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Bike lock when solo touring - how to play it

Old 07-14-23, 08:40 AM
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Bike lock when solo touring - how to play it

hi all
with every gram quite precious, how do the experienced solo tourers tend to play the whole 'go into gas station' in the game in the US...?
whilst you might be only 20 metres away at most, do y'all still go for a d-lock or foldable solid lock?
i was leaning towards a cable lock and bike alarm on the garmin...
is that nuts? anyone had a bike nicked at a gas (petrol) station or supermarket?
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Old 07-14-23, 09:52 AM
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I have used a light cable lock on some tours and I have gone without any lock. That said there are places where I don't leave my bike unattended even with a lock. In some places I have wheeled the bike up and down the aisles of a supermarket or walmart.

Most stops are in very small rural towns where risks are lower. I mostly stay out of cities for the majority of my days on tour. I try to park where I can keep an eye on the bike most places, but if the vibe is bad I may just find some way to not leave it unattended.

I figure that at some point on some tour I may lose my bike and gear, but so far I have don a lot of touring with only a couple small items nicked. It helps that I carry gear and ride bikes that I can afford to replace. On a multimonth tour I'd regear up and keep going if the worst happened theft wise. Hopefully that won't happen.
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Old 07-14-23, 10:28 AM
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For just a trip into a convenience store or maybe a restaurant if I can see the bike outside, I just use a small lock like skiers use.



It is only a thin cable, the goal here is to slow down a thief.

And sometimes I do nothing, depends on the situation and how nervous I am on the surroundings. Situational awareness is the key here.

Grocery stores, I am in there where the bike is out of sight for longer, usually use a better lock.
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Old 07-14-23, 10:44 AM
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I avoid cities and do not bring a lock. I have never had a theft in the USA but my sleeping bag and gear was stolen in France and my bike in Germany, held up at knifepoint in UK, France, and Italy. So, one never knows. For supermarkets, just bring your bike in, walking confidently like you own the joint.
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Old 07-14-23, 01:14 PM
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I usually take a 1/4" cable with a good combination lock. Good for campgrounds when you head for the showers (or a restaurant), or overnight if it's a busy city park. Lots of places I don't worry about it. If I'm in a city, I prefer to get a motel room and bring the bike inside and out of sight.

After a few weeks on the road you'll probably start perceiving the hazard of a location, though it's probably best to overdo the security a notch or two. Lonely store in the middle of nowhere with a gas pump? Smile at the lady behind the counter, don't worry about locking the bike. Sightseeing at a Kansas grain elevator? Ditto, but make sure they approve of where you parked the bike. Lunch in an air-conditioned diner? Can you park the bikes just outside the window from your table, so you don't need to lock up? Stopping at a popular city pool for a shower? Might be a good idea to lock the bikes. Busy grocery store in a poor, one-store Kentucky coal town? Best to have a riding partner there, one of you can stay with the bikes while the other one does the shopping.
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Old 07-14-23, 02:16 PM
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As above depends on location. Past tours I've taken a combination cable lock. Very little protection but I ride in rral areas mainly. I park it in a motel in cities. Diners? Small towns I don't worry. Big towns I try and lock it where I can se it. My next tour I'll be going through Los Angeles area for a few days. I'm taking a 6mm chain with a decent padlock. Comes in around 750g. Bolt cutters would make short work of it but it would be enough to stop a passer by without tools.

I'm starting in San Francisco. I plan to walk to a supermarket and buy food before I check out the motel. Purely so I'm avoiding the 30 minutes locked up in SF. Probably over cautious costs me nothing other than a 20 minute walk.
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Old 07-14-23, 03:50 PM
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I worry about the pounds and not the grams. Touring I can always use a lower gear in the hills and the weight has no impact on downhill sections or when it is windy. The best lock is the Hiplok D1000 that weighs 4 lbs. My first 1000+ mile trip my load was about 25 lbs but on my second such trip it was around 15 lbs and I was still able to deal with any bike repair that arose.

You can save 1-2 lbs with a lighter sleeping bag and you can leave the tent at home and take only a thin ground cloth. Eating at cafes and the like you can leave behind a camp stove and fuel bottle and pot and pan etc for your trip. A 17 oz water bottle when full will weigh about 1.1 lb and I have never needed to carry more than 1 bottle. Plenty of places to refill the water bottle. Only having bike shoes will save you 1.5 or more pounds.
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Old 07-15-23, 04:51 AM
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I have a combination lock that I sometimes use. However, my primary methods are:
- At end of the day, if staying in a motel, I bring the bike inside and then go do shopping/etc.
- During the day, if stopping at store/restaurant - I'll park the bike where someone can see if from the window (ideally me)
- In general, I try to be situationally aware and then cautious so might not stop in spots I am not sure about
- In some situations, I might bring my bicycle inside the store. For example in photo below I had wheeled my bicycle inside a store to get to an Amazon locker. I had ordered something on the road. This location in Syracuse might be OK, but cops were busy detaining someone outside when I left confirming my intuition to be cautious.

