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Leaving a U-lock locked to a bike rack overnight (without bike)

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Leaving a U-lock locked to a bike rack overnight (without bike)

Old 04-17-24, 06:49 AM
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Leaving a U-lock locked to a bike rack overnight (without bike)

Does anyone do this? I got a new U-lock that is heavy (Kryptonite New York Fuggetaboutit) and I'm wondering if there is any downside to just leaving the lock attached to a public bike rack at my downtown office overnight so I don't have to carry it back and forth between my office and home. I have a second lighter U-lock that I'd bring with me.

No one is going to steal a U-lock, right? It would be locked up to a normal U-shaped bike rack on a busy urban sidewalk, so the lock would be sitting on the ground overnight. It's a downtown office building area (Chicago) and the bike racks are busy during the day but mostly empty overnight. I don't think any other cyclists would care and it's not like I'm "calling dibs" on a rack - other cyclists could park there and I'd just grab the lock the next morning and move it to whatever rack I park at.

If feels weird leaving an expensive lock laying on the street, but I don't really see any downside and am just wondering if anyone else has seen this, or does this?
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Old 04-17-24, 06:57 AM
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I've not spent nearly as much on my lock but I leave it at the rack at work everyday, and so do many other commuters. If the area is sketchy enough that even locks get stolen I'd rethink parking there
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Old 04-17-24, 07:08 AM
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It's more likely to be "removed" rather than stolen. I recommend keeping a backup lock in your office, just in case the building manager or whatever party with jurisdiction over the rack decides to remove your lock. You might also want to move the lock around, so you're not always leaving it in the same spot.
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Old 04-17-24, 08:20 AM
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I've never left my lock on a public street or bike rack, but I've left it on racks associated with my work buildings for 15 years. I like RangerTampa's idea of moving it around. No guarantees, but if someone looks at it one evening and notices it's at the other end of the bike rack the next evening, they might notice it's apparently being used and let it be. The powers that be might not be so charitable if they get the idea it's been left there like the locks on a Paris bridge.

If you can figure out who's responsible for maintaining the bike rack, you might contact them to notify them or ask permission for leaving your lock on the rack. Make sure you let them know you'll be riding in every day you can (weather and illness excepted), and take the lock into your office or home when you go on vacation.
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Old 04-17-24, 09:58 AM
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The City of Chicago would be the entity responsible for removing/maintaining these bike racks. They do have a "bike program" that responds to 311 requests to remove abandoned bikes from public racks. I presume they would also remove a lock if it appeared to be abandoned - though this would likely occur during the day when I'd be using the lock, and not overnight when it's left behind.

I suppose I'd be taking a risk by doing this. It makes my shoulder bag ridiculously heavy, so I'll need to figure out something else - maybe a mount to strap it to my bike frame.
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Old 04-17-24, 10:04 AM
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Fine idea - well within acceptable use of a bike rack and likely to be safe there.
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Old 04-17-24, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by RangerTampa
It's more likely to be "removed" rather than stolen. I recommend keeping a backup lock in your office, just in case the building manager or whatever party with jurisdiction over the rack decides to remove your lock. You might also want to move the lock around, so you're not always leaving it in the same spot.
+1 I'd ask that building manager for permission. Then perhaps show the lock to the custodian. And probably, they will feel this is a good thing. You want to be a good employee with their transportation issues addressed. Custodian might even notice if anything is awry with your bike someday. Do this and I'll bet the easiest thing for all is to have that one rack slot "yours".

Edit: City of Chicago makes this harder. Even if you got to know the regulars who maintain the area, they take vacations, etc.

And second edit - perhaps make a label or tag for the lock that explains that this is the lock of a very regular commuter and "can you please not remove it".

Many years ago, I bought a motorcycle cable and left it at the Sears warehouse where I worked. Did the above. It was there for me the length of my employment (and a hefty 5 pounds to lug home when I was done!) Bike was never touched.

Last edited by 79pmooney; 04-17-24 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 04-17-24, 01:06 PM
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I left my NY Fuhgeddaboudit lock on the public rack outside my office on 42nd St in NYC even though I had indoor parking. They didn't want locks left at the bike racks inside. One day I get to the office and the lock is gone, along with all the other locks that had been left there forever. I had meant to put my phone number on it but never did. So yes, sometimes they get removed. And if they can remove it, anybody can. No lock is really safe.

I bought a somewhat lighter U-Lock/Cable set, also Kryptonite, and the funny thing is I was riding over the Marine Park bridge to the beach one day and had the lock bungeed to the rack. I hit a bump, the lock popped up loose, and went over the side into the bay below. I'm on my third lock now but don't use it all that much now that I've retired.
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Old 04-18-24, 09:06 AM
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I think you should try it awhile with your cheaper U-lock.

Once in awhile, I bet some city employee makes his rounds with a big bolt cutter and angle grinder to clean up the racks. I'm not sure if they'd cut a lock off if there wasn't a bike attached to it.

