It may sound obvious, but locking your bike properly is crucial for keeping your ride safe from theft.
You should always ensure your bike is correctly locked when parked, no matter where that is. But to keep your bicycle secure, the location of the parking is equally important.
From the basics of locking your bike, through to the different types of lock and bike rack available, here’s the comprehensive guide to securely and properly locking your bike.
Choosing the right cycle parking
Before we discuss how best to lock your bike, you’ll need to think about where you’re parking or storing it.
Think about these five main points when looking for the best cycle parking:
- A well-lit area with high footfall
- Monitored CCTV nearby
- Close proximity to your destination
- Cycle-friendly bike racks
- Weather protection
A well-lit area with regular footfall and CCTV will help keep your bike safe. Trying to hide your bike in a quieter alley or side street will only make it easier to be stolen quietly and undetected.
Sheltered or indoor parking are both beneficial not just for security, but for looking after your bike. Your saddle and components will stay dry, and these areas are likely to have better lighting and CCTV.
Once you’ve identified secure bicycle parking, you need to turn your focus on correctly locking your bike.
Always make sure to lock your frame first if possible. If you can, it’s better to lock both the frame and either the front or rear wheel with the same D-lock.
You can use two smaller D-locks to lock both wheels, but these can be too unwieldy to carry. A d-lock with an extension cable will suffice in most scenarios.
1 Lock your frame and wheels
If you have quick-release wheels, use a longer cable extension to thread through both wheels and your D-lock. Even if you do not have quick-release wheels, this is recommended to prevent your wheels being stolen.
2 Minimise space within the D-lock
Minimising the space within the D-lock makes it harder to access with cutting tools. It also helps prevent the ability to gain leverage in prizing the lock open. If you can, avoid hanging the lock through just the frame and bike rack, instead going through both the frame and wheel.
3 Remove accessories
Make sure you take off lights, bags, pumps, cycle computers and all easily removable bike accessories. It is easily forgotten, so make a habit of double checking your bike before leaving it.
4 Don’t use a cheap lock
There are a lot of locks out there available to buy, with some a lot cheaper than others. Even though the packaging may claim the lock is the highest security, rarely are cheap cable locks or plastic D-locks any good.
5 Use a Sold Secure rated D-lock
A high-quality lock is essential and the right one should never need to be replaced. Look out for a Sold Secure rating of at least silver, preferably Gold or Diamond rated. Despite the expensive outlay, a good lock is well worth the investment—especially if it saves you buying a new bike.
Image credit: Locking your bike to two-tier bike racks
How To Lock Your Bike To Racks And Stands
Locking your bike is different depending on which rack or stand you’re using. There is considerable variety in racks, but the principle of locking both your frame and wheels remains the same.
Sheffield stands are the most common parking stand in the UK, particularly in busy public locations. They’re an easy to use rack for a massive variety of bikes. Lock your D-lock through the frame, and if possible a wheel too, then use a cable extension to go through both wheels.
Two-tier racks are used in areas where high-density parking is required, such as train stations and office buildings. The system varies depending on whether you use the upper or lower tier.
For the lower tier, use the locking bar provided to feed your D-lock through the frame. As with the Sheffield stand, use a cable extension to secure your bike’s wheels.
To lock your bike to the upper tier, first lower the upper tray, then, depending on the design, use the provided locking bar to either lock your frame or wheel first.
Semi vertical and vertical racks
Semi-vertical and vertical wall racks are both common within bike stores at office and residential buildings. Designs vary, but if you’re only able to fit your D-lock through the front/rear wheel, use your cable to lock the frame too.
Image credit: Locking bicycle to semi-vertical racks
Choosing The Right Bike Lock
Locks can range from cable locks and chains through to folding locks and D-locks. Cable locks may seem advantageous for the extra flexibility and length, but a D-lock is the recommended secure option.
As mentioned above, look for Sold Secure rated locks. The higher grade the better, and often the longer locks will give you more options for different racks while allowing you to lock both the wheel and frame together.
Image credit: Vertical office bike storage
Office Bike Storage
Cycle parking at offices has vastly improved over recent years, with many buildings offering dedicated secure facilities either indoors or within a lockable shelter.
You will usually require access to these facilities, which vastly improves security. However, to be safe you should still lock your bike to the provided racks or stands.
Storing your bike at home
If you can, the most secure place to store your bike at home is inside your house. If that isn’t possible—either because you have a very muddy commute, or several flights of stairs to your flat—then there are several alternatives.
Lockers in your front garden provide secure environments that are weatherproof with room for accessories like helmets and pumps. However, they are costly for personal use. An alternative are bike hangers. Available to rent, they are a good solution for apartment blocks.