Bike commuters must often leave their bikes unattended for extended periods during the workday, providing ample opportunity for bike thieves to do their work. Storing your bike within a secure area is always best, but when a bike must be locked outside for the day, the following locking strategies will help ensure it will still be there when you return for the evening commute.
Invest in a Quality Lock – A high quality U-lock is your best defense against professional thieves; cheaper U-locks are easily defeated with a crow bar. A good one will run $75-$100. Cable locks are versatile and convenient, but most are easily defeated with a small bolt cutter. Bike-specific chains offer the reach and versatility of cables, while providing protection similar to the best U-locks, but they’re heavy and expensive.
Use it Wisely – Be sure your lock is threaded through one of the triangles in the frame, or if possible, through the rear wheel within the rear triangle (the rear wheel cannot be pulled through the rear triangle, and it’s extremely difficult to cut through a built rim). Locking the rear wheel in this way secures both the wheel and the frame.
Double Lock – It takes a pry bar to break a U-lock, and a bolt cutter to get through a heavy cable, so double locking is an effective deterrent against thieves who aren’t carrying both.
Quick Releases Make Quick Work – Bike thieves love quick releases. Wheels can be worth 25%-50% of the value of an entire bike, and if they’re held on with quick release skewers they can be removed in seconds. Use a heavy duty cable to lock the wheels to the frame, or even better, consider replacing all of the quick releases on your bike with Pitlocks or other similar locking devices.
Secure Those Accessories – If at all possible, it’s best to take your bags and accessories into work with you, but if you can’t, a lightweight “accessory” cable and lock will help protect the small items left on your bike.
Location, Location, Location – Be sure to lock up to something that’s immovable and at least as strong as a U-lock. Lock your bike in a high traffic area in plain view, and never leave your bike locked up outside overnight.
The reality is that no bike locked on the street is 100% protected from professional bike thieves, but taking the above precautionary measures will do much to thwart their efforts.