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Old 10-31-06, 01:21 PM   #1
...there I was...
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...what do you guys/gals do?


I'm in Hawaii on Oahu, and am planning a trip to the big island for my first touring experience.
I'll be doing about 2 weeks, hopefully with one or two others.

My bike currently has a trunk bag, frame bag, and Arkel T-42 rear pannier bags.
By the time I head off for my tour, I'll also have a set of T-18 front pannier bags and a handlebar bag.

So, my question relates to coordinating the food/shopping/restaurants/etc. and thieves.

What do you do to keep your bike and/or (more importantly) bags stolen?

I know I can use a cable lock and u-lock combo to get both tires locked to the frame and to something immobile, but I'm more worried about someone going through the bags or taking the bags.

Do you take off 6 bags to carry them into a store for shopping or a restaurant for eating?
Do you have more than one person and take turns watching the bike and eating/shopping?
Do thieves naturally shy away from a loaded touring bike?
Has anyone had any experiences with this?

I'm totally paranoid about leaving it anywhere.
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Old 10-31-06, 01:47 PM   #2
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I carry a simple cable lock as a U-lock is simply too heavy.

Since I normally ride through less populated places, I get a sense of the place and decide whether or not I will lock the bike based on what I see around me. Often, there is no one around and I am only going in for a short purchase where I will be able to see the bike at all times. This is often true at restaurants. I usually lock the bike if I will be too far away from it to prevent a grab and run theft. Can you imagine running carrying a loaded touring bike?

As for the panniers, I usually leave them on the bike, again, after looking around and taking stock of the place. If I am concerned (usually in more urban areas), I pull the bags off the bike and put them in a shopping cart that I push around the store. I also carry my wallet, keys, cell phone, and any other valuable with me at all times.

I have never had a bike stolen nor something stolen off my bike. I never let my bike sit unattended and out of my sight for very long.

Bike tourists spend virtually all their time (when not in tents or hotels) outside. It is good to be concerned about one's stuff, especially bikes, which can be valuable to both rider and thief. In my experience, prudence alone is enough to keep things safe.

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Old 10-31-06, 11:38 PM   #3
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My bike looks like a piece of crap; I don't think anyone is likely to steal it. If you have a bright, shiny, new, expensive-looking bike, you can "crap it up" with some spray paint, touch up paint, dirt, grease, etc. However, I wouldn't do it if I had a nice bike. It would break my heart. I'd just watch it REALLY carefully.

I use a cable and lock, but it's just to discourage and slow down a thief. I think the best strategy is to park it against the front window of a business so that the thief will have to assume you are keeping an eye on it from inside.
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Old 11-01-06, 01:43 AM   #4
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I always lock it even in a "safe" area. The problem with touring is that there is all kinds of stuff potentially in the bags. Thousands of dollars of gear it has taken me years to accumulate, documents, money, etc... Sure I have a bag of stuff I take with me into a store, but I think it is possible that if one starts to think nobody will steal the bike, then why not leave the wallet in there. I mean if it's so safe I might loose thounsands in gear, then it's safe enough to leave the wallet the passport, the phone. So the first time you only leave it unlocked when you are in a phone booth or something minimal like that. The lightning strike, you have no money, identification, comunication, maybe if your wearing lycra you don't even have a dime for a phone call.
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Old 11-01-06, 06:42 AM   #5
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I think Raybo said it all for me; the only thing I never leave on a bike is my wallet/passport/phone sort of thing. There are other common sense things you can do too -for example when eating out for breakfast on a tour, I always like to sit near the restaurant door with a very good view of my bike (often not locked up depending on the area anyway, and if I'm a little unsure, I put the shift lever into the top most gear position, but with the chain still in the middle ring/cog sort of thing). I pretty much do exactly as Raybo -I don't like to leave my bike out of sight, and I do leave panniers on usually (again depends on the area). However, I remember touring Germany and at a town called Marktredwitz I left my bike locked up and out of sight but left one pannier on (it contained my dirty clothes, toiletries, food sort of thing) but carried the other pannier bag with me that contained my nice tent and sleeping bag that would have been very expensive to replace. I never did have a problem anyway.....

Not that these are guarantees against theft, but if you have to leave your bike locked up, lock it up somewhere with a reasonable lock where you think it might make a bike thief hesitate -the front of a police station, in good public view, or where someone else who you trust can see it. Take the saddle or front wheel with you if you can, remove any easily removable items such as pumps, cyclocomputers, etc. Sometimes you can actually leave your bike with someone too.

I don't think there are any guarantees against theft, you can only use common sense to make it less likely and hence possibly more difficult to the thief. I suppose to me, the rule is always to prevent making it very easy to a thief if possible.
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Old 11-01-06, 09:40 AM   #6
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FWIW I cover my bike and gear with a tarp and run a cheap cable lock through the grommets. So far it has proven to keep honest people honest but sketchier areas YMMV.
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Old 11-01-06, 09:59 AM   #7
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There's a device called the PacSafe that answers most of these questions. I intend eventually to get one for my backpack, but adapting one to a set of panniers is easy and it answers for nearly any kind of semi-public situation, as they are tedious to cut through. Weight at under 500 grams is not bad either.
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Old 11-01-06, 10:27 AM   #8
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I just lock my frame to something solid with a u-lock and leave all of my gear with my bike. I never leave my wallet unattended though. I'm not going to unload my entire bike just to make a twenty minute stop in a grocery store. Most people aren't going to mess with a touring bike anyway. There are instances of theft here and there, but if you spend you're whole tour worrying about security and safety you aren't going to have any fun.
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Old 11-02-06, 05:57 PM   #9
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I tour Europe, and do it with two panniers and a bar bag, and maybe a top bag as well if camping (so 4 bags not 6)

All valuables in the bar bag which you take everywhere.

all other stuff in the other 3 bags which are held to the bike with a thin cable, which is attached to a decent lock. The idea is to discourage the sneak thief and no the proffesional.

And afer all of what use is a load of clothing to a thief ? Only other 'valuable' items on the bike are the tent and the stove.
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Old 11-03-06, 04:55 AM   #10
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For my passport etc I have a neck pouch with piano wire in it so it can't be cut off my neck.

As I have a trailer I fold the bike and the trailer so they free stand. It is very difficult, unless you know , to get the bike and a loaded trailer upright. so I very seldom lock it.

In Patagonia they thought it wierd to lock a bike.

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