As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on locks, I thought I’d share a bit about our locking strategy.
We’re in somewhat of a unique situation in that we’re often riding bikes that were loaned to us by manufacturers or local dealers. It’s important that we keep the bikes in good condition and deliver them back in the same condition in which they arrived. Because we live in the suburbs, we’re often sharing bike racks with kids riding ratty BMX bikes. As you can imagine, packs of adolescent boys on bikes are not overly concerned with keeping our bikes scratch-free, so we often park off to the side of bike racks.
The question is how to lock up securely, while maintaining some distance from the pile of beat up BMX bikes in the rack? In the past, we tempted fate by using the heaviest cable we could find, looping it through both frames, then around the corner of the bike rack. So far we’ve been lucky, but using this method we were never quite comfortable leaving the bikes out of sight for any length of time. We recently upgraded the cable to a case-hardened chain and mini U-lock in combination with a cable through the wheels. Here’s how it works…
Our main lock is a Kryptonite New York Noose 1213 (the 1213 is a 4-foot hardened manganese steel chain mated to an Evolution Series 4 Disc Lock). The NY Noose is unique in that one end of the chain has a large link that can be slipped over the other end of the chain, effectively making a slip knot that can be placed around any immovable object. This frees up the remainder of the chain to be threaded through both bikes and locked to one of the frames. This design nearly doubles the length of usable chain over a standard chain without the “noose”. Before locking the free end of the chain to the bike, we slip one looped-end of a heavy-duty cable onto the chain, thread the cable through all four wheels, then slip the other looped-end onto the chain. Once the chain is locked to the second bike, all four wheels and both frames are secure, a safe distance from our little BMX brats. If only one bike is being locked, the chain is just looped around the frame and through the wheels as you’d do with any chain or cable.
This method doesn’t take into account the ease with which a saddle can be stolen (all it takes is two turns of a hex key), but in the areas where we typically park, it’s a risk we’re comfortable taking. It also doesn’t fully account for the safety of the wheels, but again, it’s a calculated risk based upon our riding habits and environs.
Pitlock skewers make it very difficult for a thief to steal your wheels, seat post, even your threadless fork and brakes. Pitlock replaces your hub’s quick release skewers, brake fixing bolts, 1 1/8″ threadless headset top bolt and cap, seatpost fixing bolt, and even replaceable rear dropout bolts with special bolts that require a special stainless steel key or “Pit” wrench to open. The locking nuts can’t be opened without one of 256 individually shaped “Pits”. Ordinary wrenches can’t grab onto the specially shaped nuts and bolt heads making up the Pitlock system. Only the included Pits can engage the heads. And there are 256 different shapes to these Pits, nutsand bolt heads. A thief would have to make a huge investment in Pitlock sets in order to have a good chance of having the correct Pit for your Pitlock set.
Setting up a bike with Pitlocks, and locking up with a small, high-quality U-Lock, would be much cleaner and simpler than our method. The lock would be half the weight of our chain/cable combo, faster to lock-up, and easier to carry on the bike. The only downside I can see is that there’s a fairly limited range of objects to which you can attach a small U-lock.
The moral of this long-winded story is that there’s no one perfect method for locking a bike. The most important thing is to be sure the method you use is enough of a deterrent to discourage thieves in the situations in which you typically lock your bike. As various people mentioned in the comments under the prior post on locks, the conditions in which you park your bike should be carefully considered when devising a locking strategy for yourself.