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Old 04-06-08, 05:26 PM   #1
cc_rider
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Disturbing Prank

-cross posted in Mid-Atlantic forum (oops, there is no Mid Atlantic forum)

Saturday I was riding from Falls Church, VA to DC and Bethesda, MD. Had a quick stop at one of the museums on the Mall. Locked up to a bike rack and went in for about 10 minutes. Unlocked and continued my ride. Noticed that my wireless sensor was clicking - hitting the magnet. Then the brakes felt funny when I stopped using the front brake only. Then I noticed that the front wheel felt funny - making noise, rubbing the brake, etc. I stopped to take a closer look and felt that the wheel was loose. The quick release had been flipped open. The axle was still finger tight so the wheel wasn't dropping out. The lever was positioned against the front fork so except for the curve of the handle it looked normal.

I might have thought it was an accident or oversight on my part, except I transport my bike without removing the wheels and I had done a full bike check at the start of the ride. I hadn't checked the quick release itself, but I had checked the front wheel and it was tight and spinning normally. My suspicion is that someone messed with the QR while I was away and set it up so it wouldn't be noticed easily. I had ridden a couple of miles before is loosened up enough for me to notice. Luckily I didn't hit a pothole or something that would have popped my wheel out.

Never expected anything like this. Probably just a prank, but a dangerous one. For now on I'll be checking the wheels if I leave my bike for a while.
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Old 04-06-08, 05:30 PM   #2
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That's happened to me twice. Some people are mean.

Here it happened I think by accident but on another occasion I suspect it was a prank like your experience:
Always check your bike.
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Old 04-06-08, 06:11 PM   #3
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That's when those lawyer lips can actually save you from losing that wheel....
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Old 04-06-08, 06:15 PM   #4
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I always check my bike after I've left it in public. Only takes 5-10 seconds, and I think it's worth it. Haven't found any problem yet though.
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Old 04-06-08, 09:14 PM   #5
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Yup, you were in DC. Could've been a tourist, a cherry blossom gazer, a homeless drunk, a tourist-hating resident, one of a gajillion HS/Jr. High kids, etc etc.
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Old 04-07-08, 02:35 AM   #6
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Someone actually stole my quick release once. I didn't notice until I went over a kerb and the wheel popped off - several kilometres from where I started. Surprising how well a wheel holds on without the QR. I guess I was lucky that when the wheel came off I was going extremely slow, and didn't hurt myself - just burst out laughing because I thought it was so hilarious.

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Old 04-07-08, 05:30 AM   #7
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The other trick with potentially serious consequences is undoing the brake cables on canti and V brakes. It's happened once to me and I knew the perpetrator (who was actually a good kid, but a misguided prankster). He got a severe mouthful when I saw him next.
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Old 04-07-08, 05:43 AM   #8
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I've wondered if any of my coworkers fiddle with the inline barrel adjusters on my bike.
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Old 04-07-08, 06:31 AM   #9
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My bikes all have skewers that require a hex wrench to pull that prank.
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Old 04-07-08, 06:50 AM   #10
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Yup, you were in DC. Could've been a tourist, a cherry blossom gazer, a homeless drunk, a tourist-hating resident, one of a gajillion HS/Jr. High kids, etc etc.
Probably not a homeless from where the rack was. Very public place full of tourists.
There were two mtbs locked to the rack opposite my bike that were gone when I returned. They'd be my main suspect, but who knows.
No damage this time, but I'll be checking the qr's in the future.
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Old 04-07-08, 08:49 AM   #11
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The other trick with potentially serious consequences is undoing the brake cables on canti and V brakes. It's happened once to me and I knew the perpetrator (who was actually a good kid, but a misguided prankster). He got a severe mouthful when I saw him next.
I had someone steal the brake pads from my front brake once. I don't think it was a prank, though. I lock my bike up outside my office building most days, right near the messenger center for the building. I suspect a messenger needed new pads and helped himself.

I came out of work, unlocked the bike, hopped on, rode off, and came to a red light a few blocks later. I grabbed the front brake and nothing happened. After a split second of brain-freezing terror, I tried the rear brake. It worked. I guess the thief only needed one set of pads.
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Old 04-07-08, 08:55 AM   #12
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Probably not a homeless from where the rack was. Very public place full of tourists.
There were two mtbs locked to the rack opposite my bike that were gone when I returned. They'd be my main suspect, but who knows.
No damage this time, but I'll be checking the qr's in the future.
Maybe someone's wheel just hooked your QR lever when they pulled their bike out out the rack.
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Old 04-07-08, 09:05 AM   #13
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I had someone steal the brake pads from my front brake once. I don't think it was a prank, though. I lock my bike up outside my office building most days, right near the messenger center for the building. I suspect a messenger needed new pads and helped himself.

