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How to Lock Up Your Bike

Updated: May 4, 2021

Written by Kevin Fitzgerald (BLU volunteer & Kryptonite employee)

Bike theft has always been a deterrent to increased ridership, particularly in urban areas. Chances are, we all know someone who’s been impacted by bike theft in one way or another. The pandemic has only made this issue larger. The unprecedented boom in demand for bikes, the shortage of bikes globally, and rise in unemployment have all likely contributed to the rise in bike theft. There are, however, some common sense practices we can do to make it less likely we will fall victim to theft.

Tips for locking up your bike:

  1. Lock your bike to a solid object that it cannot be lifted over

  2. Lock your bike in a well-lit area with high foot traffic

  3. Make sure what you lock to cannot be cut easily (no chain link fences)

  4. Lock your bike according to value (grab the frame EVERY time, then rear wheel, then front wheel)

  5. Get the tightest fit possible inside the lock (the less room left inside the lock, the less likely a tool can be inserted inside the lock)

  6. Avoid leaving your bike out overnight whenever possible (this is when angle grinders come out)

  7. Find a bike rack whenever possible. If you have to use a street sign, check to ensure it’s secured to the ground (false poles exist – people remove the bolt connecting the pole to the base so you can lift it easily). Always avoid scaffolding.

Walking around the city, you’ll notice people lock their bikes up in a lot of different ways. The level of security needed really depends on the area you leave your bike and the duration you leave your bike locked. If you’re unsure of what lock to choose, please see your local bike shop so they can do a proper theft assessment to recommend the best lock for you.

My Go-to Lock Up

When it comes to using your lock, my go-to recommendation is to use your lock to grab the seat stays of your frame, inside your rear wheel. Bonus points for getting the tightest fit possible. This is a bit of a personal preference but as long as you grab the frame and both wheels, you are doing it well. See below:

More locking options

If you wanted to invest more money into a more secure set up, I’d recommend looking into wheel locking solutions (look at Pinheads, Pitlock, or Hexlox). Some wheel locking solutions will require a key and some will require flipping your bike to remove the wheel (if the bike if locked up, you shouldn’t be able to flip it). Essentially, by using a wheel locking solution, you can get rid of the cable and use a smaller lock because you just have to grab your bike frame and the rack you’re locking to now. See below:

Cordless angle grinders are both affordable and will cut through any lock in a quick fashion. They are also loud and can create quite a scene when in use, which is why it’s important to avoid leaving your bike outside overnight whenever possible and locking your bike in areas with high foot traffic. If you must leave it outside, I’d recommend using multiple hardened steel bike locks (no cable locks).

Every lock can be compromised

That’s not to say that the lock you use doesn’t matter, because it does. A lock essentially buys you time. The stronger the lock, the more time. Using these tips should make it a little harder for your bike to get stolen.

If your bike does get stolen

If you find yourself victim to bike theft, here are some tips on steps you can take: Read more


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