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Locking Your Bicycle

Don't let your bike end up here

Be sure to get a demo from us on how the lock works and how to use it properly. Study the diagrams below.

DESIGN FEATURES - Make sure that the lock design provides functional security. Gimmicks may look cool, but will they really protect your bike? Lightweight cables or chains aren't going to stop even a novice thief.

SOLID STEEL IS STRONGEST - The ideal steel is hardened against cutting yet maintains flexibility.

SERVICES - Find out about the lock's reputation. Does it have a good track record? A warranty? A guarantee? Lifetime key registration and prompt key-replacement services?

SIZES - Do not buy a larger lock than you really need. Thieves will use the extra space between your lock and your bike to their advantage.

LOCKING RIGHT - Makes it even more difficult for thieves to position their tools to attempt a break. And, always lock your bike in a visible, well-lighted area. Most thieves don't like to be seen.


  • Always use a lock.
    Always wear a helmet.
  • Ride with traffic, not against it.
  • If riding at dusk or at night, use reflectors and lighting systems. Be visible!
  • Ride defensively. Watch for cars and car doors.
  • Learn, use and obey traffic safety signals.
  • Give pedestrians the right of way.
  • Slow down and look for oncoming traffic.

When locking your bike, think like a crook. For example, select a location where there are other bikes. The chances are better that there will be a bike with a less-secure lock or even without one, and thieves will usually look for unlocked bikes first. Likewise, lock your bike in a well-lit area where a thief won't be able to hide. Also, don't routinely lock to the same spot day after day. A determined thief might "mark" your bike, round up the tools to steal it and take it.

The following illustrations and tips show the best way to secure your bike and keep it safe.

Read the explanations below the picture

Locking with 2 locks
 a: Position your bike frame and wheels so that you fill up or take up as much of the open space within the lock's U portion as possible. The tighter the lock up, the harder it will be for a thief to insert a pry bar and pry open your lock. Notice here that 2 different locks are used.

Locking with the front wheel removed
 b: Lock to a fixed, immovable object, a parking meter; or a permanent bike rack cemented or anchored into the ground. It must prevent a thief from slipping the locked bike off over the top of the pole. Beware of locking to items that can easily be cut, broken or removed.

 c: Always secure your components and accessories, especially those that can be easily removed, such as quick-release wheels and seats. Use your cable lock on these items looping it through them first and then through your U-lock.
 d: Try not to let your lock rest against the ground where a thief can smash the lock. And, if your U-lock has its keyway on the end of the crossbar, place the lock with its keyway end facing down toward the ground. This makes it harder for the thief to access your lock.

Buy high-quality locks. Cheap locks will only waste your money and give you a false sense of security.

Register your key number(s) with the lock company that made your lock. Some companies offer lifetime key registration and 24-hour key-replacement services.

Write down your key numbers and/or lock combination and put them in a handy file with your bike registration information, purchase receipts and other important documents.

Always keep your bike locked: at home or in the dorm; everywhere. Thieves look for unlocked bikes. They may be thieves, but they're not dumb.

In high-theft areas, 2 locks are better than 1. It stinks, but it's true. Combine a cable and a U-lock, or even 2 U-locks. The more time and trouble it takes a thief to attack your bike, the less likely your bike will be stolen.

Consistency. Lock up every time. It's always the one time you don't lock that your bike is stolen.

Register your bike
. Of the thousands of bikes police recover each year; the only ones that we're sure are going home are the ones registered with the National Bike Registry.

Click to visit the NBR

Since the NBR started protecting bicycles in 1984, its recovery rate is 100%. Every time a police officer has recovered a bike registered with the NBR, it's been returned to its owner.

What's more, the National Bike Registry is the only bike-registration system that works across state lines. So, if your bicycle is stolen in California and turns up in Illinois, they can get it back to you. No one else, not even the police are set up to do that. For more information:

The National Bike Registry
2855 Telegraph Ave., Suite 304
Berkeley, CA 94705