There’s a fantastic post on the Toronto Cyclists Union web site about how to help prevent bicycle theft. You should go read it here: “Bike Theft: Still An Issue In Toronto – Tips on Prevention”
But how can you follow these tips and not spend more on bike locks and parts than you did on your bicycle itself?
The good news is that you have options. Here are a few recommendations to help you save money and still secure your bicycle:
1) The bike messenger chain: What may seem to be an exceptionally heavy belt on the courier who just left your local coffee shop is actually their bike lock. A chain lock allows you to secure your wheels and frame to racks and posts and you can adjust the length for a snug fit. Lock manufacturers like ABUS and Kryptonite sell versions of the heavy chain and lock combo.
These lock and chain combos start at $100 and can cost more than $200 for high end models. While heavy to carry, chains are effective theft deterrents. To save yourself a little money, head over to a hardware store and purchase a sturdy steel chain by the foot and pair it with a strong lock.
2) U-lock and cable combo: U-locks are the most recommended lock style for preventing theft. Used properly, one u-lock can be enough to deter a thief. However, to secure your wheels and frame, a cable and u-lock can work together to make your bicycle a less-appealing target.
Higher end cable and u-lock combos can cost upwards of $200. However, MEC has a similar style for just $27.00. I own one of these and have had zero problems with it, but a friend of mine dropped theirs and the entire lock body disassembled into a dozen pieces.
3) Anti-theft Skewers: In the early 90s everyone wanted quick-release skewers. I remember being lured by their simplicity, looking down on anyone who couldn’t quickly adjust their seatpost or remove their front wheel. Then my seat was stolen. Since that day, I’ve sworn off quick-releases and have been replacing the ones on my bikes. Skewers can be easily swapped out and replaced with regular ones with nuts on either end. However, a simple wrench can remove these too. That’s why several companies have introduced anti-theft skewers that require special tools to remove, something not carried by your average bicycle thief.
Higher-end skewers by Pinhead cost around $100 for a set. MEC also sells a set of front and rear anti-theft skewers for $29.00.
It’s important to remember that a bicycle lock is only as effective as the locking technique used. Always try to eliminate dead space between your bicycle and what you are locking to. Increasing the number of components that can’t be removed easily is also a great way to keep your bicycle with you much longer.
Not sure what bike lock style is right for you? Head over to your local bike shop and see what they recommend.