Advocacy & Safety - Bell lock was crap, what's good?
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05-22-09, 11:32 AM
So I had my bike locked on a university campus where there's constant passerbys thinking it would be safe with a Bell kevlar coated lock. Turns out it wasn't, and their customer service refused to even replace the lock saying their locks don't protect bikes from being stolen. They only consider manufacturer defects and a thief being able to quickly cut through the lock like butter in an area with constant pedestrian and cyclist traffic without being noticed/caught by security is apparently not a defect. Needless to say I wouldn't recommend anyone purchase these products. I've also heard a really bad review about their cycling helmets from one of my friends, though I can't say much about this personally.
Now I have heard from a few friends there are companies which will actually make some kind of guarantee that they'll replace the lock, bike, or something to that effect if it does get stolen while using their product. Does a company like that exist? And how much would getting a good lock cost?
Feel free to provide extra advice for securing a bike beyond a) locking it up in an area with high traffic and visibility and b) using a two-lock system.
05-22-09, 11:52 AM
Kryptonite makes guarantees, but you'd have to read the fine print. Off the top of my head, you have to register the lock within a certain time period after purchase, you have to return what's left of the lock if the bike is stolen (no lock parts, no guarantee), and you have to pay a deductible (I think it's around $250, but not sure.). Other top manufacturers probably also make guarantees.
Also, you get the lock you pay for. The lower end locks are more easily defeated than the higher end locks. From a quick google search, it looks like your lock wasn't very expensive-- and it also looks like it was a cable lock. Cable locks are only going to be a deterrent for honest people. Thieves can cut through them like butter-- as you've discovered. You need a good-to-high quality u-lock, from Kryptonite, OnGuard, or Abus. You also need to follow proper locking technique (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html), or your u-lock is useless.
Finally, any lock can be defeated if somebody wants to defeat it bad enough. The goal of bike security is to make it less likely that they will want to defeat your lock. This means having a better lock than other bikes in the area, following proper locking technique, paying attention to what you're locking to (wood and trees can be cut, chain link can be clipped, poles may not be bolted down securely, sometimes intentionally to lull cyclists into a false sense of security), and avoiding leaving a bike locked up all night outside, if you can.
05-29-09, 10:17 AM
There are two college campuses in my neighborhood with hundreds of bikes in public view. The "average value" of 90% of those bikes is between $25 and $00. It is RARE to see a bike that is clearly worth more than $200 left in plain view on a collage campus. Why? Any lock, any brand, can be opened eventually by a crook with the experience and right tools. If you lock a bike that clearly appears to be worth $1,000 on a college campus, you might keep it a week, or a month, but you won't keep it forever.
Many colleges uses very flimsy racks designed to be locked to the front wheel of a bike. Such racks are useless. To protect the two most valuable parts of a bike, the frame and the rear wheel, a TOUGH u-lock must be placed around the rear wheel (just behind the seat post) and a beefy steel post that is set in concrete.
The problem is, at some colleges, finding a beefy steel post set in concrete may be difficult. You might have to park your bike fifty yards from a building to find such a post. But, using a $100 lock and then merely locking the front wheel to a flimsy aluminum rack defeats the purpose of owning a lock.
So, the best solution is to combine a $200 used bike with a $100 u-lock. Many bikes shops get "trade-ins" of bikes from 1985 to 1995, tune them up, and resell them for around $200. Such bikes ride as nicely as a new $1,000 bike, but a pawn shop would not give a crook $25 for one. Put a $100 u-lock from Kryptonite or OnGuard around the rear wheel. Place a light u-lock or beefy cable lock around the front wheel and frame.
So, if you already own a $2,000 bike, where should it be while you are in college? In your bedroom at your parent's house, locked up.
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