Some day maybe all bicycles will come with integrated, theft-defeating technology. There’s no shortage of innovative ideas cropping up. The Yerka Design Project (above) even turns the bike itself into a lock. (Read on to learn how).
But in the meant time, what do you do if you’re out riding a carbon road bike or a look-at-me steel mixte in the city and you need to make an unanticipated stop? Maybe you forgot pocket food for your workout in Prospect Park and want to jump into a bodega for a banana. Or, a text from your spouse reminds you of the need for a quart of milk. Or, the aroma of freshly baked bagels kindles a not-to-be-denied craving.
You’re not packing a lock, so what can you do to temporarily secure the ride you swore you’d never, ever leave on the street? The following tips can help you lock your bike without a lock. None is suitable for long-term parking, but especially when used in combination, these may help foil an attempted theft if you have to leave your steed for a couple of minutes:
How to Hobble the Baddies
If it’s lightweight, take the bike inside – I never ask. I just walk through the front door (respectfully) with my carbon bike like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Often, nobody cares. But if I get shooed out, I move on to the next tips.
Cuddle up – If you’re riding with somebody who has a lock along, secure the bikes together.
Pick a shop with a window – Patronize a store with a front window that enables you to keep eyes, hawk-like, on the street while you accomplish your errand.
Enlist your helmet – Snap your helmet strap around the frame and secure the bike to a rack or street sign. If you want to go to the next level, the Cappuccino Lock from Lazer (above and below) turns your strap into a combination lock. Just snap your helmet buckle and clasp into each side of the device and spin the combination dial. The device, which comes in four colors, is compact enough to fit into a jersey pocket or bag on every ride, just in case.
Join the crowd — Cycling has become so popular in New York City that bike racks are crowded in some neighborhoods. Maneuvering your bike into the scrum may help hide it in plain sight.
Shift gears — Shift into the hardest gear. That means the biggest chain ring on the crank and the smallest cog on the rear cassette. The difficulty of turning the cranks from a dead stop might help snuff out a quick getaway.
Loosen the back wheel skewers – If your bike has quick-release wheels, open the rear lever and loosen the skewer after you’ve parked your bike. This will cause the wheel to disengage from the dropout if a thief tries to lift the bike away from its parking spot, and render the bike temporarily unrideable. Important reminder. Before re-mounting the bike, remember to tighten the skewer and close the lever. You don’t want to fall victim to your own security measures.
Is the Future Unstealable?
Now, about that Yerka bike, which is being billed as unstealable. This sleek urban design has a down tube that splits apart so that the bike can be “wrapped” around a post or rack. The seat post is slotted through both ends to complete the connection. The project’s founders are three people whose inspiration is rooted in having their own bikes stolen. You can learn more about the Yerka here.
Anything can happen on the streets of New York City, but a little savvy goes a long way, to help safe-guard your bike in a pinch.
Photos: Yerka and Lazer