Bicycle theft is a major problem in many cities, so how can we go about protecting our bikes from theft? This article introduces five creative ways to do this.

When I first moved to Shanghai many years ago, I learned that the trick to not getting one’s bicycle stolen was to buy an old, beat-up bicycle. Unfortunately, I learned that after getting my bike stolen, when people just laughed when I said I’d go to the police with the bike’s registration number. So aside from getting a ‘beater’, what can those of us who need high-performance, state-of-the-art bicycles or simply don’t like riding old bicycles do? Here are some of my favourite strategies, all of which require a bit of creativity or DIY.

1. ‘Uglification’:

This strategy keeps the performance and riding quality of a bicycle while disguising it as a ‘beater’ with some diy-ing. For details on creating a faux-rust look, check out this youtube video:

Also use duct tape creatively to create a faux-damaged look on the bike frame.

Bicycle frame protection, Photo: instructables.com

The faux-damage method also works on the other parts of bicycles, such as on the seats. But this one is a little bit hardcore.

Duct taped saddle, Photo: ducttapegenius.com

2. Alarm System

Cars and houses ward off thieves with alarm systems, so why can’t your bike also have one? For example, you could use an alarmed, motion sensor padlock.

Alarmed padlock, Photo: amazon.co.uk

What is so creative about that? Well, not much, until you create your own highly visible warning signs, just like some of those outside homes and properties.

DIY bike alarm, Photo: Dfa.berkley.edu

You can also buy more professional-looking signs online. The creative part of this method lies in you not necessarily having an alarm system – the stickers themselves should make thieves think twice about touching your bike.

GPS tracking warning sign, Photo: shirtloco.com

3. ‘Natural Predators’

Nobody wants to be stung by a bee, let alone hundreds of them, so go out and get some beekeeping skills.

Bike protected by bees, Photo: izismile.com

If bees look too harmless to you, you can kick it up a notch with a dangerous looking pet snake.

Bicycle guarded by a snake, Photo: bentrideronline.com

4. Industrial-Grade Chain:

In addition to the above methods, get your hands on some heavy-duty, industrial-grade chain that cannot be cut with everyday equipment. Here is an example of someone using a single chain, but you don’t have to stop at just one chain.

So this is the Vancouver bike lock I custom built JUST for Vancouver. There are over 1,800 bike thefts a year here (due to weak bike locks), so I ordered 4 feet of industrial-grade chain (about $6/foot but worth every penny). Can only be cut with something that's hydraulic, which crackheads don't have or can't just carry around. Then I bought some heavy nylon fabric and had a seamstress stitch it around the chain to protect my beautiful frame from getting scratched. The chain almost doubles the weight of my bike (super light bike), but it's better than no bike at all, due to theft! The lock is boron-carbide and also unsnippable. Needless to say – if it's locked up with this chain – that bike ain't goin' nowhere! I call it the Vancouver Bike Lock a.k.a. The crazy motherfucker of a chain lol. I know it seems a little excessive, but there's no way I'm taking the risk of having my $2,000 bike stolen!! Secure your bikes, people! #vancouver #cycling #cyclist #custom #bikelock #security #biking #bike #canada

A photo posted by Justin From Ottawa (@bixter) on

It is also possible to use multiple industrial-grade chains. This can be coupled with locks pointing down in order to make it difficult for thieves to pour fluids into your lock and jam it up so that they have more time to work on stealing your bike later. You could also use an alarmed padlock, as featured in #2.

4. Extra Locks, Extra Obstacles:

Why settle with just multiple locks when you can also use multiple types of locks? The chances are that a bike thief is not carrying around enough equipment to break through a fortress of locks. The key is to make your bicycle look like a gigantic pain-in-the-butt to steal. Again, use your creativity here!

Extremely locked bike, Photo: neatorama.com

So that may be a bit too extreme for most of us. Perhaps the example below would be more practical.

Extremely locked bike, Photo: nortshore-pedalpushers.com

Please note, however, that it is important for locks to fit snuggly, not dangle around leaving room for thieves to insert their cutting tools.

5. Booby Trapping:

Maybe some of us have fantasized about booby-trapping our bicycles in case thieves approach them.

tumblr_m9tp6cTsKL1rtn5uco1_500

Warning potential thieves that your bike is rigged to self-destruct when stolen could potentially work, somewhat similar to how a fake alarm sign works.

Or how about this one? It’s not very well-designed, since the point is to deter theft, not for your bike to self-destruct when someone runs into your bike by mistake, but you get the idea.

Grenade on bike, Photo: pinimg.com

Please note that I am not condoning violence here – just highlighting some creative ideas for getting bike thieves to forget about stealing your bikes. In the end of the day it’s always best to lock the bike indoors and keep your eyes on it.

Do you have your own ideas?