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Would you do this? Need your experience...(28 posts)

Would you do this? Need your experience...blakester
Apr 8, 2003 5:53 PM
I'm buying a new (to me) ultegra level bike, and I plan on using it to commute to school a lot. This is a large community college in a relatively nice area, and there are many bike racks and covered/weatherproof bike storage area. I haven't seen many really nice bikes, so I'm worried about security. I bouth a 6-foot 3/16" guage steel cable and a masterlock to secure it. If I run the cable through both wheels, the frame, and the bike rack, would you consider it sae to leave it unattended for 3 or 4 hours in the middle of the day? How about locked outside of stores/restaurants?

In other words... Is a $1000+ bike locked up with a 3/16" cable for a few hours generally safe from theft?
If it were meB2
Apr 8, 2003 6:08 PM
yes. Based on what you say, the odds sound pretty slim that someone will steal it. Sounds like a worthwhile gamble. But then you'll have to decide for yourself remembering that there's always a slight possibility that it could be gone when you get out of class. I guess it boils down to how hard it will hit you financially if you lose it. It all relative. If you're a student and the budget is tight, you might look for other options. Maybe one of the TA's has an office or someone knows of a storeroom you can use?

Good Luck,
re: Would you do this? Need your experience...seyboro
Apr 8, 2003 6:26 PM
Back in college, I locked my commuter bike in a similar fashion. Here are a few more ideas:
I made the bike undesirable by either removing the seatpost (I used a quick-release) and saddle or the front wheel. Granted, I had to carry a post/saddle in my pack or a wheel in my hand, but DID have a bike to come back to after class.
The wheel option, while cumbersome at times, proved to be most effective as thieves would rather ride than walk away. If you don't mind a stealthy look, you can take the stickers off the frame. Some of my friends wrapped duct-tape around the tubes (fold it back on itself, so it won't really stick, of course) or tied an old plastic bag to the bars.
For parking, try to put it in the middle of the rack, making it difficult to access. Also, hang the lock as high up on the rack as you can.
Apr 8, 2003 6:37 PM
Any bike thief will recognize the ultegra components and figure there is some value to whatever parts of the bike he can take. Either find an office to lock it up or buy a cheaper bike just for commuting. Look at it this way: figure that whatever you lockup outside has a good chance of being stolen so limit its value.
I've never owned a bike that wasn't stolendtufts
Apr 8, 2003 6:49 PM
Except for the bike I have right now, all my prior bikes have been stolen. None of these were high end machines. Some were more secure than others. A good lock will go a long way, but do not ever get lazy about using it. In my case, one lock was cut. My first road bike (a Peugeot 1987) was stolen along with the bike it was locked with. My college mountain bike (low end trek) was stolen from inside a supermarket by the front desk where I left it unlocked for "safe keeping" while I grabbed one item. I took a break from bikes after that for a few years.

My advice: Don't buy anything that you cannot replace, if necessary.
Your post made it sound like you only ride *stolen bikes*....serbski
Apr 8, 2003 7:13 PM
...and I was curious to hear your defence regarding this. Of course, once I read the message I realized that all of your previous bikes were stolen from you. I was all ready to watch the sparks fly about your post! Take care.
poor grammer . . . sorry (nm)dtufts
Apr 8, 2003 7:53 PM
Another Jackass proofreader.nmthe bull
Apr 9, 2003 1:19 PM
God Forbid One Show Command of the English Language...serbski
Apr 9, 2003 5:09 PM
...I was only making a light-hearted comment. If you see this as qualifying me as some type of "Grammar Nazi" or "Jackass proofreader" as you so eloquently put it, so be it. By the way, it should read "Jackass Proofreader" (both capitalized), proper agreement you know...
No Offense Intended..serbski
Apr 9, 2003 5:12 PM
...just giving you a hard time.
Here's my advicerussw19
Apr 8, 2003 7:18 PM
I go to the University of Florida. There are a ton of bike commuters there and it also has one of the highest bike theft rates of anywhere in the country per square mile outside of New York City. Here's why. Lets say you know anything about the schedule there. You walk by a bike rack at 10:10 in the morning. You would then know that you have 40 minutes to steal that bike before classes let out. I have a couple nice road bikes, a nice mountain bike, I just ordered a nice commuter bike for going to work, and I have an old 5 speed green schwinn to ride to class. I overhauled it when I got it and put nice cables in it, converted it to a 3 piece bmx crank with a sealed bottom bracket, and rebuilt the wheels on nice hubs, but the frame is still looking like a piece of crap. If you looked at it, you would notice it has nice 700c wheels and not the crappy 27" it came with, but most people won't notice it. That's the point.

