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How Not to Get Your Fixie Stolen

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a bicycle is by far the most liberating mode of transportation: it’s light weight, technically simple, incredibly efficient, and completely free of onerous registration and licensing obligations. There are some regions where these laws are selectively applied, so you may not be affected. These same characteristics make bikes simple to steal, which is unfortunate. A burglar can make off with your bike as easily as you can put your leg over it. This bike boom means that there are also more bikes to steal, with bike thefts increasing by 24% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Beyond “sharing” the road with cars, avoiding being a victim of bike theft is the most difficult obstacle a cyclist must overcome. Seating obstinate tubeless tires comes at a close second.) You’ll also have to leave it unattended from time to time if you use your bike to its full potential, whether it’s for shopping, transit, socializing, or just for fun.

To ensure that your horse will be waiting for you after you leave the local watering hole, how do you make sure he’ll be there?

Attitude


While locks are necessary to keep your bike secure, your attitude is your first line of defense. Inattention and sloth attract thieves, and we’ve all done it: left our bike unattended and unlocked. Insisting that we only need a minute to get things done convinces us that everything will be OK in the long run. Develop a disciplined mindset by working on your mental fitness. It’s important to keep in mind that every time your bike leaves your sight, even for a few while, it could be the last time you see it. You should then take every precaution to reduce the probability that this would be the case.

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Also, in addition to your prized possession(s), you should acquire a dedicated “lock-up” bike—a serviceable but unprecious sacrificial lamb you won’t be upset to lose. When you know your “good” bike will be under or next to you at all times, keep it out of the way. Although a bike theft can be devastating, if you didn’t put any of your heart and soul into the bike in the first place, it won’t be as devastating. Don’t worry about n plus one anymore; the optimal number of motorcycles is n plus whogivesashit.

Hardware


Some customers are hesitant to spend money on bike parts because of the law of diminishing returns, which means the only practical difference between Shimano Dura Ace and 105 is many paychecks and the weight of a few loogies. There is a lot more “bang for your buck” with locks because of this. Also, a well-engineered lock that costs a lot more money is far more secure than a shoddy one from the dollar store.

Never consider the price of a lock when making your purchase—always opt for the most durable lock you can reasonably transport (your bike, after all, is likely worth a lot more than the lock). Heavy-duty chain locks, like as the Kryptonite New York Legend, may connect your bike to a larger range of objects and may even allow you to secure one or more wheels. A chain lock, on the other hand, may be too much for you to carry around unless you ride a cargo bike. Alternatively, you might use Kryptonite’s Evolution or New York, which are both well-engineered U-locks (see the section below for more on the auxiliary locks). While U-locks offer excellent security, folding locks such as those from Abus’s Bordo series give you a bit more size to operate with than a U-lock.

Except in low-risk areas, cable locks are of limited utility. However, they make good supplementary devices for fastening wheels to frames and adding an additional layer of annoyance for thieves when used in conjunction with something more durable. Going commando with a U-lock means using an auxiliary cable lock. When used in isolation, a cable lock is akin to going sockless. My very non-precious sacrificial singlespeed is well-protected with an Evolution U-lock and a braided steel cable when locked up in high-theft regions like Manhattan. If you’re looking for a quality lock, look no further than Kryptonite or Abus. For those of you who are fortunate enough to have a nice local bike shop, ask for recommendations from the staff. They frequently have the finest insight into what’s going on on the streets.

Technique


Using the New York Fahgeddaboudit/You Talkin’ To Me?/I’m Walking Here! lock won’t do you any good if you attach it to an easy-to-crack chainlink fence that can be cut in seconds with a set of snips. Not only is material strength an issue. It’s a logic challenge to lock your bike, and while certain everyday objects may seem indestructible, they may be quickly undone in ways that aren’t immediately obvious. When I tied my bike to a mailbox, the thief simply unbolted the mailbox leg and rode off with my bike. Cannondale will no longer be a part of my cycling life.

Make sure you know what you’re securing to before you lock it. Take advantage of the situation. Make a ruckus with it. Is it anchored to the ground or does it move around? There must be some way a thief may get your bike off the hook without cutting your lock, such as removing a key from your keyring. If you’re using a chain, make sure it’s wrapped tightly to eliminate any slack for the thief. Put your U-lock in a place where the burglar can’t use a prybar to get to your valuables. No matter what, make sure your bike is locked to something other than your seatpost or wheels when you’re not using it.

Take your time, above everything. The frame of your bike might be easily overlooked while U-locking it to a signpost at an unusual angle. Look for mistakes in your lockup job before you leave, and correct them before you leave. You may or may not recall reading Wacky Wednesday as a kid. Is it to you, or to your kid? Ensure that you lock your bike with the same care and attention.

Pilfer-Proofing


Those who commit bike theft as a profession take the entire bike, while others focus on stealing individual parts. Most typically snagged things include wheels, saddles, and accessories, but ultimately no element of your bike is safe. (It is true that my cockpit has been taken.)

The wheels on your bike are the most expensive component. If your bike has “quick-release” axles, don’t leave it unattended for long periods of time without securing both wheels to the frame or replacing the skewers with something keyed or otherwise theft-proof, like these Pinhead wheel locks. While you’re at it, secure your seatpost clamp and stem with some theft-proof bolts. An Allen wrench and a Brooks saddle or Thomson seatpost may be yours in no time. The cockpit of your bike can be as enticing to a professional bike thief as a 12-point rack to a deer hunter. All it takes to take that prize is to loosen a few hex nuts and cut a few shifter and brake wires.

When you leave the bike, don’t forget to remove any blinkies, saddle bags, Bluetooth speakers, or novelty lighting with genitalia-themed themes. (Better better, do not use novelty lighting with genitalia themes at all.)

Choosing an Alternative Path


Although most bike robbers prefer to operate in the shadows, incidents of bikejacking do occur. E-bike delivery drivers are particularly at risk.) If you reside or ride in an area where bikers are targeted by thieves, make sure your route is well-planned, especially at night. In addition to providing protection from motor vehicles, bike lanes and greenways also make you more exposed to attackers because you can’t rapidly modify your route. If you come across a roadblock, change lanes swiftly. If there’s enough traffic to deter such audacious robbers, stay on that road.

Increase the Amount of Bicycle Parking You Get
When it comes to bike theft, you’re on your own. But there’s policies you can support to make it better for everyone. In terms of bike infrastructure, lanes are only one type of feature. Demand that your city build 10,000 more bike racks in the next year and support the next generation of parking options by letting your representatives know. To avoid having to improvise and possibly lose your bike, you’ll have more options for secure parking the better. Browse some Dutch bicycle parking porn while you wait to see what’s out there.

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You could also buy a folding bike and ride it inside. The issue was resolved.

Author avatar - Bradley Knight

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