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How to Lock a Bike WITHOUT a Lock [6 Hacks]

We’ve all been there. You’ve cycled to work, the gym or the supermarket. As you go to secure your bike it suddenly dawns on you that you haven’t got your lock. A feeling of panic may set in – but fear not because we’ve got some handy hacks for you to lock a bike, without a lock!

Forgot Your Lock? 

If you’re reading this article, it probably means you’re experiencing the above realisation. Perhaps you were in a rush when you left. Maybe you’re using a different bike today, so that has affected your routine. Or it could be that your need for a lock was unexpected. 

Whatever the reason, forgetting your lock can be worrying. Especially if you’re in an area where your bike may be at risk or if you need to leave it for a long time. Bike theft is a big problem with one bike being stolen on average every 6 minutes in Britain.    

How to Secure Your Bike Without a Lock 

Thankfully there are many simple, quick and effective ways to still make sure your bike is as secure as is possible without a lock. 

DIY Bike Lock 

Remove or loosen a wheel 

Even if you’ve got a lock this is a useful tip to ward off theft. A bike that’s missing a wheel makes it impossible to ride away, and more challenging to replace to sell on. 

If you’ve got the capacity to carry your wheel, and you’ve got a quick release lever, simply remove your front wheel and take it with you. 

Wandering around with a wheel might not be an option. Alternatively you can just loosen your quick release lever. This will still be enough to throw off any thief, because as soon as they move or try to ride your bike, it will fall off. However, this should be a last resort. Not only could it cause a lot of damage to your bike, it will also cause a lot of damage to the person! 

If you’re not sure if you’ve got a quick release lever, or if you don’t know how to use it, this short video will guide you through what to do.

Take your seat post

Just like your wheels, your seat post is another key part of your bike that would be sorely missed. Quite literally! 

Removing this would make it very uncomfortable to ride away with your bike. It would also result in further cost and trouble to replace. 

This process can vary depending on your bike, but the first step is to loosen it (this may require an allen key) and then rotate it using your saddle until it is able to be removed.  

Switch to a high gear or drop your chain

Strategically adjusting your chain will definitely make a potential thief think twice. 

One option is to put your bike in the most challenging gear before you leave it. This means it will be both confusing and physically taxing for anyone who tries to steal your bike. Hopefully this will buy you some extra time. 

Another option is to dislodge and remove your chain so it will not be possible to ride away. Only do this if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty! 

Source: Unsplash.com

Bring it inside 

Whether it’s a cafe or your office, if you’ve forgotten your lock and your destination is indoors then you can wheel it inside and find a place for it to lean against. Try to aim for a location where your bike won’t be in the way, but where you know it will be safe. 

I did this at my gym recently when I realised I hadn’t got my lock. I politely explained the situation to the receptionist. They kindly let me put my bike in a corridor within their eyeshot for the duration of my workout. I picked it up and thanked them on my way out.

You may also be lucky and find yourself near an indoor cycle storage facility. Often these incur a charge but it is a small price to pay for your peace of mind. For example in the UK, SpokeSafe has multiple secure and accessible locations in car parks, retail units and more. 

Camouflage 

Bikes may not be the most subtle and compact of objects but they can still be easily hidden. If you’re in a town or city there will often be other bikes around. Slotting your unlocked bike between other locked ones will help to give the illusion it is also secure. 

To further protect your bike, you could place it next to a much nicer bike. This way in the unfortunate event a thief is on the lookout, they will most likely go for theirs and not yours.

Alternatively you could go off grid and identify a more secluded spot to leave it. You could also take advantage of nature and find a tree, bush or large rock to hide your bike in or behind. Obviously this increases the risk, so if you do this then you may want to combine it with our other hacks to add an extra deterrent. 

Source: Unsplash.com

Make it look like its locked 

Last but by no means least, improvising with alternative ‘lock like’ equipment means your bike may look like it is actually locked. 

The best and most readily available choice for this solution is your helmet. Simply attach your helmet round your bike using the straps in a way that stops your rear wheel from moving.

If you don’t have a helmet, or if you don’t want to risk it being stolen, you might have other choices like zip ties or bungee cords either on your person, or your bike. Like with your helmet, your aim is to use these in a way that would increase inconvenience for anyone trying to steal your bike. 

Hopefully you’ve now found a way to temporarily keep your bike safe until it’s time to pedal home. However, as soon as you’re able to do so make sure you properly secure it. 

If you’re in need of a new lock we’ve compiled this guide on the different types of locks. If you’re just prone to forgetting your lock, take a look at our top 3 wearable locks as that might help you to remember! 

Lucy Giuliano


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4. 👖DUER-All Weather Jeans
Waterproof cycling jeans. Seriously.

5. 🎒Rapha Reflective Backpack
A beautiful backpack that you can't miss.




Lucy Giuliano

From Beijing to Burkina Faso and London Cycling Campaign to Love to Ride, Lucy has cycled in many different places and worked in the cycling sector. She is now based in Derby where she supports, encourages and empowers girls, women and non-binary people to cycle through her organisation, Spoke Out.