You may have noticed, there are a lot more people in Seattle than there used to be. The tech industry took a real shine to Seattle, many huge companies are bringing in people to work in their monolithic dream structures. A lot of these new people are millennials-types living on their own for the first time out of college, who haven't had the optimism hammered out of them by harsh reality yet. These are people that bike thieves prey on.
This is why you need a lock.
The world is a beautiful place but property theft is, and will always be a reality. If you have something perceived useful or valuable that you leave outside for long enough, somebody will try to steal it. Fortunately, if you are mindful of where you keep your stuff and have a decent lock, you won’t have to waste money on buying the same things time and time again.
Bikes are beautiful, refined machines that deserve to be invested in. A lock should be the first thing you buy after a bike if you plan to use a bike for its best purpose, incredibly efficient transportation. Lock companies have many options to offer but they are competing for your money, so it’s not the best place to look for simple information. For more useful information, look to outdoor retailers like REI. They carry a variety of brands and fabrics, so they are more likely to offer unbiased information.
Or you know, you could also get simple and practical information from a local friendly bike shop newsletter.
Here at the shop, I tell people that there are really only two types of locks; locks that can resist bolt cutters, and everything else. Bolt cutters are silent (key word silent) tools that can slice through metal and braided cable. They are also cheap and easy to conceal, which makes them the #1 tool used in bike theft.
In general, you want a lock made of steel. Yes, this is a heavy material, but you are an amazingly fit person who rides a bike, so you can handle the extra weight (resistance training!). Solid steel is really the only material that even comes close to standing up to bolt cutters, and because of this, you want a steel-shackle or steel link chain style lock.
I prefer chains for the convenience of a much larger locking area and the ability to weave around things on a bike-riddled rack. When riding together in a group, it's fun to be the cool guy that locks everybody (and dictates when everyone leaves).
We carry the Steel-o-Chain lock (pictured) in store and is our lowest priced bolt-cut resistant lock.
Steel-shackle U locks are the most common type of lock and their solid shape makes them rattle less when mounted. They are also available combined together in a pack with a cable, which is typically threaded through the front wheel for extra security. However, I think if somebody is out stealing bikes, cables can be irrelevant because they already have a pair of bolt cutters.
Kryptonite is the brand of U locks we carry and they offer a anti-theft reimbursement program which you can read about [HERE] but the gist of the small print is, you have to register the lock prior to the theft, and you need to have some part of the lock to prove it was physically broken.
Kinda "large" fine print if you ask me but hey, something is better than nothing.
You can also pick between key or combination lock styles. Combo-style locks are good if you don't want to carry keys or want to easily share a lock (I've been known to keep a spare lock on a frequented bike rack in order to avoid of carrying a heavy lock on a longer road ride). Although keyed locks are more secure (nobody can guess/overhear your combo) and way easier to unlock in the dark after a few post ride pints. It's really a matter of preference.
Bike Radar recently did a great write up/test of a bunch of locks and their resistance to different means of theft [HERE]. They really did a great job and is worth the read if I have piqued your interest with this article about locks. We can special order most of these locks and tell you more about them. We love talking with people now that we’ve slowed down considerably (off season).
If your bike does get stolen (sad face emoji), recovery is not common but you can give yourself an advantage by registering your bike with the manufacturer (if you bought a new bike) and BikeIndex.org with your serial number. Check it out [HERE].
Bike theft is a problem that will probably always exist, but that doesn't mean you can't keep your bicycle safe. Buying and carrying a lock may seem like a hassle, but it’s a way smaller hassle than having to walk back home and to work in the morning.