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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 05-03-12, 01:46 PM   #1
rms695
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Theft Prevention...er, deterrence, in New York

I'm building a custom road/commuting bike with nicer than average frame and components. I live in New York City and hope to use this bike to commute to work daily and otherwise get around town as weather permits.

There's plenty of reading material on the subject of bike theft in NYC, and I've probably read it all. I'm up on my locks and techniques, but if no bike is truly safe in NY as many suggest, then I'm wondering if I shouldn't just keep my custom bike at home and stick to subways and walking. I'm gonna be seriously devastated if this beauty gets swiped.
I'm prepared to buy a second lock and suffer the added weight if this will seriously diminish the chances of theft. Currently have an Evolution Series 4 u-lock, and looking at backing that up with the Abus Granit 1060 on the assumption that a different type and make of lock will foil all but the most determined thieves. Also using pinhead skewers on wheels, seat and headset, filled with superglue and painted silver to mimic metal.

There are plenty of victim stories on the internet, but few of them describe in much detail how their bikes were "secured" and stolen. Those who do seem to have used really crappy cable locks and/or bad locking techniques that made it easy. I rarely hear the story of the guy whose bike never gets stolen. Maybe that story is a fairy tale?

My question: Do I need to worry if I'm using a high quality u-lock + heavy duty chain and never locking my bike outside for more than a couple of hours? I realize there's no solution that totally prevents theft, but what gets me as close as possible in New York?
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Old 05-03-12, 02:25 PM   #2
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If the bike has high value components then it is worth wrecking the frame to strip them - a big pair of snips will cut straight through a bike's frame. This is why so many NYC couriers went over to fixies or ss. Less dramatically, brifters can be pulled off in seconds by experienced thieves and sell for several hundred dollars on ebay.

The only to reduce a valuable bike's strip-value is to uglify - polish off logos with a dremel and slosh expoxy on wherever you can. Dozens of hard to peel off stickers on the frame - as uncool as possible - will help prevent whole-bike theft too.
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Old 05-03-12, 02:30 PM   #3
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I'm building a custom road/commuting bike with nicer than average frame and components. I live in New York City and hope to use this bike to commute to work daily and otherwise get around town as weather permits.

There's plenty of reading material on the subject of bike theft in NYC, and I've probably read it all. I'm up on my locks and techniques, but if no bike is truly safe in NY as many suggest, then I'm wondering if I shouldn't just keep my custom bike at home and stick to subways and walking. I'm gonna be seriously devastated if this beauty gets swiped.
I'm prepared to buy a second lock and suffer the added weight if this will seriously diminish the chances of theft. Currently have an Evolution Series 4 u-lock, and looking at backing that up with the Abus Granit 1060 on the assumption that a different type and make of lock will foil all but the most determined thieves. Also using pinhead skewers on wheels, seat and headset, filled with superglue and painted silver to mimic metal.

There are plenty of victim stories on the internet, but few of them describe in much detail how their bikes were "secured" and stolen. Those who do seem to have used really crappy cable locks and/or bad locking techniques that made it easy. I rarely hear the story of the guy whose bike never gets stolen. Maybe that story is a fairy tale?

My question: Do I need to worry if I'm using a high quality u-lock + heavy duty chain and never locking my bike outside for more than a couple of hours? I realize there's no solution that totally prevents theft, but what gets me as close as possible in New York?
If I were still living in NYC and I were going to commute by bike, I'd buy the cheapest second-hand bike I could find that fit reasonably well, and then upgrade only the stuff that was needed from a safety point of view - like brake pads. This isn't necessarily to deter theft - in NY, it's not IF your bike gets stolen, it's WHEN. It's to minimize the loss WHEN it happens.
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Old 05-03-12, 03:25 PM   #4
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Sort of like my approach to the dating scene -- don't play hard to get, play hard to want.
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Old 05-03-12, 03:43 PM   #5
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Have you considered a folding bike for your commute? That way you can still commute by bike to work and have your road bike for weekend pleasure rides.
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Old 05-03-12, 04:09 PM   #6
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^ that's my solution here in chicago. when i'm going someplace where i know i would have to street-lock one of my other bikes, i ride my folder instead and bring inside with me at my destination.

it's the ultimate middle finger to bike thieves; they can't steal what isn't there.
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Old 05-03-12, 05:14 PM   #7
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One strategy is like running from a bear. You don't have to be faster than the bear, just faster than others running from it.
On my expensive commuter I have a high quality chain and padlock, a mini U-lock that I run through the cranks (I have a single front ring and can lace my u-lock through it immobilizing the cranks), and pit-locks on the wheels and seat post. It makes my bike a serious PITA to steal, and maybe it will be overlooked for easier prey.

