Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Locking Up

Lock Collection
(My Locking Arsenal)

Bike Girl recently wrote a great post about properly locking up and how some law enforcement agencies are using GPS tracking on baited bikes to catch thieves. Lock manufacturer Kryptonite liked the piece so much they gave a nod it in their own blog. Fortunately L.A. is not to be found in the top 10 cities of bike theft, but in any case I'm not taking any chances and I really don't want either of my bicycles, or any part of them to be stolen. Especially my treasured Bianchi 928 C2C. In the pursuit of not having bicycles stolen I have acquired an assortment of locking apparatus over the years for every occasion. Inspired by Bike Girl's post, I will share my line up of locks I use to get the job done.

1) Small Kryptonite U-Lock. This is my bread and butter lock, it's tough as nails and the lack of open space makes getting leverage tough for would be thieves trying to crack it, but just wide enough to attack to a parking meter. The small size also allows for the lock to fit in a space as small as a rear pants pocket. This is a very popular lock for it's effectiveness and convenience. Also should, God forbid, you get jumped by an attacker, a small u-lock makes for a formidable blunt weapon in self defense.

2) I have two different lengths of thick Kryptonite cables, which I use for locking down wheels when parking for longer periods or attaching friends bikes to my u-lock when they aren't packing their own.

3) I have one thin cable which I use for locking down my seat, which I usually reserve for longer stays. The one and only time I have had something stolen off a bike, it was my seat on my old beater mountain bike parking in Venice Beach. Yes people will steal just a seat, even a crappy one, especially if it is quick release.

4) For the really serious business I have a reinforced steel link chain with a heavy lock. The model I have is an OnGaurd Beast. This is the sort of lock motorcyclists sometimes use and it's about as serious as you can get. To top it off, both OnGaurd and Kryptonite offer warranty coverage for this type of lock if proven the lock failed, at a value worth more then most people's bikes. They are heavy as hell, but with links that require 800 lbs. of pressure to snap, there is no way someone is going to break it without serious power tools at their disposal and some time on their hands. I bought this lock specifically to lock up my commuter bike at LAX for multiple days, trying for the first time biking my self to the airport for a trip. It worked great, and I still use it for certain trips where my bike may be unattended for many hours or all day.

5) Lastly I have a medium thickness cable and cable combination lock from back in the day, which I still use on occasion for shorter trips in well trafficked areas, since they are light and easy to attach to most anything. However these are merely a deterrent and won't hold up for long against a thief with the right tools.

In truth all bike locks are really a deterrent, and with the right equipment any of them can be broken. However if you lock up your bike so well the thief knows it will be a frustrating and time consuming steal, with a risk of getting caught, it won't be worth it to them and they will move on to a bike with a weaker locking job.

For more tips on proper use of said locks, check out Bike Girl's post, and for a hilarious video of bike mechanic Hal Ruzal grading locking jobs in New York, check out this video. Keep in mind he would probably give nearly everyone in L.A. an F, but New York has considerably higher rates of theft. An informative video if you really want your bike locking to be bomb proof.


Will Campbell... said...

I have the same Krypto u-lock/cable that I use to lock up at home and I'm fortunate that I'm allowed to keep my bike in my office at work.

I'm guilty of carrying a flimsy little cable lock for short secures outside convenience stores and such because it does the job of deterring the grab-and-go'ers, but I know if my bike encounters a more motivated thief I'm but a bolt cutter snip away from becoming another statistic.

Gary said...

Sometimes with the commuter bike I take my chances with the cable combination lock. With the road bike it's got to be at least u-locked or in my sight or in the sight of someone I trust.

My next bike purchase is a beater road bike I can ride around decently fast, but with less theft appeal then my carbon bike.

Anonymous said...

i have one soma u-lock.

i use it because its the cheapest decent ulock. $30.

when i lived in amsterdam i kept being told about a bicycle location device that you could go to the city and have implanted on (in?) you bicycle, and i remember it being free. those dutch!

have you ead amsterdamize or copenhagenize? good sites.

Gary said...

I am jealous of those Dutch and their cycling Utopia world.