A fixed-gear bike is a great way to get around the crowded streets of New York City. The good news is the New York City Department of Transportation has added bike lanes all over the city to accommodate the growing number of bike riders. The addition of bike lanes in recent years has been matched by the addition of many bike racks around the city as well. This has made life easier for bike riders to ride safely and find secure parking areas.
The bad news is the increase in the number of bikes in New York means more opportunities for bike thieves. Unfortunately, the city includes those looking to make a fast buck, by stealing anything of value that isn’t bolted down. Life in the big city means always staying alert and that includes protecting your fixed-gear bike from theft.
You have put a lot of time, and money into your fixed-gear bike. You chose a fixed-gear for the simplicity and ride control of having a single gear drive. You likely have added some great accessories for safety and comfort. A key accessory for theft protection is a high-quality lock or lock and chain setup. It is important to have an effective lock and apply the proper locking technique. If you are diligent in properly locking your fixed-gear bike, you will save yourself a lot of time and aggravation.
Never leave your bike unlocked in any public area, even for just a minute. The loss story of many theft victims includes the “only for a minute” phrase. Treat your bike with the same level of security as you would a wallet or purse in a public area. Take the time to be diligent with regards to theft prevention. Lockdown anything you can’t take with you. This means the frame, rear wheel, front wheel, and the seat.
Choose an area to lock your fixed-gear that is easily visible, where there are plenty of other people passing by. Pick a place that is well-lit at night. If possible, use bike racks or a location where there are lots of other bikes parked. This can deter theft since others are frequently arriving or returning to their bikes.
Try to avoid leaving your bike locked up for days in the same place. This can give a thief time to prepare the right tools to remove parts of your bike. A thief may also assume no one is watching the bike. Try to vary your daily parking location, if possible.
An advantage of a fixed-gear bike is they are usually lighter than other bike types. When possible, carry inside and then secure. Bike thieves can access hallways or building lobbies. Inside is better than the street, but an interior location other than a secure apartment is still a risk.
Lock It Properly
Proper locking means a serious lock attached to an inflexible structure or rack. Bike racks in New York are well-designed for locking, but make sure there are no loose bolts or defects that can allow removal of the bike, lock, and chain.
If no secure bike rakes are available, the next group of good options would include street posts, street lamp posts, and steel fences. Again, make sure these are secure objects that are not easily loosened or cut. If you have quick-release anything on your fixed-gear bike, lock it down or bring it with you. This includes wheels, the seat, lights, or anything that can be easily removed in a minute.
Don’t put a lock and a long chain on a short post that can be easily lifted away. Find a firm railing or post to chain lock your bike and keep it chained closely to the object. The closer the bike to an unmovable object, the harder it is for a thief to apply any tools. A lot of extra work for thieves is always a good deterrent.
In New York City it is illegal to lock your bike to the subway railings. Trees in New York are also off-limits for bike locking. The City has done a lot for bike riders lately, respect these rules and avoid a hassle with City Hall.
Locks and Chains
The key to keeping your fixed-gear bike in New York City is a quality lock setup. A quality lock setup means a lock and or bike chain that are designed for locking bikes. Avoid the aluminum chains you can buy at the local hardware store and get a heavy-duty quality chain or U-LOCK device. U-LOCK devices are specifically designed for securing bikes. These locks include a near impossible to cut u-shaped bar with a durable lock connection.
A quality lock setup is going to be the heaviest accessory you have on your fixed-gear bike. High-quality locks and bike chains can be relatively costly, but this in NYC we’re talking about and it takes a quality locking system to secure your fixie.
A specially designed heavy-duty chain and an equally durable lock is also a good locking setup. The chain must be a heavy-duty bike chain where the risk of cutting is near zero. The advantage of a durable bike chain is the flexibility to interlock wheels and frame. Avoid any slack in the chain and keep everything locked in close to the rack or post.