How to Prevent Your Bike From Being Stolen

Your bike can be your best friend when it comes to getting from one place to another, especially in close-knit areas and college towns.

Everyone chooses to bike for different reasons, whether it's to cut down on fuel costs, get more exercise, reduce their carbon foot print or simply get from one place to another without having to deal with traffic.

Whatever your reason for choosing to bike is, every biker has one common fear of seeing this:

If you like having your bike attached to your wheels, here are some tips and tricks to help you prevent your bike from being stolen.

Where to Lock Your Bike

  • Choose a busy area with medium to high foot traffic.
  • If you’re locking your bike on a bike rack, try to lock it towards the middle of the rack between other bikes, rather than on the end.
  • Always lock your bike to a fixed and immovable object (ideally a bike rack). If you cannot find a bike rack, other fixed objects you can try are railings, light poles, steel or metal fences and parking meters. 
  • Do not lock your bike in an unfamiliar area where you know you will leave it for a long time. Be mindful of your location and choose a spot that you are familiar with. The less time you are away from your bike, the better!

Tips for Locking Your Bike

  • There is one general rule to locking your bike: Always make sure it's more secure than the bike parked next to it. Unless you've got a bike made out of 24-carat gold plates and adorned with 600 Swarovski crystals, your bike should not be on a thief's radar if he sees another bike that's easier to steal.
  • Don't just lock your wheel to the immovable object - ALWAYS lock your frame as well. This is a common mistake and usually the easiest way for a bike to get stolen.
  • Keep your lock off the ground, whether it's a U-lock or chain. A thief can smash the lock with a hammer and ultimately break the lock, especially if it's a cheaper model.
  • Invest in a good quality lock! The sturdier the lock, the more damage-proof it will be. Remember, the goal is to make a thief's job as hard as possible. 
  • If you’re using a U-lock, try to fit as much of your frame, wheel, and whatever object you’re attaching your bike to within the U-lock. Make the lock as difficult to get to as possible; try to position the keyhole so that it is facing both inwards and downwards. You can even try the double U-lock method for maximum security.
  • If you’re using a chain, follow the same tips as with a U-lock, and also make sure your chain is at least a 15 mm chain to ensure that a thief cannot break through with a bolt cutter.

Great Lock Options

U-locks vs. Chain Locks

U-locks and chain locks are both two great options that provide durability and plenty of security. U-locks are great for those who prefer to have a lightweight, portable lock that they can carry around while providing quality protection.

Chain locks are definitely a lot heavier and can be a hassle to carry around. There are two options of chain locks: portable and stationary. While portable chain locks are portable, they are generally much heavier than U-locks. Stationary chains are great for keeping at your home or work, and will offer the utmost amount security for places where you routinely park your bike.

If you know that you'll be parking your bike in a high theft area, or you just want twice the amount of security, you can always attach a cable lock on top of your U-lock or chain lock.

Ultimately, the type of lock you end up getting will depend on your lifestyle and what's best for you. At Austin Bike Tours and Rentals, we highly recommend getting U-locks for keeping your bike in good hands. 

Some General Safety Tips

  • Register your bike! All bikes have serial numbers, which are essential for showing proof of ownership. Most police departments have bike registries, and you can also get a registration sticker to put on your bike. In the event of a theft, having a registration sticker can make your bike easier to track and find. 
  • If you know that you will have to lock your bike in a high-theft area, find another form of transportation and leave your bike at home. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Do not leave your bike in the same location everyday. Switch it up and have some back-up options where you can park your bike. 

What to do if Your Bike Gets Stolen

  • Notify the police. You may feel down on your luck and that a police report is pointless, but without the proper documentation in place, you will lose any chance of having your bike returned to you.
  • Register your bike as stolen to the Bike Index. This will make it harder to sell and easier to recover. The Bike Index partners up with hundreds of bike shops and police departments, and has recovered 3,874 stolen bikes to date.
  • Set up Google Alerts to notify you if information matching the description of your bike shows up. Also set up alerts with eBay and other online auction sites like Craigslist in case someone tries to sell your bike online.
  • Get the word out on social media. Join a “Lost, Stolen or Found Bikes” Facebook page for your city or area. Post on your city's subreddit. This also gives you an opportunity to look for your bike in other posts for found bikes.