save my bike
June 7, 2011 4:18 PM   Subscribe

I've just bought a new bike, and I'm desperate to not have this one stolen from me. I even got a foldable one so that I can bring it into my apartment, but besides a good lock (although I'd love suggestions) what other ways can I protect it (for instance, can I register it with the police?). I live in Brooklyn, NY.

posted by Unred to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I once asked at my local precinct about registering with the police. They were just like, "Uhhh."

From my experience, the best way to prevent your bike getting stolen is to leave it locked on the street as seldom as possible.
posted by Sara C. at 4:39 PM on June 7, 2011

Take photos of your bike and also record your serial number. This way, if it is stolen, you'll have recourse if you happen to find your bike on the street or being sold second-hand.
posted by pluot at 4:49 PM on June 7, 2011

Not so much a security tip, really, but as far as peace of mind goes: renter's insurance does usually cover bikes.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:50 PM on June 7, 2011

Paint it pink?

Not joking, though I have nothing more than intuition to suggest that dorky-looking bikes are stolen less often than snazzy ones.
posted by orangejenny at 4:58 PM on June 7, 2011

Lock it next to a much nicer bike. Seriously.
posted by Jairus at 5:03 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Kryptonite used to (i'm not sure if they still do) offer a replacement value if your bike gets stolen, as long as you register your bike and lock with them. I've known a couple people who have had their bikes replaced by Kryptonite locks...on top of that they're nearly unstoppable. It's a good investment, and peace of mind.
posted by furnace.heart at 5:26 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Use a sturdy cable lock in addition to a good strong u-lock. Both locks will require a different tool to defeat, and most bike thieves aren't going to bother carrying both. Locking in downtown Chicago with this strategy hasn't failed me yet.
posted by steinwald at 5:37 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I once knew a guy who embedded razor blades on the underside of the top tube of his frame. He would consistently find drops of blood around his bike. But, no one ever stole that thing.
posted by AlliKat75 at 5:39 PM on June 7, 2011 [8 favorites]

Besides locking your bicycle more securely, and parking in highly visible areas, you can reduce the risk of theft by making your bike less of a target. One way to do this is to make it less valuable in comparison to other bicycles. That is, if you remove the front wheel or the seat and take those parts with you, it renders the remaining parts essentially broken. This can make it less of a target for casual theft because the bike can't simply be ridden away. It has to be carried away, or hauled. This doesn't get you completely off the hook because the parts still have value at a component level (I've seen frames stripped absolutely bare, locked safely to a bicycle rack). But it makes your bicycle safer in comparison to other, more functional targets in the vicinity.
posted by Jeff Howard at 6:01 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I second the repainting idea: either some garish colour like pink (as suggested above) or a nondescript yet stylish colour like matte black or grey.
posted by matlock expressway at 6:05 PM on June 7, 2011

Oh god don't do the razorblade thing. I can't imagine accidentally rubbing my butt or elbow up against someone's bike in a tight area while locking up mine and being cut deeply. Also, keep a cheapo cable lock to lock your seat to your frame so no one up and takes it on you.
posted by kpht at 7:00 PM on June 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

You need a U-lock instead of just a cable lock. Also another lock (you might have to use a cable one, not sure) to lock the front wheel to the frame.

Depending on where you live, you can register bikes with the city/police. Not sure about Brooklyn.

Oh and if you don't have renter's insurance, it's really cheap and a good idea just in general. Especially as a rider on top of car insurance.
posted by radioamy at 7:19 PM on June 7, 2011

I like Sheldon Brown's lock strategy, using a u-lock on the rear tire inside the frame triangle. You want a mini u-lock for this method so thieves can't get a jack inside the lock. I also remove the front wheel and squeeze it in the lock between the frame and pole but a good cable lock securing the front wheel is fine, just more to carry.

If your seat is quick release change it to a bolt or take the seat with you. Quick release on a seat doesn't make much sense anyway, unless you're sharing a bike, since the seat shouldn't need frequent adjustment once set properly.
posted by 6550 at 7:26 PM on June 7, 2011

Honestly, the best thing you can do is always keep your folding bike with you, which shouldn't be too hard most of the time (you can bring it on buses and the commuter rail of your choice, in addition to the subway, and few buildings will challenge you on bringing it in). Keep a kryptonite around for when you absolutely, positively have no other choice than to park outside, but keep in mind that the New York series of locks (the ones you need to buy to get the insurance) are really heavy.
posted by thecaddy at 7:26 PM on June 7, 2011

Parking somewhere super-obvious is the only true solution. I used to work in the financial district and I locked my bike directly in front of the post-9/11 "permanent standing cop". That's pretty foolproof.

Secondarily, I locked it in front of the street vendors at Borough Hall in Brooklyn, who I assume can be counted on (although somebody made off with my easily-stolen bike computer the one day I forgot to remove it).

You get the idea.
posted by zvs at 7:30 PM on June 7, 2011

There are a few bicycle couriers I see around whose bikes look like utter crap, but I'd bet that they're all top-end frames & components. This is basically achieved through the matte black paint mentioned above, plus gaffer tape around various parts of the frame, as well as stickers & so on. You might not want to go down this route, but as long as the bike still functions OK as a way of getting from A to B, there's a lot of sense in it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:16 PM on June 7, 2011

I park my bike on the street in NYC. Use a cable lock plus U-lock. Paint it garish colors (I badly spray-painted mine with orange stripes). Have the bike shop solder a chain wrapped in a tube around the seat (this should cost about $5).
posted by valeries at 10:19 AM on June 8, 2011

6550, Sheldon Brown's strategy doesn't work. You can't put the lock through the rear triangle because people can saw through the rim. (Sheldon thought they couldn't.) Always lock up a frame tube.
posted by mendel at 4:54 PM on June 8, 2011

I don't use Brown's method, but if your frame is so fancy as to make that a real concern, you should maybe question your bike shopping strategy.
posted by Sara C. at 7:23 PM on June 8, 2011

Make sure you lock up properly (multiple locks maybe?).

Watch this.
posted by MattWPBS at 4:42 AM on June 11, 2011

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