A bike lock might be the only thing that stands in between having a bike or not. According to the National Bike Registry, 1.5 million bikes are stolen a year!
Bikes can be stolen from outside homes, restaurants, the back of cars, nearly anywhere. College campuses are one of the places that have the highest number of bicycle thefts reported each year. The University of California reports that more than half of the personal property crime that they deal with each year involves a stolen bike.
Bike Theft Statistics
In a study done with 2,000 participating bicycle owners the participants reported the following sad – but – true – facts.
- At least one half of the participants had a bike stolen at some point in their life. Most of those people had more than one bicycle stolen from them in their life. Out of the 2000 participants nine hundred and sixty one of them reported that they had been victims to bicycle theft and the total number of bikes stolen from those nine hundred and sixty one people equaled one thousand, Eight hundred and ninety.
- Bicycle recovery is not always the top priority of the local police departments. The authorities have violent and severe crimes to deal with first, and stolen personal property like bicycles is not considered something of major importance.
- Only 2.4 percent of stolen bicycles are ever recovered, even if the police actively search for the missing item.
- Even if your bike has been registered and photographed the likelihood of yo recovering it after it is stolen is very slim
- Only thirty six percent of the people who have a bicycle stolen report the theft to the authorities
- Only eight and one half percent of bike owners take the time to register their bikes with the authorities
- The majority of bicycle thefts occur within two miles of your home. Most people are more trusting in their own neighborhoods and of the bike owners that have bike locks more than one half of those owners said they often forget to lock their bikes if they are riding in their own neighborhood or in a familiar neighborhood. I know — I’ve had two bikes stolen from my own yard in my lifetime! I found one again a few blocks away, but the other was gone forever.
Let’s say you have invested in a great new bike. Maybe it is a commuter bike, or perhaps you splurged on a nice road bike. You got the model you wanted, had it fitted to that it fits you like a glove. You love riding it. The problem is that when you aren’t riding it, sometimes it needs to be in a spot where thieves can spot it.
You need a bike lock if you leave your bike in public or quasi-public areas for any time at all. Undoubtedly some of you are saying that you cannot be certain that your bike will not be tampered with or stolen even if you have a bike lock in place. Unfortunately that statement is true, but with the newer bike locks you can be far more certain that your bike will stay safely where you left it, and since a crook will have to work ten times as hard to steal a bike with the newer lock technology in place, they are far less likely to even try to take your bike.
The Differences in Bike Locks
U – Locks
U- Locks are exactly what they sound like — a big ‘U’. They can be bulky, but they are resistant to tools like hammers and chisels. The average bike thief is not going to easily break the horseshoe shaped piece of metal. These locks have a horseshoe shaped, thick piece of metal meant to be be placed around a pole or stabilized object and around the frame of the bike. To cut one, you need to be carrying some pretty serious tools.
You can buy U – locks in small to medium sizes and in large sizes. The smaller versions will lock one wheel of the bike to an immobile object and the larger locks will lock both wheels to the immobile object.
If the U – lock that you use is too large for the bike you have then there will be enough of a gap left after you lock the bike to a pole that a thief could get a crowbar, or some other pry bar between the locking mechanism and the pole and gain enough leverage to break away the lock.
Cable locks are very versatile and they are easy to thread the cable around the frame of the bike and around a stable object. They are a deterrent to bike theft, but they are not going to secure your bike as well as a U – lock would because a good pair of bolt cutters will normally cut through the cable and the thief can ride away on your bike.
We think of cable locks as something you use when you are just running in to a coffee shop for a few minutes.
You can buy cable locks that have thicker reinforced cable — they are much harder for a thief to cut. The mistake a lot of people make is they buy a cable lock that has a thick material and then they use a padlock that is easy to cut to lock the two ends of the cable together.
When you buy a thicker chain to make it harder for a thief to steal your bike make sure that you also buy a padlock that is just as sturdy and going to be hard for the thief to cut or break. A thief will find the weakeast point.
Locking Wheel or Seat Skewers
These theft deterrents are pretty easy to install if you have the special little wrench that comes with the skewer. Do not lose that little wrench because you are going to need it again in the future. The goal of these locks are to prevent your $400 rim or your $150 saddle from being stolen. You still need to use another broader bike lock at the same time.
The sad part about the locking wheels seat skewer is that they are as convenient for the thieves as they are for the bike owners.
Bike Locks with Keys
In the past people used the keyed bike locks that had cylindrical keys, and the biggest problem with them was anyone who had a ballpoint pen could open the lock. The newer keyed locks have been designed where they can no longer be easily picked to open.
Most of your u – locks and cable locks require that you have a lock, like a keyed lock to hold the lock components together, and some of these locks with come with the keyed lock.
Most manufacturers give you two keys to open the lock so you have a spare that you can rely on if you ever lose or misplace your key.
