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Good locking strategy: Mini U-lock plus locking skewers?

Old 02-10-20, 12:06 PM
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Good locking strategy: Mini U-lock plus locking skewers?

After several years of running errands by bike, I'm changing things up and pondering a lighter, easier locking method.

I have a new bike and was using two older U-locks until I lost one recently after forgetting to strap it onto my rack.

It's a $900 bike, and most of my stops are 15 to 30 minutes in a small city with average crime. Occasionally I'll park for an hour or two at a doc appointment or coffee shop.

Question: With locking skewers (Pitlock, Kryptonite, Abus), it is sufficient to use a mini U-lock around the frame and bike rack only? Or should I stick with a larger U-lock to grab the rear wheel too?

I've been doing the latter for so long that I might feel naked not U-locking both the wheel and frame. Plus I wonder if it's visually more deterrent.

OTOH, I'd love to save a pound by using a mini U instead of a larger one. I've decided that I cannot stand carrying locks on the bike and will go back to using my backpack. I use panniers too, but only for grocery shopping, so they aren't my usual lock carrier.
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Old 02-10-20, 01:00 PM
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I'm going through the same thing at the moment. My rear wheel has a valuable internal hub and my front wheel has a dynamo. I asked my bike mechanic and he said he can get the Pinheads and Pitlocks off without the key. Customers leave their bike in the shop and forget to leave the key or they've lost it. In the end, I decided to secure my front wheel with and Abus Nutfix (arriving today). I decided I just can't feel that secure in Portland without a u-lock around the rack and through the rear tire and frame, so I've got an Abus Granite 540 on order. It's lighter than the equivalent sized Kryptonite. I'll probably still use a cable looped through the front wheel anyway.

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Old 02-10-20, 01:04 PM
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I also checked out the Kryptonite Wheelnutz gravity locks. They don't fit every type of fork which is not an issue with the Abus.

Last edited by PDXCarless; 02-10-20 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 02-10-20, 01:25 PM
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Interesting, I too plan to order the Abus NutFix for wheels and seat. As for U-locks, the reason I started this thread is I'm debating between the Abus Granite 54 and the 540. Besides the weight and cost difference, the 540 (9") seems too large because it would leave a lot of extra space. But the 54 (5.5") is rather small and most often would not grab the wheel, only the frame and bike rack. I've been using a 7" OnGuard Bulldog for years, and while not the best lock it's the perfect size. Maybe I should just upgrade to the OnGuard Pitbull Medium? Same size but better lock.

P.S. My wheels are not so valuable. I just don't want the hassles of replacing things!
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Old 02-10-20, 01:34 PM
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I only just have enough space usually to get the frame and wheel in the u-lock. Any shorter than the standard size and I have to leave the wheel out of the equation. I'd be fine with that if I really trusted the Nutfix to be more than just another delay/deterrence to thieves. I figure a double-locking Abus u-lock has to be cut twice with an angle grinder and that would create quite a scene in the places that I usually lock up.

My wife has a shorter Abus lock She throws caution to the wind and only locks it around the frame.
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Old 02-10-20, 02:11 PM
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I think I trust NutFix for where I bike. But I'm also thinking about the visual effect of a rear wheel with no U-lock around it. If a thief sees the wheel inside the U-lock, he might keep walking. If he sees only the frame locked, he might look more closely. Then he'd notice the NutFix and either keep walking or perhaps try to defeat it. I suppose the latter scenario is an argument for getting the larger lock. And perhaps for continuing to use two U-locks, since an unlocked front wheel is also inviting. Just mulling whether it's all worth the extra weight and cost.
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Old 02-10-20, 02:23 PM
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I use a great big Sigtuna that weighs a ton and I just carry it in my backpack. I've had an Orbea stolen before here in town with a cheaper lock. That said, any lock can and will be defeated with enough time and the right tools. My advice is to always bring your bike inside with you. It's the only way to keep it safe with certainty.
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Old 02-11-20, 11:05 AM
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I have an update. I installed the NutFix on my front wheel yesterday and I'm impressed. In order to unlock it, you can't half-ass on the horizontal plane. I was actually a little worried it was defective as I could not unlock it until I got it perfectly horizontal. This morning, I decided to shed some weight and left the cable behind that I usually loop through the front wheel and attach to the ulock. I'm confident the Nutfix is secure. Of course, as you mentioned, a cable LOOKS more secure which has it's benefits. However, I think you'd be fine with Nutfix on both wheels and short u-lock around the frame.
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Old 02-11-20, 01:02 PM
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Thanks for the update. I went ahead and ordered NutFix for my wheels and seat post along with the smaller Abus 54 U-lock. The shop person I spoke with uses a similar but less secure locking skewer system and says he's left his bike overnight at the train station with no issues. Just one U-lock around his frame, plus the skewers. I'm going to travel light now and not worry so much.
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Old 02-11-20, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Muirwoodian View Post
It's a $900 bike, and most of my stops are 15 to 30 minutes in a small city with average crime. Occasionally I'll park for an hour or two at a doc appointment or coffee shop.

Question: With locking skewers (Pitlock, Kryptonite, Abus), it is sufficient to use a mini U-lock around the frame and bike rack only?
I think that's a reasonable compromise in "a small city with average crime."

