How to have the most secure bike in London

There is something absolutely soul destroying about leaving work after a long day, making your way towards where you left your bike that morning – and finding an empty space.

The reactions go a bit like this – First confusion: I thought I left it here. Second: disbelief – surely not. Third: irrepressible anger. Not only has your pride and joy been taken from you, it’s going to be near impossible to get it back, and you are now stranded or forced to take the train.

Here’s a look at some of the things you can do to make sure your bike stays where you left it:

Use more than one lock

There are quite a few different methods you can use to lock your bike. If you have only one lock, you can place the front wheel behind the back wheel, then thread a cable lock through both wheels and the frame, and of course a secure object.

If you’re using two locks, leave the front wheel on, and thread one lock through the rear wheel, the chainstay, and secure object, and a second lock through the front wheel, frame and around the secure post.

The gold standard is to lock front wheel, rear wheel and the frame to a metal post. D-Locks are generally toughest, but if you’re doing this you might want to combine a D-Lock with a cable lock to reduce weight.

Sold Secure Rated Gold locks are the most secure. We’ve got a comprehensive look at some of the best bike locks but we thoroughly recommend both the Kryptonite New York Mini and New York 3000.

You could combine this with a cable lock such as the Abus Centuro.

Use lockable skewers

pitlock-2pc-front-rear

It’s not always whole bikes that go missing – wheels alone are sometimes the victim. If your wheels currently have quick release skewers on them, and you plan to leave the bike unattended, it’s a good idea to beef up your protection with some lockable skewers.

For under £40 you can protect your wheels with something like these Pitlock 2PC Security Wheel Skewers. These skewers are made of high quality steel, so they won’t rust, and each set comes with an individually coded screw, plus a coded key for removal. You’ll need to carry this and a spanner in case you need to fix a puncture, but they’re not heavy.

A hidden GPS tracker

Getting a bit more high-tec, and quite a bit more expensive, this is a pretty nifty way of making sure you know exactly where your bike is. Integrated trackers can be placed inside your headset, rear light or setpost. Once there, you’ll get a text message if your bike is moved. Not only that, in the unfortunate case that this happens, you can see exactly where it is online.

This option will set you back about £100, but it’s a sure fire way of protecting yourself, and helping police to find a thief.

GPS tracked lock, with alarm

LOCK8_with_cable_angled_grey_bg_reflected_net_grande

Lock8 is brand new, and ready to pre-order. This successful kickstarter project was born after two entrepenuers were struck by bike theft, and felt compelled to address the failings of products on the market.

The Lock8 is a GPS tracked lock, that is engaged by a single swipe of a smart phone. Not only that, in the event of it being tampered with – moved abruptly (sawed or hacked), heated or chilled (frozen or melted), a notification will be sent to your mobile phone, plus the phone of anyone else you choose to have notified.

The Lock8 will set you back $249, so around £150 – but if you’ve spent a fair amount on your bike, knowing it’s safe and protected by state of the art technology is a small price to pay.

What do you do to keep your bike secure? Take a look at some of our other tips for keeping your bike and accessories safe here

Join 9,241 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

9 Responses to How to have the most secure bike in London

  1. Tom 30/04/2014 at 7:10 pm #

    I’m currently using a dlock and hefty chain lock, which goes through the frame and saddle rails.
    Don’t forget as well as double locks, etc the best anti theft thing is cycle specific insurance. It’s well worth the peace of mind as if someone wants your bike they will nick it, no matter how securely you lock it.

  2. Watdabni 01/05/2014 at 8:51 am #

    I haven’t used a lock more than 2-3 times a year for over 10 years but cycle every day. I don’t run a car and use my bike for everything, commuting, shopping, pleasure rides etc. How? I have a Brompton. It is always with me. I take it into shops, restaurants, offices, pubs, theatres, ferries (free because it folds!) etc. Because it is never out of my sight or control I have had no problems at all. My wife does the same. The only times I even bother to carry a lock are those very rare occasions when I am uncertain whether I will be able to take the bike in with me at my destination. It is for these reasons that I believe I own one of the most secure bikes in London. None of this is intended to suggest a lock is unnecessary – plainly it is even, on occasion, for me. I am just suggesting that the best security comes from, where possible, always having your bike with you.

    • Dave 16/05/2014 at 9:53 pm #

      Hey Watdabni

      I do the same with my Brompton, they even allowed it in the ambulance when I tangled with a bus. I do have a lock which i keep safe at home, because even though I only claim damage on my insurance I cannot get insurance without a sold secure lock

      • Watdabni 19/05/2014 at 9:40 am #

        Hi Dave, XLNT! I knew we weren’t the only ones. For me, the sheer utility of the Brompton eclipses any advantages normal bikes have over it. Last year I bought a Moulton (always wanted one!) but after a few months sold it to a friend. Why? Because, although a nicer ride than the Brommie, I was spending too much time worrying about the bike. I had to carry a lock at all times and leave out it of my sight. I was always worrying about whether it would still be there when I returned. I don’t like fretting so it had to go. I might get another when we finally move to the country. Enjoy your cycling (and stay away from those buses).

  3. Mik 01/05/2014 at 10:12 am #

    Agreed on two locks, when my bike was stolen it only had a cable lock, I thought that was enough. The replacement has a heavy duty D lock and a serious chain. Fortunately I can lock it in a secure location as well which means I can leave the locks there as they are silly heavy.

    I carry a lighter lock and a padlock to just go through the disk in my pack, if I need to pop in to a shop (although I never actually do).

