How To Protect Your Bike from Thieves without a Cable Lock - 3 Fast & Easy Tricks

Stolen Bike

How do you protect your bike from thieves when you only enter for a minute in a shop to buy a bottle of water?

While the advice below consists of building psychological barriers against thieves (it's not a guarantee against bike theft), it's definitely worth following. You've got nothing to loose. Oh have - your bike

Here are a few tips that will help you prevent you bike from being stolen (without using a chain or cable lock):

1. Turn your bike upside down. If you enter in a shop for a minute or two and you don't want to lock your bike then you can simply turn it upside down. This may look as your bike is there for repair and thus the owner (you) may be nearby. That's exactly what you want the thief to be thinking: that you may come back unexpectedly and plus if he wants to steal the bike we would have to make an extra effort to put the bike on its wheels. That is precious time when he's basically uncovered. If you appear he'd have to drop the bike and run.

But let's say he managed to turn the bike, got on the saddle and he's ready to roll away with your bike - or let's say that for some reason you thought it's silly to turn your mountain bike upside down so the thief had no barrier in getting up on your bike. Well, he's in for a surprise coz you've been wise enough to...

Mountain Bike Upside Down Outside Shop

2. Take the chain off or switch gears (the wrong way). As an extra precaution you can take the chain off the chain rings. Now, the thief won't be able pedal so he'll be in a funny situation... Another thing you can do is to switch the gears from the handlebar levers but without actually having the chain move. This way, when the thief tries to push on the pedals, the chain will jump five sprockets and two chain rings  with a "crank!" noise - the perpetrator may loose his balance or, even better, the chain may get locked between the chain rings.

3. Place a small lock on your brake disk. If your bike is equipped with disk brakes then  you can add extra security with a small door lock which you can insert into the ventilation holes of the disk. The wheel won't rotate much and your man is stuck again. This idea was suggested by a fellow mountain biker, Robert Lazar, the guy behind the Critical Mass movement in my home city.

Lock on Bike Brake Disk

Of course this does't prevent you to turn the bike upside down. In other words, if you wanna keep your bike take at least any two anti theft measures.

If you do wanna use a lock then have a look at the video below and follow these three rules:

  1. Use strong chain locks or horseshoe locks (stiff U shape metal frame) that have the Sold Secure rating. Don't get impressed by thick cable locks - they have a thick housing made of plastic but inside it's just a thin cable...
  2. Always use two locks (if you don't have long chain lock) and make sure you lock both wheels and the bike frame.
  3. Take off all bike accessories like: front light, rear lamp, pump, water bottle, cycle computer, repair kit under the saddle, the spare tube, even the saddle if it has a quick release lever.

Video taken from here.

Keep cycling and wear your helmet!

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  1. Awesome. Love this. Now I just need to go steal me a bike. ;)

  2. Love that first picture and the simplicity of your advice. Had a bike stolen last year from the train station, but they cut a cable, so not much to be done.

  3. @Emz - make sure the chain is on :-)

    @Kovas - Oh I had my bike stolen as well once... It was so awful coming back home by foot and thinking that my bicycle was gone. They stole it outside the supermarket.

    I now have a thicker cable lock (which the guy in the video says it's vulnerable) but I tie my bike's rear wheel with the frame in an intricate way and have the cable go two times around the frame. It seems to work or maybe I am just lucky.

    The upside down trick is my favorite and I use it all the time.

  4. great post, I learn too much in yuor post. Now I know how to protect my bike from thieves.

  5. great first picture, guess that they kept stealing his wheels but got his frame stolen when keeping his wheels safe.

  6. @ Daniel - :-) Yeah - maybe the next BIG thing will be alarms for bicycles...


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