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Old 03-20-06, 11:56 AM   #1
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Bike Theft in Europe?

As I'm buliding my bike for an extended stay in Europe, I'm growing more and more concerned about it being stolen. I've built a fairly nice cyclocross/light touring bike which is sure to be a target for any bike thief. I've got a new Kryptonite U-lock and am even considering bringing a wire cable, in spite of the weight. I'm going to keep it indoors as much as possible and walk rather than take the bike for short trips around town. Still, I know that one mistake on my part and it's gone. Also, I'll be staying in hostels and B&Bs, so even indoors it's not very secure. Could any of you experienced tourers share some tips or allay my fears?
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Old 03-20-06, 12:08 PM   #2
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U Locks with a cylinder key can be opened with a plastic pen! News item about it recently, and Kryptonite was one of the vulnerable locks!
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Old 03-20-06, 12:12 PM   #3
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Bike theft is a big problem in some of larger centres -- Amsterdam is supposed to be especially bad. Elsewhere, you do not need to worry too much. Just take the usual precautions of being aware of your surroundings, locking your bike to an immovable object in a well-lit area, etc.

In some towns in Switzerland, bike shops leave very expensive bicycles unlocked outside when the shop closes for lunch!
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Old 03-20-06, 12:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
U Locks with a cylinder key can be opened with a plastic pen! News item about it recently, and Kryptonite was one of the vulnerable locks!
Old news. That's why I specified that I had a new, Kryptonite U-lock (with a slot key). They stopped selling cylindrical keys years ago.
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Old 03-20-06, 12:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by qqy
Old news. That's why I specified that I had a new, Kryptonite U-lock (with a slot key). They stopped selling cylindrical keys years ago.
Bike theft is a big problem all over Europe. Amsterdam, London, and Oslo are some cities that come to mind that are known for high rates of bike theft.

Which model Kryptonite lock do you have? European posts, ie traffic light posts (no North American style parking meters here) tend to be larger diameter then in North America. With some of the smaller Kryptonite locks you might have trouble finding something to lock up to.
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Old 03-20-06, 12:33 PM   #6
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In Amsterdam, you see rusted old POS bikes chained to railings. I was told on a recent visit that anything not chained down will disappear very quickly - even junk.
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Old 03-20-06, 12:33 PM   #7
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I worried about the same thing for Italy last year and ended just taking a pretty large long (3/8" x 6' I think) cable and a padlock. This was to lock up two bikes. Except for a couple of days in big cities, this felt like overkill. If it's just you a good U-lock would probably be sufficient.


Quote:
Originally Posted by qqy
As I'm buliding my bike for an extended stay in Europe, I'm growing more and more concerned about it being stolen. I've built a fairly nice cyclocross/light touring bike which is sure to be a target for any bike thief. I've got a new Kryptonite U-lock and am even considering bringing a wire cable, in spite of the weight. I'm going to keep it indoors as much as possible and walk rather than take the bike for short trips around town. Still, I know that one mistake on my part and it's gone. Also, I'll be staying in hostels and B&Bs, so even indoors it's not very secure. Could any of you experienced tourers share some tips or allay my fears?
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Old 03-20-06, 01:00 PM   #8
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Professional, tooled up bike theft is endemic in pretty much all European big cities.
In towns and villages the theft is opportunistic and defeated by lightweight cable locks.
Hostels often have secure bike storage.
When touring I take a lightweight (8mm) cable and try to avoid leaving my bike unattended in city centres. I have done it in Dublin but tried to eat within sight of my bike.
Cables are more useful than U-locks and if you are worried, then et a heavier duty cables.
If you decide on more security, you can always buy in Europe.
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Old 03-20-06, 01:06 PM   #9
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I live in London and have had a bike stolen - it was d-locked to another bike and chained to a drain pipe (one that was very solid). They couldn't get through the d-locks on site but did get through the chain so took the bikes of elsewhere for d-lock removal (one was later recovered from the boot of someone arrested for something else so I've pieced together a bit of the story).

I've also had lights stolen (which I stupidly left on my bike while it was locked behind a high metal fence - obviously too close to the fence - it's not just the law with long arms). I've lost a gel seat cover (which I didn't think was worth stealing - I was still new to London at that point). I've had my (non-QR) seat and post stolen - they obviously stood there with an allen key. I've also had cheap metal carabiners I was using to hold a tarp down over my parked bike stolen (though I later caught the kid who did that while he was stealing my bike and he hasn't done that again).

