Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner

1 - 20 of 56 Posts

·
Trail Cubist
Joined
·
1,292 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This is a post for families and people WITHOUT a Sprinter van...

After losing a bike last year to theft when someone easily cut the cable lock "securing" it to my roof rack, I'm really wondering if there is ANY way to lock a bike to either the roof or a hitch-mount rack that is bombproof enough it would take a thief some serious time with a blowtorch to steal it?

My dilemma is pretty simple: I have a Subaru Outback, plus two kids. We often like to go on "Multisport" weekend trips where we bike, hike, and sometimes do other non-riding activities. But without a fairly good way to lock bikes to the car, we can't really do anything that requires leaving the bikes (especially at some remote trailhead).

So for anyone who doesn't exclusively do MTB weekends, and who doesn't have a vehicle large enough to put several bikes inside, what do you do for security?

Thanks!
Scott in Oregon


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,739 Posts
There is no guaranteed methods. A prepared thief can cut through just about anything very quickly with an Li-ion angle grinder. A really good cable or chain will slow or deter the less prepared, casual thief of opportunity...somebody that might carry a pair of bolt cutters in his truck, just in case. There're plenty of stories of brazen thieves simply going about their business in crowded areas while passersby fail to intervene.

Really all you can do is get the best chain and cable, and lock them though something really secure on your vehicle with heavy U-locks...and park in exposed frequented areas rather than isolated trailheads that some thieves specialize in.

There was one poster somewhere in these forums that mentioned putting a note on you window to a "friend you are meeting there" mentioning that you got there early and just went in a way to do some target practice with your Glock and will be back shortly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,438 Posts
I guess whatever the best locks would be for locking the bike to a pole in the city. But then they can take off parts.
Also lock the rack, those get stolen as well. I have a U-lock attaching the rack to my car hitch receiver (plus the lock that goes through the hitch hole).

I only leave my bike on my car for a few minutes to go in a gas station or so, then I use the wheel locks (1up rack). I only have a maybe $1.5K bike, but would never ever leave it for extended time on my car on a lonely spot. Definitely not a really good bike.

A sophisticated thief will spot out trailheads since those are expensive bikes. Those thieves are also not the typical homeless meth head, they know what to look for.
 

·
Snow Dog
Joined
·
3,731 Posts
I guess whatever the best locks would be for locking the bike to a pole in the city. But then they can take off parts.
Also lock the rack, those get stolen as well. I have a U-lock attaching the rack to my car hitch receiver (plus the lock that goes through the hitch hole).

I only leave my bike on my car for a few minutes to go in a gas station or so, then I use the wheel locks (1up rack). I only have a maybe $1.5K bike, but would never ever leave it for extended time on my car on a lonely spot. Definitely not a really good bike.

A sophisticated thief will spot out trailheads since those are expensive bikes. Those thieves are also not the typical homeless meth head, they know what to look for.
I also U-lock my rack (1UPUSA) to the hitch with a hitch lock...

and I U Lock the bikes to the rack as well. For 5 years, this has worked so fdar. I can leave the bikes on the back in the city, country, campsite etc. I would NOT leave the car this way in areas where it is obvious that nefarious activities go on, but you gotta be careful every where.

I think the U lock thing is probably the best deterrent. But I dont' think it will outright prevent someone who is hell bent on getting the bikes off
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,484 Posts
What with lithium powered cut off grinders, this might be dated advice, but I read somewhere once that short of a cut off tool, thieves typically carry a hydraulic jack to bust a u-lock or a cable cutter for a cable lock. So the advice was to use both on the assumption that few thieves would carry both tools.
 

·
WillWorkForTrail
Joined
·
4,989 Posts
The unfortunate truth here, is that that the best way to secure a bike to a car is not even close to a sure way to keep it from being stolen. Let me preface the rest of this post with this: I had a bike stolen from me as a 10 year old, a bike I had worked and saved money for. I have never really gotten over it, and I have a deep, deep, deep seated hatred (maybe not a strong enough word) for bike thieves.

That said, Brinks makes a series of "security cables" that are rubber coated cables. They come in various diameters and lengths. Like any cable or locking device, they CAN be compromised. But nonetheless, this is what I've settle on as "the best" for a number of reasons. First, usually you can find a way to use more than one. Is it going to stop anyone? Well, you said it's a question for people without sprinters and such - heck, someone cut open the side of a sprinter van and stole some bikes from it here not too long ago, so, even that's not full proof. They did that in a hotel parking lot. So the bigger the cable diameter, the longer it'll take to cut. The more cables, the longer it will take to cut through all of them.