This is probably what you want to carry the lock on your bike. Make sure the collars fit your diameter of lock. I have an orange series Kryptonite lock and it uses the smaller collar; I think the larger one is for the fahgettaboutit/New York series locks. It looks a bit cheesy with the nylon strap, but it works very well.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I mount my U-lock to my eMoped with it.

By the way, if someone wants your bike, that lock is not going to slow them down much. It takes less than a minute to cut through one with an angle grinder. You may want to upgrade to LiteLok. (which has ceramic embedded in the middle)

If I still locked up my bike in Chicago, I would have one. (I'm in Kenosha now)
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Old 04-18-24, 09:08 AM
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By the way, if you have one of the smaller New York Locks, as is shown in the YT video above, you can carry it in your belt, between the loops. Just push it U side down between your belt and pants, between the loops.
Bike messengers used to do that in Chicago.
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Old 04-18-24, 11:45 AM
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No. I take my U-Lock home with me. It's a PITA but I do that for the reasons stated above. Plus, a person could semi-compromise the lock and you not notice, lock the bike, they come along and grab your bike. Then you'd be out a lock and a bike.

Just push it U side down between your belt and pants, between the loops.
That's how I carry my Abus.
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Old 04-21-24, 03:14 PM
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This practice is common in NYC. It will be subject to the forces of nature, so you should clean and lubricate it occasionally. Maybe move it from one place on a rack to another to make sure it doesn't look abandoned. I've done it at times when I didn't expect to need it outside of work.
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Old 04-22-24, 08:59 AM
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Do you have a rack? Here's how I carry my ulock.
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Old 04-23-24, 07:48 AM
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Master U-lock

My lock is a small Master U-lock with a nice frame mount. I've had it about six years.
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Old 04-23-24, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
Does anyone do this? I got a new U-lock that is heavy (Kryptonite New York Fuggetaboutit) and I'm wondering if there is any downside to just leaving the lock attached to a public bike rack ... No one is going to steal a U-lock, right?
IMO, it's a temptation ... and better avoided. I wouldn't, though it's up to you.

But, still, it's not as though a thief is likely to have the key (or be able to make one). Could possibly pick it; could certainly cut it. But if the goal is to get a usable lock out of the crime, I would expect it's a low-percentage thing for the thief.

I've got a very heavy padlock and chain for the home lock-up, and a couple of stout U-locks for going mobile. I might be tempted to leave one of those U-locks at my regular destination. I never have yet, but you never know.
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Old 04-24-24, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Smaug1
Once in awhile, I bet some city employee makes his rounds with a big bolt cutter and angle grinder to clean up the racks. I'm not sure if they'd cut a lock off if there wasn't a bike attached to it.
This is my main concern. A situation where leave the lock behind and then dont come back to the office the next day for some reason, so its laying there all day and happens to be the same day that the city sends a crew out to do some rack cleanup.

Originally Posted by Smaug1
By the way, if someone wants your bike, that lock is not going to slow them down much. It takes less than a minute to cut through one with an angle grinder. You may want to upgrade to LiteLok. (which has ceramic embedded in the middle)
I looked into the Likelock X3 - its a $300 lock. I got a Krytonite NY Faggetaboutit and a second cheaper Krypto Keeper for $150 total. I carry and use both. This setup is not cut proof, but it would take 4 separate cuts and dull multiple saw blades and involve several minutes of sparks flying. Sure, someone could do it (and they could also just cut the bike rack itself and defeat any lock) but Im pretty confident that thieves will just move along to easier targets and not go through all that to steal my $350 bike.

Originally Posted by locolobo13
Do you have a rack? Here's how I carry my ulock.
I think Im going to buy a rack and do this- plus get a pannier to carry my laptop/lunch/notebooks in. Any recommendations? Seems like the rack might also act as a decent rear fender?
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Old 04-24-24, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Kiwisaver
My lock is a small Master U-lock with a nice frame mount. I've had it about six years.
My old lock was a cheap Masterlock U-lock. My bike got stolen from in front of my office in the middle of the day while using it, and I assume an angle grinder was used to cut the lock. Probably took 10-15 seconds of cutting.

Around here I think thieves specifically target cheap U locks like this. I now look for bikes with cheap locks and park next to them.
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Old 04-24-24, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
...
I looked into the Likelock X3 - its a $300 lock. I got a Krytonite NY Faggetaboutit and a second cheaper Krypto Keeper for $150 total. I carry and use both. This setup is not cut proof, but it would take 4 separate cuts and dull multiple saw blades and involve several minutes of sparks flying. Sure, someone could do it (and they could also just cut the bike rack itself and defeat any lock) but Im pretty confident that thieves will just move along to easier targets and not go through all that to steal my $350 bike.
You're probably right, but you're carrying two heavy locks!
On the other hand, when a typical American thief sees a LiteLok, he doesn't know that they're angle grinder resistant, so he'll try and ruin the lock anyhow. Maybe two U-locks and the psychological discouragement that entails is even better than one cut-proof lock!
And for a $350 bike? They definitely won't bother.


