A Beginner's Guide to Cycle Commuting 3: Cycle Security

MICK ALLAN advises on good practice for cycle security

Losing a bike is a most unhappy experience. Aside from the inconvenience of having to find ones way home by unfamiliar and sometimes not very pleasant public transport there's the not inconsiderable cost of replacing your pride and joy.

You'll be needing a D (or U depending on how you look at it...) lock and the ability to use it effectively.

Much depends on your location of course, inner-city cyclists have much more to worry about than rural cyclists but as a general rule you should expect to pay between ten and twenty percent of the replacement value of your bike on your main lock. Ironic, that you spent all that extra money to get a much lighter bike only to require a heavier lock to protect it!

The most important component to lock is the frame, too many folks have returned to find their front wheel still safely locked up and the rest of the bike long gone. Your expensive spangly new lock may not be enough in itself though, if you have quick release wheels or seat you'll need to secure them too. A popular way to achieve this is to use a security cable with an eyelet in each end. Available in various lengths these cables can be looped through both wheels and your seat rails and then secured using your D lock as the ‘padlock'.

  • Always lock your bike! It only takes a few seconds to ride off on a bike, leaving it for any length of time, even if ‘just nipping in' to a shop is inviting disaster.
  • Always lock your bike to something. Don't return to find it gone, lock and all.
  • Always lock your bike to something substantial, a plastic drain-pipe will not do.
  • Always lock it in a busy place, not up a dark back alley away from view where thieves can work undisturbed.
  • Always try to lock it near other bikes. If there's a more attractive bike than yours, yours will be overlooked.

The idea is to put as many barriers as possible between your bike and the pond life who would steal it. A good lock is just stage one, a secondary lock of a different type requires that they carry two different types of lock breaking tool, unlikely. Replace any quick release skewers with Allen keys or dedicated security bolts.

Personalise it! Covering it in stickers and changing the colour of the grips and saddle makes it unique. Whack a big pink plastic basket on the front. Unique equals easy to identify, and easy to identify is a bad thing for bike thieves.

Make it unattractive! The guerrilla approach, the idea being that if it looks undesirable they won't look twice. A carrier bag taped on to the seat, frame tubes wound with gaffer-tape. Short of covering it with smelly sewerage anything goes to make it look valueless and valueless is a bad thing for bike thieves. Which introduces a great new pastime; spotting guerrilla bikes locked up in your neighborhood. You'll be surprised how many there are.

And if the worst comes to the worst make sure your bike is covered by theft insurance. Most household policies will cover bikes as ‘named items' (call and check) but if your bike exceeds their limit of a few hundred quid you'll be better off with dedicated cycle insurance. Check the back pages of the bike magazines or join one of the big national cycling clubs.

Read more in this series:

Choosing the Right Bike, Sizing and Equipment

Safety Wear and Other Equipment

Maintenance and Roadside Repairs.

Adjusting to Life with Your New Bike

Previous article:
Buying a Used Bike 2: Things to Look (Out) For

Next article:
A Beginner’s Guide to Clip-less Pedals.