say that