When I lock my bike, I have a U lock and a cable. I run the cable thru the wheels and slip the open ends onto the U lock's shackle. Then I lock the frame to the bike rack. It takes an extra 5 seconds, but I always have wheels when I come back to my bike. I can't tell you how many times someone locked their frame and front wheel to the rack, and had their rear wheel stolen, then came into the shop I work at only to find out that a rear wheel is gonna cost at least $100 to replace. (wheel, freewheel, rim strip, tube, and tire, add it all up, it's not cheap, even on a Wal-Mart special)

If you are going to ride your bike to school, you need to make your bike a lesser target than the one next to it. Park in the middle of the rack. Lock it right. Don't slack... I would be 5 min. late to class before I didn't lock my bike right, or I would be walking home about 6 miles that day. I have a History teacher that really likes me and knows I ride to school. She has offered to let me use her office if I want to leave my bike. See if you have a teacher that will do that. But most don't really have the room. Also, my mom works at UF and has a big office. If I ride one of my other bikes (like if I am riding straight outta class) I will use her office. It's big, but on the wrong part of school for me. But I stash a pair of rollerblades there and skate across campus when I do that.

Anyways, bottom line is find a cheap bike at a yardsale that's in fair condition and fix it up. Make it ride nice, but don't make it look nice. You would be amazed at the bikes you can buy for $15 at a yard sale if you look.

Just advice, take it or leave it...
Ultegra = It's gone......MR_GRUMPY
Apr 8, 2003 7:11 PM
It might last out the year if you use a 1" hardened steel cable, and you hire someone to watch it while you are in class......But maybe, NOT.
The lock.Ahimsa
Apr 8, 2003 7:12 PM
Cable lock for three or four hours outside a college?


U lock?


If I were you I'd take the front wheel off and U-lock the bike through the front wheel placed next to the rear wheel so as to get the lock through the frame and both rims(as described in the literature that comes with a Kryptonite U-lock).

Take the seat and post to class with ya.

This leaves no room for anyone to pry around much and discourages all but the pro thieves, as putting the wheel on afterward is a hassle. Better to move on to another easier bike. Besides, a real pro is gonna get your bike if they really want it no matter what ya do. But you aren't living in NYC, right? It's the most secure way possible IMHO to lock a bike 90% of the time in 90% of locales, and will be fine for what you describe.

Daytime? Small college? Lots of bikes around? No worries.

Save the cable lock for when you hit 7-11 on the way home.

I've been locking up this way for years and component theft is a problem in only certain cities. Mostly thieves want an easy total bike steal, or a wheel, not a friggin' deraileur. Bear in mind though that ALL cable locks are an easy steal. You just need bolt cutters.

Hope this helps.


check local bike theft statistics and get a U-lockskywalker
Apr 8, 2003 7:25 PM
Nice road bikes are VERY rare on any campus. From reading campus police reports I know that bikes get stolen a lot, and the more expensive bikes get stolen more often. Contact your campus police or local police to see what the statistics are for your area.

Finding a secure indoor place to lock the bike is your best bet, but if you must park outdoors, use a better Kryptonite U-lock in addition to the cable lock. (BTW, 3/16'' gauge cable sounds rather whimpy.) Kryptonite will insure your bike against theft for a modest fee, but I seem to remember that they want to see the broken lock before they will reimburse you.
Bianchi Milano?fracisco
Apr 8, 2003 9:23 PM
It's black and has fenders. It runs about $550. It is 7 speed.