In my mind, I've worked out a way to create a capacitive discharge system using these cables that would work. Essentially, every metal surface of the cable except where the key inserts is covered, so a connection that inserts into the keyhole and covers that plate would create a "safe" barrier. The only possible exposure would be the guy who cut through the housing. Now, I of course haven't DONE this because it is illegal. But as I'm stringing my locks together and threading cables through various parts, I can rarely resist a little smirk at the thought that I could in fact rig up a system that would likely result in a cartoonish scenario of someone getting knocked back into the car next to mine with enough force to leave an imprint in it if they messed with my bike(s). Meanwhile, I'm continuing down the path of trying to have such things legalized. After all, I think I should have a right to make it physically dangerous for someone to try to take my property from me.
 

·
Cycologist
Joined
·
7,189 Posts
I would stash the bikes out of sight, hidden in the woods and chained to a tree. Do it when no one is around. I carried a cable lock with me on a ride once planning to do so on a ride that included a hike to a waterfall. But then I found it was a very short hike so I just took my bike with me.

Bike thieves suck and it's kind of amazing that it is still an issue. Think of all the commuters who have their bikes stolen. And all the people who are discouraged from commuting due to this. Or that people can't commute on a nice bike for fear of having it stolen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,375 Posts
The best thing to do on the "multisport" trips is just break the bikes down and put them inside the car. I have a truck with a Softopper camper shell and tailgate pad. I lock the bike with a hefty chain lock towards the front of the bed, so if someone wants to steal it not only do they have to cut a gnarly chain but they have to find a way to weasel up inside the camper. Its completely doable, but it would take probably 3x longer than cutting a lock on a bike that's sitting on an exposed rack.

Even with my setup if I go hiking on a trip where I have my bike, I'll just take the wheels off and put it in the backseat of the truck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,104 Posts
I would go with multiple different types of locks and cables. Get a good secure hitch rack that locks the bikes and locks to your hitch rack. Then get some heavy rubber-coated chains, and maybe even a few U-locks. Wrap chains through the bikes, tires, etc. U-lock the bikes together, etc. Basically just make it time consuming and as difficult as possible to get the bikes free. If it is that much trouble, and requires too many different tools, it's likely a thief won't bother.

The other option is to always park near a car with better looking bikes than yours.
 

·
Snow Dog
Joined
·
3,731 Posts
I wonder how many bike thefts are "spur of the moment" versus planned....I think in my situation,I am preventing spur of the moment type thefts....and in our area, that is more common than, say, in Colorado, Utah, or Vancouver, where the thieves know that a different demographic of bike is there and there are probably more targeted incidents...

I know that Toronto is a huge place for bike thefts...

but in Central Ohio, there is no one who is cutting the sides of vans open for bikes...possibly for power tools or stereo equipment, but not bbikes
 

·
change is good
Joined
·
3,113 Posts
All good advice posted, including stashing the bike off trail. Another strategy is to take old bikes that look beat up. May kinda of suck depending on the situation, but if you have kids you’re kinda limited anyway.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
129 Posts
Most bike thefts are crime of opportunity. Someone of questionable morals sees a bike just sitting there and makes the decision to take it based on the fact that it's visibly not secured. The saying is that locks keep honest people honest.

If someone who makes their career on steeling bikes comes across you're $5k bike it's likely they will abscond with it due to being well versed in most all ways to secure a bike that are deployed these days although I like the idea of creating a connector that taps into the high-volt battery pack on my Tesla Model S to electrify the connections... that would detour everyone from trying to take the bikes off of the roof of my car... myself included. lol

That's also a big reason why I load my bikes onto a roof rack. I feel like the one added level of having to reach up to the roof deters many criminals as most are quite lazy by nature. It also makes it more difficult for them to "hide" behind a car. Most don't seem to be deterred by this but the one extra level of "in-the-open" may deter some.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,375 Posts
I wonder how many bike thefts are "spur of the moment" versus planned....I think in my situation,I am preventing spur of the moment type thefts....and in our area, that is more common than, say, in Colorado, Utah, or Vancouver, where the thieves know that a different demographic of bike is there and there are probably more targeted incidents...

