Best Bicycle Lock?
There are several types of bicycle locks available. There are chain type, cable type, padlock type and keyed lock. Chain and cable locks have the same basic design but they differ in their construction. Cable locks use a series of links to hold the locking mechanism together while chain locks use one or more strands of metal linked together with a link at each end. Padlocks are similar to cable locks except that the locking mechanism is located inside the frame rather than on top of it. Keyed locks require a combination to open them.
The most common type of bicycle lock is the chain lock which consists of two links connected by a loop. These links are usually made from hardened steel and are called “chain”. The other link in the chain is usually made from softer material such as plastic or rubber. A keyed lock uses a combination to unlock it.
A number of different designs exist for keyed locks. Some are simple devices consisting of a small cylinder with a hole through which the key fits. Others are complex mechanical devices using gears and levers to operate the lock. Still others use electronic components to control the lock’s operation. All these types of locks work in a similar way: When you try to turn a handle, the mechanism turns and unlocks itself when its internal contacts detect that something is being turned against it (such as your finger).
Bicycle locks can be separated into two types: those that secure the bike against a fixed object and those that secure the bike within a designated area. These are typically cable locks that are looped through the frame of your bike and fastened to a solid object such as a lamppost or a metal ring embedded in a concrete sidewalk. Within a designated area, the lock is only designed to resist attackers who are trying to steal parts off your bike not actually steal the entire bike. These locks are usually smaller than the ones used to secure your bike to a fixed object.
Bicycle locks are made from different materials; chain locks are typically made from hardened steel while cable locks can be made from either metal or fibreglass. The weakest part of any lock is the locking mechanism itself and this is usually made from hardened plastic or brass.
When choosing a lock you should consider the value of your bike, the area in which you live and the areas in which you ride. If your bike is very valuable, you should buy a heavy duty chain lock (or two) and secure it to a solid object. Be sure to wrap the chain around a frame member such as the seat tube and not just around the wheels. It is also a good idea to invest in a “U” shaped lock that loops both your front wheel and frame. Avoid using cable locks to secure your high value bikes since they can easily be snipped through.
One of the most important factors in determining how secure your bike is from theft is the location in which you store it. If you leave your bike on the street for all to see then it will no doubt get stolen eventually. If you live in an area in which bicycles are common then you need to be more careful about where you park your bike and how you secure it. If you live in an area in which other types of vehicles are common, such as motor vehicles or motorcycles, then opportunistic thieves will probably be more interested in them than your bicycle.
If you ride your bicycle on campus then the best place to store it is in a university owned and operated bicycle parking area. If there is no such place then you should try to find a supervised lot or at least a place that is under video surveillance. These facilities are becoming much more common in urban centers nowadays. If there are no university parking lots or video surveillance available in your area, then it might be best to just leave your bike inside your building behind a secured door. Only ride your bike to and from destinations away from this building.
If you live in a college dormitory that allows bicycles to be kept inside them, then this provides good protection for your bike. The only tip here is to make sure that there is not a resident bicycle thief in the same building as you. Supervised parking lots for bicycles are also a good idea. Perhaps your university has someplace like this.
If you have to park your bike on campus or at least in sight of university property, then at least try to park it in a highly visible location such as in a busy sidewalk area or on the edge of a busy parking lot. This will make it harder for thieves to steal the bike unseen. If you have Quick Release wheels or any other components that can easily be removed from the bike, then remove them first. This will at least make the bike difficult to ride away. It is also a good idea not to leave any tools or other equipment attached to your bike that can be used with newer types of Quick Release systems (these can be turned and unlocked much more easily than the older types).
Some people even go so far as to remove the seat and place a solid metal bar through the rear wheel axles in order to prevent the quick release from being opened at all.
If you use your bicycle to travel to and from places on a regular basis such as between your university and home, then it only makes sense that you would spend more money on your bicycle for better parts. Unfortunately this makes the bike much more desirable to thieves. Always keep the price of the bike within the $100 – $250 range to make sure that it is not worth the effort for them. Better yet, just don’t let anyone know what type of bike you own at all. It is just a wise precaution for you to assume that the person sitting next to you in class or the person standing behind you in line at the grocery store is a potential thief.
Don’t let them know anything about your bike unless you can somehow do so without including specific information.
Bicycles are one of the most stolen items in the world. They are stolen everywhere and anywhere. Although most people don’t lock up their bikes at all, even the locks can be a target for thieves. It is very easy for a would-be thief to carry a lock-picking kit in their pocket. All they have to do is approach a bike that looks easy to steal, cut through the cable lock with a bolt cutter, and ride away on it.