Check it out.
Murray Grand Mesa?dante
Apr 9, 2003 5:58 AM
$69, check it out:

Rigid fork, V-brakes, ummmmmm... it's red. (actually the color looks great, had to hit it with some steel wool and ripped the stickers off to make it look crappy)

Of course, this is getting left outside in NYC (during the day) with two locks costing more than the bike wrapped around it, but it's one of those things that if it gets stolen, it's not going to matter much.

(not mine, my GFs)
NYC ChainSteve_0
Apr 9, 2003 4:39 AM
1. Instead of lugging around a Ulock, Buy a Kryto NYC chain, and keep it locked to the bikerack at school all the time.

2. Instead of lugging around a seatpost and seat for 3-4 hours, use the thin krypto cable to lock the seatpost to the chain. Sure, it ~could~ be taken by someone with cable-cutters, but unless you have a brooks, I dont think your at great risk of someone going through the trouble.

Personally, I woulnt worry. Unless the school is located in an urban environment, I doubt there are many ultegra theives lurking about.
Apr 9, 2003 4:53 AM
Even if your lock is strong enough, I have seen people lose nice bikes by thiefs pullin bars out of the bike rack, or even unbolting racks from walls/pavement. Professional bike thieves frequent universities.I wouldn't leave any bike worth more than $200 at an outside rack.
When I used to commute with my Cannondal touring bike, I locked it in the basement, with a really strong cable around a wate pipe. Others kept bikes inside in the grad student's offices, but even one of those once got stolen...
re: Would you do this? Need your experience...filtersweep
Apr 9, 2003 5:30 AM
Your fork will be all scratched up from the bike rack.

Build a stealth cheapo fixie- even fewer parts to strip and less worry.
stick with a used crappy looking bike nmDougSloan
Apr 9, 2003 6:12 AM
Generally, yes; always, no.djg
Apr 9, 2003 6:32 AM
Campus security as well as the local police ought to be able to provide you with relevant statistics. If there are very few bike thefts, you might well feel comfortable with a lightweight cable to deter quick and casual thieves. If bike thefts are more frequent, you should probably consider more heavy duty security. I just use a cable at work, but then I'm parked inside a staffed garage. And I've got appropriate insurance (you might check your renter's policy on this one).
It's goneRJF
Apr 9, 2003 7:18 AM
As a long-time commuter to school and work, my advice is that you should not lock a bike to a bike rack if you'd be really upset if the bike got stolen. With the exception of those gigantic, ultra heavy and ultra expensive New York locks, any bike lock is easy pickens for a competent thief. And even the best lock will not save your handlebars, cranks, deraillers, etc.

Buy a beater for a couple hundered out of the classifieds and keep the $1000+ Ultegra bike home.

And no place is worse to lock up a bike than a college campus. That's like a Vegas buffet to bike thiefs.
No and yes.Spoke Wrench
Apr 9, 2003 8:12 AM
I'd think that lock would be appropriate for locking outside of a shop or restaurant for an hour or so, but is definitely not adequate to lock up a nice bike on any college campus.

College campuses are the absolute worst places for bicycle theft. I've had customers who went to a small religious college in rural Minnesota who have had their bikes ripped off. It isn't even necessarily the students, the bid guys know where to go to find a good density of stealable bicycles. I'd get myself a semi-expendable beaterbike to ride to class.
Apr 9, 2003 8:30 AM
My college bike became a real work of art. I did a crap hand spray painted job on the frame to attempt an army camo look, then had stickers and such on my Rockhopper back in 90. Reducing the desirability of your College bike is the way to go. A thief doesn't see that bike and think that they will be able to turn it around for easy money, and the bike would have been seen around town and recognized. They either steal a bike for convenience (left totally unlocked and ready to go), or for quick cash turnaround (crackheads). Not that I'd do that to a bike w/ Ultegra though.
what do couriers do (like in downtown SF)? nmDougSloan
Apr 9, 2003 8:30 AM
My experience, bikes stolenjohnmyster
Apr 9, 2003 9:43 AM
I picked up a cannondale m900 from a few years back (xt 8 speed, rigid fork, canti brakes, purple, etc) at a pawn shop for $80. This was after my $500 GT mtn bike was stolen on campus. Unfortunately, the GT was a better looking bike than others, and was an easier steal (with a THICK cable lock).

