How to lock your bike

The latest figures show a 71% increase in bike thefts in parts of London so I thought I should revisit some bike lock safety tips. Make sure you don’t leave your bike anywhere without following these tips. It is best to take 2 minutes to read these tips rather than have your bike end up being sold down Brick Lane.

Bike Lock Tip 1 – Choose your location

Always make sure you don’t attach your bike to something that can easily be broken, moved or lifted off. Spend that extra 5 minutes when you are out and about to find a more secure object and your bike safety will be ensured.

Location tips:

  • Well lit area with CCTV cameras around are the most ideal
  • It is preferable to choose an area where other people are around and are frequently walking past. Never leave it in an isolated place
  • Lock it near to other bikes – there is a decreased chance of thieves picking your bike as there will be easier targets around

Bike Lock Tip 2 – Buy the best bike lock

A cheap lock is a false economy so buy the best you can afford. I’m fairly sure I could actually chew through some of the bike locks I see in London! Aim to buy a D-lock with a cable attached to it.

If there is such a thing as a “best bike lock” then these two would be definite contenders:

krytonite new york lock 06Kryptonite New York Standard which is available at a surprisingly good price on Amazon. It would take a thief a very long time to get through this lock. It is one of the toughest and remains one of the most recommended bike locks. If you want to keep your bike safe then this is what you want.

The second equally well recommended one is the Abus Granit Xplus. It is very strong and unless the bike thief has some seriously heavy duty equipment it will not move.

Bike Lock Tip 3 – Use your lock effectively

  • Lock the frame, front and back wheel to the object you have secured your bike to
  • Make sure the D-lock is tightly fastened so it is not hanging loose between the bike and the object you have locked it to
  • Face the D-lock (U-lock) keyway facing down so that they cannot spray liquid into it
  • Don’t place the lock too near the ground as then it is easier to leverage them for attack

Bike Lock Tip 4 – Use two different locks

Two different locks will mean thieves need two different types of tool to remove them. They are unlikely to be carrying both of these. I always take my bag with me and put the two locks in there. The one lock is a d-lock and the other is a chain lock.

The bike thief will take one look at your bike with the two locks and will look elsewhere.

Bike Lock Tip 5 – Register your bike

A registered bike is less likely to be targeted. Obviously make sure you get a sticker that says it is registered to put would-be thieves off. I highly recommend http://www.bikeregister.com/ and http://www.immobilise.com/ if you are in the UK.

Bike Lock Tip 6 – Remove all accessories

A bike is less attractive without lights, the seat post etc so make sure you remove these if you have room to carry them with you.

Finally this excellent video below helps re-iterate the main points about how to lock your bike:

See also:

  1. Bicycle insurance advice
  2. Kryptonite New York 300 review
  3. Abus Granit Steel O Flex review

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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36 Responses to How to lock your bike

  1. Richard Lee 20/08/2009 at 9:26 pm #

    If registering you bike, regardless of which service you use, it is a good idea to TAG it in MULTIPLE spots. Such as shown in http://www.bikeregistry.com/install.php.
    IF it gets stolen, the bad guys may find and strip off some of the tags, but the one that he misses will be his undoing….

  2. Andreas 24/08/2009 at 12:49 pm #

    Thanks for the comments Richard. Make sure you do it correctly guys ;)

  3. Alistair 16/11/2009 at 5:51 pm #

    I’ve had 2 bikes stolen after I had locked them to signposts.. (ie the posts that tell you where you can park)

    the second time the post was nowhere to be seen when I returned.. I thought I was going mad… they’d taken the whole thing, it was just a hole in the ground.

    I still can’t fathom what happened.

  4. Tony 19/11/2009 at 5:39 pm #

    Alistair, sorry to hear about your bike being stolen from a signpost. If you are going to lock to a signpost, make sure it has a Cyclehoop attached to it!

    http://www.cyclehoop.com

    Thieves either lift your bike over the top of the post (taking the sign off so the lock slips over it) or they simply break the post free from the ground and free the bike.

    Another tip: When locking to railings, I see SO MANY PEOPLE locking their D lock ONLY THROUGH A SINGLE RAIL on the railing – it is very easy for thieves to break a single rail and take your bike – look through several rails, or lock through the thick railing posts.

    • john 06/01/2013 at 4:18 pm #

      Please be aware that a lot of very substantial looking railings are in fact made of cast iron which is so easy to cut though with a hacksaw in under 30 seconds, usually the flat horizontal bar at the base of the railings is made of mild steel, this is much harder to cut though so go for this option

  5. Chewy 10/09/2010 at 11:55 am #

    Informative again. The video says get a chunky chain lock, and then shows a very long slender looking lock wrapped around both wheels and the frame. What do you recommend for the second lock and where to buy at a good price? thanks C

  6. jol Martyn-Clark 16/10/2010 at 9:35 pm #

    Two locks at opposite ends of the bike, preferably through wheels and frame metalwork stop a thief picking your bike up and twisting it round and round until something gives. Generally a cheapish chain or cable lock. A New York lock will split your wonderful carbon frame and the thief can run off with 200 to 300 pounds worth of Shimano or Campy gear. ” locks preferably D and Chain.
    Heavy but worth it!
    Jol

  7. Rav 14/03/2011 at 8:46 am #

    Don’t anyone else get fed up with all this? Its very time consuming locking and unlocking your bike, taking lights on and off etc. Surely someone can come up with something a bit more convenient? It can’t be technologically impossible! Imagine if every fucking m******t had to take his off his lights, empty his boot, lock his seats in, lock up all his wheels, everytime he parked his car!

