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Lock your bike
April 23, 2013 5:40 PM   Subscribe

Have you been looking for bike locks that work? Will only the best locks do? Perhaps you just need a secondary lock?
posted by overleaf (40 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you want some serious overkill in a padlock, and have money to burn, you may want this (suitable for military applications).
posted by el io at 6:06 PM on April 23, 2013


Nuthin a plasma cutter and about 15 seconds can't handle.
posted by Dmenet at 6:12 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dmenet; while (i assume) true for that padlock I pointed to, wouldn't it pretty much also destroy any bike you are trying to steal?
posted by el io at 6:32 PM on April 23, 2013


The best bike lock is useless unless you get a passing grade from Hal.

I personally use a rear AXA lock and a Viro Blocca Catena chain lock to secure the frame and front wheel. It seemed that every bike in the Netherlands uses this particular combination of locks, so I brought them with me to NYC.
posted by autopilot at 6:39 PM on April 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


As near as I can figure, the only lock that works is a crappy bike. It may take three minutes to cut through a Kryponite with an angle grinder, but in New York at least the thief has all the time he wants. Cops will stand there and watch him do it. And what's the point of a stripped-down ultra-light brakeless fixie if you have to carry thirty pounds of lock with you everywhere you go?
posted by Fnarf at 6:41 PM on April 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'll stick with titanium, thank you.
posted by dobbs at 6:57 PM on April 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


A titanium shackle seems like a gimmick, given the softness of the metal. Tensile strength isn't everything (otherwise you could use kevlar rope to lock your bike).
posted by ryanrs at 7:12 PM on April 23, 2013


I had a friend in Belgium report a bike stolen (it was a college town). The police told him to just go steal another one.

So he started to steal a bike that was locked to a bike rack outside the police department; they angrily told him to steal a bike somewhere else.

Like many other physical security solutions, a bike lock is best augmented with insurance (renters insurance will often cover stolen bikes).
posted by el io at 7:37 PM on April 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


Thanks for posting the Hal videos! As someone who has ridden a D- grade bike for the last 10 years with an F grade locking style, who just moved to a big US city and bought an A- grade bike, this was very helpful.
posted by Joe Chip at 8:10 PM on April 23, 2013


dobbs: how are you finding that lock? how does it work for you? (easy to put on/remove/travel with?)
posted by el io at 8:14 PM on April 23, 2013


Like many other physical security solutions, a bike lock is best augmented with insurance (renters insurance will often cover stolen bikes).

Yeah, except that most people's everyday bikes, in my experience, aren't worth as much as their renter's insurance deductible - never mind the jump in rates that comes with a claim.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:15 PM on April 23, 2013


Tommorwful: you are certainly right there (my used POS bike was 50$), but that being said, many people's bike's don't warrant the expense of a high-end lock (ie: glorious as that titanium lock was when I saw it, it's pretty silly spending 200$ to protect a 50$ bike).

I've had more than a few friends with 1K$+ bikes though (while that may seem expensive, and it certainly was, they were also sans-car, so the bike was their sole mode of transportation, other than hoofing it).
posted by el io at 8:19 PM on April 23, 2013


I liked the demo video where he locked it to a parking meter. I could lift the bike right off the post and walk away with it
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:40 PM on April 23, 2013


NYC is a bike heavy city and this activity is getting more popular over the years. with all these shiny toys flying about comes thieves! your average used bike here is going to cost you ~$200. throw in the cost of a tune up, new parts as required, accessories (helmet, lights, bell) - you're probably up to $300-$500 at this point. once you ride like oh i dunno, 3 months or so you get so hooked that cycling becomes preferable to the subway. so you save money there at least. never having to wait late at night for a ride home and hey it's free! then when you get even more hooked you find it's preferable to walking! then without knowing how you became such a ravenous fiend you suddenly have six bikes and not enough time to ride bikes bikes bikes and have a couple angry roommates because your bikes are clogging what little space you have left in the living room. renters insurance is a must for bike hoarders.

