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  1. #1
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    Weak point of locking methods?

    I'm new to cycling and just spent $600 on a new Jamis Coda Sport and of course the couple of hundred in "necessary" accessories to go with the bike. I plan in part to use the bike to commute between some evening activities and my home. The bike will be parked on a college campus for some of these evening activities. I've been told by the LBS that the theft rates on that particular campus are something to take heed of.

    In response, I ended up buying a Kryptonite New York FAHGETTABOUDIT U-lock in addition to an Onguard Bulldog DT keyed U-lock/cable combination (no separate lock for the cable).

    The Kryptonite shackle is too narrow to thread through both the rear wheel and frame. I plan to use this lock to secure the bike to the bike rack (preferably) or parking meter. I looked at the Sheldon Brown website where he simply slides the lock through the rear wheel in the rear frame triangle. I could do that, then lock the bike to the rack. Or I could use the Kryptonite lock to lock the top tube directly to the rack, then use the Onguard locks for the rear/front wheels (and locked to the rack as well). The seat post quick release has already been replaced by an allen nut and once I'm totally comfortable with the height I may end up using some red locktite for extra security. I'll of course take my lights with me since those are just easy targets.

    But, what are bike racks made out of? I can't imagine they're using the same super-high quality steel in an Kryptonite lock for the rack. The same goes for just about any railing, etc. Why attack the lock when the "solid" object may be the weak point in the locking strategy? Why doesn't an industrious thief simply saw through the rack instead of wasting time with the lock itself? I guess that makes the Sheldon Brown method more effective because even if the thief gets the bike off the rack he still can't ride it away. I know none of these methods stand a chance against someone with power tools and a van but I figure if I make my relatively inexpensive bike a pain to steal he'll go after something easier.

    Sorry if this question has already been answered before but I really did try to search for the answer in previous threads.

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    this is what I use you can lock the wheels the headset the seat too http://www.urbanbiketech.com/

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steveknight
    this is what I use you can lock the wheels the headset the seat too http://www.urbanbiketech.com/
    +1 on the Pitlock. My wife and I both use them and are quite satisfied.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Around here, most bike racks don't look nearly as tough as a parking meter. Is there a chance you could get the Kryptonite around the rear wheel and one chainstay or one seatstay tube, plus the parking meter?

    Otherwise, if you can locate two poles that are about 1 meter apart, or a railing made of heavy steel tubing, then you could lock the bike to the two poles, or two separate sections of the railing, with your two separate locks. Like shown in this pic (except your Kryptonite lock isn't as long, so you'll have to lock what you can). If I had two U-locks like you do, then I'd lock the frame to both poles, and use the cable to lasoo the wheels and seat/post to the Kryptonite.

    You can also go Nightmare mode by adding a cheap circular padlock to make the cable into a third independent locking system.


    double trouble for thieves... cutting one lock won't get them much.
    Last edited by mechBgon; 09-14-06 at 12:57 AM.

  5. #5
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    Cutting the bike rack is almost unheard of.
    There have been cases of industrial-grade theft by lifting a whole bike rack , complete with racks, onto a flatbed truck but this is exceptional.
    A tubular steel inverted U style rack is the best. Solid steel railings are also good.
    Beware with posts that you cant simply lift the bike over the top of the post.

  6. #6
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    The correct method for locking a bike is to put the u-lock around the rear wheel, just behind the seatpost. Your Fahgettaboudit u-lock should fit around your rear wheel without any problem.

    Pick a REAL pole to lock to. I prefer parking meter poles set in concrete. Most crooks know that messing with the city's property is a whole 'nother sort of trouble, compared to breaking some store's flimsy $50 bike rack. Park in busy, well-lighted areas, with lots of people walking by. Locations with lots of bikes are ideal. Half of those bikes will have only a cable lock, so a crook will have no need to look at a bike that has a real lock.

    Use the second lock to secure the front wheel to the downtube. I also replace the quick releases with bolt-on skewers.

  7. #7
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    The Sheldon Brown method of locking a bike, plus the Pitlock skewers mentioned above should do you pretty well in most places. With those skewers, a thief will need power tools to yank off your rear wheel.

    What is funny is that most people I've noticed lock their bikes up either with a cheap cable lock, or a cheapy generic (generic as in not Master, Kryptonite, Onguard, or a known brand) U-lock with a round key. If they use a U-lock, they just lock the center of the frame to something, where a thief could be off with a front wheel in the time it takes to flick a quick release. Its pretty rare to see someone use more than one lock on a bike.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlts22
    The Sheldon Brown method of locking a bike, plus the Pitlock skewers mentioned above should do you pretty well in most places. With those skewers, a thief will need power tools to yank off your rear wheel.

