Lock it visibly
Always lock your bike – even if you are only leaving it for a minute. Leave it in the busiest public place possible. Ideally, lock it where you can see it – or where lots of other people can. Never leave it in an isolated place. If you’re going shopping, leave it locked outside the shop. Never leave your bike in some hidden backyards, subways or another dark places. Once found they’re pretty liable to getting stolen when no witnesses are around.
Old school tips
Make sure your bike has a frame number. Record it in your notes in case your stolen bike is luckily found somewhere, and you’ll need to prove that it’s really yours. For the same reason you can even glue a piece of paper with your name on it into the hollow part of the seat post. Last but not least, don’t forget to make a photo of your bike.
Register and tag it
In many countries there are schemes, run online by the bike producers, police or other authorities, with which you can register the unique frame number of your bike for free. As soon as you register your bike, you’ll get a tag to put on.
They’re usually more tamper-resistant, weatherproof and scannable tags. Thieves hate traceable bikes and the tags are a great visual deterrent. If the thief succeeds in getting one tag off, there are still more to get through. The thief will most likely strip off the easily visible tags, the one tag he misses will be his misfortune.
Track your bike
Modern systems like SpyBike GPS Tracker give you a second line of defense. It’s by far the best way how to get your bike back once it’s gone. The devices hidden in your bike are usually activated when you leave your bike, using the accompanying electronic key.
If the bike is taken before being deactivated with your key (i.e. stolen), the sensor initiates the tracking system, which sends you an alert SMS message and begins uploading coordinates to the cloud periodically, until the vibration caused by riding or transporting your bike stops. The second-generation device, which is a covert GPS tracker disguised as a rear bicycle LED light, is out now. It even functions as an ordinary bicycle light.
Get a proper lock
Buy a good lock. No lock is thief-proof – but the more you spend, the more difficult you make it for the thief to steal it. It takes a lot of time to crack those, which means less chances to evade capture, or the thief will simply prefer a less secured bike.
The easiest pickings are the bikes secured with cheap locks. Some cable locks can be cut just with a pair of scissors and very cheap U-locks can be sawn through with a junior hacksaw in minutes. But there are many different types of useful locks. The modern folding locks are relatively resistant and reliable. If you can’t pick the right model, take a look at the latest ones introduced at the recent Eurobike.
Make the lock uneasy to crack
Remember to lock the bike via the frame together with the rear wheel. Whichever lock you use, make sure you locked the frame and the wheels to something immovable. Very important aspect is that your d-lock is locked tight and not hanging loose and that there’s no space between the bike and the object it’s locked to. This makes it difficult to lever the lock open.
Make sure the keyhole is pointing down – so the thieves can’t fill it with a corrosive fluid, or with glue, which means you can’t move it, but they can come back and steal it later.
Carelessness means bikelessness
Often, the thieves don’t consider the real price of the loot. If they need money on drugs or whatever, they simply give it away for a bargain. On the black market, bikes worth 1000 Euros are commonly resold for one hundred or less. So there’s only one certain advice: owners of expensive bikes should always take them indoors. For anyone with outdoor parking, we’d recommend a cheaper bike.
Lock it to something solid
Make sure it is secured to an immovable object, like a cycle anchor or railings. Some things that look solid are not, so always do a check. If you’re locking it to a post, make sure the post is high enough, so the thieves can’t lift it over the top.
Take the accessories with you
When you are leaving your bike, remember to remove accessories like the lights – or the seat if you haven’t fitted the locking nuts.