A cut bicycle lock sitting on the ground

How to properly lock up a bike

Protect your investment. Lock it up.
  • by Andy (5)
  • Time to complete: 5 minutes

With over 350 million dollars in bicycle theft per year, it is safe to say that the U.S. has a big problem with bicycle theft. While most stolen bikes are left unlocked, others can be easy targets for desperate thieves. Learning the common techniques employed by these scalawags will give you insight into how best to secure your precious investment.

Common bicycle theft techniques

Lifting

If the bike is locked to an insecure structure such as a small sign or tree, the thief is able to lift the bike along with its lock off of the structure.

Cutting

A thief may use a bolt cutter, hacksaw, or angle grinder to cut through the bicycle lock.

Picking

A thief may pick a lock that has a keyhole.

Sucker pole

A sucker pole is a pole that appears to be safe to lock a bike to, but can easily be dismantled by bicycle thieves. It may be a sign, fence, or bike rack.

In case of theft, make sure your bicycle's serial number is registered publicly and with your local authorities. To learn how to do this, check out my guide on free bike serial number registration.

1

A strong, secure, foldable bicycle lock

Unfortunately, there is no perfect lock. All locks have some way of being cut, picked or destroyed.

U locks and Shackle (folding) locks are reliable and require more power and larger tools to defeat. These are the optimal choice for theft prevention.

A cable lock should only be used as a secondary means of protection. You should not rely on a cable lock for security. These are often targeted by thieves who carry tools specifically to defeat these locks.

2

A bicycle locked up properly on a railing

While the water meter behind the grocer may seem like a good idea, the best locations are places where the bike is well-lit and visible.

Make sure to lock up to a post or rack which is securely fastened. A thief will not think twice to cut a rack or fence to get to your bike.

3

A bicycle locked through the post, frame, and one wheel

Ideally, you should lock up both wheels.

Using two locks is recommended for overnight stays or unsupervised work parking.

4

A man checking how secured his bike lock is

Give it a shake. Pull on the lock.

Try to look at it from a thief's point of view: Is the anchor post secure? Is the lock reliable and around the proper areas?

5

A man holding valuables in his hands

It is always a good idea to take any visible electronic accessories with you when stowing the bike publicly. Lights are easy targets.

Take care not to leave any valuable items in your bags as they may be subject to rummaging by desperate thieves.