Mike’s Bike Advice
Our bikes are vulnerable companions! Every part and piece is quick release, always ready to be liberated. We are forced to leave bikes out on the street all day (and occasionally, all night). So you ask, “How should I best prepare my bike to be left outside?” Well, we’ve got Mechanic Mike here to tell you his favorite approaches to theft-proof and secure his bike components and accessories when he doesn’t have the option to store it safely inside. He is going to tell you about his favorite products and tricks to keep your wheels, lights, computers and saddles from disappearing into the night.
We regularly hear from disappointed bike-owners down here in Downtown Portland–a city known for its risky bicycle environment. Wheels are the most expensive part that might wander away while your bike frame is properly locked to a bike rack. We will start with ways to make sure you’ll be able to roll home after work, after dinner or after your night out.
Hub locks are a great option for securing your wheels around town. There are a few brands that we carry here at Cycle Portland depending on your budget and desired security.
“Expensive but Secure”
The Pinhead Security Pack is an option with individualized keys for the highest level of protection. Like your house or Kryptonite key, this unique key offers the most security for your wheelset. A pair of Pinhead security skewers will cost you a bit more than $50, but give you the most confidence that someone isn’t working your wheels loose while you’re at work. So if you often lock up outside in theft prone areas or just want to protect those hand-built wheels, we would be happy to install these on your steed today.
HubLox offers a pair of anti-theft skewers that utilize a specialized key shared with all other HubLox. This means that a thief would have to be carrying a specialized HubLox key to take your wheel (unlikely, but possible.) Much easier to get ahold of than your individual Pinhead key, but still offering a pretty good confidence that your bike is secure. No one is going to remove these skewers with an adjustable wrench. Just make sure your shop has a copy of the key for any repair that might require they remove the wheels.
(Here is the triangle key interface)
“No Special Key to Carry”
Halo Hex Bolt Skewers are Mike’s personal favorite for keeping our rental single speed bikes safe. These can be installed with a simple hex bolt meaning you don’t have to remember to take your hub lock key with you in case of a flat fix. This works best if you want a deterrent so that a thief can’t grab and go with your new wheels.
DIY Trick: this one will be useful for a number of different parts of your bike. Often, simply adding a hex wrench controlled skewer won’t keep your wheels from wandering off during the day. A DIY trick that Mike is particularly fond of is adding another obstacle to prevent easy removal of the wheel. Using a bit of glue to keep a ball bearing in a hex bolt opening prevents any tampering with your Halo Skewers, stem, seatpost clamp, etc. A cheap additional level of security that can be undone with a bit of heat or muscle.
Keeping your saddles on your bikes
A stolen bike seat can be a hassle and usually expensive to replace. Below are a couple of the many ways you can theft proof your saddle.
Cable: Planet Bike, ABUS, and OnGuard all produce a dedicated “seat leash”, a thin cable designed to be used with a separate lock to secure the rails of your bike seat to the frame. These leashes are relatively cheap (~$5-10) but must be paired with another lock to theft-proof your seat.
DIY Trick: Here is an idea: use an old chain inside a bike tube. If you have an old chain lying around (or want Mike to do it for you), this is a great use of it and a cheap, cut-resistant alternative to a seat leash.
Lights, Bells and Computers
Accessories are the most stolen equipment for most bicyclists. It is almost a right of passage for new commuters to lose a set or two of lights before they find a way to secure or remove their accessories. Hopefully you got a chance to read this before you lost your first set. Mike doesn’t like to remove his lights every stop so he has found a few DIY ways to keep his lights securely attached. Here are a couple ways to secure your accessories with the least amount of energy and money.
Take Them with you: The safest option is always to take your accessories with you whenever you leave your bike unattended. Make a habit of grabbing everything off your bike whenever you lock up and use the chance to charge your USB powered rechargeable lights and bike computer.
DIY Trick: Cut your tabs! One way to slow down a would-be thief is to cut the quick-release tabs off of your light mounts. With this trick, you can leave your lights on the bike for quick stops as it makes removing the lights a much slower process requiring a screwdriver or pocketknife.