The Art of Bike Locking: How to Keep Your Ride Safe in the City

Bicycle theft

This post may contain affiliate links, which help to keep Discerning Cyclist rolling. Learn more.

Is your bike a target for city thieves?

For cyclists worldwide, bike theft is an ongoing issue. For those who’ve had one stolen, you’ll know how irritating it is. For those who haven’t, sometimes it can feel like it’s just a matter of time. 

Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to deter criminals. In this article, we’ll look at the art of locking your bike, from advice to applicable techniques, all to keep your ride safe in the city.

How Bad Is Bike Theft?

According to the Standard, a bicycle is stolen every six minutes in the UK alone. That’s nearly 88,000 in just a year. The vast majority of these thefts occur in urban environments, where bikes are plentiful, and thieves can have their pick of the bunch.

And that’s not the worst of it. According to the National Office of Statistics, more than half of reported bike thefts occur at home. Is there no place safe for our beloved companions?

Why bike theft is so common

Why Is Bike Theft So Common?

You’re probably wondering why bike theft is so common.

Well, there’s a simple answer. It’s low risk, high reward, and, more often than not, goes unpunished. In many cases, it’s as easy as cutting open a weak chain in seconds. In others, it might be as simple as gaining access to a building and walking out with it. 

But don’t get discouraged. There are proven and actionable steps that you can take to protect your bike from theft. Trust us when we say it could just save your ride. 

1. Get Good Locks

The worst-kept secret about bike locking is getting good locks- yes, locks, as in plural. 

If you’re investing your hard-earned cash on a brand-new bike or e-bike and you haven’t spent a good proportion of that on bike locks, you might as well have thrown your money down the drain.

Use a combination of locks that require different tools to break. The idea is to make your bike as difficult and time-consuming to steal as possible. A solid D-lock and a heavy-duty chain or cable are enough to put off many potential thieves. 

And before you ask, how much should I spend on locks? The short answer is as much as you can. Don’t want to spend the money? Trust us when we say it’s cheaper than forking out for a new bike. 

The best way to lock your bicycle

2. Know How To Secure Your Bike

There’s no point spending money on good equipment if you don’t know how to use it. The technique is crucial here.

When securing your bike, lock the parts in order of value. Usually, that means frame first, rear wheel second, front-wheel third, etc. 

There are two main ways to do this. The first is to use a D-Lock to secure the seat tube and back wheel to an immovable object and a cable to connect the front wheel to the back one. 

The second, especially if you’ve got a quick-release front wheel, is to remove it entirely and lock it alongside the rear wheel and frame with a D-Lock. 

Do you have an expensive saddle, fancy clip-on pedals, or a valuable battery? If you can remove them, do. If you don’t, a thief can gladly do it for you. 

3. Know Where To Lock Your Bike

To defeat your enemy, you must first know your enemy. It’s no coincidence that the art of bike locking shares this with the art of war.

While Sun Tzu didn’t have to worry about his e-bike being stolen, he would have known how to prevent it. Bike thieves want to be conspicuous most of the time. After all, they’re committing a crime.

Therefore, you should make that as difficult as possible. Lock your bike in areas with good visibility and high foot traffic, where prying eyes can act as your defensive forces. Dark alleyways and secluded corners are not your friends.

But that’s not enough. Knowing our enemy, we know they want to take our bike from our home, where we thought it safe. 

That’s why we will keep it, and lock it, not in a shared area of an apartment building, or our flimsy shed, but in our apartment if possible. Keep your friends close and your bike closer. 

4. Prepare For The Worst

When it comes to bike theft, we need a plan B, a go-to for when the worst happens.

Whilst we do everything we can to protect our bikes, we must also do what we can to get them back if they’re stolen.

Register your bike with the police or local online platforms if you can. Keep a record of the serial number, make, model, and any unique aspects. 

Those photos you took of your ride for your Instagram? They might finally help you with something other than getting likes.

These days, you can also get a decent GPS tracker and fit it discreetly to your bike. Whilst we’re not suggesting that you go full Liam Neeson and recover it yourself, it’s always handy to have it if you do go to the police. After all, it’s making their job a lot easier.

5. Create A Security System

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a Chinese general or a Hollywood Actor to protect your bike. But what you do need is a security system.

No, that doesn’t mean hiring an armed bodyguard. It means investing in and designing a multi-layered system with different components and a contingency plan. Lock your bike in a way that makes it as hard to steal as possible. We cannot emphasize this enough.

The best prevention for bike theft is deterrence. Use a combination of good locking practices, good equipment, and common sense to keep your bike secure. The bottom line is that the more effort it takes to steal your bike, the less likely it is to be stolen. 

There are hundreds of steps you can take, and the more of them you do, the more secure your bike will be, period.

Bike skewers? Great. Lockable cover? Even better. A fancy alarm connected to your phone? Why not. 

No single measure guarantees protection, but to keep your ride safe in the city, go above and beyond when it comes to protecting it. 

If your bike is your lifeline for commuting, treat it like your child: shower it with care, revel in the joy it brings you, and protect it from harm. 

Share the 🚲 Love

Discerning Cyclist Store

Visit the Discerning Cyclist's Shop

Ride in style

Join our weeky newsletter to get early access to our latest discoveries.

Related reads