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By Brad Quartuccio

Theft is a very real problem for the urban cyclist. Nearly everyone has a story of a bike being stolen, with far fewer triumphant tales of reunion. Keep your shit locked up if you want to ride it tomorrow.

Easier said than done. Everything from hardware store cable on up to the boutique bicycle locks are marketed as “high security.” One is clearly a better choice than the other, with plenty of middle ground. The right choice for you is a lock just a bit better than the next person’s. Cut-throat yes, but tactically effective.

Check your surroundings. If everyone else has a high-end u-lock and you’ve got a cable, kiss your bike goodbye. There is a reason the everyday riders of New York carry around those giant Krypto-chains, and its not just ‘cause its badass. Make sure your stuff is at least on par with what the knowledgable locals use. Cheaping out on a lock isn’t worth it.

Besides just locking up in the first place, technique is more important than given lock model. This includes how you lock, and what you lock to. Lock the frame; no excuses. Don’t loop it through a just a bolt-on wheel, or the seatpost, stem or some other removeable component. Do make sure what you’re locking to is sturdy. Your fancy lock is only as good as what its locked to – lock to a chain-link fence and you might as well tie up your bike with a length of wire. Give whatever you’re locking to a shake to make sure its soundly connected to—and can’t be unbolted from—the ground to slide your lock off. A tall signpost is not too high to lift your bike over if a thief has an accomplice. Locking up inside your home is not to be underestimated either—plenty of bikes disappear due to break-ins.

Proper U-Lock Technique – Small u-locks are more than a fashion statement – by their nature, it is hard to jam a leverage device inside of them in use. With a larger shackled lock, be sure to fill the inside of the lock with your bike to prevent a car jack attack. With either variety, avoid placing the lock on the ground so that a hammer and pick is hard to brace against for attack on the key mechanism. Avoid situations where the bike itself may be used as a lever to attempt twisting the lock open.