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  1. #1
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    U-lock. Frame + front or rear wheel?

    I am unsure of how to properly lock my bike. I broke down and got a decent U-lock since learning how useless my cable lock was against anyone moderately determined to work for the bike. It is a pain to lunk around (I am the type of person who gets annoyed by having to cary a cell phone AND keys...they should be able to integrate both these devices into something the size of an iPod nano)... [/end rant]

    Anyways, I have to carry the lock in a bookbag (even when I have no need to cary anything else). To make a long story short, I really don't want to buy a second lock just to save my wheel. Which wheel should I secure with the fram when locking up the bike? My wheels are quick release, so I have been locking the front one. 90% of the locked bikes on campus seem to use this method. However, I see that every once in a while, someone locks the rear wheel to the bike-rack. What is the advantage of this? I understand that the rear wheel will cost more to replace (AKA more profit for the theft). I have looked around online and seen it both ways as well. Almost everyplace wants me to have two locks, one for the fornt and the back. I purchased my bike for exercise and convenience, however because of theft, convenienve is quickly tilting back toward driving. I wish I could trust that I wouldn't have to lock my bike up, but I am also realistic.

    What is the consensus? I assume 90% of you will say to keep locking the front wheel and frame... Do the other 10% know something I don't? Is it preference?

  2. #2
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    I take my front off and lock it up with my rear/frame so all three are held by the U-lock.

    Takes < 30 sec.

  3. #3
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    Pitlock skewers front/back and for your seat. Buy a holder for the lock or if you have a rack, bungie cord it to the rack. I'd fasten through the frame and rear wheel with pitlock skewers installed.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darold
    I am unsure of how to properly lock my bike. I broke down and got a decent U-lock since learning how useless my cable lock was against anyone moderately determined to work for the bike.
    A cable lock will only deter an honest person; I cut the padlock on a cable lock in 1 second (it was my bike). The cable can be cut as well. The vast, vast majority of stolen bike postings I see have one common element: the bikes were locked with cable locks.

    Anyways <snip> To make a long story short, I really don't want to buy a second lock just to save my wheel. Which wheel should I secure with the frame when locking up the bike? My wheels are quick release, so I have been locking the front one. 90% of the locked bikes on campus seem to use this method. However, I see that every once in a while, someone locks the rear wheel to the bike-rack. What is the advantage of this? I understand that the rear wheel will cost more to replace <snip>

    What is the consensus? I assume 90% of you will say to keep locking the front wheel and frame... Do the other 10% know something I don't? Is it preference?
    Here it is: Sheldon Brown's Lock Strategy.

    Lock your rear wheel, not your front wheel, with the u lock. Use your cable lock to secure your front wheel. If you bought one of the longer u-locks, you can also remove your front wheel and lock it to the rear wheel. The most convenient and secure solution would be to use Sheldon Brown's lock strategy for the rear wheel, and a set of pitlocks for the front wheel and any other quick release item.

  5. #5
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    Thank you all for the quick and informative responses.

    I have tried removing the front wheel to place it next to the rear. However, the bike racks on campus are really thick like the one pictured below, and my regular sized (not a mini, but nothing huge either) u-lock can't get the frame AND two wheels.




    I am not sure how the pitlock skewers work, but it sounds like it will be one more step. I don't mind securing these to the seat, as that won't have to be constantly locked/unlocked.

    I am willing to risk a little security for convenience (Not only in my bike rack, but also at the airport....but I'll skip the politics debate in an online forum....we all know how those turn out). I wish the u-lock would be smaller and lighter. Even if it would mount to the bike, it would still be a complete eyesore. If I am stuck with just the u-lock, which wheel would be best to lock up? Almost 30% of the bikes use cables, and a handful aren't even locked up. Although I do have a nice bike, there is almost always one that is nicer. With these things in mind, combined with me always parking my bike in the spot with the best lighting/foot traffic regardless of time of day, I feel that a u-lock will give me piece of mind. If I were a thief, it would probably be best for me to go someplace else, or at least jack a different bike. Library security overlooks the bike rack through its main window, and there are much easier targets. Even though this is a college campus, I do not feel the "large risk factor" plays effect like it would at a state school.

    Just thinking of a single u-lock only setup, but where I can only chose to secure one wheel, which one should I pick?


    Thanks again for all your replies.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darold
    I am not sure how the pitlock skewers work, but it sounds like it will be one more step. I don't mind securing these to the seat, as that won't have to be constantly locked/unlocked.
    No, actually, once you have the pitlock skewers installed, you don't remove your wheels, unless you need to remove them for repairs. The only reason to remove your wheels for locking now is because they can be removed and stolen easily. The pitlock skewers will take the place of removing your wheels to lock them, and they will make a separate cable unnecessary.