Bike locks that are combination locks
The alternative to the keyed lock is the combination lock. You can stop worrying about someone picking your lock or about you losing your lock key when you have a combination lock in place.
Most combination locks require you to remember a four digit code that opens the locking mechanisms. These locks are commonly seen in conjunction with cable locks.
Using more than one lock
A lot of people have discovered that the safest way to secure their bikes is to use more than one type of lock at the same time. Many people use the u-locks to secure the main frame of their bikes to a sturdy pole and then they use a cable lock to lock their wheels or lock parts of their bike that might be easy to remove so a thief would have to take the time to get past two locking systems in order to gain access to their bikes.
Some people use more than one cable lock so they can thread a cable lock through the spokes of both tires and then around the frame of the bike and around a sturdy immobile object like a metal pole.
Our 5 Favorite Bike Locks
New York 1210 Chain Lock
The New York Chain 1210 bicycle lock coes with an Evolution series – 4 14mm bike disc lock. This locking system is manufactured by Kryptonite, one of our favorite brands when it comes to lock devices. The New York 1210 is made of a 12mm six sided chain formed out of 3T hardened manganese steel so it is almost impossible to cut this chain. A thief has to be carrying a serious tool to make a dent in it.
It has a protective nylon cover over the chain and it has hook and loop fasteners that the lock is placed through to hold the pieces in place. The 4 disc lock has a 14mm max force steel shackle that is cut resistant, and the cylinder of the lock has been reinforced so it is drill and pick resistant. It even comes with a sliding dust cover that protects the internal portions of your cylinder and extends the lock life.
Kryptonite LS U Lock
The Kryptonite 2079 New U Evolution Mini – 7 Heavy Duty Bicycle U – lock with a 4’ Kryptoflex double loop bike cable has a hardened double deadbolt designed so twisting the lock off of this system is going to be virtually impossible to do. It also has a disc style cylinder that is made to be both pick and drill resistant. It resists bolt cutters and leverage attacks done with a crowbar or pry bar.
It comes with three keys and an LED key fob that you can replace if you desire to do so.
Kryptonite Kryptoflex Cable
The Kryptonite Kryptoflex 1565 Combo cable is a 15mm braided steel cable that is flexible so you can position the way you want it to be through your bike frame, through tire spokes, or however you like. It has an integrated four digit combination lock built on it and you can reset the combination if you feel someone might have your combination
The cable is designed to be cut resistant so any thief that wants your bike is going to have to work extra hard to get it.
This is a cable lock that has a steel ball combination lock that is permanently forged to the medium duty 185cm x 12mm self-coiling cable, used to secure your bike to a sturdy pole or other heavy frame. Having the combination lock built-in prevents you from needing to carry another lock, and the cable coils up into a nice, tight unit, able to be carried easily in a backpack. Not something to use for long-term visible storage, but great to secure your bike if you want you need to do a bathroom break or want to run in to a shop for a few minutes.
Knog Strongman Bike Lock
This is a u – lock that is fashioned from 13mm hardened steel so it can stand up to the majority of bolt cutters without being damaged. The key mechanism is smooth and it has a double lock so if anyone wanted to remove it they would have to make two cuts to do so. A nice touch is the silicon mounting frame, for putting it on to your bike. You obviously wouldn’t do that with a carbon road bike, but if you are trying to lock a more basic bike, it could work well.
The locking space is quite tight, so you can’t get it around anything too large.
Other Bike Theft Prevention Tips
- Remember to register your bike when you get it. Take the time to do the registration so that if your bike is stolen then you will be able to provide the authorities with all of the information they need to be able to start searching for your property. Lots of recovered bikes sit in police warehouses, but they have no idea who the rightful owner is.
- Do not leave your bike outside at night when thieves have the cover of darkness to hide what they are doing
- Two or more locks are more secure than just one lock
- Do not lock your bike to a tree. You can damage the tree, and if the tree is small in circumference then a thief can cut the tree to get your bike
- Lock your wheels and your saddles. Thieves can easily snatch these components from your bike so make sure you take precautions to make them hard to remove from your bike.
- Park your bikes with other bikes. There is safety in numbers. Also having other bikes in the bike rack increases the difficulty of getting to the locks on each bike, and the thief will know that they are taking a greater risk of a bike owner catching them in the act.
- Create a file about your bike. Have the serial numbers, receipts where you purchased the bike, and photos of the bike in this file. If your bike is stolen you can easily show the authorities exactly what they are looking for.
- If you leave your bike in your garage go ahead and lock that bike to something permanent in the garage. Most garages are fairly easy to break into and people often leave garage doors open. Of course you likely feel that your bike is safe inside your garage but to make sure it is safe put it on a bike rack that is bolted to the garage and then lock it to the rack.
- Do not give your combination to your bike lock out to other people and if you have to do this then make sure that you change the combination frequently to prevent theft.