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How to Lock a Bike Without a Rack [5 OPTIONS]

At times when cycling you may find yourself in somewhat of a stressful situation: you’ve ridden to somewhere new, and you can’t see a bike rack that’s available to lock your bike to. You’re in a rush, and need to think fast.

So where can you lock your bike that’s a safe and suitable alternative? Well, luckily, there are quite a few practical choices.

How to Lock a Bike with Nothing to Lock It To

You may at some point find yourself in a situation where you need to lock your bicycle to something other than a bike rack; whether that’s due to a bike rack being nonexistent, or it being simply full up already with bikes.

If you find yourself in this situation and stressing, don’t worry. There are quite a few realistic and sensible alternatives for you to lock your bike to, that will more than likely be within a stones throw of where you need to be, or currently are.

Most of these options are attaching your lock to ‘street furniture’, which is super convenient and will suit pretty much all types of locks.

Lamppost 

A solid option for something solid and secure to lock your bike to is a lamppost. Thankfully, they’re also really easy to find unless you are quite literally in the middle of nowhere.

The best way to lock your bike to a lamppost would be using a U lock around the frame of your bike, and securing it around the pole of the lamppost. If you do have a cable as well (which I’d highly recommend) then it’s worth passing this through both of your wheels for peace of mind and extra security. 

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Benches

Another great option that’s often readily available in built up, urban, and even rural areas are benches. Benches are a great object to lock your bike to as they are stable, sturdy, and often have a few places you can attach your lock to.

For those looking to lock a bike to a bench I’d suggest chain or cable locks may be the most suited for this option. I’d also highly advise against locking your bike to memorial benches for obvious reasons. 

Railings 

Another option to lock your bike to if a bike rack is not available is the next best thing: railings. As they are somewhat similar to a bike specific rack, therefore locking your bike to them shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

With railings, you can pretty much use any type of lock to safely secure your bike to them. Whether it be a U lock, chain, or cable lock, they will all fit through the bars that make up the railings ,and easily pass back through your bike frame.

Road Signs

Similar to lampposts, locking your bike to road signs is an option to consider if you can’t manage to lock up to a bike rack. However, it’s important to think about the height of the one you chose. The best type would be a larger one where the lock and bike cannot be lifted over.

Once again, any lock would suit this option, but for the best results a U lock secured to the pole of the sign and the frame, coupled with a cable to pass through both wheels, would be optimum. 

Trees

Last but not least, a natural and very stable option: a tree. This is obviously one of the most accessible options given that no matter where you may be, in a city or in a rural area, you’ll likely find a tree somewhere. Of course pick a mature tree if you do go with this option.

Here a U lock will likely be far too small, so any cable or chain lock would be most suited. This way you can lock your frame and wheels securely around the tree trunk. 

How to Lock a Bike to Itself 

If none of the above options are available for you to lock your bike to, then you may need to consider locking your bike to itself.

This is not the most secure nor practical route to take, however, at times it may need to be done. As long as it’s for a short period of time, you shouldn’t have too many issues when it comes to this method. 

This definitely should not be your go-to option when considering where to lock your bike, it should be seen only as a last-ditch attempt in desperate times. 

First off, look for a busy and well lit area with CCTV to carry out this one. Likewise, consider purchasing an uncuttable bike lock for this scenario: this is because they are heavy so add weight to the overall bike, making it harder to move, and also offering extra protection from bolt cutters. 

Next, take the wheels out of your bike and lock them securely through your frame, preferably using an uncuttable bike lock. Leaving wheels in allows for your bike to potentially be wheeled away, therefore doing this will make your bike a less attainable target for criminals. 

Another great product to invest in if you don’t always have a lock is a bike alarm. Currently on the market bike alarms that are fitted to your bike and controlled via an app on your phone can tell you if someone tries to move your bike while you are away.

Charlotte Broughton
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Charlotte Broughton

Since Charlotte was a young child, bikes have played a paramount part of her life. She races bikes, rides bikes and also loves writing about bikes. It’s always just been a way of life for Charlotte and a passion that she now loves to share with others. You can follow Charlotte on social media via: Instagram: @charbroughton Twitter: @char_broughton