so after all that - it's worth investing in a decent lock to protect it. i use the kryptonite NY chain in tandem with pinheads. it's mostly safe overnight, though i did lose one really nice saddle. i later put superglue in the bolt heads. did you know it takes about an hour - even with acetone - to scrape out all the glue from bolt heads? this is an excellent DIY deterrant. (speaking from experience: make SURE your bike part is positioned where you want it to be forever before doing the super glue trick.) there are also some really great DIY tips here towards the end of this bike forums thread. the TiGr lock (posted above by dobbs) is on my wish list for sure.

oh and folks - don't lock your bike like this. ever.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 8:54 PM on April 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can endorse the Kryptonite personally, with the caveat that bike locks aren't for protection so much as deterrence. The best they can do is make your bike a somewhat greater pain in the ass to steal—in other words, less appealing than more poorly-secured bikes. But that's good enough most of the time.

If I owned an expensive bike, I wouldn't leave it anywhere unattended, regardless of what kind of lock it had. But a mid-range bike can get decent protection from a heavy, well-made lock.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:56 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why aren't lockable points integrated into bike frames?
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:11 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


The frame itself is the best lockable point you could ask for.

What I hate is the idea of having to lock up the bike and then strip it of everything removable -- bags, lights, seat. I've had my seat stolen before, and that's a really sucky ride home.
posted by Fnarf at 9:34 PM on April 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Bike locks are like out running a lion, it only needs to be slightly better (faster) than the guy next to you.
posted by wcfields at 10:06 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


You could also just try eyes.
posted by disillusioned at 10:57 PM on April 23, 2013


@dobbs, fair warning: though I loved my TiGr lock for lower-crime areas and for long-distance travel, it did not stand up to San Francisco bike thieves. (To be fair, my Kryptonite U-Lock wouldn't have done me much good, either.) They cut it right outside the bar where I was celebrating my birthday, natch. Message me for details.
posted by unruthless at 11:02 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Priceonomics on why bikes get stolen. TLDR: the most important factor by far is the near absence of consequences. Bike thieves simply don't see the inside of a jail.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:43 PM on April 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think I have a highly regarded bike lock, according to the original post. However, I mostly just lock my bike to itself (rear tire through frame). Despite the alleged high degree of bike theft, everybody here does that. Europe, man...
posted by sixohsix at 2:04 AM on April 24, 2013


Hal's "lock grading" video was pretty good except he uses a cable to secure his front wheel that's so thin it looks like you could cut through it with kids plastic scissors.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:09 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Today's Bikeyface is somewhat apt: Reversed.
posted by scruss at 4:51 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh and folks - don't lock your bike like this. ever.

There's a whole other LFGSS thread for that...
posted by anagrama at 5:12 AM on April 24, 2013


I've lived and biked daily in Baltimore city for about 5 years and a shitty no-name $9 U-lock has been sufficient visual deterrent to keep my steed untouched by roving rustlers.

In other words, I'm glad I'm not in New York where any POS bike is at risk of theft.
posted by cloeburner at 5:35 AM on April 24, 2013


Big cities and college towns tend to get more bike thieves because there's a higher concentration of people who use bikes there, and can't or won't store them inside, and therefore you've got a better supply of bikes (including really good bikes) that in turn draws thieves with the specialized tools to defeat most standard bike locks. No lock is going to be good enough to deter someone who's willing to wait around and mug you for it when you show up to unlock it. I live in a city that, while having a number of bike-friendly features such as racks on the front of buses so that bike-and-ride is an option (probably as the result of Department of Transportation grants), doesn't really have a high concentration of cyclists yet, so I can get by with a cable lock of the type that the writer in the first link disdains.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:42 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


When people are making fun of the locked-up bikes, is the reason because you can actually remove the front wheel of a bike quite easily, thereby defeating and locks placed through it?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:55 AM on April 24, 2013


Yes.
posted by psoas at 6:22 AM on April 24, 2013


Don't do this, either
posted by Acey at 6:24 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Instead of putting glue in your bolts, you can buy security bolts. Probably the same level of deterrence, without being such a pain in the ass. If you do have sufficiently nice components, though, someone can go to Home Depot, so don't ride too shiny of a bike.
posted by akgerber at 6:28 AM on April 24, 2013


I haven't had a bike stolen in decades (and I remember when Hal opened his first store on Lafayette street!) The secret is anti-marketing. You want a vehicle that rides well but looks ugly and in disrepair. Even the best locks only slow the thief down, so you don't want your bike to be so attractive that it's worth the trouble. You want a bike that's harder to resell than the locks are to defeat.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:11 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then when you have a good lock, just saying, once I was dumb enough to lock my bike to a cast iron fence. Apparently breaks with a well placed kick, though the CCTV footage is too grainy to see anything else. It was lunchtime.

