The threat of bike theft never really goes away, particularly in a city like Cardiff, so perhaps it is worth spending some time talking about bike security. Whilst we did touch on it in our winter commuting tips, it’s probably worth a blog post of its own.
Whilst our parking project hopes to tease out the locations of the many bike racks scattered around Cardiff, what is a bit harder to quantify is how safe your bike will be if it is locked there for any length of time.
It has been a little while since we’ve talked about cycle parking, but you’ll be pleased to know that we’re still plugging away at it. The good news is, we have come up with a way of producing a map.A Parking Project Update – Cardiff By Bike
When you are at home, if it is at all possible, keep your bike inside the house. Sheds provide little defence against an intruder unless they are actually designed to be a sturdy bike shed –most are intended for gardening tools, plant pots and very little else. If you must use the garden shed, lock your bike with a U-lock (or D-lock as they are also known) inside the shed, preferably to something heavy like the shed itself. You can buy a number of different types of anchors with which to attach your bike to the shed, meaning that a thief would either need to cut the lock or take the shed as well.
When you are out and about, try to avoid bike racks that are in secluded locations because they give a thief ample time to work on your lock. Also avoid racks that only allow you to lock the front or back wheel. If you cannot lock through the frame, ride away and try somewhere else.
Take some time to examine the stand you are locking to. If there is any tape wrapped around the frame, check that it hasn’t been used to hide the fact that some light-fingered miscreant has sawn through it. Also check that the stand isn’t wobbling around on its footing. Most of them are set in the concrete floor, but others are just bolted down.
Just as car security products are rated by Thatcham, most good bike locks are checked by an independent authority, Sold Secure whom rate bike locks according to how secure they are and label them gold, silver or bronze.
More often than not with bike locks the more secure a lock is, the heavier it is. However, if you want to be able to ride your bike home after a day at work or college, it is worth putting up with a little extra weight.
As a general rule, you should be looking to spend around 10% of the bike’s value on security. Of course, if you have a very expensive bike, consider commuting on something else.
If you can, go for a gold-rated U-lock, such as the Kryptonite New York (Wiggle) range of locks for the frame and back wheel at the very least, but the shorter it is the better. Those flimsy little cable locks are fine if you are just popping into the corner shop for a few minutes, but a thief will waste no time cutting through one of those with a pair of garden secateurs. Use one to keep the front wheel secured to the bike if you must, but they are NOT to be relied upon. A Hiplok is a good alternative, particularly the gold or silver-rated ones. They are comfortable to wear and will put up more of a fight than a cable.
You’ll find some recommendations on our Essentials page.
First things first, you’ll want to make sure your frame is secure, but also your wheels. The easiest way to do this is:
- Align your bike up with the stand so that the down tube of the stand is aligned to your rear brake (or where your rim brake would be if you’re on disks)
- Place the “U” part of the lock around the stand, around the seat stay (the diagonal tube running from your seat post to your rear wheel hub), or the seat tube and through your spokes.
- Loop the cable around your front wheel, feed one end of it through the hoop at the end of the cable and place the spare end over the end of the “U”. Better yet, use a different separate lock to secure the front wheel.
- Place the closing bar over the end of the U lock and lock it. It should look something like this:
It also goes without saying, but if you have anything attached to your bike, such as a bag, lights, or a computer remove them and take them with you. If you have an expensive saddle such as a Brooks or a high-end racing saddle, an extra cable lock to bind that to the frame might not be such a bad idea either.
It should probably go without saying but there’s no such thing as a perfectly secure lock. All locks, given enough time and an angle-grinder, will be defeated eventually. What we are aiming for is to be the most secure bike in the rack in the most public of places. A good lock will buy you more time, but also be a deterrent to a would-be thief when there are bikes with cable locks close by.
How not to do it…
I cannot stress this enough, but if your lock consists of a thin cable and little else, your bike won’t be yours for very long. Yes, you can buy a cable lock for about a tenner and yes, they sure are light and convenient, but they are really not worth the money and should never be used as your primary lock, ever. They are useful for securing your front wheel or an after-market saddle I guess…
For when the worst does happen you’ll want to have registered your bike with the UK’s national, Police approved bicycle marking & registration scheme.
Turn your bike upside down and make a note of the frame number stamped on the underside of the frame. Then, head over to Bike Register, create your account and register your bike(s).
Then, should your bike get stolen, you can report it and have at least some hope of seeing it again.
For additional peace of mind you may wish to consider insuring your bike against theft. There are a number of insurers offering to cover your bicycle, including Cycleplan and Protect Your Bubble. Some will also offer to cover “you” in the event of a collision.
Yes, you can cover your bikes on your home insurance but please check the small print of your policy carefully. Insurers are wriggly at the best of times and bicycles offer far too many avenues for insurers to weasel out of paying up.
The good news is that dedicated bike insurance is quite reasonable. If you are quoted more than £10 per month for cover on your bike(s), shop around.