Riding Tips

RIDING TIPS

Say No To Bike Theft
By Russ Lowthian

Take a bite out of crime.How many precautions should one take to avoid the chance of losing a bike to theft is greatly determined by the bikes value and its curb appeal. If you just bought a high-end bike or tricked out your old one chances are, you are going to want to pay closer attention to the security of your investment when stepping away. Here are some helpful tips, though they aren’t full proof they will discourage most criminals and help to protect your wheels.

The best advice and more important than how you lock your bike is selecting a safe place to store it. The best place is inside your building, in a secure area at your place of work or where only a few people you know are likely to see it. When parking your bike in a public place your best choice is a location where people are passing every minute. While thieves may see your bike in these populated situations it is rare that they would attempt cutting your lock in public. If you are using your bike for errands and stopping at a store were there is no bike rack you may want to park the bike right in front of the main window and lock it. Just make sure that it is not going to block any pedestrian traffic, those trying to get in and out of the store or the use of the sidewalk. If there is a designated bike rack, but it is around the corner where no one can observe a theft, consider locking your bike to a tree or light post out in a public area.

When locking your bike up it is important to secure the bike properly. If it is parked in a busy area for a short while, all you need to do is to run a bike cable lock between the front and back tires, so the thief would have to carry the bike, to take it. A u-lock works just as well. For more security attach the frame to something stationary (light post, tree, etc.) so the cable has to be cut or the u-lock broken in order to steal it. Consider using both a cable and a u-lock to attach your bike to an object when the bike has to be parked in a less populated area.

Most bike cable locks are long with two loops at each end and secured by a padlock. When using a cable and lock alone it is best to secure the bike to a stationary item and thread the cable through both wheels. If the cable isn’t long enough to go though both wheels, the frame and the stationary object here are a couple tricks to help you.

  1. Put the cable through a hole or around that stationary object that you wish to lock the bike to, then put one eye of the cable into the other, and pull tight. Now you have nearly the entire length of the cable available for use. At this point put the cable through the front wheel and then the frame, circling around the rear tire and the main tube and finally lock the cable eye to the cable on the other side of the tube. If the cable is not quite long enough for this, just lock the cable eye to one of narrower bars on the frame.
  2. Another option is to reverse the sequence above. First loop the cable around the main tube and rear tire, putting one eye of the cable into the other, now pull it tight and thread the cable through the front wheel of the bike and lock the bike to that secure object.

When using a u-lock alone most brands are harder to cut than a cable. The problem when parking your bike for a long period of time is finding a stationary object thin enough to connect your bike to. Check the city ordnances were you ride; some prohibit the securing a bike to a parking meter or street signpost, the perfect size for the u-lock connection. Also, when using a u-lock remove your front wheel and sandwich it in between the rear wheel, the frame and the securing post.

Another theft problem is leaving valuable items in your bike bag(s). Maybe you have a camera, GPS, cell phones, cash or other valuables along with you. Don’t leave them behind take them with you! If you properly locked your bike, it should be there when you return, but the contents left in your bag may have disappeared.

For those traveling to a destination by auto and using a bike rack on the back to store the bike(s) follow the same suggestions as above. But, after threading the cable through the wheels and bike frame, secure it through a spot on the cars frame. Do not rely on the bike rack, as a stationary object to attach your cable to, as most of these racks can be easily detached allowing the thief to walk away with everything (bike, cable and rack). When using a parking lot and your bike is mounted on the back of your vehicle always pull into the spot leaving the bike expose to the public. At night, try to pull under a streetlight. Added insurance, if you think you may have to park in a secluded area, bring a second lock, like a u-lock. Also, turn up the sensitivity control on your auto alarm system.

The chances of theft vary greatly from place to place. The more precautions you can take when parking your bike will help assure that your bike will be there when you return. Remember, there are no guarantees when leaving your wheels in a public place. Your best chance, to avoid theft, is to park in a high traffic area and use a bike cable and u-lock system to discourage someone from steeling your bike. U-lock/cable

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Ten Tips For Bike Commuting
By Russ Lowthian

As the cost of commuting goes up and traffic congestion increases more people are reevaluating their transportation choices and considering biking to work or school. Though the benefits are undeniable positive for ones health, the added savings and to the environment many people find the logistics (especially dealing with traffic) daunting or downright frightening. But, if you are willing to give it a try, here are a few suggestions on how you can make riding your bike to work less nerve-racking and even enjoyable.

  1. First, select a bike you are comfortable riding, one that is in good working order. A visit to your local bike shop is a good source to assist you with repairs to your old bike or in buying new equipment.
  2. Plan your route(s) in advance. Always balancing safety and convenience, here you may want plan several routes options to facilitate different errands along the way. Several cities offer bicycle map showing their designated bike route. Or check out the free mapping software at: www.mapmyride.com/create.
  3. Test your route on a day that you have off so you are not under pressure. Not only will you become more familiar with the route, you will also have a chance test your equipment and gain an understanding to how much time you should allow for daily travel.
  4. Select light colored cycle clothes; you can never make yourself too visible.
  5. Plan your work attire; store a wardrobe at the office or carry clothes rolled in a towel to reduce wrinkling. Many who commute store extra clothing at the office if storage is available. If your place of work isn’t equipped with a shower, look for a nearby gym or hotel with a poolroom or sponge bath in the restroom before changing clothes.
  6. Using a set of bike panniers or a rucksack is a great way to carry clothing, papers and snacks to work.
  7. Learn where to safely park and how to use a lock for maximum security of your bike.
  8. For winter, dusk, dawn or night riding invest in lights for your bike. There are a variety of headlights and taillights on the market. Choose a set that matches your situation. For more visibility don’t forget an array of reflectors on your clothing and bike.
  9. To ride year round or extend your season, purchase some clothing and gear designed for cycling in inclement weather.
  10. Always where a helmet when riding your bike and use a review mirror. Accidents happen and studies show that helmets can reduce the severity of a head injury. Glancing into a mirror mounted on your eyeglasses, handlebars or helmet will help reduce the stress when noises are noticed from behind.

If you are still serious about changing your commuting habits and are ready to leave the car at home, checkout “Urban Bikers’ Tricks & Tips.” By reading this book before cycling to work or school. You too can discover how much fun it really is to commute. So try it, but ride safe! UrbBikeTips

Post Your Comments to: Editor@MinesotaCyclist.com