A Guy walks into The Shop.
More like stumbles, really. Almost eats it on the welcome mat.
The Guy's been running. Fast. And he's got clip shoes on, so the running's a feat by itself, but then the whole transition from outside to in about sends him ass over teakettle. He recovers.
Guy's frantic, shaking all over, head swiveling like a mad weather vane in a monsoon. He’s panting, tongue lolling about all hangdog.
Guy says, "My lock got cut. Anybody just ride past here?"
Fearless Leader and TheBikeMensch share a meaningful look. Cue two sympathetic hearts sinking.
They look back at the poor assailed cyclist—full ink sleeves, slick roll-top, a courier of some kind by the look of him—and shake their heads gravely, both knowing full-well the psychic pain the Guy's in and precisely how on-the-line his job is right now.
"Sorry, man," FL says. TBM shrugs, head cocked slightly.
Guy nods once, and bolts.
A wordless scream—the very embodiment of righteous rage—echoes through the concrete walls of The Shop. FL and TBM follow him outside, but Guy's already torn off and up around the next corner, a trail of slack-jawed gawkers in his wake.
Any of this sound familiar?
We've all been there. Be it your car (TBM last year), your wallet (FL yesterday), or your savings in a ponzi scheme (that cocky guy in your adjacent cubicle that abruptly up and changed his diet to a thrice-daily Ramenfest), we've all had our stuff stolen. And it sucks. The feeling of violation is bad enough, but then of course you now have to contend with the excruciating process of recouping your losses to get straight again, which is ever so often more about the time than the money. (Plus, the whole "maybe-they-needed-it-more-than-me" explanation doesn't really apply when your bike is your job. Sorry, Guy. We totally feel for you.)
So if you haven't guessed by now, today's topic is on how not to get your crap stolen. Because thieves are jerks, and despite how many blog posts we've seen on this subject over the years, we still see poorly locked bikes on the daily.
First thing's first, let's talk theory:
Thieves can steal any bike. No lock is indestructible.
It doesn't matter how much cash you just dumped into that new lowjacked, car-alarmed, 75-lb. boot you have strapped to your ride. If some A-hole wants your bike, theoretically, he can take it, assuming he has the right tools and enough time. Just look at this poor guy. 17 minutes with almost 150 passersby? So much for your "fellow man".
How, then, do you combat this?
By being tougher to steal than the bike next to you, that's how.
If the whole zombie-apocalypse-thing happens, I want you to know, dear reader, that I'm tripping you. Nothing personal.
Sad but true.
If a bike thief pulls up to your spot and sees that your neighbor's got a U-Lock, but you're rocking the solo combo-cable, guess what? You're probably out one bike because he can cut that cable in ten seconds. And we're not being hyperbolic. A good set of boltcutters will, sadly, cut through just about anything, and that includes your U-Lock. Granted, it will take a quite a bit longer and will require a much greater force applied at a very precise angle (which is why many cyclists prefer small U-Locks over large ones—tougher to maneuver giant two-handed tools into that angle), but it can very much be done. I've seen it.
Whatever your choice of lock, it is, in truth, more deterrent than actual locking mechanism.
So how best do you deter the thieving, skulduggerous, little rat-stains that want your bike?
1. NEVER USE JUST A CABLE. For the aforementioned reasons. This blogger would go as far as to say they are essentially useless by themselves, and sees no reason why you should EVER use them by their lonesome. Unless your bike neighbor is using, like, gilded twine or something. In which case, go for it.
Congratulations! You just wasted thirteen dollars.
2. Lock your bike using the rear-triangle method. This means placing your lock so that it completely encompasses A) a stationary object like a bike post (duh), B) a piece of the "rear-triangle" of the frame (e.g. the chainstays, the seat tube, or the seatstays—a quick Google search will explain what we mean), and C) the rear wheel. It's highly unlikely that a thief will want to cut through the wheel. It's a valuable part of the bike, and slicing through one is danged hard to do.
3. Use more than one locking mechanism. I prefer the U-Lock-and-cable method myself with the U-Lock in the Rear Triangle and a cable running from there through the front wheel, but I've seen double U-locks, heavy chains and U-locks, and something that resembled what I can only describe as a Mt. Doom of U-Locks.
At least it looks intimidating.
Following the theme here? *cough* GET A U-LOCK *cough*
4. If possible, try to lock your bike in a different spot every day. Assuming maximum usage (if you're a bike-commuter, let's say), you want to make your shiny new Trek as difficult to case out as possible. Moving your park spot around makes it more difficult for a thief to plan their attack.
There you have it, campers—your best defense against your bike ending up on Craigslist. Do search around other bike-friendly blogs for more info. We highly encourage it.
So remember: stay smart and stay safe, but do feel free to stop and question that dude on the street taking a hacksaw to that manacled steed.
Newsflash: It's probably not his bike.