I came out of work, unlocked the bike, hopped on, rode off, and came to a red light a few blocks later. I grabbed the front brake and nothing happened. After a split second of brain-freezing terror, I tried the rear brake. It worked. I guess the thief only needed one set of pads.

What an arse. Could have at least grabbed the pads from the least used brake. That fool needs to be bludgeoned repeatedly.
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Old 04-07-08, 11:20 AM   #14
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People can really put you at risk with jive moves like this. I used to have a 1934 Ford Sedan hot rod with Zenith wire wheels. Zeniths have a "knock-off" hub insttead of lug nuts. Well, someone wanted that hub nut and tried, but failed to get it off. On the way home, it came off while we were doing about 70 mph. Major freak out, to say the least, and both my kids were in the back seat. Very luckily, the damage was minimal and no one was hurt. Soon after that, I gave up on hot rods as a hobby. bk
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Old 04-07-08, 11:44 AM   #15
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Maybe someone's wheel just hooked your QR lever when they pulled their bike out out the rack.
No, that would be finding a simple logical explanation assigning culpable blame to no one. We can't have that.
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Old 04-07-08, 11:54 AM   #16
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I would suspect somebody fiddling with it out of curiosity as being equally likely.
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Old 04-07-08, 12:18 PM   #17
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Maybe someone's wheel just hooked your QR lever when they pulled their bike out out the rack.
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No, that would be finding a simple logical explanation assigning culpable blame to no one. We can't have that.
If your quick release is closed properly that would be nearly impossible.... The quick release should be closed so that the lever is very close to the fork so nothing can accidentally catch on the lever and flip it open. (Mountain bikers have to worry about this more than roadies, usually!)
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Old 04-07-08, 12:24 PM   #18
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It might have been a thief who got scared off, before he could get the wheel loose. Either way, it's pretty low.
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Old 04-07-08, 12:48 PM   #19
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If your quick release is closed properly that would be nearly impossible.... The quick release should be closed so that the lever is very close to the fork so nothing can accidentally catch on the lever and flip it open. (Mountain bikers have to worry about this more than roadies, usually!)
I have seen stranger things happen. I have also seen people engage quick releases in all sorts of angles. The people I have seen who are religious about tightening it close to the fork facing back are the minority I am afraid.
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Old 04-07-08, 12:53 PM   #20
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Yeh. If it happened while I was in the museum it couldn't have been hooked accidentally. The bike that I parked next to was still there, the bikes that were gone had been on the opposite side of the rack from me.

Short of someone coming up to me and saying they did it, or saying they saw who did it (or bragging on line about it) I'll never know for certain.
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Old 04-07-08, 02:14 PM   #21
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I've had someone stab my rear tire while I was at work. Everything was fine when I locked my bicycle up ... 8 hours later there was a hole in the tire.
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Old 04-07-08, 02:18 PM   #22
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In any case... if you use QR's you should always check them before each ride.

It only takes a few seconds.
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Old 04-07-08, 09:38 PM   #23
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Same with brakes - I'm surprised that anyone can have a serious accident by someone messing with their brakes. It must be habit from years of dodgy brakes, but I always give mine a couple of squeezes as I'm starting up. It's reassuring.

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Old 04-07-08, 10:02 PM   #24
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When I was learning to drive my step father, who was a professional driver and master mechanic told me to always do a walk around and a look under the vehicle before driving to make sure nothing was amiss.

It saved me a lot of grief as little things that could have become much worse were caught early and I do the same with my bikes.

I have folks come into our shop with bikes that are extremely maladjusted with poorly set bearings and cannot believe they don't notice these things but then, I might be like the princess and the pea.
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Old 04-08-08, 01:18 AM   #25
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Same with brakes - I'm surprised that anyone can have a serious accident by someone messing with their brakes. It must be habit from years of dodgy brakes, but I always give mine a couple of squeezes as I'm starting up. It's reassuring.

Steve
The routine for me now (and for quite some time) is to apply the brakes before I get aboard. It helps steady the bike and ensures I have full braking power.
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