I know that Toronto is a huge place for bike thefts...

but in Central Ohio, there is no one who is cutting the sides of vans open for bikes...possibly for power tools or stereo equipment, but not bbikes
Not sure why, but when I go to places like Moab or Sedona I feel completely fine leaving my bike in the back of my truck without a lock on it. There is some level of comfort to places that are big riding destinations, where every other car has bikes on it. I'd go into a restaurant and eat in Moab with no lock on my bike or the ability to watch it, but I wouldn't run into a gas station for 3 minutes in downtown Phoenix without a lock.

Maybe there is some weird false sense of security there, but it feels like in big ride centers there is a whole community of people watching over your bike for you, vs normal places where if someone saw your bike getting cut off the back of your car they would likely walk the other way just so they didn't have to deal with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
129 Posts
Not sure why, but when I go to places like Moab or Sedona I feel completely fine leaving my bike in the back of my truck without a lock on it. There is some level of comfort to places that are big riding destinations, where every other car has bikes on it. I'd go into a restaurant and eat in Moab with no lock on my bike or the ability to watch it, but I wouldn't run into a gas station for 3 minutes in downtown Phoenix without a lock.

Maybe there is some weird false sense of security there, but it feels like in big ride centers there is a whole community of people watching over your bike for you, vs normal places where if someone saw your bike getting cut off the back of your car they would likely walk the other way just so they didn't have to deal with it.
You've just been lucky. See my previous statement about locks keeping honest people honest and crimes of opportunity. Your chances of having a bike stolen anywhere w/o a lock is drastically higher.
 

·
Snow Dog
Joined
·
3,731 Posts
Not sure why, but when I go to places like Moab or Sedona I feel completely fine leaving my bike in the back of my truck without a lock on it. There is some level of comfort to places that are big riding destinations, where every other car has bikes on it. I'd go into a restaurant and eat in Moab with no lock on my bike or the ability to watch it, but I wouldn't run into a gas station for 3 minutes in downtown Phoenix without a lock.

Maybe there is some weird false sense of security there, but it feels like in big ride centers there is a whole community of people watching over your bike for you, vs normal places where if someone saw your bike getting cut off the back of your car they would likely walk the other way just so they didn't have to deal with it.
Yeah, I feel the same when glamping...not with the bikes, but with other stuff. Like, I have no problem leaving stuff in my tent when we leave for the day to go do stuff. When we are in camp, I rarely lock the car doors, and always leave the windows cracked if it is not going to rain....but I do lock the bikes to each other, and then a tree. For some reason, I am more worried about my bikes getting stolen than my money, or phone....

and it is crazy what other glampers leave just laying about, including bikes, technology....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,375 Posts
You've just been lucky. See my previous statement about locks keeping honest people honest and crimes of opportunity. Your chances of having a bike stolen anywhere w/o a lock is drastically higher.
I don't doubt you at all. I was just pointing out that there's a false sense of security in big ride centers. Not sure why that is.
 

·
Trail Cubist
Joined
·
1,292 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Great replies—lots of good ideas here!

As others have suggested, I'd really have to stretch my imagination to think that hardcore, professional thieves are going to be roaming national forests in remote areas looking for good bikes to steal. That would just be a colossally stupid and inefficient use of their time compared to, say, a populous city at night.

So I'd *like* to think that just a good U-lock or two (with a thick cable or two) would be more than enough of a deterrent in places like that.

I've thought about breaking the bikes down and stashing them in the car, but with a Subaru Outback loaded with a weekend's worth of stuff for 3 people, it just wouldn't work.

The one time I had a bike stolen off my roof rack was (in my mind) my fault, because I stupidly left the bike sitting out on the street overnight in a residential neighborhood of a big city, locked to the roof rack with only a finger-width cable. (Yep, I was asking for it.) It looked like it took someone about 2 seconds with bolt cutters to make short work of the cable.

But 95% of the time when I'm on a multisport weekend with the kids, we're in pretty remote and rural areas at trailheads, or just grabbing a meal or feeding alpacas in small towns.

I **love** the idea of electrocuting the sh*t out of any thief who tries cutting a cable, LOL. (I think I've thought of the same thing myself.)

I also think an earsplitting alarm connected to a hair-trigger alarm system would be a good deterrent if it weren't so obnoxious (I always curse other vehicles when their alarms go off because a small branch fell on the hood.)

Scott
 
1 - 20 of 56 Posts
Top