Summary is you'll need a good d-lock, a cable to secure your front wheel and a small cable to secure you're seat. Remove everything removable before you leave your bike.
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Old 03-21-06, 06:02 AM   #10
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Please check this thinking for a tour through Holland France Germany: The pros are unlikely to use bolt cutters on a 10mm alloy chain in broad daylight but I'm told that they can pick most locks in minutes if not seconds.

So the critical aspect is the lock. The Finnish ABLOY (say 342) is one of the most pick proof locks available in Europe central. So would it be overkill to go for a 10mm square or hex security chain (bolt cutter have great difficulty with these) and an Abloy padlock (on a mid price range tandem). What is peace of mind worth?

Thanks
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Old 03-21-06, 06:24 AM   #11
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Like anywhere, it will depend on whether you are talking city or country. I had a bike stolen from outside my office in Frankfurt, and I did all sorts of tours round rural France and Germany without any problems. I even left my fully loaded bike in town squares with a single cable lock on numerous occasions, and it was there each time when I got back. I think it's all about luck, and whether the Gods are smiling or frowning that day.
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Old 03-21-06, 01:48 PM   #12
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I do hope to spend most of my time in the country (not cities), as it'll be cheaper and more bike-friendly. I hope to do long tours of France, The Neatherlands, England, Ireland... and Germany & Switzerland if I can afford it. I'm using a good Kryptonite lock which would be very difficult to cut through. If anyone can pick a laser-cut key lock, I'd be amazed. However, will the bike be safe on Trains and buses? Not just that, but even in a hostel, it could disappear as it's a fairly expensive bike. Moreover, even if it's locked up, what's to stop someone from stealing the STI shifters or even the saddle? I guess the answer is 'nothing' but I'm starting to wonder if the whole tour is a good idea at all...
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Old 03-21-06, 03:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qqy
I do hope to spend most of my time in the country (not cities), as it'll be cheaper and more bike-friendly. I hope to do long tours of France, The Neatherlands, England, Ireland... and Germany & Switzerland if I can afford it. I'm using a good Kryptonite lock which would be very difficult to cut through. If anyone can pick a laser-cut key lock, I'd be amazed. However, will the bike be safe on Trains and buses? Not just that, but even in a hostel, it could disappear as it's a fairly expensive bike. Moreover, even if it's locked up, what's to stop someone from stealing the STI shifters or even the saddle? I guess the answer is 'nothing' but I'm starting to wonder if the whole tour is a good idea at all...
I purchased that lock and it's very good. The New York 3000 is the best but that lock would be good for 95% of the day. I don't know if it would be good at night!

Remember not to park the bike on a rack. Avoid them at all costs and hide the bike when locking it unless you can see it from a window.
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Old 03-21-06, 03:32 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by qqy
Moreover, even if it's locked up, what's to stop someone from stealing the STI shifters or even the saddle? I guess the answer is 'nothing' but I'm starting to wonder if the whole tour is a good idea at all...
You have to decide where your ideal point between risk and return lies - no point having a bike if you don't ride it and enjoy riding it.

You can do a number of things to mitigate the risk - do as many as you feel you need to. Most things have already been mentioned (good d-lock + cable for front wheel + small cable for seat). That will usually make the bulk of the bike too much hastle to steal. My seat cable is cheap - a bike thief would probably be through in 10 seconds...but then it's only a seat and I suspect only likely to be stolen by kids or junkies and so far my cheap cable seems to be enough.

You could consider a bike alarm for when it's locked up. I built one that just sounded an alarm when a cable was cut - fairly simple and easily defeated by a competent thief - but still they may not be expecting it and trigger it or it may make my bike just enough hastle to get the thief to move on. There are many more advanced things you can do with the alarm idea if you felt the need - tilt or motion detectors, attach it to a radio or mobile phone, add a GPS (though now your alarm is probably more likely to get stolen than the bike ;-)

You can also add travel insurance (may need to list your bike as an extra if it is expensive) which can ease the loss if your bike does wander, even if it doesn't decrease the risk of it getting stolen. Check out how they go about paying out claims though...you don't want to be one day into your tour, without a bike and find the insurance will only pay up in 6 months with a cheque drawn on an American bank.