If you are leaving your bike anywhere for any length of time, make sure that you use a good lock. Even then it makes sense to invest in an even better one. A chain and lock isn’t going to stop the latest tool-equipped thief, but they are definitely going to make it harder for him to steal your bicycle than if you only use a cable lock. The more difficult you make it for the thief, the more likely they are to move on to another bike that is easier to steal.
It would be nice if all bicycles came with some sort of anti-theft system built in like cars do (usually disabling the starter), but as far as I know no bicycle manufacturer has incorporated that idea into their designs.
If you are going to leave your bike locked up on campus for any length of time, try to lock it up in a highly visible location. Some locations are safer than others, but this is just about the safest one that I could find:
Bike Parking at ISU
If you own a mountain bike or some other “cool” looking bike, you may want to take extra precautions to make sure no one tries to steal it. Thieves like cool bikes too.
Out on the Road
If you are leaving your bike out somewhere while you do something else, again it is a good idea to make sure that it is in a highly visible location. This could be in front of a store, at the library, at a school, etc. If you can, lock your bike to a bike rack or sign pole using your U-lock through the frame and one of the wheels. Be sure to pick a bike rack that is very visible and is near a security camera if possible.
Most colleges have strict policies against stealing bikes on campus. If you do have your bike stolen here, immediately check with the campus police and get a copy of the report. This will help prove that you did own the bike and help get it replaced (if it can be).
If you are going to be locking your bike up and leaving it for more than a few minutes, never ever rely on just one lock. Even the best locks can be breached given enough time and the right tools. Always use a U-lock and a cable lock or two of the heaviest chains you can get. Lock up the bike in a highly visible area and always near other bikes if possible. The more eyes on your bike, the less likely someone is going to try for it.
If you are going to be leaving your bike out for an extended period of time (one day or more), you may want to take extra steps to protect it from theft. Here are some suggestions that others have used before:
Locks On It:
Lock it to something with a U-lock (anything really). Don’t leave it unattended.
An email to ISU PD to ask them to keep an eye out for it.
A post on the online marketplace (eBay) selling it for cheap with a link to this page.
A large sticker that says “THIS BIKE IS NOT STOLEN” along with your contact info.
Any of these should help you find your bike if it does get stolen.
If you have to leave your bike somewhere for an extended period of time, such as in a train station or at the airport, you are probably going to want to use a more permanent solution. The ideas listed above are still applicable here, but you may also want to think about getting a heavy duty bike lock that requires a special tool to cut through it. The links below go to the Amazon product pages for some of the better ones. (This is an affiliate link, so I may get a small cut if you buy something).
Terrabyke Anti-Pinch Lock
OnGuard Beast Chain and Disc Lock
OnGuard Pitbull Heavy Duty Chain and Padlock
Kryptonite New York Noose U-Lock
Some of these may require you to buy a special mounting bracket, so be prepared to spend a bit more for one of these if you decide to get one. The anti-pinch lock is flexible and is easily attached to your seat post. The others need to be mounted to your frame or another immovable object. The last one is a U-lock and may not fit around the tubing on certain bicycles frames. You may need to use two of them if you have a road or mountain bike.
It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to riding your bike, but it can be hard to do sometimes. If you have lots of nice equipment, you may be reluctant to leave it all behind when you go into a store. A good compromise is to leave everything but take your lock with you. Even taking your seat, handlebars and pedals will make it very difficult for someone to ride away on your bike.
If someone does try to take off with any of your removable parts, they will still have to deal with the lock in most cases. The U-lock style locks will still be heavy and difficult to carry away. If the thief doesn’t have any tools with them, they will have to go find a set which will give you plenty of time to get away and deal with them. The disc lock, NY Noose and chain style locks will make your bike too heavy to pick up and even dragging it will be difficult with these.
A Few More Thoughts…
It goes without saying that you should do everything within the law to prevent your bike from being stolen. Most public property will have signs about not leaving your bike unlocked and unattended so read these and follow the rules. If someone does steal your bike, it is a good idea to report this to campus security or local law enforcement immediately. It probably won’t do much good, but it will at least let them know of the theft in case they recover the bike at a later time.
Sources & references used in this article:
Cable lock by H Davidson, M McKechnie, J Chan… – US Patent App. 29 …, 2014 – Google Patents
Mobile Telephone All In One Remote Key Or Software Regulating Card For Radio Bicycle Locks, Cars, Houses, And Rfid Tags, With Authorisation And Payment … by R Humbel – US Patent App. 10/593,323, 2007 – Google Patents
Hoop lock by HT Schaefer – US Patent 8,353,186, 2013 – Google Patents
Bicycle lock by LT Kuo – US Patent 4,888,967, 1989 – Google Patents
Bicycle lock and bracket by MS Zane, PL Zane – US Patent 4,155,231, 1979 – Google Patents