The problems with campus bikes are this. They stay out in the rain during the days, nights, etc. They don't get alot of mechanical attention, and you depend on it daily. Paint, wheels, etc get really beat up on the racks. Also, I'd never put a rack on my road bike, but to haul groceries on my commuter, sure! The plastic fenders are super cool on the coda, but never on any other bike I have. Further, your class schedule is the same, week after week, so someone who is eyeing your bike, knows where they can find it, and how long it is there.

Great, I'm glad to hear you're getting a road bike. Love it. But also get a cheap one with reasonable (a generation or two old components) that can be fixed, but not too flashy. Yeah, my bike was $80, and the lock was $20, and since I've put $30 in tires on it and a $30 freehub (rain), but still, it's a good deal. When I put upgrades on my other bikes, better seats, pedals and such get passed down to this one, and when things break, I go through the bike store used parts bin for $5 fixes for the brakes, shifters, etc. This is something that you'll never do with your ultegra road ride/race bike, but suits a reliable commuter great.

Also, use a u-lock, even a $20 wal-mart U is better than a cable, and easier to carry. If you're concerned about components, since this is a commuter only bike, you have more freedom. Use security skewers to hold the wheels on, or like me, use a padlock to hold the QR shut. Put a steel cable through the seat rails to keep that from walking away (my pawn bike has a Moxy suspension seatpost). Use random bolts like torx heads and square heads to keep other components (stems, etc.) from walking off. Give your bike the lowest worth to effort ratio of any on the rack, and you'll be fine, for leaving it outside at night, weekends, etc. My bike is still stealable and partable, but any theif will need an extra pocket full of wrenches to do it. Also, engrave your name and contact info on the top tube of the bike, highly visible if you can, just for extra help.

After my GT (mtn and commute to class) got stolen, it got replaced with two bikes. A new very nice mtn bike, and a better suited commute bike, that takes more abuse and is still super reliable. Look at the shops, pawns, papers, etc. for used bikes, and get a second just for the commute. Good bikes like this look the same to a pawn shop as a wal-mart pacific. Deals are out there, just look. Build it to suit yourself with cheap parts from the parts bin at your local shop.

Look at it this way, the $150 that I put in to the commute bike was the BEST upgrade I could have made to my real bikes, in that they take so much less wear, rain, dirt, dents, etc. than $150 ever could have fixed. Not to mention it's far less likely to get stolen. Lastly, when my commuter does have a flat and I need to get to class, I can risk a nicer bike for a day to get me around.

Good luck, but I'll recommend above all, a U-lock, and a second less appealing commuter bike, specialized for the function.
My experience, bikes stolenbicyclerepairman
Apr 10, 2003 1:57 PM
Practice a lot before doing any engraving on your top tube...I didn't, and now my frame is a good bit less 'desireable'....
Lots of good advice above. My experience...Brooks
Apr 9, 2003 12:27 PM
In college (grad '81), I had a decent bike. At least it was better than the Schwinn Varsity it replaced. This was a Peugot U08, cost a couple hundred bucks I would guess. I rode it a lot. It had even carried me from SF to Boston. I kept it in great shape, clean and shiny. When it was 5-6 years old, I had it locked with a cable and Masterlock (just as you describe) outside the gym for one hour. I came out and it was gone. Someone used bolt cutters. The bike wasn't really worth much but it was my ride and I didn't have a car. But since it looked good, I guess it was desirable. I've heard the story of someone taking a Campy Record equipped bike, keeping only the drive train clean, spray painting a butt-ugly scheme on the bike, stickers, mud, etc just to keep it from looking desirable to a thief.

So my advice is similar to others. Buy a beater and U-lock for campus. Make it less desirable for someone to steal.