As far as having things stolen: I did have a bike stolen while not on tour. This was a care where I had left my bike unlocked outside a Safeway and gone shopping. I've had a bicycle bell stolen from my bike in India. My partner had a bike pump stolen from the bike when parked outside a small store in Siberia. On our TDA ride, our toilet tent was stolen in Tanzania and two bikes stolen and then recovered.

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Old 07-15-23, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
I worry about the pounds and not the grams. Touring I can always use a lower gear in the hills and the weight has no impact on downhill sections or when it is windy. The best lock is the Hiplok D1000 that weighs 4 lbs. My first 1000+ mile trip my load was about 25 lbs but on my second such trip it was around 15 lbs and I was still able to deal with any bike repair that arose.

You can save 1-2 lbs with a lighter sleeping bag and you can leave the tent at home and take only a thin ground cloth. Eating at cafes and the like you can leave behind a camp stove and fuel bottle and pot and pan etc for your trip. A 17 oz water bottle when full will weigh about 1.1 lb and I have never needed to carry more than 1 bottle. Plenty of places to refill the water bottle. Only having bike shoes will save you 1.5 or more pounds.
Interesting that someone who watches the pounds takes a 4 pound lock. It is a personal choice though. We choose the amount of security we are willing to pay for and carry. That is your choice, but it does seem unusual for someone who watches the weight of their other stuff to the extent you do.

I wonder about a few things.

Where do you tour that you can " leave the tent at home and take only a thin ground cloth" can you rely on it not raining of do you use the ground cloth as a tarp? Personally I've generally gone without a ground cloth. If I was using a foam pad and going without a shelter I'd lay it right on the ground. If an inflatable pad I'd put it in a light hoopless bivy (mine is 7 ounces so not a big penalty). You could still cowboy camp right on top of it and if the weather turned bad could sleep in it.

How do you tour when and where there are "Plenty of places to refill the water bottle" and you only need to carry 17 ounces at a time. I can't think of many short sections of a tour that were like that and certainly none of my long tours were for the whole way. I've typically needed to carry water for a full riding day at some point during a tour and sometimes for a 24 hour period. Heck I often have done local day rides where I couldn't pull that off. I am sure it is possible but I don't imagine it to be the rule for longer tours.

I have found that carrying may pounds food and more so water has been the bane of my existence for some on road and even more so off road pursuits including off road touring and backpacking. It has made me choose not to do a lot of trips I otherwise wanted to do. For on road stuff it hasn't yet ruled out a trip, but it has come close. Off road there are a ton of trips that I have passed on.
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Old 07-15-23, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by sj8070
hi all
with every gram quite precious, how do the experienced solo tourers tend to play the whole 'go into gas station' in the game in the US...?
whilst you might be only 20 metres away at most, do y'all still go for a d-lock or foldable solid lock?
i was leaning towards a cable lock and bike alarm on the garmin...
is that nuts? anyone had a bike nicked at a gas (petrol) station or supermarket?
what Mev's advice is pretty much the same thing I have always followed--
"I have a combination lock that I sometimes use. However, my primary methods are:
- At end of the day, if staying in a motel, I bring the bike inside and then go do shopping/etc.
- During the day, if stopping at store/restaurant - I'll park the bike where someone can see if from the window (ideally me)
- In general, I try to be situationally aware and then cautious so might not stop in spots I am not sure about
- In some situations, I might bring my bicycle inside the store. "

use common sense and observe, and my small combination coil lock at least discourages someone from a quick grab.
I recently took my bike into a large grocery store and asked some young employees if they would mind me leaving it where they were working near the front, explaining that I was travelling alone. No problem.

so yes, taking a small, light combo coil lock has always been what I've used, going back over 30 years touring, just doesnt make sense to bring a big heavy lock, not for me, but being careful and observant is the main thing.
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Old 07-15-23, 07:08 AM
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You can get a reasonably secure lock that weighs under a pound.

I'd probably get that $160 Ti lock if I were to do an extensive tour in Europe but in rural fly over country? Nope.

https://thebestbikelock.com/best-bik...ht-bike-locks/
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Old 07-15-23, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by irc
As above depends on location. Past tours I've taken a combination cable lock. Very little protection but I ride in rral areas mainly. I park it in a motel in cities. Diners? Small towns I don't worry. Big towns I try and lock it where I can se it. My next tour I'll be going through Los Angeles area for a few days. I'm taking a 6mm chain with a decent padlock. Comes in around 750g. Bolt cutters would make short work of it but it would be enough to stop a passer by without tools.

