Chain Your Bike

Edited by Train Wreck, Eng, VisiHow

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Improperly locking your bike can cause it to be stolen. This is a tutorial on how to properly chain your bike with a cable lock. No matter where you live, it's important to secure your bicycle so it does not get stolen. That said there are different levels of bicycle security and anti-theft measures. The two main differences in these systems are in the form of locks for bicycles. The most common type of lock is a cable lock, or a chain lock, which we will be discussing in this tutorial. It should be noted that these types of locks are easier to break than a more secure you-lock. However, they are much lighter, easier to carry, and easier to attach and remove. Plus, one cable lock can do as much as two you-locks. In fact, for certain types of bike, like those discussed in this article, you would need three or more you-locks to secure as many components, or you'd need enormous you-locks.

Chain Locks Weigh Less and are Flexible

As anyone who bikes can tell you, huge heavy locks just aren't at all practical. This is why chain or cable locks are the preferred choice. They are lightweight, easy to carry around, and do a good job of securing your bicycle. As you can see in the following photo we have a cable lock.

Expensive Bikes Need to be Secured

The bicycle in the image below is a Ghost Kato FS 5. It is a $2000 bicycle, and there is only one model superior to it, which is almost $3,000. Since you can get a cheap car in most parts of the world for that price, this is obviously not a bicycle you want to leave unlocked. In order to protect this investment, we have a cable lock. The reason we choose to use a cable lock has to do with the weight and ease of use, as mentioned earlier. It's also important to note that we rarely leave this bicycle unattended on the street for any length of time. This is because it's relatively easy for a bicycle thief to steal a bike that is unattended -- no matter what kind of locking system you've elected to use.

Bike Parts to Lock Down

When securing your bicycle, there are generally three things you want to concern yourself with. These are:

  1. 1
    The front wheel
    The front wheel of a good bicycle is worth at least a quick $50 for a bike thief, and top rims and wheels can fetch hundreds. If your front wheel has a quick release setup, you will want to consider a method you can use to secure the front wheel.
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  2. 2
    The back wheel
    Just like the front wheel, the back wheel is worth at least $50 to a thief. If your rear wheel is also a quick release setup, you'll need to make sure the wheel is secured. Not securing it will almost certainly result in someone stealing your wheel.
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  3. 3
    The bicycle frame
    This may seem a bit strange, however, high quality bicycle frames start from about $500 and go way up from there. If you secure your quick release wheels, but not your bicycle frame, then a thief can just unhook your bicycle wheels and carry off the bike frame. Therefore it is also important to secure your frame.
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In terms of your seat or your handlebars, as long as you do not have quick release elements on them, you shouldn't have to worry as much about them being stolen. You can even put a piece of tape on your bike seat to make it look torn, in which case no one will even bother trying to steal it. Alternatively, if you do have quick release levers on your seat, as we do, your best bet is simply to take the seat off and carry it with you wherever you happen to be going.

Why Chain Locks are a Good Choice

The beauty of a bicycle chain or cable lies in the fact that generally speaking it's long enough to secure all of the wheels and prevent theft of the entire bicycle. You simply need to know how to properly secure the bike so that no one is able to steal it. That is, unless they're professional thieves, in which case no reasonable amount of bike security would realistically be able to stop them anyway.

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How to Properly Lock Your Bike

  1. 1
    In the photo below, you can see that we have secured our bicycle with a chain lock woven through the front wheel.
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  2. 2
    Also note that the bike chain has secured the back wheel, which is now locked and can no longer be taken off of the bicycle.
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  3. 3
    Finally, pay attention to the fact that we have also wrapped the chain around the frame of the bicycle
    This prevents someone from taking either of the wheels or the frame of the bicycle, as there is enough space in the center area of the bike to let us secure the chain around a post, pole, or another fixed immovable object.
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  4. 4
    This will allow us to stop any would be bicycle thieves from stealing our bicycle or running away with it
    The only exception would be a particularly determined thief in a major city who had the tools on hand to cut or remove a bike chain lock.
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When You-Locks Don't Work on Bikes

We mentioned earlier that a you-lock is a better option than a chain. However, particularly with on and off road bicycles such as the one we have here, it becomes difficult or impossible to fit a you-lock in between the rear shock and the frame. Likewise there is also a great enough distance between the frame and the front wheel that an enormous lock is required to secure it all. This makes the bike absurdly difficult to lock up. Worse, it means you're carrying considerably more extra weight on every ride. This is why we prefer to use a chain on this style of bike.

Additional Tips

  • Make sure that you always secure your bicycle to something. While our bicycle looks well and lovely locked up in this picture, anyone with minimal strength could easily pick it up and carried away -- unless we secure it to an immovable object. If they carry our bike away, they will have all the time they need to remove our chains and anti-theft devices from the comfort of their home.
  • If you are in an area prone to bicycle theft, such as a major city like New York, Chicago, Hong Kong, Moscow, or London, consider taking your bike inside at night.
  • In most cases you will find the serial number of your bicycle stamped on the bottom of the bike frame. Take note of this serial number. We recommend taking your photo ID or passport, and taking a photo of the serial number with your ID. Also have a shop or repair facility log you in their system as the registered owner. This will let you more easily demonstrate ownership of the bike, helping to recover it should someone ever steal your bicycle.

See other tutorials on bicycles: Install a Mirror on a Bicycle, Prevent Rust on a Bicycle, Stop a Touring Bike from Falling Over, Adjust the Road Bike Seating Position, Stop a Loaded Bike from Falling Over, Tell if Bike Tires Need Replacing, Check a Bike Tire for Damage, Fix a Bike Chain Without a Tool, Repurpose an Old Bike Into a Bathroom Counter, Adjust Touring Bike Handlebars, Use a Quick Release Bike Wheel, Remove the Inner Tube from a Bike Wheel, Check Spoke Tension on a Bike Wheel, and Repair a Punctured Bike Tire.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


Article Info

Categories : Bikes & Motorcycles

Recent edits by: Eng, Train Wreck

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