Locking Your Bike
Riding Tips

Locking Your Bike

While the best way to foil bike thieves—make no mistake, NYC is full of ‘em—is to avoid leaving your bike locked up in public for more than a few minutes, that’s not always possible. Here’s how to deter these would-be criminals.

Types of Locks

Lock Your Bike Chain

Heavy Chains and Padlocks

Pros: They’re practically bomb-proof and the best option for all day or all night security. (The Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit or New York Chain are the closest to theft-proof that you can get.) Five-foot and three-foot lengths give you a variety of lockup options.

 

Cons: They are really heavy to carry around. You can’t lock both wheels and the frame to the same object; to do so, you have to remove one wheel.

Lock Your Bike Cable

Cables

Pros: Longer lengths let you lock to almost anything you want, without removing a wheel. Coiled cables are compact, and the less thick cables are relatively light to carry around.

 

Cons: They can be cut quickly. Lightness isn’t necessarily a great feature for a lock, so don’t depend on a cable for all day security.

Lock Your Bike U-Lock

U-Locks

Pros: They’re compact and can be used with a long cable to secure both wheels and the frame.

 

Cons: The width of the U shackle limits what you can lock to. They’re prone to “leverage” attacks (in which a thief pries open the lock with a crowbar). If you buy a U-lock, get one of the thicker, more expensive, versions that resist such attacks.

The parking spot

This where many people make mistakes. The best options are streetlamps, street sign posts, bike racks, and steel fence railings. Don’t lock to anything loose (check that street sign to make sure it’s secured into the pavement), easily cut (wooden fences, or thin pieces of steel), or easily disassembled (horizontal scaffolding bars that can be unbolted, or a cheap rack that can be disassembled with a wrench). Make sure that whatever you are locking to is a good match for your lock (don’t use a long chain or cable with a parking meter or a short sign—it’s easy to just lift the locked bike over the post). And don’t lock to anything off-limits; for instance, it’s illegal to lock bikes to trees and MTA stair railings at subway stops.

Other Advice

Avoid leaving your bike locked up in the same place for days at a time; parts will start disappearing.

Remove any accessories that are easily removed and expensive to replace, like pumps, computers, bags with tools, tubes, and lights.

Don’t leave your bike unlocked in any public area—even the public areas of buildings—“just for a minute.” (In just a minute your bike could be a few blocks away.) We’ve even heard of bikes being stolen from hallways inside apartment buildings.

If your saddle has a quick-release seat post, either take the seat with you or secure the seat by replacing the quick release with a binder bolt. Bike shops can loop a chain between the frame and the saddle rails, which is another way to deter saddle theft.