Locking your bicycle This page is primarily intended for commuters who lock and leave their bicycle where there's significant risk. Let's start with a summary of conventional wisdom:



Sheldon Brown's lock-strategy page illustrates one locking method. By locking just the rear wheel to a pole, from a point where the rear wheel is inside the frame's rear triangle, Sheldon's method lets you use a smaller, lighter mini-sized U-lock that has less space for thieves' tools than a bigger lock would have.

Personally, I'm not comfortable locking just the rear wheel, and risk having stupid newbie thieves tangling with my rear wheel in an effort to steal the rest of the bike. Also, it's not very difficult to break a lightweight rim, then cut the tire & tube with a small cutter. In light of that, I personally prefer to lock the rear wheel and the frame, and I fill up the U-lock's shackle so there's still minimal space for thieves' tools, as shown in the photos below.

This is a long-shackle mini, the old-generation Kryptonite Evolution Mini LS. Kryptonite has recently improved the Evolution family with the Evolution Series 4. If you need something stronger, check out the New York Lock M-18WL, which has the 18mm shackle thickness of the New York Fahgettaboudit, but in a longer, wider shackle suitable for the techiques in my photos here. Bike shops in the USA can get them from J&B Importers for you.



OK, here's a sample locking job for you to critique. I've locked the rear wheel and frame to a parking meter, and locked the front wheel and frame together with a chain lock. I used a thin cable to tether the seat and seatpost to the U-lock.

Quiz time! Let's pretend I lock this bike here every day after riding to work. What am I doing well, and what still needs improvement?

What I'm doing well:

What still needs improvement:



Let's try that again... Double-locking In the photo below, I found a parking meter and a strong pole that are about one meter apart, and locked the frame & rear wheel to the parking meter, and the frame & front wheel to the pole. I still don't have a top-rated lock, but now a thief has to defeat two different locks to take the bike anywhere, making the same pair of locks more effective. Besides raising the deterrence factor, this also stops thieves from using the bike itself as leverage to try to break either of the locks.


You can also lock to horizontal railings this way if they are at a useable height, either down at chainstay level or up at seatstay level. If you use two locks, line the bike up so you're locking to two separate sections of the railing, so cutting through the railing in one place won't free the bike.


Beyond this? If this still isn't enough security, my next steps would be:



Disclaimer: All locks can be defeated. Assess your situation, pick the deterrence level you want, and live with the risks that remain. Having said that, I hope this information helps you pick suitable locks and use them as effectively as possible.


Good luck out there. : ) Also see my tips for securing Windows computers against criminal virus & spyware writers.

mechBgon