Bicycle Security

Many bikes are easily stolen because they are not locked. Your first line of defense is a good lock, properly used. Lightweight cable or chain locks are easily cut and offer little protection. Many bikes are stolen from home (yard, porch, garage, dorm room, etc.). Store your bike in a secure place when not in use. If you are not sure your storage is secure, use your lock. Ask your neighbors and local bike shops about bicycle theft and safety in your area. If you know where your bike is most vulnerable, you can better protect it.

Register your bike in a national database. Professional bicycle thieves frequently sell stolen bikes in other cities and states because of the difficulty in tracing owners. The National Bike Registry (NBR) database is accessible to law enforcement throughout the country. No matter where a bike is stolen, or where it is recovered, the owner can be identified. The NBR Certificate of Registration can be used as proof of ownership if your bike is recovered, or for your insurance claim if it is not found.

Basic Lock Information
Which is a better choice: U-lock or cables? Although they are frequently used, the lightweight cable or chain locks no longer provide adequate security in most areas. In neighborhoods with a known bicycle theft problem, the best choice is a strong, reliable U-lock. And remember, two locks are better than one. Combine a cable and a U-lock, or even two U-locks, when securing your bicycle. The more time and trouble it takes a thief to attack your bike, the less likely it is that your bike will become a theft statistic.

Be sure to get a demonstration from a qualified professional on how the lock works and how to use it properly.

Design Features

Make sure that the design of the lock provides functional security. Gimmicks will not protect your bike. Solid steel is the strongest: the ideal steel is hardened against cutting, yet maintains flexibility, like Kryptonite's Kryptonium Steel used in the Evolution series of U-locks (New York Lock, Evolution 2000, and Evo Lite). Find out about the lock's performance before purchasing. Does it have a good track record? A warranty? A guarantee? Lifetime key registration and prompt key replacement services?

Do not buy a larger lock than you really need. Thieves will utilize the extra space between your lock and your bike to their advantage. A tight fitting lock will make it even more difficult for thieves to get their tools into position to attempt a break.

​Locking your Bike

Always lock your bike, especially at home. More bikes are stolen from home than from any other location. Wherever you store your bike (a garage, a college dorm room, an apartment building) make sure use your lock. Select a location where there are other bikes. The chances are better that there will be a bike with a less secure lock, or no lock, and thieves will usually take the unlocked bikes first. Always lock your bike in visible, well-lighted areas.

Lock your bike to a fixed, immovable object like a parking meter, or a permanent bike rack that is cemented or anchored into the ground. If you use a parking meter, make sure the locked bike cannot be slipped off over the top of the pole. Beware of locking your bike to items that can be easily cut, broken, or otherwise removed. Try not to let your lock rest against the ground, where a thief can use a hammer or rock to smash the lock.

Use the lock correctly. Position your bike frame and wheels so that you take up as much of the open space within the U-portion of the lock as possible. The tighter the lock up, the harder it will be for a thief to insert a pry bar and pry open your lock. If your U-lock has its keyway on the end of the crossbar, position the lock with its keyway end facing down towards the ground. This makes it harder for the thief to access your lock.

Always secure your components and accessories, especially those that can be easily removed, like quick release wheels or seats.

If you have a multi-speed bike, leave it in the highest gear. This makes it that much harder for a thief to shift quickly and get away with your bike. Do not:
  • Leave a new bike unlocked. New bikes have the most value to thieves and they look for them.
  • Lock your bike to small trees, aluminum or wooden posts, or to chain link fences. These items can be easily broken or cut.
  • Lock your bike to anything posted as illegal. Check with your police department for local bicycle parking regulations.
  • Lock your bike to itself. A thief will just carry the whole bike away.