How to prevent bicycle saddle theft

A few weeks ago we had a look at how to have the most secure bike in London. There is nothing more devastating than returning to the spot where you left your bike to find only an empty space. However, bike theft has an annoying little sibling – and that’s saddle theft. Having your saddle stolen is not as heartbreaking as losing your bike, but it is still expensive, and incredibly irritating.

Here’s a look at some of the things you can do to safeguard your saddle:

DIY, low cost and effective: bicycle chain it up!

Chain through saddle

Via: A different kind of NYC chain.

The chain through the saddle trick is nothing new, but it is both incredibly simple, and incredibly clever. To do this, you’ll need a length of old bike chain (your LBS should have an old chain hanging around somewhere, it doesn’t need to be new), a length of inner tube, and a chain link tool.

If you’re a friend to your LBS and they know you, you could probably ask to carry out the procedure in store or in the workshop, borrowing a chain tool, but this depends on if you are besties or not.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Measure the chain so that it is the correct length to thread through your saddle rails, and then through the top tube or rear triangle. Once you’ve got the length right, split the chain.
  2. Cut your inner tube so it’s just a little bit longer than the chain.
  3. Thread the chain through your inner tube – this is to prevent the chain scratching or marking your bike.
  4. Now you’ve got a chain/tube combo, thread both through the saddle rails and top tube or rear triangle (I think the latter looks better). Use your chain tool to rejoin the chain, making a full loop.
  5. Finally, secure the inner tube – you can do this with electrical tape for a quick fix, or use puncture repair glue for a more attractive fix.

Extra cable

The less messy and time consuming version of the above is to buy an extra cable, such as the purpose designed Kryptonite Seat Saver. This has two loops either end, and can be secured by wrapping it through your bike lock, or with an additional padlock.

The braded steel is hard to cut through, though arguably not so much so as a complete bike chain, but it does have a vinyl covering to protect you against marking or scratching your bike.

At £9.99, it won’t break the bank, and it will be cheaper than buying a chain tool, so if you’re going to buy one specifically for the task above, and never use it again, it’s worth considering.

kryptonite-kryptoflex-seatsaver-25-foot

Locking seat bolt

Locking skewers and seat post bolts use a special key to secure these removable parts. A full set such as this one from Valert Secura will set you back just under £20,  and will come with a personal security key that you can keep safely with you. These aren’t indestructible, but someone on the hunt for saddles to steal is looking for quick wins that they can remove with no hassle – these will make your saddle a much less friendly target.

$_58

Take your saddle with you

This might sound a bit extreme, but it’s a lot less inconvenient that riding home “out the saddle” because you’ve been left with nothing but a seat post.

If you do this, and take the seat post as well as the saddle, do make sure you cover the hole that is left with a plastic bag, because in the event that it rains, you don’t want to be lugging half of London’s rainfall home inside your frame. Admittedly, this doesn’t look very aesthetically pleasing, but it’s a more attractive option than spending time trying to shake the frame clear of moisture..

Do you have any other tips for keeping your saddle firmly secured to your bike? We’d love to hear them… 

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17 Responses to How to prevent bicycle saddle theft

  1. Suffolker 12/05/2014 at 9:58 am #

    I like the chain idea, which is very neat, and is a fine example of both lateral thought and recycling.

    The other measure is the ball-bearing superglued into the hex socket, but this can fairly easily be defeated. The other downside is that if it makes removal difficult for the thief, then it’s also hard for the owner if legitimate removal is required.

    I have spent a lot of time trying to find “standard” security bolts (the sort for building and similar use, which need a special driving tool to instal and remove) as a cheaper alternative to Pitlocks etc., but they seem difficult if not impossible to find in the right sizes (M5, M6, M8).

    • Cas Burke 12/05/2014 at 5:56 pm #

      Suffolker:

      Clerkenwell Screws at 109 Clerkenwell Rd carry a full range of security screws.

  2. Vincent 12/05/2014 at 10:18 am #

    As an alternative to secure screws à la Pitlock et al., to take the saddle with me, I wonder if it’d be possible to replace the regular hexa screw with a quick-release:
    http://postimg.org/image/edqmofji5/

    As for folder bikes, there doesn’t seem to be a good solution yet: Unlike regular bikes, folders require raising/lowering the sadlle frequently, and having to reach for that special key every time is a hassle.

  3. Ken 12/05/2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Bicycle chain looks cool, but in reality that trick so commonly used these days that some crooks are carrying chain breakers.

