It has taken years and a bunch of money for you to finally end up with your sweet honey of a mountain bike … and then, the worst feeling in the world. You realize that your bike has just been stolen! I would not wish that awful feeling on anyone.
So what is the best way to keep your baby safe and secure? I have been an avid bike rider most of my life and I lived in Boston, MA and near Hartford, CT for a good portion of my life. Sadly, I’ve had more than 5 of my bikes stolen over the years. With a bit of knowledge as to how a bike thief thinks, you can avoid such a horrible thing from happening to you. First of all, they typically carry a very simple set of tools. Secondly, and they are always in a big hurry to minimize their exposure so they prefer a quick and easy grab.
1. By far the most common and easiest way for a thief to steal a bike is to target bikes that are not locked up. Grab it and ride away. Too easy!
2. The most common tools used by bike thieves are vice grips, cable cutters, and hack saws. Most inexpensive thin cable locks can be easily grabbed with a vice grip and will be easily chopped through with either a cable cutter or a hack saw. Bikes that are locked with cable locks are the second most commonly stolen. Some heavy duty cable locks will slow down a bike thief for a bit and sometimes even discourage them to move on to another easier to steal bike.
3. The next step up tool is a bolt cutter. These tend to be much larger and not as easy to conceal, but they also offer a large added amount of leverage. This makes the cutting of cable locks much quicker to do with less effort. It also gives them the ability to cut through household pad locks and combination locks, and even some lighter chains and lighter duty U-locks.
4. Thieves also carry an assorted set of wrenches, Allen wrenches, and sometimes even a cordless screw driver. If a bike is expensive enough but they cannot steal the whole bike they will often strip off all the expensive bits (the seat, handle bars, brakes, and wheels if possible).
5. And now for the big gun! There are an extremely rare few thieves that actually have access to a cordless grinder. These have the huge disadvantage of being loud, and they draw a ton of attention because of the shower of sparks that they produce in the cutting process. This could be used if the thief can get to a bike that is for instance locked up in an alley, or in a garage, or a basement away from the public eye. One of these can grind trough a U-lock, pad lock, chain, cable, or almost anything else in around one minute. A heavy duty chain lock is the best defense against this. They move around when a cut is being attempted, they are typically made of hardened steel, and the lock is usually integrated as part of the chain.
A quick stop at your local pub for a beer after an awesome singletrack ride is one of the best ways to wind down. Or, you do a quick stop for some Gatorade at a campground store. Don’t give a thief the chance to even think of riding off with your bike by leaving it unlocked and un-attended. Regardless of how safe, remote, and “low crime” the area is; don’t park your bike where someone can grab it without locking it up first. Cheap cable locks and house hold locks are just an invitation to a bike thief. So it is well worth while to spend a bit more for a more secure locking system.
Keep you sweet honey of a ride safe. Stay tuned to the next installment of The Frugal Mountain Biker: Dude! Lock it down! Part 2