General strategies for locking your bicycle

Unless you are in a very safe area, don't leave a bike unlocked and unattended for more than a few seconds. A thief needs almost no time to grab a bike and disappear.

The bitter truth is that tools exist which can defeat any locking system you can use for a bicycle. Luckily for us, most thieves use cutting or prying tools, if they use anything at all. So, with that in mind...




When you have a choice of different things to lock your bike to, choose the toughest one. That is not necessarily the thickest one; for example, a thick wood pole might be easy for a thief to break or cut. Also easy to cut: a hollow aluminum pole or the wire part of a chain-link fence. Even a tough-to-cut object might be inadequate if it's weakly held down (e.g. with thin bolts).

Try locking up in a place where lots of people can see the bike from inside of buildings. Or locking near a building entrance might help; ideally, lots of people will be suddenly appearing as they exit the building. These situations could seem risky to a thief. If you can't find a spot like that, at least pick a place with a good amount of passersby and/or a surveillance camera.

Avoid leaving a bike outside overnight, no matter how good your locks are.

If you regularly travel to the same place, leave very heavy and strong locks and chains there (if permitted). This will save you from having to transport that extra weight.

It's risky to lock to a short pole (e.g. street sign). Thieves may be able to unbolt the sign and slide your bike up and off the pole. Or they might find a way to unbolt or dig out the bottom of the pole. They could then take the bike to their garage and attack the lock.

Place your locking systems up high on the bike. Otherwise someone could put them against the ground and pound on them. Or they could put one handle of their cutters against the ground and stomp the other handle, for extreme cutting force.

If you're very concerned about theft, you could use two different types of locks. Stealing it would require more time. And if you're lucky, a thief won't want a challenge and won't be carrying all of the necessary types of tools. A U-lock could secure the frame and front wheel to a bike rack. A chain could have the seat, frame, rear wheel, and bike rack all within its loop.

Assuming you have quick-release wheels, and you want to lock up using a single locking system: remove the front wheel and let the bike rest on the fork. Rest the front wheel next to the rear wheel. Include the front wheel in whatever locking scheme protects the rear wheel.

Do not lock just the wheels or just the frame. Thieves might strip off the unlocked items, leaving you to discover only part of your bike left. Lock both the wheels to the frame, and lock the frame to a tough immoveable object. As an alternative to the various locks described in this website, you can buy locking skewers that might be adequate for locking the wheels and seat post.

Try to make the insertion points of key locks face down to the ground. This advice comes not from me but rather from a couple of other sources, including the lock manufacturer Kryptonite's website. I'm guessing that a face-up lock could get dust and rain in the mechanism, and allow a thief to pick the lock from a comfortable position.




Perhaps you are worried about thieves stealing just parts from your locked-up bike. If so, you could:

You could pass a chain or lock through the straps of your helmet, so you can leave it with your bike. A vandal might undo or cut the helmet straps, but a thief probably would not bother. I habitually take my helmet with me, instead.