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Bike Locking Options

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Bike Locking Options

Old 03-26-12, 09:35 AM
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Bike Locking Options

Hey all, I could use a little bike locking advice from the more experienced commuters. I've been commuting to school and up until now my main form of bike security has been a cheap u-bar and a 40+lb rusty old bike But I just bought a lighter, nicer bike this weekend. Still nothing fancy or pricey but it looks nice enough to be thief bait so the "how'd you get your bike stolen" thread has me thinking I should reconsider my bike locking options. Could someone advise on what they'd do in my situation?

Situation: I'm on a college campus and my main building is along the main road in town. Lotsa random people going by and there's a pretty high incidence of bike theft.

I'd ideally just take the bike into my office with me, and sometimes I do, especially when I'm working late. But I have two issues with that: 1) They've recently put signs on every door as a reminder that bikes are strictly banned from the building, and 2) there's nothing inside the building to lock my bike to, and I'm in a communal office.

As far as locking it outside, I can lock it to the racks in front of my building (facing the main street) or the back. The front has better lighting and more people around, but it seems to attract more thieves, maybe just because there are more bikes there. There's a bike rack in the back that no one seems to know about- less visible and less lit, but also a lot less traffic.

Which situation seems safer to you all? Risk leaving it unlocked in a communal office (which can be locked, but it open most of the day for other students) or outside? If outside, would you do the area with more visibility or the area that seems to attract less attention?

And as far as bike locks go, what do you all use if you have to lock up outside? Any particular brands that seem to be harder for a thief to defeat? I know any lock mechanism can be defeated but I'd rather invest in one that's as much of a PITA to break as possible, since I need to replace my crappy U-bar anyway.

I think the "how'd you get your bike stolen" thread has me paranoid now that I actually have a bike I like :-/ Thanks for any advice you can give.
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Old 03-26-12, 10:48 AM
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Big High security Chain* , long enough for both wheels and around the bike rack. ,
and maybe something else to keep your saddle and seatpost from disappearing..

square steel links , hardened , not the cheap round link stuff..

they cut that stuff off the roll with bolt cutters ..
and sell the bolt cutters in the same hardware store
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Old 03-26-12, 11:16 AM
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Generally if you want more security, you have to be willing to carry more weight. I believe the most secure method is probably a U-lock in combination with a hardened steel chain. The chain itself will weigh 10lbs and the U-lock another 3-5, so a very heavy solution.

If you have the cash I recommend Pittlock skewers in combination with a U-lock. Pretty secure and fairly lightweight, although you lose the absolute convenience of quick release skewers for fixing flats. There is no perfect solution. No matter what you chose you end up making trade-offs.
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Old 03-26-12, 12:00 PM
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Watch these videos:

Informative, and entertaining!

It sounds like you know what you need to do already--make it as difficult for any would-be-thief as possible. As far as where to lock to, I would choose the rack in back.

Your post raises some other issues, though. You may want to talk to the campus police about the theft problem. Ask if they investigate bike thefts...they may not be aware of the problem with the rack in front. Also, depending on the size of your school (OSU?), there may be an active bike group on campus. I don't mean bike group as in riding, but more bike issues--security, access, etc. Are there any bike lockers on campus? Check with your campus' transportation office to see if bike issues are on their radar at all. Hopefully they are. Also, try to find out why bikes are banned from the building. Is this an actual campus or campus police regulation, or is this the idea of someone that has a bug up their you-know-what about bikes in the building?
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Old 03-26-12, 12:01 PM
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Low end bike with high end lock then park next to high end bikes with low end locks. Absolutely guaranteed that your bike will still be there when you get back. It may be lonely, but it will be there. Thieves are lazy opportunists, they want to get the most for the least amount of work. My daughter is going to college next fall and she has already got an old Columbia outfitted with entry level parts ready to go. Brand names were removed from parts wherever possible making them look no-name. Safe and adequate commuter but nothing more. Mediocre cable and mediocre padlock. Locked up well enough to prevent a walk off and unattractive enough not to draw the attention of a serious thief. If it does get stolen, not a disaster as I can put together another just like it for under $100 and spare parts from my shop. Her good bike will be locked up elsewhere.

