"Locked bike"Although biking is a great form of recreation and exercise, there are certain risks involved with frequent cycling. There are obvious safety concerns when anyone bikes in busy areas, but there is another type of risk to be aware of: theft.

Unfortunately, in the world of theft, bicycles are a common item to steal. According to the National Bike Registry, an estimated 1.5 million bikes are stolen each year. Because biking is becoming more and more common, larger amounts of bikes are “on display” than ever before. With so many commuters using bikes to get around, there can be dozens of bikes parked or chained up outside of office buildings, restaurants, gyms, and stores. While nothing can 100% guarantee that your bike will not be stolen, there are definitely certain locking measures you can take to help prevent your favorite two-wheeler from disappearing.

Buy quality locks

Cheap bike locks typically mean cheap quality and a greater chance of your bike being stolen. It is much smarter to invest in high-quality locks. One suggestion is to spend 20% of the value of your bike on locks to protect it. For more descriptions about specific types of locks and which are best for your bike, click here.

Be smart about where and how you lock your bike

It makes no sense to invest time and money in buying good bike locks if they are not used properly. Pick the most public place you can find to lock your bike, and always keep it near you. Never leave your bike locked in isolation. Also, make sure the object you lock your bike to is solid and firmly attached to the ground or to a building. Never lock your bike to something that can be picked up or moved. If you must lock your bike to a post, make sure the post is too high for someone to lift the bike over. You want to do everything in your power to discourage thieves from trying to take your bike.

Lock your bike as tightly as possible

Be sure to lock both the frame and the wheels of your bike to an immovable object. Make the lock tight to the point where there is no space between the bike and the object it is locked to. Remove any valuable bike accessories (and inexpensive accessories you don’t want to risk losing). Keep the keyhole of the lock pointed down and, if using a cable lock, loop the cable around as tightly as you can.

In addition to locks . . .

Although locks are your best protection against thievery, there are several other things you can do to help protect your bike. Complex Rides suggests personalizing your bike to the point where it no longer looks like a generic, stock bike. Thieves will be much less likely to take a bike that is easily-recognized and easily-recovered. They also suggest switching up where you park your bike every day and keeping your bike inside to avoid any outdoor danger.

If you rely on your bike to get around town, make sure you take proper care of it. Investing money in quality locks or parking your bike in a different spot each morning may seem inconvenient at first, but these simple steps may help save you big hassle in the long run. Remember, it is better to spend an extra 10 minutes each day taking care of your bike than to have no bike to take care of!

Photo Courtesy of Richard Masoner/Cyclelicious and Creative Commons.