Nothing can prepare you for the terrible feeling that hits when you go to get your bike at the end of a working day and discover it isn’t there anymore. It isn’t nice, I can tell you. A few years ago someone stole my mountain bike from right outside my office in the middle of the day. Not an expensive bike in the grand scheme of things, but my bike. CCTV showed that the perpetrator carried a set of bolt cutters that snipped through the lock like scissors through paper, and rode it away along a crowded street.
My trusty steed. A pretty basic Carerra Vulcan mountain bike. This is the latest version.
On that day in question I had locked my mountain bike using my cable lock. It was the kind of lock that I see the majority of people using in the bike racks at work and in town. Not a rubbish cable lock, a decent one, but clearly not good enough.
Ever since that day I have carried a Kryptonite D-lock and cable whenever I’ve cycled. It’s heavy and a bit cumbersome (there is nowhere on my female-specific mountain bike to attach my lock so I carry it in my day pack), but if that’s the price I have to pay to stop scum with bolt cutters getting through my bike then so be it. After several years of regular use my old lock eventually wore out and the lock jammed beyond repair, so I have a brand new Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 D Lock to keep my bike secure whenever I need to leave it. I even use it on the back wheel of my motorbike when touring (along with my alarmed disc lock), because it’s easier and more convenient to pack than a thick chain.
Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 D Lock, then and now.
Cycle security is so important and there are lots of locks on the market which does make it a bit confusing. And as I learnt the hard way, having a decent lock does mean you don’t have to accept a pity lift home from a colleague and go through the process of claiming on the insurance! The Police recommend a heavy chain or D lock as these are much harder to break and will put off the majority of wannabe bike thieves.
So with my experience in mind, and in a way to encourage you to think about how you’re looking after your bicycle, here are a few cycle security tips from me to you to help keep your bike safe when you’re not actually riding it…
Tips for Cycle Security
Don’t leave your bike unattended and unsecure even for a minute. Don’t just pop into the shop, run into the post office, or wander off while you make a phone call. Always, always either have your bike right there in your hands, or lock it to something.
Get a decent lock. I’ve read that we should spend between 10-15% of the value of the bike on its security, which seems like a lot but it does emphasise that you shouldn’t walk away from a £1000 bike with a £1 lock attaching it to a lamp post. The Kryptonite lock I use costs £40, which isn’t a whole load of money at all, it is worth it.
Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 D Lock in use.
When locking your bike up, make sure your lock (or locks) go through the frame, wheels, and something that is attached to the ground. Locking your bike to itself may lead to it being carried away. Locking your frame to something may lead to your wheels being stolen. Locking your wheels to something may lead to everything but wheels being taken. Locking both frame and wheels to something secure gives you the best chance of it all being there when you return. The easiest way to do this is with a D lock such as the Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 along with a twisted and braided steel cable such as the Kryptonite Kryptoflex Cable – the D lock goes through your frame and the bike rack loop (leaving as little space inside the lock as possible to deter anyone putting anything through to try to break it), and the cable around your wheels.
Secure your bike to a bike rack, railings or some other large and tough object that is both attached to the ground and has a loop. It is possible to lift bikes over street signage, small lamp posts and bin stands (thieves may unbolt signs to get your bike over the top!).
Lock your bike where you can see it. Or lock it inside one of the many secure indoor/caged bike parking areas that are cropping up in towns. If this is not possible, find a busy, well-lit area.
Most bicycles are actually stolen from home rather than work or town centres, so make sure your shed, garage or wherever you keep your bike at home is secure. You can install a ground anchor inside your garage to lock your bike to; you wouldn’t leave a motorcycle in your garage without locking it up properly, so don’t do it with your bicycle.
Register your bike with BikeRegister, the UK’s national, Police approved, bicycle marking and registration scheme. Registering means you could be reunited with your bike in the event of it being stolen.
My bike at Sherwood Pines.
Of course, no lock is completely theft-proof, and some thieves will go to amazing lengths to steal your bike, but you can help matters by using a decent lock and being sensible with where you leave your bike. At least by following some simple steps we can make our bikes less attractive to opportunists and have more of a chance of keeping hold of our own property.