Protecting Your Bike
At Culdesac, we trust in our bikes to take us pretty much everywhere. Bikes are convenient, quick, and best of all, fun. A lot of us would be lost without two wheels. But bike theft is always a risk, and will continue to rise as bikes become more popular.
The easy maneuverability and lightweight nature of bikes make them an ideal transportation choice, but those positive qualities can also leave bikes vulnerable to theft. There’s plenty you can do to proactively protect your bike.
Thinking Like a Thief
If we’re going to pump the brakes on bike theft, we need to know what would-be thieves are looking for. A study conducted in Tempe at Arizona State University defines a bike’s attractiveness for theft using the acronym “CRAVED.” This describes a bike that is:
“Will anyone see me take this or suspect it’s stolen?”
“Can I break or outsmart this lock?”
“Hey, that’s a nice bike.”
“Will this bike bring in enough money to make it worth the risk?”
"Does this bike have joyride potential?”
“Will I be able to take this bike apart and/or sell it?”
Aspiring bike thieves tend to weigh two factors most of all when scoping out their options: value and removability. Since many stolen bikes are later sold, thieves keep an eye out for those that can turn the greatest profit. This means e-bikes and other high-quality bikes are the most vulnerable, and might need some extra protection.
Thieves also need to make a quick getaway without being seen, so they’ll tend to look for bikes parked in areas where they won’t rouse suspicion. These places are either secluded or jam packed with passers-by who won't notice what the thief is doing. The easier the lock is to undo, the quicker the job will be. That makes a chain or cable lock on its own is a risky choice. Bolt cutters can make short work of these—in fact, the average time to cut a cable lock is about 20 seconds.
Lock It Down
A quality lock is worth the investment. Think of it this way: someone’s stolen your bike after cutting through that cheap cable lock, and now they’re holding it for ransom. How much would you pay to get it back? That amount should be your budget for a lock that works.
U-locks are sturdier than their cable counterparts and can’t be cut through. We like this heavy-duty lock from Kryptonite, which employs a locking mechanism that’s extremely difficult to pick.
Folding locks are also increasing in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. They’re versatile and save space without sacrificing security; it would be an astronomical challenge to break this one from ABUS.
Any lock can be cut given enough time and the right tools, but a high-quality lock will give a would-be bike thief time to reevaluate the wisdom of their heist.
Take Advantage of Tech
A wide range of GPS trackers are available on Amazon, but our teammates, Sam and Jordan’s go-to is Apple’s Airtags. By hiding an Airtag under the seat or behind a clever cover, you can see where your bike went on its adventure, and hopefully recover it. If your bike was taken for a simple joyride, it may have been ditched somewhere by itself. But make sure you enlist the authorities for safety when recovering your stolen item.
We also recommend registering your bike with a company like Project 529, which will make it much harder for whoever stole your bike to sell it. And Project 529 has an app for reporting theft, which will come in handy if you ever find yourself standing in front of an empty bike rack. Give your bike a personal touch, like a sticker or a coat of paint, if you want to have an easier time identifying it down the line.
Ease Your Mind with Bike Insurance
We’re fans of the bike insurance coverage provided by companies like Velosurance, which can be customized to fit your bike and lifestyle. Bike insurance doesn’t just cover theft, of course. It can also cover medical bills and damage from crashes and other accidents.
If someone absconds with your bike, make sure to file a report with law enforcement. When it comes to bike theft, it’s the best way to boost your search and get the insurance payout if necessary. Just make sure you’re contacting the police via a non-emergency channel. Some city police departments have task forces dedicated to bike theft, and they just might come across your missing bike in the course of their work. File your report within 24 hours with the police department and your insurer for the best results.
The unofficial motto behind the very concept of insurance is “stuff happens.” Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, a thief gets their hands on your bike. No lock is perfect, and if the wrong person comes along and wants your bike badly enough, they’ll find a way to take it—and that’s on them, not you. We always recommend that any bike owner do their research to understand how best to protect their bike and deter potential theft. The tips above give our team peace of mind, and we hope they can do the same for you!