Seen clinging lifelessly to one of the bike racks outside Brixton tube station yesterday was this heavily plundered bike, bereft of its wheels.
The owner had made the foolish mistake of only locking the frame to the rack and not securing the wheels, so ne’er do wells had swiftly spirited them away.
Picking at the skeleton
The bike looks quite new too, and although the saddle and some fittings currently remain intact, I suspect that they’re not long for this world either.
Read on for some useful tips about protecting your wheels o’ steel on the mean streets:
Bike locking tips
First off, get yourself a good quality lock (preferably two) and make sure you lock it up in a well-lit area covered by CCTV.
Don’t buy cheap locks or string-thin cable locks because they can be broken apart in seconds, and make sure that you’re locking your bike to something immoveable (secure it to a short pole and they’ll simply lift the bike over the top).
(There is a certain irony to the fact that when you shell out a ton of cash for a super lightweight speedy bike, you then have to weigh yourself down with ten ton locks).
Don’t forget the wheels
Learn from the lesson of the Brixton bike, and make sure that the wheels are also secured to the rack and not just the frame.
If you can, lock your bike up in busy areas where there’s outdoor dining areas, glass fronted cafes/bars etc – that way the thief can’t be sure that you’re not watching them.
Make it crappy
Like magpies, thieves generally go for nice shiny things, so the more you crapify your bike, the less chance there is of it being half-inched by ne’er do wells.
One easy way is to wrap the frame in old inner tubes, or use electrician’s tape to cover up the expensive brand name.
If you’ve got an expensive saddle, take it with you, or secure it with a cable – and don’t forget your lights and speedo as the bastards will have those away in a jiffy too.
Lock it tight
A lot of bike thieves are opportunistic in nature, so if your bike is sat next to ones that aren’t so well secured, chances are they’ll go for the easy route and nick those instead.
That said, there certainly are some well organised criminal gangs purloining posh pushbikes from the pavements - I once had a beautiful and rather rare Kuwahara mountain bike stolen from Islington town centre – and that had been securely fastened by two hefty D-Locks and a thick cable. The feckers.
The sad conclusion
Realistically, all good locks can do in the face of pro thieves is make their task a bit more time consuming – if the scumbags want your bike, then they have the tools to get it, eventually.
If you really, really value your bike and would cry oceans of tears if it was nicked, the only thing you can do to guarantee that it stays in your possession is to never leave it locked up outside – or get yourself a folding bike instead and carry it around with you.
Although it won’t stop your bike getting nicked, it’s worth registering your bike on property databases like Bike Shepherd, Immobilise and Bike Register - these services increase the chances of getting your stolen property recovered if/when your bike goes west.
Read part two of our guide:
More bike locking tips: watch these videos and protect your bike!