    What is funny is that most people I've noticed lock their bikes up either with a cheap cable lock, or a cheapy generic (generic as in not Master, Kryptonite, Onguard, or a known brand) U-lock with a round key. If they use a U-lock, they just lock the center of the frame to something, where a thief could be off with a front wheel in the time it takes to flick a quick release. Its pretty rare to see someone use more than one lock on a bike.
    Thank you all for the comments. In order to save some weight (I'd much rather just carry the Kryptonite lock, it's heavy enough as is) I've gone ahead and ordered the Pitlock skewers for the wheels and seat. Now I just need to find a good way to haul around the Kryptonite lock besides putting it in my bag. The Kryponite EZ Mount bracket isn't designed for the Fahgettaboudit.

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    Buy the Kryptonite New York chain, sling it around your neck or shoulder as a means of transport? Not sure if it would swing around when doing some sharp turns though.

  10. #10
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
    The correct method for locking a bike is to put the u-lock around the rear wheel, just behind the seatpost.
    Out of curiosity, who told you this is "the" correct method?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon
    Out of curiosity, who told you this is "the" correct method?
    There are fifty ways to lock a bike. THAT method (aka the "Sheldon Brown Method"), when used with a top quality lock from OnGuard or Kryptonite, locking to a beefy steel post, set in concrete, guarantees that both your frame and rear wheel will both be right where you left them when you return.

    The other forty-nine ways to lock a bike all have at least one flaw: they help crooks steal your bike.

    By the way, someone mentioned "Master" locks in the same sentence as OnGuard and Kryptonite locks. I do not know of any Master lock sold for bicycles that has earned a "gold" rating from Soldsecure. Master locks are Wal-Mart quality locks, and provide Wal-Mart quality.

    www.soldsecure.com/Leisure.htm

  12. #12
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
    There are fifty ways to lock a bike. THAT method (aka the "Sheldon Brown Method"), when used with a top quality lock from OnGuard or Kryptonite, locking to a beefy steel post, set in concrete, guarantees that both your frame and rear wheel will both be right where you left them when you return.

    The other forty-nine ways to lock a bike all have at least one flaw: they help crooks steal your bike.
    Ahhh. I'm not sure I'm satsified with your dramatic explaination. Exactly 50, huh? "Guarantees," huh? Maybe you need to have a more open mind about this topic

  13. #13
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    This is my informal bike theft data project.

    My data mostly comes from craigslist New York and bicyclist forums. The bike theft situation in NYC is probably worse than other places because:
    1) Many more people pass your chained bike. In some places you could actually have a million people pass it in a 24 hr period.
    2) The construction and auto repair industries guarantee that many of the people passing your bike have tools that can be used in bicycle theft.
    3) The bicycle messenger and delivery industry guarantees people who know bikes, and need bikes are around your bikes.
    4) The large number of poorly paid immigrant and other laborers who need but cannot afford bikes guarantees a market for stolen bikes.

    Each entry is at least one theft.
    x3 = times 3, 3 thefts of this type.
    * = my own personal theft.

    Locked Bicycles:
    - One wheel securely locked to pole. Bicycle frame (and other wheel) stolen (not locking frame was usually unintentional) * x2
    - Bicycle Cable Lock cut with bolt/cable cutter. * x4
    - Lock/locking mechanism Cut (chain or cable)
    - Cheaper U lock forced open. *
    - Locked bike lifted over pole and stolen.
    - Hack saw with titanium blade goes through Kryptonite chain's lock in about 20 min. *
    - Mysterious disappearance of bike and kryptonite lock. (no parts of lock or chain found) x4
    - Bike, with wheel immobilized by lock, stored in communal hallway of apartment stolen.
    - "Ring Posts" use to lock bikes to in Toronto broken with 2x4s.
    - Bike locked to construction scaffolding stolen when scaffolding was dismantled by thief.
    - Bike chained to parking meter. Bicyclist thought the chain was tight enough but a thief was able to loosen it, lift the bike over the meter, and walk away with the bike.
    - Front wheel (with unique key locking skewers) locked to pole. Locking skewers defeated, bike stolen with front wheel left locked to pole.
    - Bike locked with Master Lock Street Cuffs for motorcycles stolen.

    Unlocked Bicycles:
    - Unlocked bicycle stolen from apartment with unlocked front door.
    - Bicycle left unlocked near cashier of grocery store stolen while owner shopped.
    - Bicycle left unlocked in front of restaurant while patron made "quick" (30 second) purchase.
    - Bicycle stolen from open unlocked garage.
    - Bicycle left outside unlocked
    - Bicycle stolen off the racks at a local bicycle store (shoplifting).

