Preventing Bicycle Theft

Advice from a friend

A friend sent this email as a follow-up to my advice on preventing bicycle theft:

I feel something of a need to add to this, in the corollary section:

2. Lock parts of your bike in order of replacement cost: frame, rear wheel, front wheel. Anybody who thinks that they don't need to lock the rear wheel because they believe it's a pain to take off has never had to change a flat on their rear wheel. A rear wheel is only marginally more difficult to take off than a front wheel, and since it has the sprocket cassette (and a more elaborate hub, to hold same), you'll find it *quite* expensive to replace. Put your U-lock around the rear triangle (half inside, half outside, around the seat stays) and through the rear spokes. And if you're not gonna take the front wheel with you or take it off and put it in the U-lock, then run an aircraft cable (costs < $10; your bike shop will have one) from the wheel to the U-lock.

3. Secure things that don't *need* to be insecure. F'rinstance, QR [quick release] seats are a ubiquitous feature, completely disproportionate to their utility. Run a "seat leash" (kind of a mini-aircraft cable, still a pain to try to cut with boltcutters; it can be gotten around with the same allen wrench that you used to install it, but your average thief won't bother), or use this other anti-theft device, called "The Postmaster". Even better is to replace the QR skewer with a bolt that has 2 10mm nuts on it; Thief-Person is unlikely to carry a pair of 10mm wrenches.

Oh, and in the main section:

3. Against the philosophy of Kant, but effective: park your bike next to a) more expensive bikes, that b) have failed to follow as many rules as you do. This won't help you in the event of a serial bike thief (with a pickup truck), but will serve reasonably well in the case of a dude or dudette who's going to steal one bike and ride it away.

Last updated 5 July 2003
All contents ©1999-2002 Mark L. Irons except email text ©1999 Eric Zuckerman