I think Im going to buy a rack and do this- plus get a pannier to carry my laptop/lunch/notebooks in. Any recommendations? Seems like the rack might also act as a decent rear fender?
For that pic, it appears that the lower end of the lock is unsecured. It will slap around and make all kinds of noise. You could secure it better with velcro ties, which are getting cheap for the GOOD ones at Home Depot.
Rear racks don't normally make for good fenders, as they're usually open in the middle. Topeak MTX is an exception and they have the advantage of having a whole system of luggage the easily slides and latches on and off. I think Bontrager has a similar system at double the cost. (as usual for them)
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Old 04-24-24, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
My old lock was a cheap Masterlock U-lock. My bike got stolen from in front of my office in the middle of the day while using it, and I assume an angle grinder was used to cut the lock. Probably took 10-15 seconds of cutting.

Around here I think thieves specifically target cheap U locks like this. I now look for bikes with cheap locks and park next to them.
Congrats, you've cracked the code.
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Old 04-25-24, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Smaug1
You're probably right, but you're carrying two heavy locks!
On the other hand, when a typical American thief sees a LiteLok, he doesn't know that they're angle grinder resistant, so he'll try and ruin the lock anyhow. Maybe two U-locks and the psychological discouragement that entails is even better than one cut-proof lock!
And for a $350 bike? They definitely won't bother.



For that pic, it appears that the lower end of the lock is unsecured. It will slap around and make all kinds of noise. You could secure it better with velcro ties, which are getting cheap for the GOOD ones at Home Depot.
Rear racks don't normally make for good fenders, as they're usually open in the middle. Topeak MTX is an exception and they have the advantage of having a whole system of luggage the easily slides and latches on and off. I think Bontrager has a similar system at double the cost. (as usual for them)
You're right. It does flap and make noise. Doesn't bother me as I ride in traffic a lot and can't hear it usually. Tried the ties but didn't like the extra step when locking/unlocking. My rack provides some fender service but not really.

@msu2001la the rack and pannier came from the LBS. I told them what I wanted, mostly commuting and they showed me some options. The bag is an Axiom, IDK on the rack. But that's my recommendation, look at some systems at the bike stores.

BTW: the Topeak & Bontrager luggage systems looked good. But I went cheaper.
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Old 04-28-24, 09:51 AM
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Bypass the lock entirely. I just kept complaining to my office's building manager about the terrible state of their bike parking and they agreed to let me use the freight elevator and store my bike in the office.
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Old 04-28-24, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by PrincipalRider
Bypass the lock entirely. I just kept complaining to my office's building manager about the terrible state of their bike parking and they agreed to let me use the freight elevator and store my bike in the office.
I would absolutely love to be able to do this - I'd be able to ride my more expensive bikes to/from work and keep them parked next to my desk.
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Old 04-30-24, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Smaug1
By the way, if you have one of the smaller New York Locks, as is shown in the YT video above, you can carry it in your belt, between the loops. Just push it U side down between your belt and pants, between the loops.
Bike messengers used to do that in Chicago.
The Levi's Commuter pants (RIP) had a doubler in the waistband so you could do it without a belt!
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Old 05-21-24, 12:32 PM
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I had a tricky thing I did with my commuting U-lock: instead of leaving it locked to the 1970s-style bike rack at work, I locked it to a piece of conduit external to the building that's under an overhang. That way, was shaded from UV damage to the overmolded polyurethane and also shielded from rain making it rusty inside.

This morning, I rode in as usual and just brought the key for that lock. Not only was the lock gone, but the conduit was gone too! Someone had removed the conduit and patched the holes in the wall and thrown my lock out. I looked all around the local area, in the garbage cans and lost & found. Nothing. That kind of pisses me off. They could have at least just left it on the ground there, dammit.

This is strange to admit, but I've had that lock so long I had a certain attachment to it. The paint was rubbed off of most of the lock body, the collar that would let it mate to a holder on the bike was long gone. It had some light surface rust. I had actually done some maintenance on it at one point; blasting it out with WD-40 and dripping some oil into the mechanism. It was SO smooth, and only needed a 90 turn of the key. It was just like this one, except was missing the mounting collar and it had dipped yellow polyurethane instead of the yellow plastic on the lock body. RIP.

I have a better Kryptonite one; it has a thicker shackle, but its width is narrower, so it can't really lock to trees or lamp posts at all.

I'll defer to my Foldylock Forever for the eBikes, Kryptonite for the eMoped and just get another mount or two for the Kryptonite to carry on a couple other bikes.
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Old 05-24-24, 04:18 AM
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mine got stolen good luck with that
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