    • Andreas 16/03/2011 at 2:41 pm #

      Agreed with this – wish there was.. for now it’s a 5 minute pain in the ….. to put everything back on and unlock bike.

    • Nicole 10/02/2012 at 10:59 am #

      There is a solution….dynamo lights! I got some on my new touring/commuter bike and it saves so much time because I only have to put the lock on.
      Also the ones I got are so much brighter than the old battery lights, it is amazing!

  8. Zandria 01/04/2011 at 12:47 am #

    I have been doing a bit of research and I was wondering about bicycle alarms.

  9. Daniel Mang 01/05/2011 at 8:42 am #

    I’m suprised nobody has mentioned pitlocks in this thread. I use them to secure the front and rear wheels and the saddle, which means I don’t have to use two locks and take off the saddle when I lock the bike. I usually just lock the frame to something solid (with a kryptonite).

    http://www.pitlock.com

    http://www.londonfieldscycles.co.uk/index.shtml?page=1

  10. Kathryn 03/10/2011 at 12:12 pm #

    I have a craptastic bike but always lock it with two locks. Often I feel quite silly being so careful with it, but probably not as silly as any thief would feel if they had to take their time trying to steal it.

  11. Fluff 11/01/2012 at 8:15 am #

    it sucks u pay lots of money and then people just take it away u say what the point of work if it just keeps getting stolen.

  12. steve thomas 27/02/2012 at 3:44 pm #

    The best tip for me is lock it where it is very observed.
    I live near Southport and whenever I go into town I lock it at a Sheffield stand next to Cafe Nero. As I am putting on my Dlock I look up and about 15ft away see 10 people or more watching me.
    One thing that scrotes dont like is being watched. :~)

    • thejcb 12/04/2013 at 3:43 am #

      I am sorry about that. Imagine having to spend your entire life (or even part of it) in Southport. You have my sympathies

  13. Adam Haworth 20/05/2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Humanity is a real let down that we even have to do all this. But I’m using a Masterlock Integrated Key Chain and a cable lock, I’m planning on replacing the cable with a D-lock, may even keep the cable as well.

    What D-lock can I get on a budget, obviously not too cheap but don’t want to spend £60 on a lock.

  14. Dave 04/06/2012 at 1:51 pm #

    I use a Brompton for my 23 mile a day commute. Although I can nearly always take it anywhere, some places (where jobsworth security/doormen) have refused “NO bikes allowed” So I bought a gold sold secure lock as recommended by ETA.

    Question is, how do I prevent my bike, folded or not, from being twisted around to break the lock off as I believe is done by some thieves?

  15. Stan 10/07/2012 at 3:47 pm #

    If you don’t want to spend much time taking your lights off and don’t need strong lights then ‘Silicon Lights’ is a good choice. Very cheap, you can find it at Ebay. It costs less than 3 pounds and it is just wrapped and hooked around pillars (seat pillar and steering)…

  16. jon 26/12/2012 at 6:08 pm #

    I wonder if somehow a lock could be built into to frame, like part of the frame so that if broken, rendered the bike un rideable and perhaps even worthless? obviously no solution for now, but just a hopeful thought.

  17. Tony 27/12/2012 at 4:02 am #

    Jon – there is such a bike:

    http://www.bikeoff.org/design_resource/DR_bikes_examples_puma.shtml

    However I’m not sure I would rely on their lock as it is quite a nice bike. I would still attach a D-lock to it!

  18. Angie 14/01/2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Bike stolen at weekend locked securely with abus €80 lock bike and lock gone.? V annoying spending so much money on lock and it was a waste of money – may as well not have had a lock on it at all

  19. Kyt 10/02/2013 at 1:35 am #

    Most thieves won’t bother taking a bike that has the cable wrapped in a very tangled, convoluted way with the D-lock properly attached to both wheels, the bike frame, and the bike post. As far as where on the bike post to attach the lock? Personally, I like the horizontal post that holds up all the “bike posts” as its thicker. Where I live, they started cementing thicker bike posts into the ground, instead of having the bike rack. With 2 D-locks, and a cable, they are more likely to wait for an easier target.

  20. smorkey 10/08/2013 at 11:24 pm #

    Don’t get a bike lock with a circular key

    http://tinyurl.com/acstpf6

    All you need is a bic pen sleeve

  21. samia 28/09/2013 at 1:18 pm #

    I recently got my wheels lockked to the bike frame, as lost one of my locks. Then only used the Titanium D Lock to lock the bike to the frame outside my house, they actually bent the D Lock to get it off. good to remember to lock both back and front, even if wheels locked on, as before i had two different locks and assume that is why it lasted for a whole summer without being stolen.

  22. Derek 09/02/2014 at 1:04 pm #

    thanks for all the tips men

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