Lock Your Bike

2017 version of Kryptonite’s KryptoLock with a flex cable.

Quick Locking Guide

  • Use a U-lock and lock your frame and front wheel to an immovable post that your bike can’t be lifted over. Lock your back wheel if you carry a second lock.
  • Always lock your bike, even (especially) when you’re on a long event ride such as Cascade Bicycle Club’s Seattle-to-Portland Bike Ride or when you’ve put your bike in your workplace’s bike cage.

Complete Locking Recommendations

KryptoniteNewYorkLock

Kryptonite New York Lock

What lock to own & use

In general, use a U-lock worth at least $40. Cheaper locks are easily cut, picked or busted. Make sure the U-lock is big enough to lock around your front wheel, down tube, and a 2.25″-thick post. But you don’t want a lock that’s so big that a thief can use a hydraulic jack or crowbar to easily bust your U-lock.

The standard bearer for U-locks is the Kryptonite KryptoLock with a flex cable. The 2017 version of the KryptoLock has a double deadbolt design and a disc-style locking mechanism that makes twist, hydraulic jack, pick, and drill attacks difficult. If you regularly ride a bike worth more than $1,500, you should use the Kryptonite Evolution U-Lock, which has stronger steel and is even less prone to hydraulic jack and power-saw attacks. If your bike is worth more than $2,500 or you’re frequently in theft-prone areas, consider the more expensive Kryptonite New York U-Lock, which has even stronger steel.

  • If you lock your bike for extended period of times on the street (more than 3 hours) or in a public garage, or if your bike has quick release wheels, have a second lock that’s either another U-lock or heavy duty cable.
  • If you have cargo or family bike, you may find that a U-lock doesn’t work for you. Instead, consider an ABUS folding lockSunLite folding lock, or TiGr titanium lock.
Bike Properly Locked

A correctly locked bicycle: The frame is locked to an immovable object and both wheels are secured. Image created by Bike Index.

How to park and lock up your bike

Always lock your frame and one wheel to the bike rack.

  • Locking your front wheel to the frame provides greater stability to your bike if it’s knocked around by someone, however some people lock their back wheel instead because it’s typically worth more.
  • Tug on whatever you’re about to lock to make sure it can’t be easily removed.
  • Be wary of locking to signposts. Often signposts can be easily removed by unbolting them. Also, often signposts are short enough to simply lift the bike over the post, especially if you’ve used a cable lock.
  • When locking to an “inverted-U” or “staple” rack, lock to the vertical bars, not the horizontal top rail or a horizontal middle rail.  If you lock to a horizontal rail, your bike may roll around, get off kilter, and/or get bumped by other people locking their bikes up, all potentially damaging your bike or their bike.
  • In Seattle, many “inverted-U” or “staple” racks have a secondary horizontal middle rail. This horizontal rail is included because the rack may be bolted into the ground with bolts and nuts that are easy to unscrew to remove the rack. Unless the bike is properly locked to the rack, thieves can easily unscrew the nuts and slide a bike off these racks. So, always lock your bike with a U-lock around the vertical bar and above the middle horizontal rail — this way a thief cannot unscrew the rack and slide the bike off the rack.

Plain Sight v. Hidden Doesn’t Matter: Always lock up

Just because your bike is in plain sight or hidden from sight doesn’t mean it’s secure. Always lock it up and don’t leave it there too long.

  • Don’t rely on foot traffic to keep your bike safe. Many thefts, particularly those involving cutting cable locks, occur under the cover of crowd activity or in front of bustling cafés or restaurants.
  • Don’t rely on a bike rack hidden in a public garage to keep your bike safe. Thieves have done their research and know where all the racks are and how easy it is to steal bikes with no one looking. If you’re locking up in a garage, make sure you lock your bike to an immovable object.
  • Don’t rely on the presence of cameras to keep your bike secure. Security footage is rarely of much use once a bike is gone, and thieves know this.

Secure or remove your valuable possessions

Saddle Leash bigThieves regularly steal headlights, taillights, and saddles. If you can remove them easily, thieves can too. So, get in the regular practice of taking your removable headlights, taillights, etc. with you after you lock-up.

If you have an expensive saddle, such as a Brooks leather saddle, consider adding a permanent small cable to lock the saddle (by its rails) to the frame as a theft deterrent.

Locking-up During Event Rides

We don’t ever recommend using cable locks for your regular commuting and weekend bike rides.  It’s always worth the extra weight to put a U lock in your saddle bag in case you need to lock-up on the street, at a cafe, or just a bathroom pitstop.  But we understand that when you’re on a one-day event ride, you might be reticent to ride with a 4 pound lock.

If you’re not going to carry a U lock, at least carry a lightweight lock like a TiGr or cable lock, just in case you need to use a restroom or decide to stop for lunch.

If your ride is a multi-day ride, make carry a U lock. If it’s a supported ride, you can put the U lock with your luggage and use it to lock up in the evening while carrying a TiGr or cable lock during your ride.