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What you need to know about bike security

February 02, 2021
What you need to know about bike security

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.

Follow these 3 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, it is important to invest in the best lock that fits your gear. 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 they can give up if they find it too hard. So, not only will you save money in the long run by not needing to buy another lock, 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 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 its not in use, so no need to carry it on you.

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.

Cable locks tend to come in longer lengths than the 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. 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 in order to break them both to get to your bike.

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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.

So what to do? With the first lock, loop through your front wheel, the front triangle of the frame 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 makes it harder to move the lock. Lastly, by positioning the keyhole face down, the lock mechanism is harder to tamper with.

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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:

  • Do lock your bike in a well-lit area or, better still in a secured bike storage facility.
  • Don’t lock your bike against a wire fence, wooden posts, short posts/poles where your bike can be easily removed, even with the bike lock still attached.
  • Do check the condition of the bike rack. Are the metal bars thick?
  • Do secure your bike in the middle of the bike rack. If there are more bikes around yours, it can make it harder for thieves to manoeuvre their tools to get yours out.
  • Do secure your bike at home too. Use a wall anchor to tie your bike to for added security. But don’t leave it where people can see it from the street.
  • Don’t lock your bike to another bike. Check the lock before you leave.