    Bike locks damaged:
    - Kryptonite Combination U lock jammed shut by hammer attack. Bike not stolen. x2 *

    Vandalism/Stolen parts:
    - Keys left in bike lock, only lock and chain stolen.
    - Locking mechanism for folding frame stolen * x2
    - Bicycle frame pump forgotten on bike stolen *
    - Bungee cord left on bike (who would steel that) was stolen *
    - inexpensive seatpost/saddle stolen
    - Bike stripped of parts (gears and handle bars included), U locked frame left in place.

    As seen on TV show about bicycle thefts:
    - Cable cut by NYC bike messenger using cable cutter.
    - In Chicago: Pole fastened to base by bolt. Bolt removed so the pole, not the bike, can be lifted and the bike stolen.

    Lessons:

    Always lock your bike, even if you think you will be quick.

    Anticipate a thief lifting a locked bike over the pole the bike is chained to.

    Cable locks, even thick heavy steel ones, are easily defeated (even by hand tools).

    A smaller sledge hammer is a common tool, if your bike just has a U lock there are dudes that will take a shot at it, possibly jamming the lock.

    It is possible to pry open the cheaper U locks.

    A U+Cable lock requires thief to have 2 attacks to be successful.

    With 2 locking methods it is unlikely you will fail to properly deploy both leaving your bike unlocked.

    Kryptonite chains are a thing of value, and are a target; Perhaps even more valuable than the bike. Theives may be taking both the lock and chain as they are required to make a claim to Kryptonite. By taking the chain and lock, even if damaged, they reduce the chance of you filing a police report; Which you would have to do to claim the insurance payment from Kryptonite.

    I have read about cases where reporting a stolen bike to police and posting on craigslist actually resulted in a recovered bike.

    Identifying a stolen bike and confirming your ownership to police can be difficult. You should definitely place a sticker or note (preferably water proof) with your name on it on the seat post or other place. Registering with police is also a good idea. Etching your name and tel# on parts is more permanent, and will make selling it as a used bike harder both for a thief and you. Record and email yourself with all serial numbers, and a picture of the bike.

    Other ideas:

    - Remove parts from the bike. Skewers, seat posts, QR pedals (MKS brand for example) are all easy to remove from the bike and make the bike difficult to ride and sell, and less valuable. Extremists could even remove the chain if it had a QR link installed.

    - Allen or locking skewers (pitlock, On Guard) may help. Or may not I have seen no evidence either way. I feel enough hits with a sledge hammer, or just pulling on the frame, will dislodge the skewer from the dropouts. Expensive locking skewers might be a tip off to thieves that your bike has expensive parts. Allen skewers are inexpensive and weigh less but will cause you grief if you have to fix a flat and do not have an allen key.

    - Lubricate the lock. Oil into shackle and key hole.

    As usual see SheldonBrown.com for ideas.

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  14. #14
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Incidentally, in the near future I'll put the Sheldon-Brown method to the test, using a cordless recip saw to cut a rim, tire and tube down at the LBS that I work at. I've used a corded recip saw to chop up dozens of computer hard drives for secure data-destruction reasons. They're made of aluminum castings with steel top covers, about 4 inches across by 1 inch thick, and regular Wood & Nails blades go through them in about ten seconds. So I'm not too optomistic about the chances of an aluminum rim extrusion, steel or Kevlar tire beads, and some rubber and nylon, even with a lower-powered cordless saw.

    Stay tuned for video footage when I get around to it



    The next challenge would be to simply break the rim by hand, then cut the tire & tube with a hand-held diagonal cutter. As a shop mechanic, I routinely cut tires with a diagonal cutter, and routinely break rims prior to throwing them away, so it really shouldn't be much of a challenge to do both. Just flex the wheel back and forth against the lock shackle, then the pole, then the lock shackle. Aluminum rim extrusions aren't very ductile. A steel rim would give me a run for my money, though.

    Not trying to diss the SB method, but like all locking methods, it's not invincible.
    Last edited by mechBgon; 09-15-06 at 05:26 PM.

  15. #15
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    I have the same lock setup as you except I got the standard new york lock so I could lock the frame AND front wheel to the bike rack. Then I use the second U lock to attach rear wheel and frame together and the cable for the seatpost/seat. This way seems easiest and most effective for my campus. If I could lock both U locks to something that'd be best, but still someone would have to either saw through the new york lock or bike rack, and then open the bulldog mini lock on the rear in order to ride off. If it's possible I'd return the mini for the standard NY lock - it's pretty similar in strength and makes locking up in places easier especially if you mainly have bike racks at a college campus.

