Is my bike likely to get stolen?
April 1, 2014 5:59 AM   Subscribe

I just got a job close enough to my home in Toronto that I can ride my bike to it. Yay! But is it likely to get stolen?

I've ridden a bike to jobs in the past, but I either had a place inside the building to park it or was riding a beater that wasn't worth the time of bike thieves. Last fall I bought a late '90s-era Bontrager Privateer off Craiglist, and I'm very happy with it. It's a nice bike in immaculate shape, but it isn't worth a large amount of money (I paid $300 for it).

If I ride it to my new job I'll have to lock it in front of the building I work in; there are city bike rings on the sidewalk, which is well-lit and has a lot of foot traffic (this is in the Beaches neighbourhood), and I bought a Kryptonite u-lock. Experienced Toronto cyclists; would you feel confident leaving this bike in this situation for eight hours a day?
posted by The Card Cheat to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Bikes get stolen in Toronto. Bikes locked up properly with U-Locks don't generally get stolen during daylight hours unless they are brand new $3000+ rides. I would feel very comfortable locking that bike up all day in Toronto, though I would get an extra cable to run through the wheels.

I was a bicycle courier in Toronto for 5 years.
posted by 256 at 6:14 AM on April 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

I can't top that answer for background, but I agree with it - especially in a neighbourhood like the Beaches, with lots of pedestrians, I think you're fine. I've been locking my bike in Little Italy for a year, including some seriously late hours, and have yet to have any problems.

Great bike, by the way.
posted by ZaphodB at 6:22 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've seen people stealing bikes in broad daylight in smaller cities than Toronto - I would be as vigilant as you can. Two bike locks (even if one is just a chain) means the other bike is twice as easy to steal.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:48 AM on April 1, 2014

Depending on how easy it is to secure the bike to the stand, I'd use a u-lock to attach the frame to the stand, a second u-lock to attach the rear wheel to the frame (or to the stand, or 1 u-lock going through frame, stand, and rear wheel), and cables attached to the u-lock securing the front wheel and seat. Position the u-locks so there is as little "slack" as possible - the "tighter" that locks are to the frame & stand, the harder it is for a thief to get tools in to cut or lever the locks off.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:26 AM on April 1, 2014

The strategy I use:

* a U-Lock around the frame and back wheel
* and a cable lock around the front wheel

The U-Lock and cable lock require different tools to defeat - usually the angle grinder to attack the U-Lock, and a pair of bolt cutters for the cable lock. Bike thieves generally seem to carry one or the other. I've found that by using both types, bike thieves will just move on to easier targets.

I parked in downtown Chicago for several years with this approach, and never lost a bike.
posted by steinwald at 8:41 AM on April 1, 2014

The odds of your $300 dollar u-locked bike getting stolen off a main street in the middle of the day in the beaches are really really small, I think.

As anecdata: I've kept my bike parked on all sorts of streets in Toronto, both day and night, the 22 to 23 hours a day I'm not riding it, for over ten years, and it's never been stolen.

My guess is you could safely park your bike like that for ten years, and it would probably not get stolen once. But say you disagree with my evaluation. Say you think that a new $300 dollar bike parked like that get stolen on average once a year. That's $300 a year to replace your bike. Add some money for a cab, and for the hassle of a new bike, and its still cheaper than a metropass....
posted by ManInSuit at 8:47 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

The key to avoiding bike theft is to not be the low-hanging fruit. Most bike thefts are opportunistic, if you make your bike more of a pain in the ass to steal, thieves will move on. When I lived in a high bike theft area I had a U-lock, a chain lock, and a cable. And I still have my bike.
posted by ambrosia at 8:58 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

As a New Yorker I would feel totally confident doing this.

Just make sure you're locking your bike properly. There are good youtube videos out there about this. Don't lock your bike at a point that can be easily removed, like a wheel. Don't lock your bike to something that isn't very well secured to the ground. Lock tightly: don't leave thieves with bolt-cutters a ton of room for leverage.
posted by Sara C. at 9:55 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks very much for the advice, everyone! I'm probably being a bit paranoid because I've never really had to worry about it before (and of course there are tons of stories about bike theft in Toronto being endemic), but I just wanted to get some advice to help make an informed decision. I think I'll get a chain lock to add to the other one and hope for the best.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:28 AM on April 1, 2014

A strategy I use for my work is to leave a heavy duty bike chain permanently locked to the bike stand at work. I don't commute with it because it is so heavy. I use it in addition to my everyday U-lock when I am leaving the bike alone all day. I don't know if the city would leave it alone on one of their bike rings, however.
posted by v-tach at 12:06 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is my favorite instructional video for locking bikes, ever!
posted by mamabear at 2:45 PM on April 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Hey, I locked my bike every day, for a year or so, for 8+ hours at a stretch, on Front Street, with a little kryptonite U-lock. No problems. My best friend locks her bike on a ring on Queen St in Leslieville 24/7, with a u-lock. No problems. Also, I lived in the Beaches. You could probably be pretty cavalier with your locking habits there; the Beaches are full of dogs and babies by day. Dogs and babies seldom steal bikes.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 3:47 PM on April 1, 2014


I'm not in Toronto, but in Leeds which also seems to have a bike theft problem. I've got a 90's racing bike I spent about Ā£150 in September, and I ride it to work every day and leave it outside without any problems. All the advice above is good, leave it in a busy and well lit place, and use a decent U-lock. If the wheels have those quick release things on them definitely get a second chain or cable and make sure you lock both wheels to the frame. If you've not got those wheels you can probably get away without it, but it's a good idea anyway, especially if you want to leave it overnight. Another bit of your bike that's really annoying to lose is your saddle, so think about fixing that on, again, especially if it's an easy adjust one. I guess most saddle thieves are really opportunistic, so even a cable tie may do. Also, I can leave my bike in a place where I can see it from the staff-room at work, can you do anything similar? I'm not sure how much difference it makes to be honest but it gives me a some peace of mind to be able to check on it whilst I'm eating my lunch.

Happy cycling.
posted by Ned G at 3:44 AM on April 2, 2014

« Older Notch, you owe me a day's worth of Minecraft.   |   How can I apply for a different position... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.