Meet my new bike.
This is the bike that I was able to purchase thanks to the incredible kindness and generosity of my CrossFit crowd. This bike is so much more to me than just a bike. If anything happens to this bike, I will go ballistic. Seriously, someone will need to lock me up so I don’t harm myself or others.
So here’s my checklist on making a bike unstealable (or at least too undesirable or annoying to steal) and recoverable:
- Locks. Duh. Of course. The advice given to me is to have at least two different kinds of locks, so that any particular thief that encounters your bike will be unlikely to have the tools to bust through both. I got one super beefy U-lock and one folding U-lock. They’re both ABUS brand, and everyone knows that German engineers know what they’re doing! My bike shop guy uses this U-lock on his bike, which makes me feel much better about it. The U-lock is heavy.The folding U-lock is not light.
- Bicycle insurance. I signed up with Velosurance. After looking around on the Internet for a while, I felt pretty good about what people were saying about this company and decided that $12 a month is worth the peace of mind in knowing that my bicycle is insured. Plus they offer roadside assistance! Maybe that will calm down my mom some.
- Register the bike. I registered with the National Bike Registry (NBR) for $10, which gets me ten years of coverage. I fail to exactly get excited about this. All this means is that IF my bike gets recovered then I will easily be able to prove that it’s mine. That’s a big IF. But, I do get a nifty label that I get to adhere to my bike to tell everyone that it’s registered, so hopefully it will be one more annoyance, in addition to my beefy locks, that a bike thief just won’t want to deal with.
- Make the bike ugly. Well, I’ve done a pretty good job with getting it super dirty and mud-splattered, but what I really mean is that all the pretty decals have to come off and a bunch of duct tape needs to go on. It just needs to be unattractive to bike thieves. I also want to have a party where everyone who wishes me well can sign my bike, and then we’ll apply a clear protective coat so the signatures don’t rub off. No one else would want a bike that’s so personalized, right?
- Make the bike girly. My bike shop guy pointed out to me that most bike thieves are men. Therefore, they don’t want girly bikes. Or at least I’d figure they would be afraid of drawing attention to themselves messing around with a girly bike, and they definitely don’t want attention. So how do I do that? Streamers? Unfortunately, I think I have as much patience for girly stuff as a bike thief does.
- GPS tracking devices. Now here I’m not sure what to do. I’ve been looking at a number of different devices, such as BikeSpike, Spybike, and Iota. They’re all devices that let you know if your bicycle is moving when it shouldn’t be moving. At that point you can start tracking your bike’s movements. So you can chase your bike down! Oh good! Cuz whenever I think of nasty thieves with bolt cutters and hacksaws, I think of chasing them down! On foot, apparently, since the bike is gone. Or I guess you can borrow someone else’s bike, or better yet someone’s skateboard. Maybe some of those Marty McFly moves will come in useful. Or can you imagine climbing into a taxi cab or calling up Uber and telling them to follow the blinking dot on your phone?
Impressive. That video is worth watching for the acting alone. I know, I know, you’re supposed to go to the police and show them your amazing evidence to track down the thieves. Well, again, not too excited about that, given how well the police are at recovering bicycles, and how much they care. They have bigger worries on their minds. Besides, how well do these things work, anyway? A couple concerns are battery life and how concealable the devices are. Iota makes me nervous because they send you a base unit that you’re supposed to mount at your home, giving you a four mile radius of coverage. Gee. Not very useful if you’re planning on doing any real cycling. But they point out that if only ten people did this in San Francisco, then all of SF would be covered. So you’re putting a lot of trust in these devices becoming more popular. On the other hand, once such devices become popular, thieves will know to look for them and remove them. Spybike is disguised as your bike’s top cap, but again, it’s only a matter of time til thieves know that and just remove them. And they’re not cheap! They run over $100 for the unit, plus monthly service fees. Hmmm. I’m not convinced these are truly useful, but I would love to become so.
If there’s anything I’ve missed on keeping my bike mine, please do let me know!