RANT: I HATE BIKE LOCKS!

3.5 pounds that contributes nothing to the ease and enjoyment of bike riding!
3.5 pounds that contributes nothing to the ease and enjoyment of bike riding!

It feels so good to say that! Bike locks annoy me: they are HEAVY, expensive, bulky— but for the scum-sucking bike thieves in our world, they are totally unnecessary to enjoying bicycle travel.

I think my 7′ Kryptonite cable and Pitbull Mini LS U-lock are a typical arrangement for theft resistant bike parking. The cable weighs 17.8 ounces and the lock tips the scales at 37 ounces. That is nearly 3.5 POUNDS of hardware that doesn’t make me go faster, climb hills easier, smooth the bumps or add to my safety on the road. In fact, this setup is a minimum recommendation for most bike security experts.

The recommended technique is to get the lock around your frame and an immoveable object and use the cable to secure your wheels to the lock. If it will fit, getting the lock around the frame, rear wheel and the anchor point is better, leaving the cable to keep your front wheel from being hauled off by some Neanderthal. Cables can be cut by nibbling away at the strands with a pair of wire cutters, the idea being to annoy  thief enough to pass on your bike as prospective prey and drive them off to some other poor victim’s goods. Even the U-lock can be foiled with a battery operated grinder with a cutoff wheel.

Seats are another target. Some use smaller wire cables or short sections of bicycle drive chain with an inner-tube cover. I have an Abus model 1500/60 with 4mm chain and integral lock that I use for less threatening locations like outside my neighborhood grocery store to simply keep someone from riding away on my unattended bike.  I use that lock to lock my seat to the frame of my rear rack and stow it that way while riding.

So yeah, I’ve got nearly 4 pounds of anti-theft hardware. I got the cable on sale at REI and the U-lock and chain lock were purchased on eBay. It would be easy enough to drop $75 and no trouble at all to go over $100 to have a theft resistant system. Note I didn’t say theft PROOF.

So other than the weight and the expense, the time and fiddle-factor REALLY annoys me when I’m parking in a sketchy area. I have to get out the lock and cable, find my keys, figure out some way to attach my bike to whatever crappy bike rack or street signpost I can find and then strip the computer, headlight, pannier or rack trunk bag and stainless water bottle off the bike so some punk doesn’t help himself to the removable bling while I’m in a shop or restaurant. And then the whole process is repeated when I return to the bike. It is entirely possible to spend more time in the security process than I do in the shop! That takes a chunk out of the freedom and convenience of being able to park a bike just about anywhere in the city.

So, other than wishing to banish all bike thieves to small cold island in the Aleutians, I would like to see someone make a good pouch for carrying my U-lock and cable. While we’re at it, you might as well add pockets for tools, a spare tube and the computer and lights when away from the bike. I’m thinking of a tough Cordura bag that could hand on the rear rack like a mini panier, or it could have Velcro straps and hang off the top tube like a frame bag. It should have a shoulder strap option so you can carry your bike bling with you. I’m thinking of a bag about 12-14″ tall and 8″ wide with a fold-over top and 3″-4″ deep. The pockets inside don’t need to be much more than open-topped dividers, with one for the u-lock, one for the cable and a third for tools & bling. A light tab would be okay.

I like rear rack mounting option best. I see a lot of bike commuters and a huge number of them run with one pannier, so it would work nicely to have this lock and tool bag on one side with a nice waterproof bag on the other.

My $0.02!

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3 thoughts on “RANT: I HATE BIKE LOCKS!

  1. bribikes March 1, 2015 / 3:11 pm

    Wow, I never realized bike security could be such a hassle! As the owner of a old MTB living in a rural area, I thankfully don’t have to worry about such things.

    • dalesjournal March 1, 2015 / 5:09 pm

      If you do a Google search on bike locks or bike thefts, you will find all sorts of horror stories. Much of the urban issues are drug related and the thieves are organized and equipped. The basic rules are:

      1. Don’t ever leave your bike unlocked, even for a minute.

      2. Don’t use cables alone

      3. Lock the frame to a substantial object with a good quality u-lock and add a stout cable to keep the wheels secure. A hardened chain and good quality lock work too.

      The irony is the need to haul so much steel in a sport where grams are counted and people will lay out large sums for exotic lightweight gear and materials. Sigh…..

      • bribikes March 2, 2015 / 5:27 pm

        I am sincerely sorry, for you city dwellers and your poor bikes.

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