You may consider yourself a safety-conscious cyclist. Perhaps you stick to the bike lanes, wear a helmet at all times, and make sure your front and rear lights always have fresh batteries. You always keep your eyes on the road and watch out for rogue taxis, making sure to give them a wide berth.

Sure, safety is the number-one concern of any New York City cyclist. But for all your concern about rider safety, are you neglecting the safety of your bike? For a city with such a significant cycling population, New York still lags behind other urban centers in bike infrastructure. Sheltered public bike parking options are virtually nonexistent in the city, and many residential and commercial buildings neither allow bicycles indoors nor do they provide their own private parking for cycling patrons. Most bicycle commuters are forced to lock their bikes outside, wherever they can find a sturdy signpost.

As a bike commuter in New York, you have to reckon with the evil gnomes of the cycling world: bike thieves. They’re everywhere and so crafty it’s nearly impossible to outsmart them or catch them once they have carried out their caper. Virtually every urban cyclist has been affected by this scourge: whether you’ve lost a beloved bicycle or had your wheels and other components stolen.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO LOCK YOUR BIKE

First things first: you want to make sure that you’ve bought the appropriate lock for your bicycle. If you’ve invested good money in your bike, you should also invest in a sturdy lock. It doesn’t make sense to pay a few hundred dollars for a bicycle, then buy a cheap lock from a dollar store or hardware store. Inexpensive cable and chain links can be easily cut with wirecutters. A thief can snip the chain and walk away in a matter of seconds.

Kryptonite's mini U-Lock and cable

Our most popular lock, this Kryptonite Mini U-Lock comes with a heavy-duty cable for securing your wheels.

You’ve probably seen legions of cyclists riding by with their trusty orange Kryptonite U-Lock tucked into their belt loops or secured against their bike frame. Well, there’s a reason that the Krytonite U-Lock is so ubiquitous: it’s simply the security standard for bikes. These heavy-duty steel locks have been fashioned to resist both boltcutters and leverage attacks. The locking mechanism has been designed with a double-deadbolt for extreme holding power.

SECURING YOUR WHEELS AND OTHER COMPONENTS

Whenever you lock up your bike in public, you’ll want to make sure that your wheels are also secure. Many a rider has locked their bike frame up securely, yet neglected to secure their wheels—and come back to one one-wheeled or no-wheeled bicycle!

Most modern bicycles have “quick-release” skewers. While this makes it easy for you to remove your wheels to change a flat, it also makes it easy for thieves to remove your wheels! With pinhead skewers and seatpost clamps, you need a special proprietary key to unlock the clamps, therefore making it nearly impossible for a thief to snatch up your components.

Various pinhead security options

Various pinhead security options. The wheel locks secure your wheels ($34.99); the 3-piece option includes 2 pinhead skewers and a seat clamp ($64.99) and the 4-piece includes a seat clamp, fork yoke clamp, and 2 wheel skewers ($79.99). All sets include a pinhead key for easy unlocking. Pinheads are the ultimate security for urban riders who park their bike on-street regularly.

When buying pinheads, we recommend you keep the pinhead key on you at all times to assist in case of a flat, and copy down the serial number in a secure place. You can order a copy of the key for an additional charge from the manufacturer with the serial number in case you lose your key—or if you have a tendency to lose your keys (like the editor!), you might find it beneficial to keep a spare at home.

NYPD’S BIKE REGISTRATION PROGRAM

Another security measure worth considering? The NYPD offers complimentary bike registration. They’ll engrave a serial number on your bicycle and affix a registration decal to the frame. In case of theft, you’ll have a better chance of recovering your bike.

One of our staff members, Cassandra, used this service to recover her beloved red Jamis Coda Sport. She says: “When Jamis was taken from me, I was crushed. Jamis was the bike that taught me how to love riding—and I’d been training all season to participate in my first century in September 2010. Just two weeks before the century, my bike was stolen. I filed a police report, including the registration number, on the day it was stolen.

Girl and bike, together forever.

Cassandra and her beloved red Jamis Coda Sport, reunited at last. Because of her experience with bicycle theft, she recommends all riders have their bikes engraved and registered with the NYPD. Call your local precinct for more details about the service.

“Two months later, I was walking down the street in Astoria, my neighborhood at the time. I noticed a red Jamis Coda Sport locked up outside a restaurant. I did a double-take: the thieves had changed out the rims, saddle, and handlebars, but it was definitely my bike. When I walked inside to confront the delivery boy, he denied having stolen the bicycle and insisted he had bought it from a third party, and offered to give me back the bicycle if I reimbursed him the $100 he had spent on the bicycle.

At that point, all I had to do was call the police. They matched the registration number in the report to the registration number engraved on the bicycle, then forced the delivery boy to unlock the bike and return it to me. Jamis and I were reunited at last!”

This registration service is useful, and if your bike is ever stolen, it makes recovery much easier by proving the bike in question is definitely yours. For more details on how this service works, and to schedule your own registration appointment, please call your local police precinct.

WHERE TO PARK YOUR BICYCLE

Once you’ve gotten your chosen security system up and running, it’s time to lock your bike. Some tips to keep in mind when you’re locking up:

Make sure that you’re locking your bicycle to something sturdy. Please do not lock your bicycle to the following:

  1. Construction scaffolding: an intrepid thief can easily disassemble the scaffolding with basic tools found in pretty much any toolbox or hardware store.
  2. Trees: We see so many bicycles locked to skinny saplings. These trees can be easily uprooted or even torn down in order to get at your bicycle. Besides, your lock or chain might scar the tree by damaging the outer layers of bark.
  3. Mailboxes: They’re not actually bolted down to the sidewalk! A motivated thief can get enough leverage to slip the chain or U-Lock out of the mailbox legs.

We recommend finding a street sign that has been securely cemented into the ground if no bike racks are available at your destination. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that the post is tall enough and the sign large enough that a creative thief does not simply lift the bike up and over the pole.

Thanks for reading today’s post, where we covered the basics of bike security. Tomorrow we’ll be posting demonstration videos on how to lock your bike securely, install pinhead skewers and clamps, as well as other creative bike-security solutions from longtime urban riders on our staff!

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