Locking Bicycles 101 & Protips

The weather is getting nice. You’ve got your bike. You spent all your free cash on it and got swiped into Shafer Court for three months straight. Don’t you think you should lock your prized possession properly? Here are five things NOT to do with your bicycle. Check out the images below and learn from your Richmond peers:

#1: Locking to the ‘bars

So maybe it wasn’t the best idea for your parents to buy you a beach cruiser for college. Yeah, you thought it would be cool and life would be great, but pedaling is a major pain, and forget about hills. You probably hate riding what you refer to as, “that clunker” around town, and could use the $5 you’d get from scrapping it to buy two PBR tall boys. But you know what? Your parents paid hard earned cash for that beauty queen and you need to show it the proper love. Locking up the handlebars is not the way to show ownership. Sure, it appears safe because the bars are super wide, and you probably can’t push the fender through the rack, but just it’s plain silly. Why take the risk? Notice the FOUR other bikes locked by the front wheel? Yikes. This locking method can be defeated by simply unhooking the handlebars, or if that’s not possible, then by using a Park Y-Wrench to free the stem, free the bars, and reassemble in enough time to ride off into the sunset.

#2: Locking around the steerer tube

Good concept, poor execution. That tiny u-lock fits in the back pocket of your Levi’s 510 so nicely, and it’s so hip it just leaves no room to lock up any of your wheels right? So you might as well lock… the steerer tube? No. Instead, lock around your head tube (it’s the vertical tube shown just below the grey part of this Kryptonite lock). A simple switch from locking above the top tube to locking below it (but above the down tube) would solve this. No one can slide your frame back and forth along the pole, and it’s actually locked to the frame. This locking method can be defeated with a simple Park Y-Wrench

#3: Cabling to a parking meter

Parking meter + Cable lock = Bad News Bears. The front wheel is cabled, making the theft more difficult. This is essentially “freelocking” your bicycle. The worst part is the u-lock not even being used! U-lock to something permanent, then cable your wheels if your lock is too small to fit them. Always check parking meters before you lock to them – one time a meter was loose and lifted clean off the pole. This locking method can be defeated by simply lifting the cable lock over the parking meter.

#4: Locking to the fork

At first glance, this looks great. Cute bike. Unfortunately it reminds me of Easter, which also reminds me of how much I personally hate peeps and all things related to Easter. Anyways, we got some fork we got some wheel. What we don’t have is frame. And see that pesky quick release skewer? One flip and about 5 seconds of effort… someone has a new bike with the exception of a front wheel, which is one $20 bill away on Craig’s List. This locking method can be defeated by simply releasing the front wheel’s quick release.

#5: Not locking the lockring

So this one isn’t technically a locking method, but it’s still a dumb move. Anyone notice what’s going on here? The cog is fixed with a method known as rotafixing. This hub was not double-stepped for a cog and lockring, rather it was built to only accommodate a freewheel. Cogs can screw on to freewheel threads, but not with a lockring. This is beyond dangerous and frankly, just plain stupid. The cog is affixed with a large amount of tension and usually some locktite. This and a fixie with no brakes is a deathwish.

What did we learn class? THINK about how you would steal a bike, immerse yourself in the mind of a thief. Protect your bicycle accordingly. Empowerment through education.

Don’t forget to check out the YouTube vid, “How to Properly Lock Your Bicycle

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3 Responses to Locking Bicycles 101 & Protips

  1. Jamie Way says:

    One of my favorite pastimes is looking at poor lock jobs, and so this has made me smile. There is nothing better than seeing $12,000 worth of bike that could be stolen with a ball-point pen or as you love to mention the Y-Wrench…. If I had a Y-Wrench and no soul… I’d have the prettiest bike around… tomorrow!

  2. y says:

    LOL I have seen plenty of these kind of locks around campus. Saw a Trek the other day locked against a bike rack just by the spokes of its front wheel. Left the rider a nice little note, to learn to lock up correctly LOL!

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