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How can I ugly up my commuter bike?(16 posts)

How can I ugly up my commuter bike?sketchy
Jul 1, 2002 7:25 PM
I work nights in Washington DC and security is no longer letting me bring my nice bike into the building, so I bought the cheapest road bike I could find(Performance R202)
to commute with. Trouble is that the bike's all new and shiny, especially compared to all the other double locked clunkers in the bike rack.

Any suggestions on how to make my bike less appealing? I would prefer not to permanently mar my bike, but will spray paint it if I have to, so painting advice is welcome.

Thanks in advance for any help.
Flat black, duct tape, and stickers nmrwbadley
Jul 1, 2002 7:27 PM
Yet another problem you can solve with duct tape! nmLeisure
Jul 1, 2002 11:09 PM
re: How can I ugly up my commuter bike?newhouse
Jul 1, 2002 9:14 PM
in dc, i had a friend who delivered pizzas on his bike. he and the other cyclists at work took an old tube, cut out the valve stem, and wrapped that around the top tube to cover up the logos. did the same on the down tube. i guess it's the same as using the flat black tape.
messengers usepukka
Jul 2, 2002 4:19 AM
that rubberised tape to protect the frame when they lock it up i dont know what its called but it will not permantly mess up your frame
Black satin paintSpoke Wrench
Jul 2, 2002 5:23 AM
It's a sort of urban camouflage, but it still looks decent enough that you won't mind riding the bike. It's real fast and easy to get good results using spray cans. Once you do it, you'll be surprised at how many other things you see that are painted black satin.
Jul 2, 2002 5:28 AM
How about putting something sticky on it, like tar or honey, so it attracts all sorts of dirt. Could do the same on the wheels and some components. Really gunk it up.

Buy the cheapest saddle you can find, and slice it up a bit or cover with duct tape. Have one spoke strategically falling out (compensate with truing other spokes).

Or, if you don't mind painting later -- paint stripper. Just denude the whole thing and let it rust (steel?).

Bumper stickers.. or reflective tapebigdave
Jul 2, 2002 8:10 AM
I had my beater Schwinn commuter covered with a bumper stickers from every micro-brewery/brewpub I drank from... Lakefront (WI), Long Trail (VT), etc. Those things take up real estate on the tubes real fast.

Now, on my beater fixed gear commuter, I have reflective tape covering the seatstays, some on the seat tube, some on the down and top tubes and a little bit on the head tube. Any hardware store has the stuff, either in white, yellow, red, or a red-white stripe like a barber pole. This tape also serves as camo for what's underneath, but it also helps slightly in reflectivity for those dawn/dusk/night rides. So you can be slightly safer and camo your ride all in one shot.

Florists tapeoff roadie
Jul 2, 2002 8:21 AM
Absolutely no residue (it only sticks to itself), its ugly as sin (wrinkly green), and it twists / stretches / conforms to very irregular shapes (tube junctions).

Electrical tape also comes off with little or no residue.

Of course, thieves who are willing to break a good lock are probably targeting the best bikes they can find, and are gonna be smart enough to recognize quality bikes without the brand label showing (heck, I can do that). If you make it so you can clean it up easy, so can a thief, and they will know that. Uglification doesn't prevent opportunity theft- a good lock will do that. Chances are, a cheap bike with a good lock is safe even without any uglification.
I don't know...Brooks
Jul 2, 2002 8:35 AM
that thieves are that smart. I saw a kid (10-12years old) near the National Zoo with a heavy duty pair of bolt cutters. This was in the middle of the day. He looked like he would take anything he could cut the lock off of, camo or not. So get a good lock and prevent crimes of opportunity.

I also had two bikes stolen from inside my car by a 16 year old who watched me put them in. He totally trashed windows and locks trying to get them out. Insurance paid for replacement.
bolt cutters / broken car window = opportunity theftoff roadie
Jul 2, 2002 12:00 PM
Sorry for your loss. When I put my bike in the car, I U-lock it to a thick cable that hols the shoulder strap for my rear seatbelts. Even when I'm driving. I'm that paranoid.

So, by "good lock" I meant a New York Krypto, or similar (if there is any) security, or at least something on par with a Krypto Evo lock. Not somthing a bolt cutter can get through. And that doesn't mean the bike is locked, but "to itself", or to a tree, or to a chain link portion of a fence- if the item your locking the bike to can be cut with anything less than a torch, you might as well use a chintzy little cable lock.

As you noted, opportunity theft doesn't discriminate against bikes that look like (or even ARE) total trash. The best thing to prevent that is to make the bike harder to steal than ALL the other bikes in the area.
Theives are plenty smart. . . don't bother trying to fool themczardonic
Jul 2, 2002 4:19 PM
I am sure there are plenty of room temperature IQ types, but there seems to be a professional element to the frequency and sophistication of bike theft. I live in a college town, and it is pretty much accepted that any locking scheme can be defeated.

I wouldn't even bother masking a cheap bike. Get a good lock. Anyone smart enough to defeat it will be smart enough to know it isn't worth the trouble. Covering it up only gives theives the impression that you have something to hide. The components probably have the most re-sale value anyway, and they are even harder to mask w/o screwing them up.
re: How can I ugly up my commuter bike?aliensporebomb
Jul 2, 2002 10:17 AM
I work in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota and there's a
lot of cycle commuting going on here.

I've seen a lot of creative ways of disguising or hiding
things regarding bikes but the duct tape method is one I
have seen (cover all tubing with duct tape). Sticky but
if you don't really care about the bike's appearance it
might do the trick. It also might tell every thief in the
area "I'm hiding something cool under here."

Another thing I saw was someone basically removed the paint
from the frame of the bike and removed all the logos off
the derailleur and crank. Lots of work, don't know if it
would be worth it.

You could always get a metalworking friend bead-blast the
frame to eliminate the shininess but that's somewhat drastic and might end up costing you something.

One thing to consider is that with time the bike will be
eventually well used looking. Perhaps trying to accelerate
the process might help make it less appealing to potential

An idea might be to take it in a dirty area, almost like a mountain bike trail but not quite as extreme to get a good layer of dirt and general ickyness on the bike, tires and frame and then maybe put some things like decals to make it unappetizing.

Or go for the duct tape idea.
Ride it to work...mmquest
Jul 2, 2002 10:22 AM
it will get screwed up soon enough (esp. if you are locking it up, leaning it against stuff, etc.)!
I resemble that roadie
Jul 2, 2002 12:09 PM
I also live in Minneapolis, and I rent a bike locker at work. They have them downtown and on the U campus. That's the ultimate camoflague- all bikes look the same, behind locked doors. My one gripe with the locker is, there's nothing inside the locker to secute the bike to, you have to trust the door lock.

Here's what I ride to work. And on trails. And off small manmade objects. Despote the ugliness (and it looks WORSE now), I'm pretty sure just the fact that it has supsension, gears, and fat tires would make it a target for theft. If I'm running late, I ride my road bike, but this monster gets me a longer workout, and lets me take a prettier route.
Latex housepaint ...Humma Hah
Jul 2, 2002 12:47 PM
... The nastiest, goopiest old stuff in your left-over paint in the garage, preferably light green. Apply it with a brush.

Latex paint can sometimes be stripped off without even permanantly damaging the decals.