How to Keep Your Bike / 10 Ways to Lose Your Bike

How to Keep Your Bike

The fanatic won't ever let go or lose sight of his or her bike, and keeps it inside at all times.

If they must lock it up, they choose a high-end u-lock, plus a durable cable lock for added protection and to help lock the front wheel and seat. A variety of products are now available that push security to the extreme, like lockable frames that destroy the bike if cut, and even u-locks equipped with alarms that sound if you mess with them. But cheaper u-locks are acceptable for even cautious riders, as long as they don't leave their bikes unattended for long periods of time, especially at night.

Choose a thick pole to lock the bike to, with a head that the thieves can't slide the lock over, such as a parking meter. Thin-pole racks are easy prey for hacksaws and cutters.

Cover your bike with distinctive items, stickers and other knick-knacks that personalize it. Take pictures of the bike, mark it in two places with your license number, and record the serial number.

If you've forgotten your lock, try and take your bike with you. If an establishment forbids bikes inside, beg or leave. If you absolutely must leave it unattended or out of reach for a "few seconds," there are a variety of tricks to thwart quick getaways by thieves: Disable the brakes. Put the bike in the lowest or highest gear to make pedaling difficult, or even slide the chain off. If you have quick-release wheels, take the front wheel off.

In general, most bike experts in Austin agree that if you use a u-lock, don't leave your bike for a long period of time, and lock it up properly, your bike will be safe.

If Your Bike Is Stolen

File a report with the police. Since you had your license number engraved on the frame in two places and recorded the serial number in your files, give that info to the police. Also give them a typed description of the bike, and a photo.

Head to the pawn shop nearest the location of the theft. Give the manager a serial number and photo of the bike. Fax surrounding shops the same information, and call them often to see if a bike matching yours has come in.

Check the want ads each day to look for bikes matching your bike's description. Post information about your bike at shops near the theft, or on local bicycle-related Web sites and e-mail lists.

Finally, don't give up. Keep calling the police, who are there to "protect and serve." And ask for the specific officer responsible for checking pawn records. Call again, and let them know how important your bike is to you.

10 Ways to Lose Your Bike

1. Leave it unlocked.

2. Lock it with a chain/cable.
With bolt cutters and other sharp snippers, thieves can cut through them in seconds.

3. Leave it "hidden" in a shed.
Thieves like hidden stuff, because people aren't watching it.

4. Display it in your open garage.
It then becomes a choice between the bike and the lawn mower.

5. Put it on your balcony.
Anything 15 feet in the air must be safe, right? Nope. Climbing comes easy for $150.

6. Lock up the wheel.
If you've got a quick release, thieves simply release the bike and leave the wheel.

7. Lock it in a car.
Then you'll have a smashed window and a stolen bike.

8. Lock it to a bike rack.
Many racks have flimsy metal poles that can be cut or unbolted, allowing thieves to slip the bike off.

9. Lock it to a sign pole.
A suspicious site, for sure, but thieves unbolt the signs then slide the bikes up and over the pole.

10. Leave it locked for a long time.
No matter what kind of lock you use, if you leave the bike somewhere long enough, thieves will figure out how to get it or destroy it with their efforts.

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