One of the biggest challenges of owning a bike is the risk of losing it to someone else, a thief. This is one of the reasons why many people who own bikes rarely use them when going to public places since they’ll be forced to leave them outside buildings, and that’s when bike snatchers strike.
To counter this, there are many ways that you can use to keep your bike from being stolen, and the most effective one so far is locking it with a special bike lock. Bike locks have been around for years and keep improving as time goes by.
In this article, we’ll talk about some strategies and ways you can use to ensure that you lock your bike properly every time you leave it in public spaces, as well as the different bicycle locks that can help secure your bike against theft.
How to Properly Lock Your Bike: 9 Tips to Live By
To ensure the safety of your bike, take note of the following quick tips and steps on securely locking your bike.
Tip 1: Choose the right location with heavy foot traffic, like near a bus or train station. It should be in a well-lit area covered with CCTV cameras as an added security measure—crowds make thieves nervous.
Tip 2: Always lock your bike onto an immovable object (like a bike rack) and secure the front wheel. A bike is only as secure as the object that it’s locked to, so if the object can’t be moved, the thief will have trouble taking the bike.
Read Also: How to Lock a Bike Without a Rack?
Tip 3: Don’t give bike thieves clues; lock the bike a good distance away from where you’re going so that the thief won’t know how much time they have before you return. Make your bike hard to steal by keeping thieves guessing.
Tip 4: Generally, it’s wise to avoid leaving your bike in dangerous areas. If you know certain areas have a high propensity for bike theft, then don’t leave your bike unattended.
Tip 5: Keep your lock off the ground when securing your bike because this makes it harder for the thief to smash it with a hammer. Keep the lock as high as possible, especially if it’s of a cheaper quality.
Tip 6: Lock your bike frame the right way with a quality lock as it’s the strongest part of the bike made entirely of solid metal. This will secure your bike better.
Tip 7: To best lock your bike, make sure you lock the front wheel when locking your bike. The front wheel is much easier to detach, and this is what thieves usually take more than the rear wheel. If you can lock the rear wheel too at the same time, the better.
Tip 8: Choose the right lock that fits your bike and is hard to open or smash. This means you should be ready to spend extra but make sure it’s a good and reliable lock.
Tip 9: If you can secure the seat post, the bike seat, the bike rack, and the rear triangle area, then you’ll be offering your bike the best protection as these things are targeted by thieves.
Types of Bike Locks
There are about five different types of bike locks designed to keep your bike safe from theft. Each type has its own unique way of functioning.
The D-Lock/U-Lock is a U-shaped bike lock made of hardened steel shackles of varying widths, lengths, and thicknesses that lock into a solid metallic oblong-shaped body. To use it, you simply put the lock around any part of the bike and lock it against a solid structure that no one can move.
The D-Locks/U-Locks are categorized by a standardization rating that starts from Bronze to Gold. Gold locks are harder to pry open, while the Bronze ones can be picked by expert thieves.
For better security, you may want to go for the Gold standard U-Lock, although they cost more.
- Solid construction
- Resistant to bolt cutters
- Lighter than most locks
- Gold standard locks are hard to pick
- Easily available in any bike shop
- Come with a mounting bike bracket
- The bronze standard lock isn’t that reliable
- The gold-rated U-Lock is expensive
Chain locks are among the most popular security locks that have been used for years due to their effectiveness. Basically, the operating principle here is that once you lock the chain, there’s no way that that bike will be able to move.
These are substantially thicker and heavier than other locks, features that make them unsuitable for portability but very reliable as they’re among the hardest to crack. They come in varying lengths and can actually be used to lock up multiple bikes, how many depends on how long the chain is.
They usually come covered in protective fabric to cut down on corrosion, as well as to prevent the chain from peeling off the bike’s paint job.
- A reliable visual deterrent
- Can be used on multiple bikes
- Can’t be cut easily
- Readily available
- It fits the bike frame
- Extremely heavy
- Too cumbersome to be carried around
Unlike the chain lock, cable locks are made from very strong strands of metal woven together to create a thick rope that secures a bike; cutting it is hard unless you use power tools. They usually come with keys or a combination lock that will open only when you key in the right numbers.
There are about three variants of the cable lock.
There’s the basic cable lock that has a plastic covering to prevent any damage to the bike but is vulnerable to cutting. There’s the coiled cable lock, which reverts to their recoiled state once they’re unlocked from the bike and which is the least secure as they’re the thinnest.
Then there’s the armored cable lock, which is protected by hardened steel and is made of stainless steel. It’s the most secure and expensive.
- Secure way to lock bikes
- Flexible security lock
- Works well in low-risk areas
- Allows combinations and physical padlocks
- Not as reliable as the other locks
- Armored locks are expensive
These are the most recent types of bicycle locks, with most of them still in development, but the few that have been released into the market have proven to be a success. Folding locks are among the lightest and smallest of all bicycle locks on this list, and despite that, they have features that work and which make them one of the best ways to lock your bike.
They can be folded and put away in a bag, making them portable. They’re made using hardened steel plates that are hard to cut or pick, thanks to their wide flat shape that would take a lot of time to cut through even when a power cutting tool is used.
- Solid construction
- Looks good
- Quick-release wheels
- Not foolproof
- A limited range so far
Ground Anchor Locks
This is a type of lock that’s drilled into the ground and held in place permanently by concrete either inside a garage or in an open public parking space for bikes. They provide the necessary anchor for bike owners to secure the bike at home using other types of locking devices.
It has a high level of security for the road bike as moving it will require the bike thief to unearth the whole ground, and that sounds like too much work for the sake of nicking a bike. Ground anchor locks are very handy for keeping your bike safe since bicycle theft occurs mostly in homes where people drop their guard.
- Effective locking points
- Can be used by multiple bikes
- Works with garage bike racks too
The Bottom Line
Bicycles aren’t cheap, and every cyclist knows the pain of losing something that valuable. Therefore, bike security should be prioritized to ensure that you continue enjoying the services of your machine for as long as possible.
Simply follow all the advice outlined in this article and make it a habit to always keep your best bike locked at all times when it isn’t in use. If possible, use two or more locks at the same time.