You Got What It Takes?

A lock in name onlyDo you really think you’ve got what it takes? Yeah, you…you think so?

What it takes to keep your bike your bike, I mean.

And what you see in the picture my wife snapped at an undisclosed location not long ago…that isn’t it.

Well, maybe in Antarctica it is. But not in Los Angeles.

Not even in laid-back, bicycle-lovin’ Amsterdam where 50,000 bikes are stolen every year. (Amsterdam houses only 750,000 residents.) One trick Amsterdammers use is to employ a beater for daily use and reserve their fancy bike, if they have one, for special rides. But even the beaters get stolen. So they’ll make the bikes too weird too steal by covering them all over with plastic flowers or the like. But even bakfietsen (those long, box-in-front cargo bikes, such as the Pigeon sells) get stolen.

So Amsterdammers use big honkin’ locks. And so should you.

I’ve had a number of bikes stolen. Ages ago, I quit riding to high school because, no matter what I chained my cheap Peugeots to, they were stolen. Yeah, bike thieves put me onto the bus….

A few years later, I used to ride to work in a fancy part of town, where I used the massive anchor chain and case-hardened lock I’d bought to secure my motorcycle, pedaling around town with the chain draped bandolier-style across my chest. I locked the bike to a hundred-foot-tall lamp post in a walled parking lot patrolled by an armed guard. It was a cheap bike too.

And it was stolen.

So when U-locks came out, man, I was happy! I could ride everywhere again!

So far so good.

But I don’t use cheapass U-locks. ‘Cause as soon as U-locks came out, so did crappy imitations that don’t slow a thief down much. As for cables? Feh!

Sure, a dedicated thief can get through anything, even a good U-lock, but you want him to be thinking he might not get through your lock before you show up with the key and a bad temper.

Get a lock. Get a good one. If your bike’s really nice, get two. (Kryptonite at least will let you order two locks with the same key, but you have to buy through your dealer. Ask the Pigeon Master.)

And use them. Don’t depend on the “kindness of strangers.”

A good friend of mine, a cycling supercommuter, stopped into the rest room at Olvera Street and dragged his bike halfway in the door after him. A beautiful Fuso that he’d had for years and loved like a child.

And while he was standing there literally with his dick in his hand, some drooler grabbed it and pedaled off.

Locks are funny that way. If you don’t use them, they don’t work at all.

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One Comment

  1. Phil Miller
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I use two locks, one U lock for the frame, and a 12mm Kryptonite cable lock to secure the wheels. That way the thief has to carry both cutter and a saw, and heavy duty ones at that. I park at the parking garage right near the garage office. The garage personnel know me. I leave my locks locked to the stand overnight.

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