Obviously there will still be some things that can be stolen from your bike that are just too hard to lock down but sometimes you have to take risks - and really once you have decent locks, an alarm and insurance I'd say those risks are pretty low compared to the enjoyment of a European tour.
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Old 03-21-06, 05:24 PM   #15
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I have a had a couple of rigs ripped off, but then I left them locked up overnight outside my apartment here in Southern France. I have also toured all over the south where I can leave everything unattended in the little villages when I do my shopping. I think that the problem lies in the large cities, and at night for the items that are locked but unattended. I probably would not recommend touring with too many locks though. Good Luck et bon voyage!
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Old 03-21-06, 05:35 PM   #16
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I had the French National Train service steal my Peugeot. I went to Calais and they delivered it to Boulogne. I spent a week in Calais trying each day to discover what had become of it and finally had to just go on, leaving a contact address. I spent another couple of months on the road and about a month after that got a note from them telling me where it was.

A friend of mine was in the import/export business with offices in France. They spent 6 months trying to get it back and then advised me to give up.

Do you think it was because I was running a Shimano Grupo on the ole U08 and they thought that anyone doing that to a French machine shouldn't get his bike back?
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Old 03-21-06, 08:18 PM   #17
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I have a had a couple of rigs ripped off, but then I left them locked up overnight outside my apartment here in Southern France.
Why would you keep your bike outside of a locked apartment. That just doesn't make any sense. Someone in a previous thread said he had left his bike outside of his parents house overnight and it was ripped off. Can someone please explain the logic of leaving a bike outside overnight, when it can be locked inside. Even if you need to drag it up a few flights of stairs, it's not that heavy.
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Old 03-22-06, 03:39 AM   #18
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Why would you keep your bike outside of a locked apartment.
It depends on your apartment. We used to live in a single room (+ ensuite) where there just wasn't enough space for a bike and us. Perhaps if we owned the place we could have suspended the bikes from the roof or similar (though it would have prevented you standing up straight and I'm not confident the roof space was long enough for a bike) but as we were just renting our options were limited. Later we upgraded to a bigger room with a bathroom AND a kitchen. Once all our stuff was inside (and yes, perhaps we had too much stuff) and the bikes in there was no floor space - if you were inside you had to be on the bed. If you wanted to go to the bathroom you had to move the bikes. The bikes would get continually knocked over. You couldn't close the bathroom door as you couldn't get the bikes all the way out of the bathroom. That's really no way to live for extended periods so we used to try and store the bikes outside.

Now we are much more affluent and have a room, a bathroom AND a bedroom. Alas its on the 3rd floor and the staircase is narrow and twisty - to get our bikes up here I would probably have to turn the handlebars around and even then I'd destroy the paintwork (of the staircase walls) on the way up. ATM we carry them up one flight of stairs and lock them to a fence (outside but after a shared locked gate on the roof of a shop).

I dream of one day being rich enough to own a place with enough room for bikes inside...but it may well never happen alas.
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Old 03-22-06, 04:07 AM   #19
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2 previous monthlong tours in Europe I was fine with a combination cable lock. Hostels, pensions, motels, and camping (free and pay).

I also locked up my loaded bike a few times and walked touristy bits for hours.

Most times I would check out touristy bits after checking in somewhere, or setting up camp. As long as the bike is off street overnite, and locked to something, the theft risk is incredibly reduced.

My second tour was on my Waterford, and I still only used the cable lock.

I would like to get one of those ?Abus locks that mounts to the frame, and goes through the rear wheel when the key is removed. Would be great for those quick stops to go into shops.
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Old 03-22-06, 08:23 AM   #20
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I have led several month-long trips in Europe. Ireland, England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, etc. My tour company has always used a long 50 foot rubber coated cable (kryptonite style) and a masterlock padlock to lock about 12 bikes together. The only trouble we have had in over 35 years was in a hostel in Spain where the whole thing dissapeared, lock and all. they must have used a truck or forklift to move that mass, but they did it.

The main idea is get the stuff out of where everyone can see it. We mostly find campgrounds and ask the owner where a good place is. Hostels are also pretty good about letting you bring them inside, and many have secured courtyards with bike storage. They are much more used to bikes over there than over here, so they know what to expect and are prepared with good areas to lock. Irish hostels are the best, very friendly, and some even have small tune-up areas and rent bikes themselvs.
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Old 03-22-06, 11:36 AM   #21
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I have stayed at 2 hostels in Europe where bikes had to be locked outside, where they could be stolen. About 12 others had indoor parking or a secure outdoor compound. Every hotel I stayed in had an indoor room where I could leave the bike.
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Old 03-22-06, 06:25 PM   #22
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I'm sorry to report I don't have a story. I have a Stock Lock . I also lock both wheels to something that can't move.

The crooks move on to other bikes.
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