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Old 06-19-09, 12:41 PM   #1
jackklas
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Locking Methods Tested

Some of you will be familiar with the Sheldon Brown locking method; the U-Lock goes through the back tire and the bike chain, but not the frame. Here’s what I think, his idea is not sound, I could cut through a rim and tube with a hacksaw and clip the chain in about 1min, bend the rim and remove the bike. Can anyone convince me or tell me why this method should offer a cautious biker security? Tell me what do you think is the best and easiest method and why don't others work?

(Also, I would not be suprised if bolt cutters could make lite work of a frame, tube and chain.)

Link for Sheldon Brown Method: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html



Last edited by jackklas; 06-19-09 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 06-19-09, 12:49 PM   #2
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so have you tested this? i have some old bent wheels and i to have been meaning to try this out with a hack saw, wire cutters, angle grinder, that sort of thing. when possible i lock up rear wheel and seat tube to inmoveable object and front wheel to frame with ulocks.
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Old 06-19-09, 01:03 PM   #3
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Destroying the rear wheel is going to make the bike nearly worthless and unwieldy to transport. Were I a thief, I'd steal something that I could easily sell rather than a bike with no chain, rear wheel, or cassette.
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Old 06-19-09, 01:05 PM   #4
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Some of you will be familiar with the Sheldon Brown locking method; the U-Lock goes through the back tire and the bike chain, but not the frame. Here’s what I think, his idea is not sound, I could cut through a rim and tube with a hacksaw and clip the chain in about 1min, bend the rim and remove the bike. Can anyone convince me or tell me why this method should offer a cautious biker security? Tell me what do you think is the best and easiest method and why don't others work?

(Also, I would not be suprised if bolt cutters could make lite work of a frame, tube and chain.)
The arguement he poses is that, just like putting the Ulock through the frame, it cannot be removed unless you cut something (obviously this only works if the rear wheel is locked inside of the triangle). Another benefit is that you can use a mini u-lock when locking with that method, which makes a bottle jack lock-breaking not possible (this is easier with a larger ulock).

If a theif destroys parts of the bike in order to secure it, they lose value of the bike. That could be a deterrent. If they just want to vandalize then it doesn't matter.

I use that method when my Ulock can't cover both the frame and rear wheel. If the bike won't fit that way, I'll try locking the front wheel to the frame, and least preferrable is the frame only. I never lock just the front wheel to something. I want the frame and rear wheel secured since they're the most pricey components, so that's my preference in locking.

Last edited by somedood; 06-19-09 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 06-19-09, 01:14 PM   #5
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It's possible that a professional thief could steal almost any bike -- regardless of whether you use the U-Lock on the frame or the tire and rim -- because he or she will have the tools to break the lock itself, instead of worrying about either the bike frame or the wheel. I think Sheldon's method might be a deterrent for impulse bike thieves, who usually look for a way to steal an easy-to-steal bike and ride it away. It would be difficult to ride away on a bike with a broken wheel and a broken chain.
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Old 06-19-09, 01:30 PM   #6
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By your logic, there is not sound way to lock up a bike.

I look at locking as a deterrent-- not a guarantee against theft. I had a roommate who locked her bike to the front railing of the house. When she returned from work, the railing and the bike were gone. Just saying...
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Old 06-19-09, 01:49 PM   #7
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My locking method doesn't have to be thief-proof.

It just has to look more thief-proof than the bike next to mine.
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Old 06-19-09, 01:56 PM   #8
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It's possible that a professional thief could steal almost any bike -- regardless of whether you use the U-Lock on the frame or the tire and rim -- because he or she will have the tools to break the lock itself, instead of worrying about either the bike frame or the wheel. I think Sheldon's method might be a deterrent for impulse bike thieves, who usually look for a way to steal an easy-to-steal bike and ride it away. It would be difficult to ride away on a bike with a broken wheel and a broken chain.
Yes, I agree, it is a deterrent, but it "can" be defeated. I like this, you guys are moving me in the direction of this method and I like this method because its simple, I just worry about "the thief without a brain." You know, the guy who goes to work without thinking through the puzzle. "Oh crap" he might say, "I didn't realize that I would have to carry this bike away." And then he leaves the mess.
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Old 06-19-09, 02:04 PM   #9
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By your logic, there is not sound way to lock up a bike.

I look at locking as a deterrent-- not a guarantee against theft. I had a roommate who locked her bike to the front railing of the house. When she returned from work, the railing and the bike were gone. Just saying...
Yes, but would you agree that there are degrees of deterrent? Like the man said, "I just need to lock better than the bike next to mine." What is more discouraging, locking through the frame and wheel or just the wheel? If we think like a thief… they like the challenge, “I’ll bet I could break that lock, or undo that arraignment” they think to themselves, “and then the bike is mine.” I think the Brown method might even tempt a thief to give it a shot. What do you guys think- am I out of touch with reality? We must also not forget that Brown's bike has older tougher rims, and yes it does make a diffrence.