    I have secure axles, although not the pinlock ones, I do wonder how easy they are to get around though. I consider them a stop to an opportunistic thief rather than real safety.

    All of the GPS locaters are fine, but they must have an annual cost on top of the original purchase.

    These people – http://securityforbikes.com/index.php are worth a look if you are serious about security. I know them through motorbikes and they really take care over what they sell (some of the big name companies are a bit showy for my taste).

    Finally, I’ve registered all of our bikes on BikeRegister.com after the police did a free marking day at work. Again, not sure how it will work if the bikes get stolen, but it’s a good push to right down all of the details, including frame number, which means I’ll have them all if I need to make a police report, and for the insurance company.

    That’s the last bit, our house insurance is new for old and we pay a bit extra for each of the expensive bikes, but it’s a handy piece of mind (especially for the cyclescheme ones).

  4. Liz Wall 02/05/2014 at 10:36 am #

    Had a bike stolen from Sittingbourne station, had a good lock on, also had bike shepherd tags. That was over 2 years ago. The bike has never been returned. I always use an Abus D lock now as no longer trust Kryptonite. The only time I use a cable lock is when on a club ride and the bikes are never out of our sight.

  5. Graham L 02/05/2014 at 2:35 pm #

    Do I know that feeling only too well when you notice your bike stolen. My MTB stolen just over a year ago and subsequently replaced was stolen again last week on holiday. On both occasions from the roof of my car. In addition my daughter’s wheels were stolen because the thieves couldn’t remove the bike, unlike mine. Both bikes were secured to the bike carriers plus additional locks didn’t stop them. Bike carriers offer no security as the down tube on the bike can be forced out of the jaws of the clamp that closes onto the tube. This brand which is well known (rhymes with ‘mule’) has a lock to stop the jaws being opened but still didn’t stop the bike being released from its grip. After the last theft I actually upgraded and spent a bit more money on this model. What a waste that was. For some reason they couldn’t force the down tube out of the grips of the other carrier that my daughter’s was on so they stole the wheels instead. Rather than invest in more cables wrapped around the wheels I will invest in the lockable skewers this time which I did consider as soon as I saw my daughter’s wheels stolen. Bike carriers offer little in terms of security even if they have a lock and even in this case where additional cables and locks were also used.

  6. Rossibossi 03/05/2014 at 1:33 pm #

    I have Pit Locks on both my bikes (wheels and seatpost). If you order from someone like SJS or Rose Bikes they can get you matching sets so one ‘key’ will fit them all. Just keep hold of the code card that comes with them. The ‘key’ easily fits on key ring.

    Generally the brackets supplied with Kryptonite Locks are awful, rattly fragile things that don’t allow for much variation in where they go. I prefer ABUS X-Plus 54 230mm with EaZyFK bracket. The lock is as secure (if not better) than Kryptonite NY Locks, much lighter, more reliable and better quality. It’s about £65 online (£99 in shops!)

    The much debated ball-bearing/solder/resin in a few choice Allen key heads has worked well for me.

    NEVER leave your bike out over night and be super conscientious about where you lock your bike in general. Gardens/yards/sheds/hallways are common places where people think their bikes are safe, yet often proved wrong. Lock properly to something secure.

    So my recommended (and so far proven) system is:

    Pit Locks
    Abus XPlus 54 230mm with EaZyKF bracket
    Kryptonite Evolution Mini (as secondary or ‘café’ lock)
    Solder/ballbearing in Allen bold heads
    Remove lights etc
    Personalise your bike in some way – stickers, tape, paint, none-standard grips, add-ons etc
    Good locking technique – through chainstay/seat stay
    Keep lock full and high to prevent leverage attacks
    Don’t lock to object weaker than your locks!

    AVOID:
    Cable locks, even as secondary.
    ‘Silver’ series Kryptonite locks (the cheapest: one cut through it’s soft metal will defeat them)
    Poor locking technique
    Quick release

    It is possible to NOT get your bike stolen; it isn’t inevitable and the risk can be easily minimised.

  7. Henry 10/05/2014 at 11:54 am #

    I’ve been cycling everywhere for over ten years now and recently had my bike stolen for the first time.

    I cycle from the station to my workplace and back, so I leave my bike locked just outside the station every night. I lock both wheels, the rear one with a D lock, the front one with a cable lock. There is a police station nearby, so lots of officers walking around all the time, and CCTV.

    Knowing that my bike was going to stay there overnight and during the weekend, I bought a rusted bike for £10 so no one would want to steal it. I spent some time fixing it. The best locks in the world won’t guarantee that your bike won’t be stolen, so I believed if the bike is worthless, it won’t be worth the hassle and risk of stealing it. Since the bike was so cheap, the locks were accordingly very cheap too, more as a deterrent than anything else.

    Well, that bike was stolen a week ago! I went exactly through the same emotions described here. I also thought why would someone steal it because it had no resale value.

    After reviewing the CCTV footage, I found out that I forgot to lock my bike! It got stolen 2 hours after I left it there for the weekend. There are a couple of bikes there that seem abandoned and have a cheap lock around a spoke or two and have been there ever since I started leaving my bike there, one year ago.

    It does show that cheap bikes won’t get stolen unless you really make it easy for thieves, like I did.

    That theft didn’t cost me much in terms of money since the bike was so cheap, although i lost my cheap locks too and a bike light holder and new saddle, but I had spent an inordinate amount of time looking for just the right ugly bike that won’t get stolen, as well as time spent fixing it. That’s what’s hurting me most. It’s not going to be easy to find such a bike again.

Leave a Reply