Thursday, December 15, 2011

lessons learned from bike thieves

'tis that time of year. the air turns chilly, more ugly sweaters surface at parties, and the scramble for presents begins. for some, that means maybe stealing to get what you need to give to others. or maybe they are just an asshole who steals bike parts.

What is wrong with this picture?

the title of that picture is "what is wrong with this picture?" my response was "nothing, unless that is your bike and you are missing a seat post/saddle."

sigh. our friend to the blog, TDN, had this unfortunate experience the other night on market street. i have mentioned before on the blog how i've outsmarted bike thieves before who coveted my saddle i worked very hard to pay for with my own money. i'll be goddammned if they are going to take that saddle without a fight.

TDN updated his network by saying, "Urban Cyclist Protip: Your local bikeshop has tiny ball bearings and plumbers putty to jam into allens of things you don't want stolen."

agreed. or you can take it a couple of steps further and make sure you also strip the nut that can also be taken off.

Now that's protection...

there is indeed a ball bearing in the place where the hex/allen wrench goes. we didn't use putty, but rather hot glue. and also notice that the nut is stripped. is it a pain to adjust? it sure is. and you have to make sure you do it in the two places (for saddles at least, but this is applicable to any place where an allen wrench can be used) where it attaches to the bike. for saddles, this is where the saddle attaches to the seat post and where the seat post attaches to the bike in what sheldon brown calls "the seat cluster."

dont have those tools yourself? find someone who does, or go to your local community bike shop with work tables and DIY. or just ask your LBS if they will help you strip the nut. they will think you are a lil nuts, but you say it's for theft prevention, and who knows, they just might say "sure, why not?"

it just takes a little extra and added patience to work on the bike. but you know what? i still have my saddle. that's worth protecting to me.


  1. My tip for saddle security is to run a length of chain through a spent tube and route the whole thing between the saddle rails and the saddle, then down between the seat tube and the seat stays. You have to have a chain tool to break the chain, and if you are stealing bike parts and own a chain tool you are a super-a**hole.

  2. That tool is small, portable, and no doubt a part of an experienced thief's utility belt of evil. I do not think that method is safe at all in SF. Of course, feel free to disagree!

  3. In a high-crime area, I'd just use a saddle quick release and take my saddle and seatpost with me. I've never actually had to do this, but I know people who have, and although it's kind of a pain, so are the other methods mentioned here.

    Thieves suck. :(

  4. Try to avoid getting sand on the bike chain, and/or on the gear sprockets.
    The sand will cause friction on the chain and the gears and will cause more wear and tear on your cruiser.
    bike grips