Whether it’s going to be inside or outside, how you store your bicycle is an important thing to consider, not only for the physical state of your bicycle but also for ensuring that it doesn’t get stolen.
How to store your bicycle outside:
No matter how well we lock up our bicycles, sometimes terrible
things do happen. Knowing that there are bike thieves out there, here are some tips for some good habits to get into when locking up your bike, to ensure that you’ve done everything in your power to keep that bicycle safe.
CONSIDER YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Some areas are safer to park in than others: for example, a busy
street with lots of people as opposed to a dark alleyway. Whenever you have a choice, always opt for the safer location. But remember this: those nasty bike thieves can be lurking anywhere. Don’t make assumptions about what looks like a safe neighborhood. Always lock that bicycle up!
ALWAYS LOCK TO A SOLID, FIXED OBJECT
If there’s not a designated bike parking structure, then find the next best thing. Look for a solid, fixed object that can’t be moved or unbolted. It might seem obvious, but the point is to lock to something that isn’t going to move. Street sign poles work great, as well as railings, as long as they are sturdy and well-bolted. Sometimes you just have to get creative.
THINK ABOUT THOSE WHEELS
Bike thieves will take what they can get. If your bicycle has quick
release wheels, then pay particular attention to those. For shorter stops,
simply locking through the frame and front wheel may be enough For longer-term parking, you may want to consider using the cable and U-lock method to ensure that both wheels are secured.
The essentials of locking your bicycle
Some cyclists spend most of their time on road rides where they don’t do much stopping between point A and point B. This type of riding may not necessitate a super vigilant approach to locking the bicycle, as you won’t be stopping for long periods of time. But if you stop for a post-ride coffee at a cafe, be sure to sit outside with your bicycle. If, however, you’re planning on using your bicycle for commuting or just getting around town, there’s no denying that you need a lock. Unless you live in small-town bicycle utopia where people are kind enough to not steal bikes and you can leave it outside a shop unlocked and expect to find it when you return (these places do exist), a good lock is an absolute must.
WHAT LOCK SHOULD YOU GET?
Here’s the thing about buying a lock: this is not the time to save money. While you can save a few bucks by buying a used bicycle or a bicycle
that needs some work, when it comes to a lock, you want the best of the best. A lock isn’t essential to keeping your bicycle functioning, but it’s essential to keeping your bicycle-full stop.
Cable and chain locks come in many forms and lengths. Some
have loops at the end, intended to be used with a padlock or U-lock
(discussed next), and some come with their own locking system, like a combination lock. The benefit of a cable or chain lock is that, because they are flexible, you can lock your bike in a variety of situations. The drawback is that not all cables and chains are created equal, and if you buy one of lower quality, there’s a chance that it could be cut and your bike stolen. Your local bike shop can recommend a good one.
AU-lock gets its name from its shape. A U-shaped section slips into a straight bar with a locking mechanism inside that you open and closes with a key. U-locks, provide greater security because they tend to be much harder to cut than chains or cables. The drawbacks of a U-lock are that they are heavy (that means they’re not the ideal lock when you’re on a long ride and just need to lock up to quickly run to a store to buy another granola bar) and, because they are rigid, they don’t allow you to get creative with your locking method. This can prove problematic when you’re in a place where there isn’t a lot of bike parking and you’re stuck locking your bike to a telephone pole or something of the like; a U-lock won’t fit around it. But U-locks are hands down, your best option for not getting your bike stolen-the Kryptonite brand’s models even come with anti-theft protection, in the event your lock doesn’t do its job and you can solve the rigidity problem by also carrying a cable.
Shop all locks here: Locks and Chains for bicycles
There are a few options for locking your bike, and what you do will
depend on the surroundings (such as the safety level of the neighborhood), how long you are locking the bike for, and your personal preference and risk/comfort level. Regardless of what you choose to do, always be sure to lock a fixed part of your bicycle (that is, the frame) to a fixed object. If you lock to just the wheel, without going through the frame, it’s easy for someone to steal the frame. You may not want a bicycle without a front wheel, but bicycle thieves don’t care one bit. They will take what they can get.
The best way to keep your bike safe is to double up, especially if you own a bike that makes other people drool. AU-lock and cable lock can be used together to make your locking system extra secure. The cable or chain can be run through the wheels and around the bike, then attached to the U-lock, which is locked to a fixed object, like the pole of a street sign or a designated bike parking structure.
• Detach the front wheel, place it next to the back wheel, and lock both wheels and the frame to a fixed structure. This is by far
the safest option, particularly if your bicycle has quick-release wheels, but it’s also the most time-consuming. A good option if you need to leave your bicycle for an extended period of time.
• Lock the back wheel and frame to a fixed structure, and run a cable through the front wheel. This ensures that you have the frame and both wheels securely locked.
• Lock the back wheel and frame to a fixed structure. This will leave your front wheel unlocked, so this is a better option for bicycles with a fixed front wheel and not a quick release.
• Lock both the back wheel and the front wheel to a fixed structure with two different U-locks. If you carry two separate U-locks, then you can individually lock the front and back wheels.
• Lock the front wheel and the frame to a fixed structure. You will notice that a lot of people lock their bicycles this way, as it’s simple and easy, particularly if they don’t have quick-release wheels, as they are harder to remove.
CARRYING YOUR LOCKS
Since you never know when you’re going to want to stop, always keep your bike lock with you. This, of course, presents the question of storage. Some U-locks come with a mount that can be attached to your bike to hold your U-lock while riding. You’ll often see cable locks looped around handlebars or around the bicycle seat stem. There is also the backpack/purse method; this means carrying the extra weight on you as opposed to putting it on the bicycle, but it’s always practical. If your bicycle is equipped with panniers, you can easily carry the lock( s) there. You can also wear a cable and U-lock around your body, like a messenger bag, for easy carrying.