If you have a Kestrel or Madone, you better chain it to the ankle of a 6'4" State Trooper if you are going to leave it unattended on a college campus.
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Old 03-26-12, 01:35 PM
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Assume that everything locked with just a cable or attached with bolts will be stolen. IMHO cable through quick release wheels is useless.

Therefore, use locking skewers on your wheels and fill all of your hex bolt heads with hot glue to prevent quick take-offs. Use a U-lock.
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Old 03-26-12, 01:49 PM
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I'll forego quick release if it makes my bike less attractive. I'm commuting not racing and so QR is not quite as important. A box end and knucklebuster take care of removal for flats.
Get a good u-bolt and a kryptonite cable with excellent lock - or go chain if you don't mind looking like a Harley owner (inside joke - a friend with a HD used to carry a chain and lock that would have secured the USS Enterprise and he'd lock the bike up through the wheels!).

Or just get a .30-06 w/Weaver 4x scope!
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Old 03-26-12, 02:37 PM
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You can always buy an extra lock and leave it at work/school to save yourself from having to carry it every day.
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Old 03-26-12, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by tomecki
You can always buy an extra lock and leave it at work/school to save yourself from having to carry it every day.
I was going ti suggest that as well. Leave the hefty stuff locked up at the school and you won't have to lug it back and forth.
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Old 03-26-12, 03:07 PM
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Several rules of thumb, learned from living in Amsterdam, bicycle theft capital of the world:

- always use two different kinds of locks, thieves tend to specialize in just the one;
- lock the bike to an immovable object;
- in such a way that the thief cannot easily apply force on the chain used to fix the bike to an immovable object;

- make your bike unattractive for reselling; paint it in a way that makes it stand out and unique; mount parts on it that are out of the ordinary;
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Old 03-26-12, 04:04 PM
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Don't count on a communal office as security. Any unlocked bike is at a high risk of being stolen, no matter where it is or how many people are around it.

Don't park the bike in the same place every time, because then the thieves will know the pattern and be able to determine the best time/method to steal it. They can optimize their technique to get that one bike at a particular time. Most schools have an ample supply of bike racks on campus, use a different one each time and just walk an extra block or two every now & then.

Stop by the campus police department and ask them where the most bikes have been stolen from and avoid those locations. Odds are it will be all over the place though, because most students don't know much about bike security and buy cheap, department store cable locks that are easily defeated. Depending on school policy, you may have to register the bike with them anyway so if that's the case, it wouldn't hurt to ask.

Another general rule of bike security is to never leave your bike outside overnight, even if it is locked.

To help your search for a specific product, many companies rate their locks in terms of how much security they provide. Kryptonite is one. Personally, I have no problems whatsoever with the extra weight of a stronger lock or chain, because I'd rather carry the extra weight and have the bike waiting for me when I go back outside, than carry a lightweight lock and find out later that my bike was stolen. This is one area where it does not pay to be a weight-weenie.

Last edited by MadCityCyclist; 03-26-12 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 03-30-12, 09:28 AM
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1) Lock it in your office. My experience is seriously dated, but every undergrad, grad student, RA, and prof who rode to campus did that if they had the option. As an undergrad, I didn't have an office, but I had access to several limited-access rooms that were convenient to my classes, labs & hangouts.
2) Is there a central access-controlled bike park? My school had one at the time (I think they have more now). You had to show campus ID to get in and I think they had a ticket system to match riders & bikes. Worked well when my schedule matched the attended hours and I couldn't use an office, study, or club room. Talk to campus patrol and administration about establishing controlled access bike parking (they can probably get grant money or at least nice publicity from state & national orgs promoting bike usage).
3) If I have to park outside, I'd go for the out of the way location over the high-traffic one. And use heavy duty locks.
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Old 03-30-12, 10:50 AM
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Kryptonite NY U-Lock. Nothing else. I don't use chain after watching Youtube videos how easy it is to cut them.


Undo your front wheel and lock it with the rear wheel and seatstay together with the parking pole.
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