It’s no big surprise that bikes get stolen in Mountain View. There are lots of things that bike owners can do that may prevent it from happening, or might, at least cause the thief to move along to an easier target.
I met with local bike enthusiast, Mitch Harnett, and asked him to show me some of these tips. Mitch is the Community Relations Coordinator for Study.com and he is the main contact person for the Mountain View Working Scholars program. He rides his bike all over our city and worked as Lead Mechanic at Cognition Cyclery and was an instructor at Safe Moves.
If possible, flip the bike upside down and place it behind other objects. This would slow down a bike thief and make their life slightly more difficult. It doesn’t hurt to make eye contact with anyone in the area. People around here are pretty friendly and if they’re sitting at a table on the sidewalk, they would definitely notice if someone else came along and started messing with your bike.
Try to position your bike so that you can see part of it while you are inside the building. Mitch used Red Rock Coffee as an example. If you ran in to grab a cup of coffee, you could still see the tire of the bike.
Another tip is to remove the chain from the main chain ring. The thief will need some basic mechanic skills. There’s no way they could jump on it and ride off without a great deal of difficulty.
Another idea is to leave the bike in the lowest gear. It’s not possible to go fast in a low gear and, once again, no one will be able to jump on it and ride away quickly.
You can also raise the seat up as tall as possible and turn it backwards. This will definitely slow down a thief.
Don’t use just a simple cable lock. They are very easy to cut. There are some outstanding locks for sale at Cognition Cyclery. They also sell cable locks, if you absolutely insist, but they’ll also tell you that it’s not a good idea.
Abus is a German lock company. The Bordo by Abus is the #1 selling lock at Cognition Cyclery on Castro. Abus also makes some super, heavy duty chain locks. One of the photos shows something similar, but it’s a different brand, Luma. Mitch fixed a bike for someone from Amsterdam and she was so pleased with his service that she gave him her lock when he was done. It’s over-the-top heavy, but if your bike is worth several months rent in Silicon Valley, you need a lock that keeps it safe, right?
Heavy u-locks are excellent when they are installed properly. Make sure you loop it through the front wheel and the frame.
If your bike has quick-release axles, you might consider switching them out for pinhead something more secure. It would take a thief less than 20 seconds to remove your front tire with quick release axles. Have pinhead locks installed on the axles. They have a unique pattern, each one is totally different from every other one and requires a specific key. You can also use pinhead locks on the seat and on the seat of the bike.
Gravity locks are another powerful option. There is no way the wheel can be removed unless the bike is upside down. They look completely different from quick-release. They can't be defeated or tricked with a magnet. They're very secure. Cognition Cyclery can help with any and all of these locks.
Have you heard about the Bait Bike program from San Francisco Police Department? You can put the yellow sticker, or something similar, on your bike to deter bike thieves. You can also etch your name on your bike, next to the serial number.
A seriously big thank you Mitch from Study.com for helping me with this article (and photos!) and for helping make Mountain View a safer community for bicyclists.