Here are some helpful tips on how not to get your bike ripped off. Or how to avoid the inconvenient truth, that if it’s there, someone will steal something off of it.
It’s essential to lock your bike in the city. I’ve had a few bikes stolen, I’ve had parts stolen and I’ve learned some successful ways to keep the thieves off your stuff.
Let’s Start with Equipment
This begins with your bike. What kind of bike you are riding is a factor in determining your successful avoidance of thievery.
Is your bike new and flashy? Don’t ride your race bike or your brand new mountain rig and leave it anywhere.
I’ve heard somewhere how having multiple bikes is no more odd than owning multiple pairs of shoes. In our culture that means you have shoes that perform specific tasks (running, dominating, etc.) and in NYC it means you have a “commuter bike.”
If your bike has “quick release” anything (usually wheels, but some bikes have QR seats) you need to either lock that or take it with you. I like to lock it. I have enough to carry around and it cuts down on time if you don’t have to partially assemble/reassemble your bike.
Locks, Chains and Cables
Get yourself a U lock and cable These are the basic coin of the realm when locking your bike. They fit in a small bag, the U lock can even fit in some big back pockets. The U Lock often comes with a little bracket to store the lock on your bike as you ride. The cable can be wrapped around your seat tube (and secured to the lock) so that you don’t have to carry any of this weight on your person.
If you are riding a nicer bike or a bike you care more about and are leaving it for long periods unattended and otherwise unprotected then you may want to add a larger, heavier chain/lock combo. I use an Abus brand lock that was intended for locking a motorcycle. It’s much heavier so I actually leave it at my work parking spot so I don’t have to lug it back and forth every day.
People will steal anything. Recently I arrived at my usual parking spot and my Abus Lock was missing. I’m pretty thorough about locking it securely to the bike rack, so this means, that there is a good likelihood that SOMEONE STOLE MY LOCK. Keep in mind, this is not a regular lock and chain combo, you can’t use the lock without the chain or the chain without the lock. This is the kind of thing that is just maddening… why would someone go through the considerable effort?
There is probably a mathematical formula that can simplify the amount of chains and locks you put on your bike as compared to the value or quality of the bike itself. I haven’t figured out this formula, but generally remember: Lots of locks.
I usually try to keep it in an open area. If it looks like it’s near a deli, great. The theory being, if it looks like it belongs to the deli, then someone is probably going to come out any second and deliver something. This might be a superstition. Lately I’ve claimed my well-earned right to a spot on an actually city-installed bike rack, which makes me feel like I am welcomed and that I belong there and I don’t have to chain to any piece of metal like an animal.
Check on it
Take a look at lunch, is it still there? Or take a five minute break. This doesn’t actually prevent anything, but may reassure the new commuter. When you’re new to this, it might be a good time to double check your set up, other people will jostle your bike, is it still standing? Does it look neglected? Somehow I think that when bikes seem neglected, they get stripped. At this point you can admire your bike, pat yourself on the back and think fondly of straddling your machine for the jaunt home.