Developing a Theory of Bike Protection – How U-Locks Won the Battle But Lost the War – Know Your Tweeker

The inderspensable Uptown Almanac seems to have a theme of bike thievery, lately. See?

Via The UA

Now, back in the day, back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, bike thieves would strive to take your whole bike, and usually, they would succeed. But then came the U- Lock. The Bike Theft Community responded by carrying around Volvo car jacks, and freeze gas, and whatnot. But that wasn’t too practical, it turned out. And U Locks got better – physically smaller and harder to pick. So, the Bike Theft Community responded by being satisfied to simply strip parts from your bike for easy resale. And that’s the situation we have now.

I’ll tell you, back in the day, the 415 didn’t have such a robust market for stolen bike parts running 24-7 the way we do now. That’s why, especially when compared with most other parts of the USA, your focus should be on protecting accessories on the frame as opposed to the frame itself. Sure, U locks still get broken, but not at all at the rate of two decades ago, that’s for sure.

Now, because the average low-life bike theft tweeker has seemingly lost the technology of breaking U locks, you can safely go cheap, like a $15 OnGuard / special. That’ll free up some of your cash to protect the things that matter:




How do you do that? I don’t know, cables and chains and leashes and locking skewers and ball bearings superglued into your headset, thusly. Anything to make your low-life tweeker bike thief carry a bunch of different kinds of tools around, anything to make your low-life tweeker bike thief reconsider a few life choices.

Bon courage!

Encountering a 21st century horse thief outside of your favorite local bar. Oh well:

Via, once again, TUA

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2 Responses to “Developing a Theory of Bike Protection – How U-Locks Won the Battle But Lost the War – Know Your Tweeker”

  1. Jack Walker says:

    Excellent historical perspective. The older and bigger U locks were susceptible to lever attacks. They’d crack like a walnut. The home brew countermeasure was to get some cast plumbing tees to beef up the lock. The manufacturer’s counter measure was to make the locks smaller. The problem now is U locks are too small. With the old locks you could remove the front wheel set it next to the rear and lock all three components together.

    I don’t think a U lock and a cable is any good. In my messenger bag I’ll carry some felony pliers and in a heartbeat your wheel is mine

    I don’t think I would ever have another brooks saddle again. My first ten speed in 1973 had one. It looked cool but it was awful. everyone now has them. Form over function I think. If you lose the brooks saddle and get something else that’s comfortable but less cool, I think that will reduce saddle theft. Also lose the quick release post. Those were originally only used for set up. To figure out the right height and then were removed. The MTB folks thought it good to use them all the time so they could lower the seat on downhills.

    I also think there are a lot of silly forks. Ditch the carbon fiber blade, ditto the springer fork. If you have a need for speed, do a bunch of intervals and get you heart moving. You’ll go fast. The carbon fiber stuff gives Olympians the .0001 second edge they need, it won’t help you. Learn to ride soft on the pedals and you won’t need a springer fork. Sure on a downhill in Marin, but here in the City? If you have a threaded cro-moly fork and an old style stem requiring a whack to remove, I doubt it’ll get ripped.

    Dérailleurs, those already gone so nothing to do here

    My thoughts now are to use hex chain. The chain could lock the two wheels and the frame. It has to be big enough to withstand felony pliers. Good quality chain is $250. That’s a lot but for a $1200 bike I think it makes sense. Of course a well maintained $250 bike makes a little more sense

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Thx, for the input, JW.

    I heard stories of broken U locks today, people telling me about them, recently. I don’t know. Last I saw a broken lock was 1.5 years ago…