Parking a bike properly is one of the most basic things every cyclist needs to know. Here's how you should be storing your wheels, whether you’re grabbing a quick cup of coffee or putting your bike away for the season.
How to Best Lock Your Bike
Here's the bad news: There’s no fail-safe way to lock your bike without some risk of it being stolen or damaged, especially in major cities. However, there are some key steps that will make it more difficult to steal your bike.
Always lock both wheels.
"A lot of times people will only lock the front wheel," says Sylvie Froncek, the programs director at the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. "That means that if it's a quick release, the frame and the back wheel can get taken instantly."
For a quick-release front wheel, you can pop it off and lock it alongside your rear wheel. If you happen to be riding with a friend, lock your bike to your friend's (pointing in reverse directions) and to a bike rack to avoid removing the wheel. If you must choose one tire to secure, lock the most expensive parts of your bike: the frame and rear wheel.
Choose the right lock.
Your lock is your last line of defense, and you want to choose one that makes it as difficult as possible to break or remove. Froncek recommends Kryptonite's security guide, which uses a matrix of variables to determine the best lock setup based on how long the stop is going to be and where you're planning to leave your bike. The most secure setup is to lock your bike frame and rear wheel to a bolted or cemented bike rack with a sturdy U-lock and to lock your front wheel with a chain or another U-lock. You can also use a small chain to make it more work to walk off with your bike seat or panniers.
Always park in visible areas and lock to secure objects.
High-traffic areas make it riskier for a thief to go after your bike. Jess Nolasco, a bike mechanic at New York City's Recycle a Bicycle, looks for food vendors or other people who will see her lock up and who can give a shout if they see someone else try to take it.
What you lock your bike to is vital. When you can, only park at hefty bike racks that are firmly secured to the ground (give it an upward tug to double check). Even if you've securely locked to what seems like a solid object, thieves may cut through or unbolt the anchor itself, especially if it's something like a small tree or a signpost. "I've seen people locked to something like a pole without a sign on it, so you could just lift the bike up high enough and slide the bike and lock off," says Froncek.