One thing to be aware of: if you have a routine (a job or a class or something) and the bike is parked at the same place every day, I think it becomes more of a target.
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Old 02-11-20, 02:15 PM
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Go to your local coop (if you city has one) and ask. They know what works and what doesn't. Also consider - the bike that looks less valuable and/or is better locked will be left in favor of the bike beside it.
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Old 02-11-20, 02:21 PM
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Thanks, actually, I did ask the local co-op, and the guys there are less concerned than I am. They don't even sell the heavier U-locks and think a Krypto 5/10 or 6/10 with a cable through the front wheel is enough for short stops. I've decided to go a level up.

As for routines, I don't really have one, and I don't keep my bike too squeaky clean either, just so it looks less new.
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Old 02-11-20, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Muirwoodian View Post
..

As for routines, I don't really have one, and I don't keep my bike too squeaky clean either, just so it looks less new.
My routine for my hardcore city bikes was to only clean that parts/area being worked on. The rest stayed as is.
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Old 02-12-20, 05:17 AM
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I like this thread because I was considering the Pitlocks myself. I will now look on the Nutfix side.

For my workplace commute, I leave the heavy lock on the bike rack there to spare a few pounds.
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Old 02-12-20, 02:18 PM
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I use just the front Velo Orange bolt-on skewer that requires a special 5mm hex wrench with a hole for the pin in the skewer. For the rear I put a U-lock on the rear wheel as shown on Sheldon Brown's site. For long lock-ups I'll add a cable through the front wheel for deterrence.

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Old 02-13-20, 05:35 PM
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I live in NYC where bike theft is bad. I use a U lock on the frame and one wheel, and I use a cable (hooked through the U lock) for the remaining wheel.

I see plenty of bikes locked up with a U lock around the frame and locking skewers. It seems to work well. I'm considering getting locking skewers except that they're expensive, and my current solution works fairly well with just a little extra trouble.
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Old 02-17-20, 05:50 PM
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Muirwoodian , out of curiosity, what's the plan if there isn't a rack handy that the lock will fit around?
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Old 02-18-20, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
Muirwoodian , out of curiosity, what's the plan if there isn't a rack handy that the lock will fit around?
It's one of the reasons why Dutch commuters use heavy-duty chain locks. Much more reach and flexibility to attach it to something. Just heavier.
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Old 02-18-20, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Eric S. View Post
I use just the front Velo Orange bolt-on skewer that requires a special 5mm hex wrench with a hole for the pin in the skewer. For the rear I put a U-lock on the rear wheel as shown on Sheldon Brown's site. For long lock-ups I'll add a cable through the front wheel for deterrence.

For low to moderate crime rate areas (where theft is more about opportunity than planned gangs with battery operated angle grinders) this is more than sufficient and was what I was going to suggest.
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Old 02-18-20, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by JaccoW View Post
It's one of the reasons why Dutch commuters use heavy-duty chain locks. Much more reach and flexibility to attach it to something. Just heavier.
Tell me about it. I have a 3' Kryptonite chain lock that weighs 3 lbs. I admit, I've switched to a 6' cable that weighs half as much; but since it's an "old" bike (sorry, Princess) and not new hotness, she's more in danger from tweakers than serious bike thieves. I also don't leave her outside for very long; if I was, I'd bring the chain.
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Old 02-18-20, 02:18 PM
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Just don't lock your bike like this. I saw this this morning. The owner used the U lock as a padlock to bind the cable together. He didn't even ring the cable around the pole. You can just lift the bike and cut through the cable at home. I wanted to leave a note, but I didn't have paper or a pen.

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Old 02-18-20, 02:33 PM
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The low life thief won't know about the nut locks before he brings your bike home. So it won't prevent theft.

A smaller U-lock lighter and cheaper, and is harder to break off with a lever (since it is tighter around your frame. But it limits where you can lock the bike to. Best to have 2 locks to make it look more complicated to steel.

In addition to locks, make the bike look as unattractive to thieves as possible.
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Old 02-19-20, 11:46 AM
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I got the NutFix locking skewers a few days ago and love them. My goal was not to prevent theft, as I know that's impossible. My goal was to find a lighter, simpler lockup solution with about the same if not better security. My new mini U-lock (Abus Granit 54) is better than the Bulldogs I used to carry, and the skewers are much lighter than a second U-lock.

The only downside was cost. Two skewers, a seat post clamp, and the U-lock came to about $215, which is nearly a fourth of the cost of my bike.

But I'm paying for convenience as well as insuring against the hassle of replacing stolen parts. I realize the whole bike could be stolen and is now worth much more with the skewers, but I'm taking the risk for the convenience.

Originally Posted by Korina View Post
Muirwoodian, out of curiosity, what's the plan if there isn't a rack handy that the lock will fit around?
This has happened to me only once in eight years. If I can't find a rack or pole, I'll take the bike in with me or just skip the stop.

I plan to keep carrying a cable in my grocery pannier in case I need to lock the pannier to the rack at a second quick stop. But for the bike, I'm comfortable with the new U-lock and skewers.

Here's the blog where I got some info on the new gear:

thebestbikelock.com/best-u-lock

thebestbikelock.com/wheel-locks-and-seat-locks
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