Respectfully
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Old 06-19-09, 02:08 PM   #10
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What do you guys think- am I out of touch with reality?
Yes.
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Old 06-19-09, 02:13 PM   #11
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Yes.
Perhaps you would be so kind as to tell me why?

Thanks
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Old 06-19-09, 02:25 PM   #12
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The claim is that the tension the wheel is under would cause the rim to pinch the blade and make it difficult to cut with a hacksaw. I say find a sacrificial rear wheel mounted with a wire bead tire and a sacrificial chain and find out how long it takes to do all of this. Record it and post it on youtube.

I would be interested to see the results.
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Old 06-19-09, 02:26 PM   #13
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The problem with Sheldon's method is that it doesn't look secure. Some thief will think, "that sucker only locked the wheel so I take the rest of the bike" and by the time thief realizes that the bike can't be taken by just releasing the wheel, you bike will be in pieces.

If you lock the rear wheel along with one of the seat stays, it will be secure and look secure.
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Old 06-19-09, 02:30 PM   #14
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What is more discouraging, locking through the frame and wheel or just the wheel? If we think like a thief… they like the challenge, “I’ll bet I could break that lock, or undo that arraignment” they think to themselves, “and then the bike is mine.” I think the Brown method might even tempt a thief to give it a shot. What do you guys think- am I out of touch with reality? We must also not forget that Brown's bike has older tougher rims, and yes it does make a diffrence.
I expect most thieves have developed one or two methods of stealing bikes and will go for the targets that let them use those methods. One common one is to attack the larger U-locks with a jack that splits it open and Brown's method is designed to thwart that by use of a smaller U-lock.

If they still do give it a try I think they'll find that it's more difficult than you think. Just sawing through the rim is unlikely to work while the spokes are still intact since the rim is under a great deal of tension and will jam the saw blade. So you first need to cut many of the spokes, then saw through the tire/rim, and finally cut the chain. At the end of that process you're still left with a bike that's going to be very conspicuous due to the broken rim and with a diminished resale value.

Yes, it could be done, but it requires a thief with multiple tools who isn't concerned about being seen with a bike that will clearly look stolen and who doesn't mind the lost value due to the destroyed wheel.
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Old 06-19-09, 02:37 PM   #15
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I expect most thieves have developed one or two methods of stealing bikes and will go for the targets that let them use those methods. One common one is to attack the larger U-locks with a jack that splits it open and Brown's method is designed to thwart that by use of a smaller U-lock.

If they still do give it a try I think they'll find that it's more difficult than you think. Just sawing through the rim is unlikely to work while the spokes are still intact since the rim is under a great deal of tension and will jam the saw blade. So you first need to cut many of the spokes, then saw through the tire/rim, and finally cut the chain. At the end of that process you're still left with a bike that's going to be very conspicuous due to the broken rim and with a diminished resale value.

Yes, it could be done, but it requires a thief with multiple tools who isn't concerned about being seen with a bike that will clearly look stolen and who doesn't mind the lost value due to the destroyed wheel.

Excellent point!

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Old 06-19-09, 02:45 PM   #16
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My locking method doesn't have to be thief-proof.

It just has to look more thief-proof than the bike next to mine.
Exactly.

My father told me one time "Locks only keep honest folk honest." If a thief wants it bad enough he will get it.
I use two cable combination locks one for each wheel/frame/something solid.&
A Onguard U lock (front wheel/frame)
A large cable w/padlock.(rear wheel/frame/something solid)
I use different combinations of the above depending on need for security.
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Old 06-19-09, 03:03 PM   #17
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Exactly.

My father told me one time "Locks only keep honest folk honest." If a thief wants it bad enough he will get it.
I use two cable combination locks one for each wheel/frame/something solid.&
A Onguard U lock (front wheel/frame)
A large cable w/padlock.(rear wheel/frame/something solid)
I use different combinations of the above depending on need for security.
"Locks only keep honest people honest," but we must not forget there are many people that they also turn away. So, in reality they do more than that. A good lock will not only deter a thief, but in many cases it will prove impossible for him to open. No, I am not saying that you can't break a lock- every lock can be broken. However, I am saying that a good lock will also keep dishonest people away and not just the one’s who saw an opportunity. Indeed, a good lock will make it so that even if a certain thief wants a bike, he will not be able to get it because he does not have the tools, method, skill or ideal location. Contrary to popular opinion, good locks can actually protect your investment. And as our friend above (xtrajack) exemplifies two locks are better than one.

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Old 06-19-09, 03:46 PM   #18
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The problem with Sheldon's method is that it doesn't look secure. Some thief will think, "that sucker only locked the wheel so I take the rest of the bike" and by the time thief realizes that the bike can't be taken by just releasing the wheel, you bike will be in pieces.
My thoughts exactly. The last thing you want is for some would-be thief to remove your wheel, then hastily put it back on once he realizes that he can't take the bicycle. Do you think he'll have the courtesy to properly tighten your wheel after quickly slipping it back into place?

