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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 03-14-08, 06:08 PM   #1
HopliteGrad
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How do I dorkify my utility beater in a hurry?

Just got a bike from goodwill to save on gas money. I spent $5 bucks on it and it is a beauty, which is my problem. I don't have time for it to get stolen and I live in a high-theft area. So I'll lock it carefully and replace quick releases and such with bolts.

Users here have commented numerously that ugly bikes (seem to) get stolen less.

What are some good ways to uglify this thing real fast, real cheaply? Bonus points if it's fun.

Thanks and nice to find you all here on these forums.
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Old 03-14-08, 06:39 PM   #2
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paint it pink... maybe tempra paint which will wash off later
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Old 03-14-08, 06:40 PM   #3
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I've heard the reasoning about going with an ugly bike, but I don't like that course of action. A well-made bicycle should be a thing of beauty, even if it's just going to be your utility ride.

In your high-theft area, take the bike into your building with you. It will be safest there. When you're out, use a good quality lock, even if it means popping off the front wheel when you lock up. Also, if you have a quick release on the seat post, replace it with a bolt.
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Old 03-14-08, 06:55 PM   #4
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Your concept is correct. I know guys who have made their bikes unattractive and it works.
You've already mentioned removing all QRs. Hobby shops have "fading" or "ageing" paint that is used to age box cars on model trains. It dries with a dull, speckled dirty appearance. OR, take some dirt, mix with a little water and rub it on with a damp sponge. It will dry dull. I know one guy that put bannana stickers from the bannanas he ate, on his bike. If you can obtain decal material put "Huffy" on it. You'd be surprized how knowledgable thieves are. Use a beater seat if you have one. Be sure to cover shiny chrome with a film of dirt.
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Old 03-14-08, 07:12 PM   #5
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Roccobike, that was the answer I was looking for. This article suggests some of the same things. Pretty useful. Thanks man
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Old 03-15-08, 01:04 AM   #6
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My $100 mountain bike was stolen. So not all thieves are knowledgeable.
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Old 03-15-08, 03:19 AM   #7
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Bolt a flowerpot to the handlebars, plant a hardy annual. A ridiculously original addition like this will make it impossible for any theif to ride the bike without risking being caught by the cops or the owner of the bike, inhibiting any impulse they felt to steal your ride.
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Old 03-15-08, 06:13 AM   #8
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I think it depends on the location. Around here if it rolls it will get stolen, maybe not right away but sooner or later somebody will steal it. The flashier the more likely it is to get grabbed.

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Old 03-15-08, 01:17 PM   #9
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Duct tape. Put it all over the bike and you're golden!
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Old 03-15-08, 01:22 PM   #10
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My $100 mountain bike was stolen. So not all thieves are knowledgeable.
Mine too. And the thief left me a trade-in--an old Fuji in great shape that the fixies would pay good money for.
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Old 03-16-08, 12:38 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
I've heard the reasoning about going with an ugly bike, but I don't like that course of action. A well-made bicycle should be a thing of beauty, even if it's just going to be your utility ride.

In your high-theft area, take the bike into your building with you. It will be safest there. When you're out, use a good quality lock, even if it means popping off the front wheel when you lock up. Also, if you have a quick release on the seat post, replace it with a bolt.
I agree but as a last resort nothing beats a can of flat black spray paint!
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 03-16-08, 03:56 PM   #12
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Having a relatively cheap transportation bike is the only solution. It's probably a good idea to have 2 of them and not worry about uglifying them. With all the money you save using a bike, you should be well able to afford a $100 used bike every year or so.
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Old 03-16-08, 06:53 PM   #13
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Having a relatively cheap transportation bike is the only solution. It's probably a good idea to have 2 of them and not worry about uglifying them. With all the money you save using a bike, you should be well able to afford a $100 used bike every year or so.
That works...I have had small fleet of Huffy Baypoint 3 speeds that are basically disposable, paid $20 or less for them, put another $30-$50 into them for tires, tubes and possibly cables. Then usually add a Wald medium sized basket to the front. Still would get pissed if one got stolen tho.

