Prevent Bike Theft with These Tips

When you’ve invested big in your bike, the last things you want to deal with are the headache (and heartache) of it being stolen. Although nothing will stop the most determined and well-tooled thief, planning and prevention on your part can be enough to keep your bike right where you want it: ready for your next adventure. 

Security Should Be Proportionate to the Bike’s Value

The more you’ve invested in your bike, the more you should invest in your security. Often the inclination is to do the opposite—the last thing you want to do is shell out more cash. Resist that temptation, says Brenda Mangine, co-owner of North Division Bike Shop. “When people purchase a bicycle, especially when they purchase a nice bike, they [often] go somewhat inexpensive on the security,” she says. But if you’re being smart, “you should get better security with a better bike.” She recommends a U-lock in combination with a cable lock, pulled through the frame and wheels, or a heavy-duty chain. Cable locks are convenient and inexpensive, but can be cut quickly and inconspicuously.

“The more stuff you can throw on there the better,” says Kevin Dentler of Wheel Sport, who also recommends using a U-lock with a cable lock. The more protection you have, the more daunting it looks to steal. “It’s a matter of trying to do as much as you can so someone doesn’t have an opportunity to come up and clip it right away,” he says.

It’s also important to lock onto an immovable object, and don’t overlook removable parts. “A lot of people forget about the front wheel,” says Mangine. She recommends taking it off and locking it with the frame and rear wheel, or looping it in with a cable lock. For the seat post, “either get in the habit of pulling up the seat post and bringing it with you, or get a threaded bolt-style seat collar instead of traditional,” she advises.

Keep in mind, though, that it’s all a matter of perspective. “If you’ve got a bike you don’t care about, don’t spend a lot, but if you have a really nice bike and you have to lock it up, you’re going to spend probably $100,” says Josh Hess of Mojo Cyclery. “I always tell people to match the lock to their level of paranoia,” he adds with a laugh. 

Location, Location, Location

If you’re running into a coffee shop and the bike will be in your line of vision, a cable lock might suffice. If it’s completely out of sight, bump up security. In all cases, “choose a lit place, make sure it’s around other people,” says Simon Hartt of Bike Hub. Be smart when choosing what to lock onto—if you choose a sign post, Hartt cautions, a would-be thief could lift your bike up and over it. Lock up bikes in garages, too—this can be enough to prevent someone from making a quick grab while passing an open door.

Become One with Your Bike

Don’t assume you have to leave your bike unattended. “Most businesses will allow me to carry it around,” says Hess. Many employers also allow bikes in the building. Hartt has had similar experiences. “A lot of businesses will allow you to bring it inside, even Albertsons and Safeway, if you ask,” he says.

Plan for Future Bike Recovery

Take a photo of your bike and the serial number, then register with a tracking database. Most bikes aren’t registered, says Pat Jewell of Spokane C.O.P.S. Northwest, so when bikes are recovered by police or others, it can be almost impossible to locate the rightful owner. “If they report the bike stolen and they have a registration number, they’re more likely to get it back,” she says. Bring bikes to any C.O.P.S. location during open hours to register; more information at Consider also signing up with online registry //


Bike Recovery Resource:

Increase your chances of recovering a theft by registering your bike with online database Bike Index ( Go to the website and submit your name, bike manufacturer, serial number, and component information to the online registry. Should your bike be stolen, change your bike’s status on the site. If a Bike Index user or partner encounters your bike and looks it up in the database, it’ll be that much easier to get it back to you. Bike Index is a nonprofit and offers this as a free service, though tax-deductible donations are welcome. “Just under 108,000 users have signed up for Bike Index, with just under 157,500 bikes,” says Lily Williams of Bike Index. 4,484 bikes have been recovered to date. Partners around the world include police departments, universities, bike shops, and bike clubs. Consider using Bike Index in conjunction with a local registry like the one offered through Spokane C.O.P.S. //



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