    Just thinking of a single u-lock only setup, but where I can only chose to secure one wheel, which one should I pick?
    The rear. But you really should use either pitlocks or a cable to secure that front wheel.

  7. #7
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    I kind of like the pitlocks. I might look into them, since havine them would mean I only need to lock the frame. Its a shame, since I love the way the quick release looks.

    Anyways, here is an informal observation of the bike rack by the library at 9pm.

    17 bikes in total, including mine.
    2 Road bikes
    2 Hybrids (including mine)
    The rest had thicker offroad style tires, although I would not classify them all as mountain bikes.

    My bike appears to be the second most valuable upod 1st glance (Behind a very nice looking road bike).

    8 of the bikes were locked using a cable. One was wheel only, five were frame only, and two were both frame and wheel. There were 5 total using a u-lock (including mine). I was the only person using a u-lock through the wheel and frame.

    1 bike was "handcuffed" using a heavy duty looking lock. If you do the math, this means that three were completely unlocked. One of these looked like a very decent mountain bike.

    At first I though I was unnoticed while going up and down the bike rack with my checklist, until I turned around and the Library security guard was standing by the library window keeping his eye on me. I waved, unlocked my bike with a key, and biked off. Not sure if this is a good or bad sign about the security.

    So, I feel that if somoene wanted to take a bike from that particular rack (There were at least 7 people sitting within 40 feet of the bike rack) they would take several of the other bikes 1st. However, there are a ton of racks across campus with no foot traffic at night that still had several bikes at them.

    I am not saying that my bike is safe, but feel that it would be a poor investment of time combined with the risk level to attempt to take my entire bike. However, to be safe, I will probably invest in the pitlock skewers. Although I always remove my accessories, I saw at least two other bikes that had left their light attached. I didn't bother to do a thorough check, although I have seen frame mounted pumps left on the bikes on other occasions.

  8. #8
    Dances a jig. Mchaz's Avatar
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    My campus has racks like that.

    I first back my bike into one of the lower "U" parts of the rack, or on either of the ends. Then I use an OnGuard Bulldog Mini U-lock around the rear wheel inside the rear triangle of the frame on my mountain bike turned commuter. See this link for a pic. On my road bike I will include the seat tube in the lock shackle as well since the tire is skinny enough, and the clearances are close enough. On my commuter I have these bolt on skewers to deter front wheel thieves. I also filled in the bolt heads with hot glue for good measure.

    I wouldn't leave my bike locked overnight with the front wheel unsecured, but for class it works fine. By locking the back wheel like I do, it secures the frame and the back wheel. Those are the 2 most expensive parts of a bike. If my front wheel gets stolen I could find a pretty cheap replacement. Though it is unlikely that a thief would target my front wheel because of the lack of quick release, and glue filled bolt heads. The thief would probably just go on to the next bike.

  9. #9
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    Alright, I guess I have to convert to locking the rear wheel. I forgot to mention earlier that every one of the 17 bikes was locked via the front wheel. I guess I can be the one to break the pattern. I will definately have to get skewers then, although I have no way of cutting them back (although they aren't the most attractive things). Are there any with a black or ***-metal style finish? I know there are hundred of people out there who will think I am a joke, but I really care what this bike looks like. I feel it has a design overall. Even my fathers beater that I recently came into possesion of needs some style upgrades (ok, I'll work on getting it to work 1st).

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darold
    Alright, I guess I have to convert to locking the rear wheel. I forgot to mention earlier that every one of the 17 bikes was locked via the front wheel. I guess I can be the one to break the pattern.
    Better that a thief targets their easy-to-steal bikes than your hard-to-steal bike. That's the whole idea-- make the thief move on to easier pickings.

    I will definately have to get skewers then, although I have no way of cutting them back (although they aren't the most attractive things).
    The pitlock site says they will cut them for you if you tell them the size. Note that the pitlock is a locking skewer, rather than the bolt-on skewer in the Nashbar link.

    Are there any with a black or ***-metal style finish? I know there are hundred of people out there who will think I am a joke, but I really care what this bike looks like. I feel it has a design overall. Even my fathers beater that I recently came into possesion of needs some style upgrades (ok, I'll work on getting it to work 1st).
    You're not alone in caring about your bike's appearance...
    Last edited by Blue Order; 10-02-06 at 10:40 PM.

  11. #11
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    One idea, though it may be expensive, is to buy U-locks, and keep 1-2 locked at all the racks you use. Most places don't care if a U-lock is sitting on the bottom of a rack unused, so this will save you some carrying weight. However some schools or stores will cut unused locks off their racks on a regular basis. Might check to make sure.