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ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
_Nicodemus

"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
_krazygluon
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Old 03-16-08, 08:37 PM   #14
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Just curious as to where the OP lives. . .
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Old 03-16-08, 10:10 PM   #15
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Cheap reflective tape, does double duty, any "Fred" style accessories that are uglyfying and useful,
rack, front basket, you know, anything that adds weight. Eventually, it'll look like my bike....
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Old 03-17-08, 10:27 AM   #16
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Just curious as to where the OP lives. . .
Careful. He might think you want his bike.
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Old 03-17-08, 10:30 AM   #17
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What are some good ways to uglify this thing real fast, real cheaply? Bonus points if it's fun.
How about lumpy spackle. You can color it. Papier mache might be good too. Just remember to tear it not cut it if you want a smooth surface.
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Old 03-17-08, 11:22 AM   #18
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Just curious as to where the OP lives. . .
I live at a major university in Virginia. Not particularly dangerous, but definitely a lot of bike theft.

Alright, here's the roundup of what I have done so far, let me know what you think:
---Got an antiquing kit to make some spokes and other hardware look rusty
---Got some crap brown-colored "texture" spraypaint
---duct tape
---zip tied an old milk crate to the back rack
---replaced the seatpost QR with a bolt
---will hacksaw the full length grip shifter down to 1/3rd length and use some ghettotastic off-color handle for the rest

Probably overkill, but it's to the point where I'm having fun with it. Cause, you know, bikes are fun.

What are
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"Fred" style accessories
?

Roody, that's crazy that the thief left you another bike. Crazy.
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Old 03-17-08, 11:39 AM   #19
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OP--are you majoring in theatre (set design)? Sounds like you would be a great propmaster.
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Old 03-17-08, 11:48 AM   #20
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Haha! Good call, Roody. I'm actually getting a degree in recreation ecology. I can say with some empirical backing that you mountain bikers, though you piss off hikers mightily, build the best trails of all. IMBA really has their stuff together.
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Old 03-17-08, 11:50 AM   #21
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I like the idea of painting it pink. Maybe adding streamers.

You can also stencil your name or something else on it.

If you don't want to bother painting it at all, why not invest in another heavy duty lock, and just chain it somewhere very public.


/doh didn't read your last post. Ah well, carry on!
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Old 03-17-08, 12:37 PM   #22
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Last week somebody dumped off an old cheap badly rusted bmx in our parking lot when they were dropping off some recycling in our recycling bins. At first we figured that they might comeback for it, until we went and got the bike, completely covered in rust, brakes were completely locked up, there wasn't an item on this bike that didn't need to be replaced (except maybe the seat post it actually looked ok). We brought the bike in our store for about a day to see if the owner would come back to retrieve it. Though like we figured he didn't come. So we put the bike outside on the bike rack with only a zip tie holding it to the rack. Just to see if it would get stolen and it did. Basically I don't think you can uglyify a bike to the point it wouldn't get stolen. This one was ugly and not functional and still stolen. Though to our surprise it lasted three days before getting stolen.

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Old 03-17-08, 02:35 PM   #23
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Basically I don't think you can uglyify a bike to the point it wouldn't get stolen.
Perhaps the owner finally did reclaim it?

My ride is an old POS mongoose worth probably what I paid for it, but its utility value to me is much higher. So, I'm trying to widen the spread on the desirability on mine versus the nice roadie bikes on the rack I lock to. So far so good.

Hop
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Old 03-17-08, 03:06 PM   #24
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Basically I don't think you can uglyify a bike to the point it wouldn't get stolen. This one was ugly and not functional and still stolen.
I think there's some truth to this.

I'd go with the Sheldon Brown approach. Get two locks of two different types: a solid U-lock and a cable with built-in lock. It takes two different tools to defeat this combination.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html
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Old 03-18-08, 07:06 AM   #25
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I wonder if it's possible to uglify a bike with PANACHE! You know, the kind of job that makes observers think, "man, that is one fugly piece of crap, but at least the owner knows it..."
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