Bike theft is, unfortunately, a common occurrence. We all know someone that has had their bike stolen or we ourselves have been a victim of bike theft. In Australia, bicycles or sporting equipment accounted for 17% or 35,700 of reported thefts in 2019, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Whether it's a flimsy lock or not knowing how to lock their bike properly, owners would return to their parking spots with only a broken bike lock left.
In some cities, bikes are stolen more regularly than in others. As thievery is not the most rational act, bikes tend to be the most common stolen object because people are less likely to get caught. Back in 2012, a New York Times Columnist tried stealing their own bike. Much to the viewers’ surprise, no one batted an eyelash even when he used power tools. At one point, there were cops near him, too.
And what happens to stolen bikes? This depends on the sophistication of the thief or thieves. Amateur thieves may steal any bike they see and sell it for a fraction of its original price. These people normally look for quick cash, so they normally go to pawn shops or flea markets.
More professional thieves will look for high-quality bikes and sell them online for their original prices. They will also know what cities have a high demand for bikes and sell them there.
For most of us, bikes are necessary for transportation. Therefore their security matters, too. Follow these three simple tips to improve your bike security and reduce the risk of bike theft.
1. Invest in good quality bike locks
Although no bike lock can be entirely theft-proof, investing in the best lock that fits your gear is important. And yes, this means paying a higher price to get a durable and heavy-duty one. Like with anything else you buy, not all locks are made to the same high standard nor with the same quality of metal. Plus, a good quality lock can deter thieves from breaking the lock in the first place. Or, failing that, they often give up if they find it too hard and too time-consuming. So, not only will you save money in the long run by not needing to buy another lock or bike, but there's less likelihood of your bike getting stolen in the first place. Hence, better security! But, if you decide to opt for ones found at your local discount store, be prepared to be disappointed.
There are three main types of bike locks: chain and padlocks, U-locks and cable locks. Good quality bike locks are often made from hardened steel.
U-Locks, (also known as D-Locks) are made from thick hardened steel and are rigid in shape. Their shape makes it easy to mount to your bicycle when it's not in use, so no need to carry it on you. U-Locks are an absolute must-have weapon here.
Chain and padlock is the second most popular form of security. They are built of heavy hardened steel links and come encased in cloth or vinyl. It also provides flexibility and ease in maneuvering the chain through your bike and the item you are securing it against. Chain and padlocks can be bulky, so always best carried in a backpack. Lastly, make sure you have the corresponding padlock key or opt for a combination one, so it's one less thing to carry.
Cable locks tend to come in longer lengths than chains. They are usually either an aluminium steel alloy cable or hardened steel cable. To avoid scratches, cable locks are encased in a thick coating or in a tube of vinyl. Most cable locks come with a built-in locking mechanism or a loop on both ends for a padlock. Cable locks are generally used when your bike is within eyesight due to their lighter weight.
Use a combination of the above to secure your bike. Why? It means that the thief will need to use two different tools to break through them both to get to your bike. So with more time required to break your bike's locks, the more likely the thief will then simply take a pass on your bike.
2. Lock your bike properly
Now that you have invested in a good quality lock, it’s no use if you don’t secure your bike properly with it. Letting the lock touch the ground means thieves can break it with a sledgehammer. Having your lock hang loose is also not a good idea. This allows bolt cutters to get around them easily.
So what to do? With the first lock, loop through your front wheel, the frame's front triangle, and around the anchor. With the second lock, secure your rear wheel through the rear triangle of the frame to the anchor point as well. If any of the locks are sitting loose, loop the two locks together to get that tight fit.
Additionally, consider moving a foot pedal to the inside of the lock. This will make it harder to move the lock around. Lastly, by positioning the keyhole face down, the lock mechanism is harder to tamper with. Anything that requires more time to break a lock, the better.
3. Where to lock your bike
Now that we have figured out how to secure a bike let’s look at where you can secure your bike. The anchor point or immovable object should be sturdy. You can check this by doing the wobble or shake test. Try to move the anchor point (i.e. lamp post, bike rack). If it wobbles, don’t leave your bike there. Look elsewhere.
Here are some other do’s and don’ts when it comes to choosing where to lock your bike:
Check out our bike locks and cables and find the best one for you.