  4. Phil 12/05/2014 at 5:29 pm #

    I keep my saddle covered with a used plastic heavy duty mail envelope ( FedEx are the strongest ), making it inconspicuous ( actually, a bit skanky ) and less attractive to thieves. So far ( 6 years ) so good.

    • Andreas 13/05/2014 at 3:26 pm #

      My tactic is similar, I’ve always had a saddle that I’m happy with but that looks fairly worn out. No saddle thefts to date.

  5. Tom 12/05/2014 at 9:39 pm #

    The Kryptonite cable method is a no go, I had their thickest version looped though my saddle rails and got back to find it cut clean through and no saddle. I’m now using this, looped through the frame and whatever I’m locking the bike to.

  6. Brian Voakes 13/05/2014 at 10:18 am #

    The Krytonite cable is useless. It can be sliced thru like butter. I now take the saddle with me.

  7. commuterjohn 13/05/2014 at 1:59 pm #

    I use a pitlock seat bolt and went to my climbing shop and bought the shortest strongest steel cable they use for attaching themselves to the rockface.

  8. Our Bicycle Lives 16/05/2014 at 12:38 pm #

    After having several Brooks saddles stolen, a friend engraved ‘Stolen’ on his last one. Seems to have worked so far.

  9. teddy 16/05/2014 at 5:51 pm #

    ball-bearing / superglue jobs a good un. ten mins to scratch out with acetate / nail varnish remover

  10. Floyd 16/05/2014 at 7:52 pm #

    I use the bicycle chain lock and ball bearing superglued in socket. The key to these two is to make it even more unappealing (i.e. a bother) for the thief as folls:

    Instead of normal rubber tubing to cover the chain, use heat shrink tubing that way besides protecting your paint work the tubing when heated shrinks onto your chain making it harder for the chain breaker to fit and remove the link. Admittedly it would be that bit harder to cut through the tubing and clear access to the link, the thief would need to walk with another tool – knife of some sort. The chain lock is really to deter the opportunist thief and not the professional thief.
    I agree with getting a non standard chain and chain breaker as going even a step further.

    The ball bearing can, surprisingly be not so easy to remove as it seems – get as flush a ball bearing as possible. Dip the whole ball bearing in superglue and input in the slot. VERY awkward for the thief: awkward to remove all of superglue as you would need to have the bike lying flat (socket face up) on the ground for the acetate to seep into the back of the ball bearing to loosen the ball bearing. With a flush fitting ball bearing – you actually don’t even have to overdo it with the glue as it can be hard to remove the bearing unless the socket is face down in order to slip out. If the thief can manoeuvre the bike to that extent he might as well take the bike!

    But really, pitlocks probably the most deterrent – the thief will just take one look and move onto an easier target. As always, nothing is as secure than taking your saddle with you.

  11. ryan 19/05/2014 at 12:24 am #

    I filled up the allen bolt holes on the seat post clamp and at the top of the seat post with a super hard epoxy resin, it looks clean and is difficult to remove. I had to remove it before to put an electronic tag down the seat post tube and it took me 15 minutes to get rid of the epoxy and I was using equiptment that wouldn’t be carried by the average thief.

    You could also use acetone to remove the epoxy, but it takes a long time and it would be difficult to do if a bike is locked in a rack in the vertical position.

    You can also wrap some insulation tape round the seat post clamp so it will be easy to tell if someone has been tampering with it.

    You can also stainless steel cable to permanently attach the saddle to the bike , you just need some heavy duty ferrules to crimp the cable. Although I think it is easier to remove the cable or a chain than the epoxy.

  12. Martin 06/06/2014 at 11:41 am #

    I’ve been using the superglue and a ball bearing on all the bits of my bike that look juicy to a naer-do-well, ever since I came back to my bike about 3 seconds short of being short a brooks saddle. Really luck that time, but since then no sign of any interest in my saddle, plus no extra weight or chance of damage to paintwork like the chain. It’s really clean looking and out of the way.

  13. BP 25/08/2014 at 9:50 am #

    Sadly old lengths of chain are not up to it. Two loops of 1/8″ chain in inner tube gone through in broad daylight on a busy street in seconds. No chain breaker just pliers or cutters…

  14. cost to move to hawaii 21/09/2014 at 3:17 am #

    Hi there colleagues, its fantastic article about educationand entirely explained, keep it up all the
    time.

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