There is also a saying that all urban bikes weigh 40 pounds. A forty pound bike does not need a lock, a 30 pound bike needs 10 pounds of chain holing it in place, and a 20 pound bike needs twice as much theft deterrent as that.

Personally, if I lived in NYC I would buy a nice folder that I could take inside with me.
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Old 05-03-12, 07:28 PM   #8
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Yeah, I actually have a foldup now. Problem is that the management company for the building I work in (stupidly) doesn't always allow them in the bldg -- depends on who's watching the door. I end up locking it outside half the time. Furthermore, it's kinda heavy, a bit of a pain to carry, and usually draws a different kind of attention: Curious people who want to talk about it, which was fine when I first got it, but a little tiring now. Might as well ride a regulation size bike.

AllenG, we're using the same playbook. How long have you been using that setup? Any problems so far?
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Old 05-04-12, 05:11 AM   #9
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I ride in NYC too but I'm lucky to be able to take my bike inside. Otherwise, I'd get a folder too. Try to talk nicely to the building management about the issue with a folding bike. I'd much rather deal with talkative people than worry about my bike being locked outside.
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Old 05-04-12, 06:40 AM   #10
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Yeah, I actually have a foldup now. Problem is that the management company for the building I work in (stupidly) doesn't always allow them in the bldg -- depends on who's watching the door.
Wow. That's insane.

I guess there could be folders and then "folders." Sure, perhaps there are bikes that fold a bit but even folded are still large bike-like objects with chain gunk and drips and are being obstinately and stain-inducingly wielded against others in the crowded elevator by inconsiderate owners. Heck, I'd ban that myself. But assuming we're not talking about that "folder" and that guy, your building folk are crazy.
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Old 05-04-12, 09:44 AM   #11
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I live and ride in NYC about 2 or 3 months every year and use a very non- descript hybrid. So non- descript that I once left it accidentally unlocked for 8 hours outside of the Astor Place Starbucks and it was still there (Thank the Bike Gods!) when I got back to it.

The hassle of having a bike that I literally could not or would not want to leave untended for a second would drive me crazy. Forgive me for an analogy that totally objectifies women but it would be like dating a super model and bringing her to a party filled with super star athletes and movie stars. The minute you walk away to get her a drink you just know that Charlie Sheen and A-Rod are going to be hitting on her. I suppose that's tolerable once in a while but you're subjecting yourself to that every day- not fun.

A flashy bike for riding the streets of NYC might satisfy the ego to a degree and be a bit of fun but nothing delights some of us more than chasing you guys down on our clunkers and leaving you in the dust of bike vanity.
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Old 05-04-12, 11:14 AM   #12
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Yeah, I actually have a foldup now. Problem is that the management company for the building I work in (stupidly) doesn't always allow them in the bldg -- depends on who's watching the door.
That's dumb. You should complain or maybe look into getting a cover for it so people don't even know you're carrying a folded bike in.
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Old 05-04-12, 12:55 PM   #13
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That's dumb. You should complain or maybe look into getting a cover for it so people don't even know you're carrying a folded bike in.
I'd 2nd the complaint to management (after determining that it's cool to bring it w/you).
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Old 05-04-12, 03:36 PM   #14
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I've been commuting daily in NYC for the last 7 years. I've never had anything stolen.

I always lock using a kryptonite ny chain. I never lock to signs that are weaker than my lock. I like to lock up to the big beefy streetlights. I know people that had bikes stolen that were locked to those thin street sign poles. U locks are useless in NY, not enough solid things to lock them too. Bike racks are on the rise, but they fill up fast.

I use pitlock locking skewers on my wheels.

I've always had nice bikes, but they were usually Surly frames with the decals removed, so they didn't look flashy. I have a Soma frame now, but it's a black nondescript frame.

I've been lucky in that most my jobs have allowed me to bring my bike inside. I do lock it up going into stores, movies, whatever. I don't worry about it too much. I would never leave a bike locked over night.

Hope that helps!
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Old 05-04-12, 11:38 PM   #15
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Yeah, I actually have a foldup now. Problem is that the management company for the building I work in (stupidly) doesn't always allow them in the bldg -- depends on who's watching the door. I end up locking it outside half the time. Furthermore, it's kinda heavy, a bit of a pain to carry, and usually draws a different kind of attention: Curious people who want to talk about it, which was fine when I first got it, but a little tiring now. Might as well ride a regulation size bike.

AllenG, we're using the same playbook. How long have you been using that setup? Any problems so far?
Sorry for the late reply. No problems at all but I live in the sticks.
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Old 05-05-12, 01:28 AM   #16
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Yeah, I actually have a foldup now. Problem is that the management company for the building I work in (stupidly) doesn't always allow them in the bldg -
Get a bag for your folder?
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