  16. #16
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    I sort of wish some of the European bike parking designs for high density, but secure, racks would make it over across the pond.

    Some cool examples are at this website: http://tinyurl.com/e7k6o

    The main issue is that the bike parking is securely cemented in the ground (rather than held in by a couple scrawny bolts), thick (1-2+ inches at the minimum), heavy solid tubing (not cast off pipe) is used everywhere and are an integral part of the structure (not just brazed/soldered on.)

    I still wish Kryptonite made their bicycle poles. It was a simple concept... just a thick solid pole set deep in concrete with a basketball-sized globe on the top welded on. This kept people from lifting locked bikes up and off, was resistant to all but the most determined cutting attacks, and looked very clean.

  17. #17
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    Problem with running a lock through the frame is it allows a thief to use the frame as a lever. Sure the bike may be trashed when they get it, but they still have plenty of components to sell off at the flea market/swap meet/craigslist/etc.

    True, you can still attempt to perform a leverage attack on a "sheldon locked" bike, but the thief is more likely to just pop the wheel out of the dropouts. Yes, your bike will still be mangled, but at least you have something that can be repaired, and not just buying a whole new bike (or spare parts if it costs too much to repair and you buy a new bike anyways).

    It's a game of minimizing loss.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlts22
    I sort of wish some of the European bike parking designs for high density, but secure, racks would make it over across the pond.

    Some cool examples are at this website: http://tinyurl.com/e7k6o

    The main issue is that the bike parking is securely cemented in the ground (rather than held in by a couple scrawny bolts), thick (1-2+ inches at the minimum), heavy solid tubing (not cast off pipe) is used everywhere and are an integral part of the structure (not just brazed/soldered on.)

    I still wish Kryptonite made their bicycle poles. It was a simple concept... just a thick solid pole set deep in concrete with a basketball-sized globe on the top welded on. This kept people from lifting locked bikes up and off, was resistant to all but the most determined cutting attacks, and looked very clean.
    Those are some novel looking bike racks. In the UK "Sheffield stands" are the dominant design.

  19. #19
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    "I'll put the Sheldon-Brown method to the test"

    The question is would someone steal your bike if they had to cut the rear wheel. I would be interested in what the say did to the lock. Do they have a titanium or blade for that thing? I personally think a hand grinder with a diamond blade would be the best method of dealing with a lock.
    2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
    Strida 3, I recommend it for rides < 10mi wo steep hills.
    2006 Rowbike 720 Sport, I recommend it as an exercise bike.
    1996 Birdy, Recommend.
    Wieleder CARiBIKE (folding), decent frame.

  20. #20
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon
    Incidentally, in the near future I'll put the Sheldon-Brown method to the test, using a cordless recip saw to cut a rim, tire and tube down at the LBS that I work at. I've used a corded recip saw to chop up dozens of computer hard drives for secure data-destruction reasons. They're made of aluminum castings with steel top covers, about 4 inches across by 1 inch thick, and regular Wood & Nails blades go through them in about ten seconds. So I'm not too optomistic about the chances of an aluminum rim extrusion, steel or Kevlar tire beads, and some rubber and nylon, even with a lower-powered cordless saw.

    Stay tuned for video footage when I get around to it



    The next challenge would be to simply break the rim by hand, then cut the tire & tube with a hand-held diagonal cutter. As a shop mechanic, I routinely cut tires with a diagonal cutter, and routinely break rims prior to throwing them away, so it really shouldn't be much of a challenge to do both. Just flex the wheel back and forth against the lock shackle, then the pole, then the lock shackle. Aluminum rim extrusions aren't very ductile. A steel rim would give me a run for my money, though.

    Not trying to diss the SB method, but like all locking methods, it's not invincible.
    Way to go mech ! It might be easier to cut the spokes with the diag cutter before breaking the rim. It would be nice if you had the luxury of doing this with the wheel in a bike locked to a pole.

    If you have an old frame it would be interesting to see a frame tube cut so one could could have the parts. That thing will go through soft steel tubing like butter with a metal cuting blade.

    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon
    Ahhh. I'm not sure I'm satsified with your dramatic explaination. Exactly 50, huh? "Guarantees," huh? Maybe you need to have a more open mind about this topic
    I think it's really "fifty ways to leave your lover" , just sneak out the back Jack...
    Last edited by 2manybikes; 09-16-06 at 07:50 AM.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  21. #21
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic
    Problem with running a lock through the frame is it allows a thief to use the frame as a lever. Sure the bike may be trashed when they get it, but they still have plenty of components to sell off at the flea market/swap meet/craigslist/etc.

