How to Lock a Bicycle – The Safest Way

One of the biggest perks of being a cyclist is not having to look for parking spots (or fight for parking spots).

However, what we have to worry about is the locking of our precious bikes. How to lock a bicycle safely that thieves don’t even try to cut your locks down?

Depending on your location and city you live in – you might have a great infrastructure and plenty of cycling locking stations where you can lock your bikes to.

However, how do you efficiently lock down a bicycle if you don’t have anything to lock it to?

That’s one of the biggest problems, among a couple of others. I’ll be discussing all of these problems in this article, but I’ll be showing you the most efficient (and one of the easiest) solutions you can start using from today!

The Most Common Locking Mistakes Cyclists Make

most-common-locking-mistake

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not securing the bicycle by locking it down to an object. In case you have no object around you, you can still efficiently lock down your bicycle.

However, what you should never do is only lock down your rear or front tire to an object. Why?

Because you could easily end up only with the wheel of your bike. Imagine only one of your wheels while the whole bike is gone? Hopefully, you will never find yourself in such a situation – especially if you follow my advice in this post.

Depending on your bike, there is a possibility that your wheels come with a butterfly quick-release mechanism. Such a mechanism is ideal for changing a tire when you’re on the road – but locking down your bicycle might give you a few security troubles.

Since there is a full range of mistakes you can make, one of them is not properly investing in a quality lock. Therefore, let’s see what types of locks are out there and what would be the most ideal solution for your bike.

Different Types of Locks

different-lock-types

Since security is one of the most important aspects – we have plenty of lock types. Here are some of the most common bike lock types used around the world:

  • Chain locks
  • D-locks
  • Cable & combination locks

There are also different variations of locks but these three types are the most common ones.

But which one is the strongest lock type? How about which lock type provides the most versatility?

Chain Locks

chain-bike-lock

Chain locks are often one of the toughest locks out there. They’re very visually deterrent so they might even scare away the thief due to the amount of work it would take to cut this type of lock. They also can be looped around the bike – but their downside is their heavyweight.

D-Locks

d-lock

D-locks, on the other hand, are very tough and are as much as a deterrent as chain locks – and they’re even lighter than chain locks. That’s why they’re one of the most used lock types among cyclists. However, they might be difficult to loop around the bike sometimes and some locks are just awkward to heavy. But better awkward than heavy, right?

Cable & Combination Locks

cable-lock

Cable & combination locks are very convenient, lightweight, easy to carry and easy to loop around the bike. However, they aren’t very secure (especially the combo-less locks) and cables are less secure than shackles and links. Therefore, they might even attract thieves.

How to Lock Down Your Bicycle – The Safest Ways

It’s not only how you lock the bike, but where do you lock it. And right here, I am not talking about the object yet the location of your bike.

Choose the Area

busy-bike-locking-racks

Choosing the right area is an important part of locking down your bicycle which is often overlooked (or forgotten) by cyclists.

You should always lock your bike on busy streets, under CCTV’s (if possible), and definitely to an object.

You should definitely avoid areas that are not crowded, are not safe, or are known as a hot locations for bike thieves.

Also, if you’re thinking of locking down your bike in public for a bit longer – don’t give thieves clues. For example, if you’re going to the cinema – you might want to avoid locking your bike down directly in front of the cinema.

Instead, going a bit down the street and locking your bike in front of a shopping store might be a smarter idea.

Locking Down Your Bike With 2 Locks – The Safest Method

locking-down-a-bike-with-2-locks

The best way to lock down your bike is with 2 locks, preferably D-locks or chain (or combination of both).

For the most secure locking technique, you’d want to lock your front wheel and frame to the object, and your rear wheel and frame to the same object.

I prefer locking down my bike to bike racks which are cemented into the ground – so I know that there’s no way this object will be pulled out of the ground or removed easily.

This way, your bike will solely rely on the D-lock. Therefore, you should always invest in a quality lock such as the ones from a Kryptonite brand.

Locking Down Your Bike with 1 Lock – 2 Ideal Methods

Method 1

locking-a-bike-down-with-1-lock

In case you have only one lock and you have no money to invest in a second lock – no worries. While this might not be the ideal solution (as it puts your bike in a bit riskier situation), there are two best methods you can use.

If you’re locking down your bike with one lock (preferably D-lock), you’d want to remove your front wheel. In order for this to work, you’ll either have to have a quick-release mechanism or carry a necessary tool to untighten your front wheel.

When you’ve removed your front wheel, put it next to your rear wheel and use a lock to lock down both wheels and frame to a safe object.

Method 2

second-locking-method-using-one-lock

The second method doesn’t require removal of the wheel and is also one of the simplest methods which you might have used in the past.

This method is called Sheldon’s method and this method requires you to lock down your bike by securing the rear wheel to a bike rack somewhere within the rear triangle of the frame.

Therefore, you won’t be directly locking down your frame – but your rear wheel couldn’t get removed because the lock would block it within the frame. This way, both your rear wheel and bike frame are safe.

However, I wouldn’t recommend you do this unless you really trust your lock since that’s the only thing that will be able to save your bike in a case it gets targeted by a thief.

Tips on Locking Down Your Bike

Lock Down Frame & Both Wheels

I highly recommend locking the frame as well as one or both wheels. But once you do lock down your bike – you should try to keep the lock as high as possible, all the way from the ground.

Why? Not many cyclists know this but the reason is simple.

Keep Your Lock as High as Possible

If your lock is close to the ground, thieves can use this as an advantage to cut through your lock. Since this would give allow them to use the ground as leverage and also help them use their weight to cut the lockdown.

Don’t Leave the Inside of D-Lock Empty

filled-d-lock

Also, if possible, never leave the inside of the D-lock empty yet always either have a frame, wheels, or bike rack in the middle. Preferably a couple of objects.

This would make the access a bit more difficult, and in case the thief is equipped with a large bolt cutter – they might not be able to successfully position themselves to cut down your lock.

Use Two Different Lock Types

locking-down-a-bike-using-two-different-locks

Lastly, most cyclists purchase two different locks so if thieves target their bike – they would need two different tools to cut down the locks.

Conclusion

Bike stealing is almost considered to be an industry and you might never know how many times your bike caught the eyes of the thieves.

Therefore, you should know that they’re always out there and you should do everything in your power to keep your bike safe.

Investing in a quality lock is a must, no matter how expensive your bike is. You shouldn’t give thieves the opportunity at all.

But learning the proper technique to lock down your bike is necessary – especially if you’re a new cyclist. Hopefully, you have everything inside this post to learn how to lock a bicycle in the safest way possible.

What technique do you use and which method is your favorite one? Do you use one or two locks (or more)?

Feel free to leave a comment below and share your experience or knowledge!

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