    In any case, keep *some* locking device on your bike so you can park somewhere other than your usual haunts should the need arise.

    The nice thing about locking skewers is that once installed, you can worry less about someone making off with your front wheel, so you can lock up your bike any way you choose. However, in some areas (big college campuses for example), its recommended to use two locks anyway just to force a thief to take twice the time. Use your judgement... if you feel one U lock is enough once you have locking skewers, more power to you. If you feel a U lock and a chain are necessary, that's A-OK as well.

    Caveat: With any locking device, remember to keep a key [1] to it on your person, and *take it with you* when you lock the bike up. "Portaging" a bike all the way back home sucks when you flat and can't change the tire because the key isn't with you.

    [1]: If you end up buying Pinhead or Pinhead OEM locks from a shop (Onguard sells some locking skewers, which are rebranded Pinhead), make sure you order an extra key, as the key that comes with it looks pretty flimsy, although I've not purchased a set to confirm. Pitlocks provide two keys (and you can order more with your code,) so you can keep one locking nut on your person, and keep another in a safe place at your home.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlts22
    [1]: If you end up buying Pinhead or Pinhead OEM locks from a shop (Onguard sells some locking skewers, which are rebranded Pinhead), make sure you order an extra key, as the key that comes with it looks pretty flimsy, although I've not purchased a set to confirm. Pitlocks provide two keys (and you can order more with your code,) so you can keep one locking nut on your person, and keep another in a safe place at your home.
    I've used both Pinhead and Pitlock locking skewers. The Pitlock skewers by far are a better designed and produced product. My Pinheads rusted, my Pitlocks haven't. The Pitlocks also come with two keys, which is all the reason more to go with them.

  13. #13
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    Where is the least expensive place to get pitlocks from?

  14. #14
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    I think I really only need a rear one. I want to maintain the quick release on my front wheel, since I have to throw the bike into my car occasionally. By having a rear pitlock, I could lock the front wheel and frame up and not have to worry about the rear wheel. My seatpost osn't anything special, nor is my seat, so I don't see them as being targets for theft. If I decide later I need a seat/front wheel pitlock i can always upgrade. I am still looking for the least expensive place to pick one up though. $50 seems likt a LOT of money for one little pitclock and keys.

  15. #15
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    Any u-lock that is wide enough to go around more than JUST the rear wheel and rear tire is also wide enough for a crook to use a very cheap and very effective leverage tool to break the lock.

    Buy the narrowest u-lock that will fit around your rear wheel and tire. The 2006 model Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit U-lock is the strongest of the compact u-locks. Place the u-lock around the rear wheel directly behind the seat tube.

    Do NOT put the lock around both the wheel and the seat tube. If the lock encloses the seat tube, a crook will attempt to use the seat tube as a lever to break the lock. Works on a Wal-Mart bike, with a thick seat tube. On a real bike, that turns the seat tube into a pretzel.

    It is a nuisance to remove the front wheel and lock it to the rear wheel. Just replace the quick release with a bolt-on skewer, and use a light u-lock or beefy cable lock to secure the front wheel.

    If a crook sees a bike with a beefy u-lock around the rear wheel, and a light u-lock around the front wheel, he will go looking for another bike. One with the easier-to-break ultra-wide u-locks, or for a "gift" bike: a bike locked only with a cable lock.

  16. #16
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    For the US and Canada, urbanbiketech.com is the place to head to.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Zero_Enigma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCS2
    I take my front off and lock it up with my rear/frame so all three are held by the U-lock.

    Takes < 30 sec.
    I find one problem with that in my experience is that my speedometer does not always register and work again and I have to wiggle the wheel a bit to find the right magnet thing to roll right so the odometer will roll. I use a wireless system. I tend to lock both the back wheel or frame and the front wheel. I use two u-locks.


    Zero_Enigma

  18. #18
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    I lock my bike with a U-lock through the frame (sometimes the back wheel too) and a cable that goes through the front wheel and is connected with the U-lock. Nothing on the bike is quick release. I've locked bikes in this style in East LA and East London, day and night, in safe and in totally insecure places and never had any problems. The cable is more of an extra deterrent than a security measure, but really I think having two locks on your bike does the trick because it just makes it look like more work even if it really isn't that much. As for carrying around the weight, I put the cable around my waist and the U-lock on the frame or handlebars (no actual attachment, I just lock it on) so I never have to carry a bag with me or anything like that. If you're going to pick a wheel, I would pick the back one, simply due to the expense of replacing it. Best of luck!

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