I'm starting in San Francisco. I plan to walk to a supermarket and buy food before I check out the motel. Purely so I'm avoiding the 30 minutes locked up in SF. Probably over cautious costs me nothing other than a 20 minute walk.
In San Francisco as in L.A, being super prudent would be the best idea. Like I've mentioned in other threads, I biked down the west coast eons ago, but I certainly remember San Fran as having a heck of a lot of homeless people and my traveling buddy and I stayed at a cheap hotel in a bad part of town, and it was there that for the first time in my life I heard closeby gunshots in the late evening out the window. Felt like we were in a Yank cop tv show. Had never heard gunshots in my life living in Canadian cities. AK-47's in Central America, but not Canada.
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Old 07-16-23, 09:24 AM
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I take a smallish aluminum U-lock. There are a couple of brands. Not awfully heavy, looks the business.
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Old 07-24-23, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
I take a smallish aluminum U-lock. There are a couple of brands. Not awfully heavy, looks the business.
yep same here ULAC and PALMY


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Old 07-25-23, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
what mev's advice is pretty much the same thing i have always followed--
"i have a combination lock that i sometimes use. However, my primary methods are:
- at end of the day, if staying in a motel, i bring the bike inside and then go do shopping/etc.
- during the day, if stopping at store/restaurant - i'll park the bike where someone can see if from the window (ideally me)
- in general, i try to be situationally aware and then cautious so might not stop in spots i am not sure about
- in some situations, i might bring my bicycle inside the store. "

use common sense and observe, and my small combination coil lock at least discourages someone from a quick grab.
I recently took my bike into a large grocery store and asked some young employees if they would mind me leaving it where they were working near the front, explaining that i was travelling alone. No problem.

So yes, taking a small, light combo coil lock has always been what i've used, going back over 30 years touring, just doesnt make sense to bring a big heavy lock, not for me, but being careful and observant is the main thing.
+2.
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Old 07-25-23, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
+2.
but touch wood eh?
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Old 07-25-23, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
but touch wood eh?
I am generally not too worried because even in higher population areas I know there isn't someone waiting behind every tree or lamppost waiting to steal my bike, especially when it looks to hard for the average person ti ride, much less lift.

Someone did try to steal my stove once. I was dumb to leave it out at my site that was separated from a rode that led to a trailer park or something by only a split rail fence. Luckily, I saw the attempt developing as I was sitting outsie the laundry room. The would-be thief took when he saw me hustling towards my site.
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Old 07-25-23, 08:58 AM
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Indy, ya I remember that story.
and ya, I don't fret overly either, but still, touch wood when talking about things.
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Old 07-25-23, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62
held up at knifepoint in UK, France, and Italy.
Where do you go? I've travelled through much of Europe and not even had as much as a side glance, let alone an armed robbery
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Old 09-03-23, 08:47 AM
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Planning my first real tour, and this thread found me.

As a baseline, I use a heavy U-lock *and* a heavy chain when I commute into "the city" and leave my bike locked up and unsupervised for about an hour or more. For quicker stops, usually just the U-lock. For "just a minute" stops and/or where I can keep an eye on it and/or where someone can't run off quickly with the bike, I may just loop one of the pannier-bag straps through the rear wheel and frame and/or use the disc-alarm.

Three pieces of lock kit I'm planning to take on tour:
  • A *very* light-weight (aluminium?) mini U-lock. It looks just as tough as any mini U-lock, but weighs almost nothing
  • One of the steel cables I have around here, maybe a Kryptonite, maybe a no-name, probably about 10mm; whatever's long enough and lightest
  • A disc/alarm lock (motion sensing, USB rechargeable)
I'm in the habit of locking up my bike whenever I'm not sitting on it, even at home. I expect that I'll be using the disc/alarm lock even if I'm camping in the middle of nowhere.

If I need to stop for shopping or something, then the cable can wrap around a pole of some sort, and be secured by the mini U-lock which would go around the seat-stays and the rear wheel. Even if someone cut the cable, the rear wheel won't turn so they can't ride the bike away. Maybe also use the alarm lock, especially if I'm leaving bags on the bike.

Oh, and the bike also has a sticker noting that it's registered in a system accessible to police. Not sure how much of a deterrent that is, but it probably weighs less than a gram.
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Old 09-03-23, 09:21 AM
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I just bought this lock to replace my super heavy Abus D-lock and cable.
Master Lock 8417D Python, 1.8m (6 ft) x 5mm (3/16"), 205g (1/2 lb).
I'll be in mostly rural areas and won't be leaving my bike unattended for any length of time.

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Old 09-03-23, 10:54 AM
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FWIW -- I use hiplok's security ties (weighs nothing, deters opportunity theft. I carry two) and a frame lock (locks/unlocks in a second, not vulnerable to portable grinders). I have bolted a smart tag (Samsung's version of airtags -- useful for tracking at the airport).

And my bike looks cheap. (rim brakes, 3x10
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Old 09-03-23, 12:50 PM
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can confirm after 1.5 months on the road in the US.... I ditched even the small ziplock that I had...
its just not convenient (not really big enough or strong enough to tie anywhere where it would be helpful)
And a big D lock would be a no go. wayy to much space use
so I always leave the bike in view of a window or ask someone to watch it
has worked fine

bit.ly/bayou23
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Old 09-03-23, 02:22 PM
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I met a bike tourist this summer who said his bike was stolen while he was inside a fast food restaurant. If you are solo touring, you need a lock. There's no way you can be next to your bike 100% of the time.
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Old 09-03-23, 06:00 PM
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I leave my bike unlocked and out sight regularly. Situational awareness.
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