    True, you can still attempt to perform a leverage attack on a "sheldon locked" bike, but the thief is more likely to just pop the wheel out of the dropouts. Yes, your bike will still be mangled, but at least you have something that can be repaired, and not just buying a whole new bike (or spare parts if it costs too much to repair and you buy a new bike anyways).
    Indeed. That's one reason I'm advocating the two-locks, two-posts technique that I included the photograph of in post #4. It pins the bike at two points (three, if you use the cable to cinch the frame to the parking meter up at top-tube level) so it can't be effectively used as a lever. It also should discourage thieves from even bothering to try, since it's obvious at a glance that your bike isn't going anywhere until two locks are defeated. If you're going to carry two locks, might as well make maximum use of them...

    Use any method you want, it's up to each owner to assess the risks and pick their preferred technique. I'm not entrusting my own bike to a technique that I can defeat with my bare hands and a 6-inch diagonal cutter. All the thief would need is a rear wheel, tire and tube and he'd have a whole bike again.

  22. #22
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon
    Indeed. That's one reason I'm advocating the two-locks, two-posts technique that I included the photograph of in post #4. It pins the bike at two points (three, if you use the cable to cinch the frame to the parking meter up at top-tube level) so it can't be effectively used as a lever. It also should discourage thieves from even bothering to try, since it's obvious at a glance that your bike isn't going anywhere until two locks are defeated. If you're going to carry two locks, might as well make maximum use of them...

    Use any method you want, it's up to each owner to assess the risks and pick their preferred technique. I'm not entrusting my own bike to a technique that I can defeat with my bare hands and a 6-inch diagonal cutter. All the thief would need is a rear wheel, tire and tube and he'd have a whole bike again.
    Where did you get the idea from about locking to two separate posts?

    There is a guy I know that commutes to work and uses four locks and an alarm lock. He locks to as many different things as possible, all different parts of a chain link fence gate etc.

    He caught a guy stealing his front wheel once before he locked the wheels up,and wrestled it out of his hands and called the cops. The bike he now rides to work was left at his work, he called the police and they said "Advertise it in the paper for 30 days. If no one claims it, it's yours." So he did.
    He's the kind of guy that competes in the special Olympics. He will never be able to get a license, so that bike is his life. He rides with us every week and hangs out at the LBS. Everyone is very proud of him for handling everything so well.
    I'll try and have him get a photo of his bike locked up.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  23. #23
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2manybikes
    Where did you get the idea from about locking to two separate posts?
    From locking my own bike to a section of railing when I had to leave it somewhere. The railing is pretty stout, but it was in a semi-secluded place and we all know you can hacksaw through a railing, so I decided heck, they're gonna have to hacksaw through two separate pieces of railing if they want MY bike.

    At the shop, we got a Specialized Sirrus of some sort that has its rear rim nearly broken in half in two separate places, and this happened while it was inside its shipping crate. I have no doubt that I could easily finish the job with my bare hands and an ordinary scissors, since the tires are Kevlar-beaded ones. IMHO this illustrates the fragility of an aluminum wheel rim, especially when it's the weak link in one's lockup scheme. I'll try to snag a photo of it tomorrow.

  24. #24
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon
    From locking my own bike to a section of railing when I had to leave it somewhere. The railing is pretty stout, but it was in a semi-secluded place and we all know you can hacksaw through a railing, so I decided heck, they're gonna have to hacksaw through two separate pieces of railing if they want MY bike.
    Good idea, better than most of the other methods.
    Maybe hard to find two good posts in the right place once in a while.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2005
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    Overland Park, KS
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    2006 Specialized Hardrock Sport
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2manybikes
    Where did you get the idea from about locking to two separate posts?

    There is a guy I know that commutes to work and uses four locks and an alarm lock. He locks to as many different things as possible, all different parts of a chain link fence gate etc.

    He caught a guy stealing his front wheel once before he locked the wheels up,and wrestled it out of his hands and called the cops. The bike he now rides to work was left at his work, he called the police and they said "Advertise it in the paper for 30 days. If no one claims it, it's yours." So he did.
    He's the kind of guy that competes in the special Olympics. He will never be able to get a license, so that bike is his life. He rides with us every week and hangs out at the LBS. Everyone is very proud of him for handling everything so well.
    I'll try and have him get a photo of his bike locked up.

    That sounds awesome. I can't imagine any thief wanting to deal with that headache. I can't wait to see the pictures.

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