This actually happened to a friend of mine: he noticed that someone had tried to take his bicycle, but only managed to cut through one of his two locks. Unfortunately my friend failed to give his bicycle a proper looking-over before riding away, and wound up hitting the pavement hard when his front wheel, presumably loosened by the thief, came off on a speed bump.
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Old 06-19-09, 04:03 PM   #19
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Surely if you want to minimise the chance of a jack being able to open up the lock, you should lock the frame because it would be easier to get a smaller gap between it and whatever your locking it to.

If I can, I will lock the rear wheel and the frame, but unfountunally (well, from that point of view anyways) the gap between the two is quite large, so I rarely can.
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Old 06-19-09, 04:17 PM   #20
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This actually happened to a friend of mine: he noticed that someone had tried to take his bicycle, but only managed to cut through one of his two locks. Unfortunately my friend failed to give his bicycle a proper looking-over before riding away, and wound up hitting the pavement hard when his front wheel, presumably loosened by the thief, came off on a speed bump.
You have to be careful about the bike being tampered with in any event. When we were in college my wife had an inexpensive bike that used wingnuts to fasten the wheels. We had left the bikes locked up with a cable that secured the wheels and frame, but when we started to ride off we discovered that someone had stolen the wingnuts. They weren't worth much but I guess someone wanted them - and it could have led to a crash if unnoticed, esp. if they had only taken the front ones.
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Old 06-19-09, 04:21 PM   #21
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If you think you can get through rim/tire/chain in under a minute, I'm guessing you haven't tried. Hacksawing is a PITA.

But more generally, there are two types of thieves:
1) Guy walking by who has the idea to steal a bike when he sees yours. Almost any lock will deter this guy provided it requires bulky tools to defeat and secures the frame (directly or by Sheldons method)
2) Guy who has the idea to steal a bike when he leaves his house. You will never completely defeat this guy with the might of your lock. You might make things enough more inconvenient for him relative to the value of the bike he'll get that he'll look for easier prey. This is the basis of Sheldon's method. It lets you use a smaller mini-lock so jacking it open is harder, and destroying the back wheel destroys too much of the bikes value.

Finally, if that's your bike in the picture, quit worrying. Guy 1 might steal for sport, but as noted, any lock will do. Guy 2 steals for money, and that bike isn't worth any.
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Old 06-19-09, 05:06 PM   #22
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jackklas:

Some lock advice from a locksmith
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Old 06-19-09, 06:23 PM   #23
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But more generally, there are two types of thieves:
1) Guy walking by who has the idea to steal a bike when he sees yours. Almost any lock will deter this guy provided it requires bulky tools to defeat and secures the frame (directly or by Sheldons method)
2) Guy who has the idea to steal a bike when he leaves his house. You will never completely defeat this guy with the might of your lock. You might make things enough more inconvenient for him relative to the value of the bike he'll get that he'll look for easier prey. This is the basis of Sheldon's method. It lets you use a smaller mini-lock so jacking it open is harder, and destroying the back wheel destroys too much of the bikes value.
I'd say there are three:

1. Opportunistic (#1). Any cheap cable or Walmart U-lock will prevent it.

2. Crackheads (typically carry one type of manual lockbreaking tool such as pry bar, jack, bolt cutters). Onguard Bulldog, Krypto Evo, or better.

3. Pros (van with power tools, sorta like #2) NYFU might buy you some time, possibly making the thief reconsider, but if your bike is chosen it's still gone.
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Old 06-19-09, 06:32 PM   #24
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I don't use Sheldon's method. I suspect that if I do, some moron will inevitably try to pull my rear wheel through my frame and trash my bike in the process.
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Old 06-19-09, 07:23 PM   #25
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I use two locks (albeit on a crappy-looking but awesomely upgraded '78 Record Ace) - one is a long-shackle OnGuard Mini. The shackle is juuust long enough to go around my front wheel, frame and locking post at the train station (or signpost), with no room front-to-back with all that stuff, and because it's a mini, no room side-to-side, either, to slip in a bottle jack. It's got a $1200 guarantee, so a set of bolt-cutters isn't going to work against that kind of steel. Angle grinder or nuthin', and the paranoid TSA cops at the train station aren't likely to let that sort of action go unnoticed.

Out back, I use one of these that I got from Walmart on clearance for five bucks. Hardened steel, with a (sort of) weatherproof plastic coating. It goes around the rear wheel, one of the seat stays, and my grocery pannier. A big bolt-cutter would probably do the trick, but who wants a 27" wheel and folding pannier that much? (Even if it is a terribly nice 27" alloy rim with a Gatorskinz tire.)

Even if you make your bike sufficiently hard to steal, yes, there will be thieves who will be sophisticated enough to overcome what you put in their path. Here's the deal, tho: they will be very few and very far between, rather than the epidemic of thefts and vandalism we have now.
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