I unwittingly bought a stolen bike once that was near destroyed and got it working. They managed to recover that from me alright.
posted by yoHighness at 7:39 AM on April 24, 2013


All good advice for living with an unfortunate situation. I did urban commuting when I lived in Washington DC but in that situation I parked my bike inside a parking garage of a Federal building. I used a big ass lock, but I was sheltered from the risk of parking a bike in the city.
posted by dgran at 8:27 AM on April 24, 2013


Hal's "lock grading" video was pretty good except he uses a cable to secure his front wheel that's so thin it looks like you could cut through it with kids plastic scissors.

Yeah, that seemed weird, coming from a purported expert; I used to lock my bike up like that, but got my front wheel stolen that way while it was parked outside of a party for a couple hours.

Now I use a chain/padlock combo for one wheel plus the frame, and a u-lock for the other wheel. It is heavy, but it's also pretty hard to tamper with.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:58 AM on April 24, 2013


Hal's "lock grading" video was pretty good except he uses a cable to secure his front wheel that's so thin it looks like you could cut through it with kids plastic scissors.

Yeah, that seemed weird, coming from a purported expert; I used to lock my bike up like that, but got my front wheel stolen that way while it was parked outside of a party for a couple hours.

Now I use a chain/padlock combo for one wheel plus the frame, and a u-lock for the other wheel. It is heavy, but it's also pretty hard to tamper with.


I was gonna say if you're going to get a non-hex skewer, why not go a little farther and get skewers with unique keys and ditch the secondary lock? I mean, if a thief can bypass a skewer lock (via drill?), wouldn't he/she also be able to cut a cable?

I have a mid-end road bike (~$1600 new) with good skewer locks and just use a U-lock on the frame and nothing on the wheels. I've had it for ... 8-9 years and park it outside on busy streets frequently (though not overnight of course). Never a wheel problem.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:13 AM on April 24, 2013


the most important factor by far is the near absence of consequences. Bike thieves simply don't see the inside of a jail.

The secret is anti-marketing. You want a vehicle that rides well but looks ugly and in disrepair.

This stuff makes me angry every time I think about it. Why should we have to uglify our bikes? Why can't we have the same consideration the owner of a low-end sedan would if it were stolen? Nobody tells automobile owners they have to make fake rust spots out of wax and paint, add some random duct-tape stripes across the windows, or get the chisel out to remove all decals from their vehicles. Thefts of luxury cars and barely-functional beaters are both taken seriously. Why can't we have nice things?

I'm not saying uglification's bad advice given our current situation, but I'd rather fight back at the abovementioned total lack of consequences for bike thieves (how?) than accept I'll never be able to have a ride I can look at and think, wow, what a pretty bike.

Now, what colors do y'all think I should use for my crocheted skirt guard?
posted by asperity at 5:16 PM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you do get locking skewers or ones with odd shapes, don't be surprised if you small local bike shop can't get your wheel off if you don't bring in the tool. Keep track of that tool for when you need to fix a flat.
posted by advicepig at 6:51 PM on April 24, 2013


> Now, what colors do y'all think I should use for my crocheted skirt guard?

I'm sorry, I can't hear you, I'm chatting up my Cervelo S5.
posted by Sutekh at 6:51 AM on April 25, 2013


@dobbs, fair warning: though I loved my TiGr lock for lower-crime areas and for long-distance travel, it did not stand up to San Francisco bike thieves. (To be fair, my Kryptonite U-Lock wouldn't have done me much good, either.)

In my experience no lock is good enough. I just hope to make the thief consider the next bike down the street.

The reason I use the TiGR lock is that it is extremely light and portable while still offering pretty good protection. I used to lug around the ForgetAboutIt lock from Kryptonite. I literally could not go anywhere without a knapsack, the thing was so damn heavy. As a result, I rode my bike much less. This isn't an issue with the TiGR.
posted by dobbs at 6:55 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


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