Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Everything You Need To Know About Locking Up Your Bike

A great way to learn something is by trial and error but in the case of learning good bike locking technique, a bit of research and learning from other people's errors is the prudent and cost-effective strategy. Fortunately, KarlOnSea has collected a bunch of bad examples and load of good tips into a wonderfully compelling blog called Lock Your Bike.

The most important thing about locking your bike is to actually do it every time it is out of your sight. All the time. Even if you are just running into a store for a minute. I know this from bitter personal experience because I had a bike stolen in under a minute and the worst part was that it wasn't even mine! Back when I was the shop manager at Bike Works, I had just tuned a customer's bike and took it for a quick spin to check the shifting. I had worked through lunch, so I stopped at the corner market and dashed in to grab a bag of Cheetos (I am not a nutritional role model). The bike was stolen in the minute it was out of my sight. The good news was that the customer was semi-understanding of the fact that I was an idiot and said customer didn't have a strong emotional attachment to this particular bike. It was also fortunate that this wasn't a particularly expensive bike. I was able to give the customer a slightly better replacement bike from the stock in Bike Works vast warehouse of used bikes. And, as they say, I learned a valuable lesson.


Despite Karl's wonderful cartoon below (click to embiggen it), do not count on higher powers to keep your bike safe.

As many sad photos on Karl's blog illustrate, do not trust your bike to a cheap cable lock. A U-lock plus a cable provide pretty good security if you use the Sheldon Brown Locking Method. BTW, from reading Karl's blog I found out that what we colonials call a U-lock, the Brits call a D-lock. Karl also documents the importance of locking all of your bike.

Karl's site is just packed with gems. He recounts the story I often tell in describing the virtue of making sure your bike looks worse and is better locked than some other nearby bike.

I had a lot of fun and learned some good techniques by reading Karl's blog. More great examples of what to do and not do can be found in this video where Hal Ruzal grades the various locking jobs of bikes in NYC.

Hal Grades Your Bike Locking from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

When you're on your bike, keep it rolling. When you're off your bike, keep it locked up.

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

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