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Locking your bike

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Bike Locks

It is important to understand what types of locks are available. The best bet to ensure your bike's safety is to secure your bicycle with a combination of locks. Using a cable plus a U-lock is a very popular choice. This requires the bike thief to need a larger assortment of tools and forces them to take more time, making it less appealing to steal your bike.

It is not good enough to just lock your front wheel (that's a really good way to loose your frame and your back tire) as it leaves the rest of the bike vulnerable. Always remember to secure all expensive and easily removable components on your bike, such as both wheels, the frame, and the seat. If you spent hundreds of dollars on your bike, would you be using a ten dollar lock?
Popular Bike Locks (View all Bike Locks)

Bicycle Lock
A bicycle lock is a physical security device used on a bicycle to prevent theft. It is generally used to fasten the bicycle to a bicycle stand or another immovable object.

An important aspect to be aware of in preventing the theft of a bicycle, is that the wheels are easily detachable from the frame and unless both wheels and the frame are secured, the parts not locked can easily be carried away after being detached. The most secure locking method therefore, is to lock the wheels and frame to each other in addition to an immovable object.

Locking devices vary in size and security; the most secure tending to be the largest, heaviest and least portable. Some are made of particularly expensive materials chosen for their acceptable strength and low density. Thus, like other security equipment, bicycle locks must compromise between security, portability and cost.

U-locks and D-locks
U-locks and D-locks are one of the best ways to combat bicycle theft. They are rigid metal rings in the shape of a 'U' that is attached to a crossbar. Traditionally you use the U-lock to lock you bike to an object such as a bike rack. You can also use it to lock your front wheel to the frame; however, this would still allow the thief to carry your bike away.

These locks offer the most resistance to cutting from tools, such as bolt cutters. They are still able to be broken if the thief has the ability to place a jack between the lock. If the thief has power tools this lock is going to be compromised like any other lock.

Chain Locks
Chain locks allow the lock to be threaded through many parts of the bike, but the extra chain length can add a lot of weight to the lock, so some cyclists will leave the chain attached where they usually lock their bike.

Chain locks are most effective if they are specialty bike chain locks; if you have just purchased the chain from your local hardware store, it may be easier to cut with simple bolt cutters. The saying "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link" applies here. If you are using a high quality bike lock chain paired with a hardware store lock, you should expect that lock to be broken pretty quickly. Instead, consider using a mini U-Lock for securing the chain together as it adds considerable strength to the system.

Cable locks
Cable locks are one the simplest solutions. These locks are good in low risk areas, but their ability to be easily cut (depending on their materials) does not offer a lot of protection. The locking mechanism, which may use either a key or a combination, is already installed onto the lock.

Transportation of these locks is very simple as they often have a bracket that attaches to a set post or tube of the frame and the lock just plugs into this. They are light and often self coiling.

More expensive cable locks will have an overlapping steel jacket around the cable, which reduces the ease of cutting through the cable. Long cable locks are useful as a secondary lock to attach all the components of the bike to the frame and then locking the frame to another object.

Some cable locks have loops on both ends that allow them to be locked with a U-Lock as well.

Wheel lock
Also called an O-lock or ring-lock, this is a mechanism mounted on the frame that immobilizes the rear wheel by moving a steel bolt through the spokes to prevent motion. It uses a straight or circular bolt which extends from the housing. This type of lock, found particularly on bicycles in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, China, and Japan, prevents riding the bicycle, but does not secure the bicycle to a stationary object. Some models do have an optional cable or chain though, that plugs into the body of the lock to enable the bicycle to be secured to a bike rack as well.

This type of lock is very effective and convenient for securing a bicycle against opportunistic theft, such as when the bike is left unattended momentarily. They are also very convenient for securing the wheels, especially when they have a quick release system instead of axle nuts. As a result, only locking the frame is needed to secure both the frame and the wheels.

Locking skewers
Another additional feature you can use to protect your bicycle is locking skewers. These skewers will replace the quick release skewers you have on your bike presently. They require a special key that is unique to the skewer set, which is used to tighten or loosen the skewers. These will reduce the need to specifically lock you bike seat or wheels. It is important to note that these skewers can be defeated with power tools, so in very high danger areas it may be needed to lock the wheels as well.
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