Wherever you live, it’s important to lock your bike so it doesn’t get stolen. In areas where there’s a lot of theft, some cyclists lock their bikes with not one, but two locks.
This creates security and brings peace of mind. But it also makes it more difficult because locks are big, heavy, and cumbersome. So how can you lug around a bike lock or two and still ride your bike comfortably?
- Mount the lock to your bike frame with a designated mount.
- Carry it in a backpack.
- Wear it around your body or attached to your belt.
- Put it in a pannier or basket.
- Lock it around your handlebars or seat post.
- Leave it at your destination.
These solutions should work with U-locks, chain locks, and cable locks (note, however, that cable locks can be cut very easily and don’t provide much protection for your bike).
Read on to learn the pros and cons of each method—and get additional tips and tricks on how to protect your bike from thieves without turning into the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Mount the Lock to Your Bike’s Frame
While it may be tempting to just put the lock around the bike’s frame, don’t. The lock will get in your way while riding and scratch the frame, encouraging corrosion and rust. A better way to secure the lock to the bike frame is to use a bike lock mount.
Most U-Locks come with frame mounts. If yours didn’t, purchase a mount separately. But be sure to get the right kind: it’s always a good idea to buy the mount that’s designed to fit your lock (or a lock of its type).
Lock mounts can be installed in various places on the frame of your bike, and, depending on the size of the lock and your riding habits, you’ll have to figure out for yourself which one works for you. Some new mounts can even attach a U-Lock to the back of your seat.
Lock mounts might loosen over time due to wear and tear. So remember to check every so often that your lock isn’t loose—or you might lose your lock along the way. Generally speaking, once a month should do.
Make sure you follow the installation instructions as well to be sure your lock is secure.
Carry Your Lock in a Backpack
Backpacks are a great option for carrying all the supplies you need for a ride, whether that’s water, snacks… or your bike lock.
The obvious drawback is that you will have to carry your backpack whenever you ride. In addition to that, bike locks can be very heavy—some chain locks run over 6 pounds—so it’s a good idea to test out the weight of a lock at a bike shop before you buy.
This method works well for short rides, like a trip to the supermarket. But carrying a lot of weight on your back might not be so fun at the end of a long ride.
If you go with it, you may also want to carry a separate storage bag for your lock so it doesn’t mess up whatever else you might be carrying in your backpack (you don’t want the lock to mangle your sandwich or damage your MacBook).
Wear Your Bike Lock
A small U-Lock can be placed around your belt or through a belt loop. It can also be attached to some sort of strap that can then be stored when you aren’t riding (or even left locked to your bike).
Chain locks can be worn either around the waist or over one shoulder. Some lock manufacturers even design their locks to be worn while riding.
Keep in mind that chain locks are heavy, and you may not want to wear them frequently. In addition, bike locks get dirty, so this may only be a good option if you aren’t worried about staining your clothes. Don’t do this before a job interview. 🙂
From a safety perspective, wearing a chain lock might cause injury if you fall off your bike—so be careful when considering this option.
Carry Your Lock in a Pannier or Basket
This is a good option if you need to transport stuff on your bike and don’t want to wear a backpack every time. The bike carries the weight of your lock as well, which is more comfortable and much safer.
If you carry a heavy lock on one side of your bike, make sure the weight is properly distributed so you can ride safely. After all, you don’t want the weight of the lock pulling you in one direction when you should be going the other way.
You may want to carry a bike lock bag in your pannier so the lock doesn’t get everything dirty. A pannier or basket is a great way to carry your lock if you have these items on your bike.
Lock It Around Your Bike
There is a wrong way to lock a lock to your bike—and that way would be anything that damages your bike, gets in the way, or is annoying, clunky, and noisy. Very often, locking your lock to the top tube of your bike can be all of these things.
You may have better luck locking to your handlebars. But, again, you will want make sure the lock is secure, doesn’t interfere with the steering, and doesn’t do damage to your handlebars or your brake levers and gear shifters.
That being said, some chain locks can be wound around the seat post safely and stay out of the way. A small U-Lock might also be secured through the rails under your seat.
Locking to your bike might be a good option occasionally, for example in a situation where you don’t want to wear your backpack, but it might not be the best long-term solution for carrying your lock.
Leave Your Lock at Your Destination
If you are riding to the same location frequently and your community allows it, you might consider leaving a lock attached to a rack at your destination. This will allow you to make use of a very heavy duty lock without having to haul the weight of it with you.
It also may allow you to use two locks–one you carry with you all the time and another waiting for you at the end of your commute. Be aware, though, that thieves will know your bike will be parked at that location, and may target your bike.
Your best bet is to befriend the campus or office building security personnel and keep the lock with you. That way, they can either hand it to you when you get to the bike rack, or you can pick it up a short distance from the bike.
You can’t leave your bike unlocked in public places, so you will have to figure out some way to bring a lock along. If none of these options work for you, get creative!
There are probably any number of ways to safely bring your lock along, you just need to find what works for you.