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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone,

Looking for some tips and general thoughts on how risky it is to do a multi-day road trip on the West Coast of the USA with a bike on a rack.

It'll be a Commencal bike on a Thule T2 Pro hitch rack. I'll use the supplied lock and I'll buy a few more cable locks for additional security, and also tarp the bike up so people can't see what it is.

The thing is, we'll be stopping at various spots from Bay Area to Seattle for day hikes, food, checking out towns. So the stops will be for 1-3 hours at a time. Driving up will be 3-4 days, as well as the drive down. At night, and in Seattle, I can store the bike indoors.

What do you think the risks of someone breaking through the locks and grabbing my bike are? Any ideas on how I can make the bike even more secure? Thanks for the replies!
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Anytime you leave the bike on the rack when you step away from the vehicle, you leave your bike at risk of being stolen. The longer you're gone, the higher the risk.

You can try putting the bike inside the vehicle. That's not 100%, either, but if you can get the bike out of sight from people walking around, you'll be in MUCH better shape.

Your other option is to adjust your trip plans so you're not stepping away from the bike/vehicle. Always leave a person there if you need to step away. It might change your plans substantially to do it this way, but I don't care what locks you plan to use, they're defeatable with battery-powered cutting tools in seconds.
 

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it's a huge hassle and worry, I have a truck and I usually put my bike in the cab when needed but not always possible when traveling with my family. I'm in the process of tryin to buy a full size van for travel so out of sight out of mind. nothing is guaranteed but I think it's the safe way to go.
 

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I went a little nutty with Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit chain and U-Lock securing my rack to the hitch and the bike to both. Even with all that hardware I know that 2 minutes with an angle grinder and it's gone. My setup gave me peace of mind for bathroom stops but I wouldn't leave it out of sight for longer.

Cover could help but in a remote area or a city, all day seems risky to me.
 

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1-3 hours on an exterior rack is ludicrous to me.
I won’t go inside a store to pay for gas with my bike on the rack, even locked up. Looking for my favorite watermelon Gatorade, waiting for the rando in front of me to fish for change, buy a pack of Lucky Strikes, whatever; is waaayyy more than enough time for a guy with a battery angle grinder and a pair of bolt cutters to make off with my rig. Even if I heard the noise of the grinder hitting the cable, I’m not sure I could get there in time. And what if he has a weapon? Or a buddy?

Better to just not even let them know a bike is there.

If I was sightseeing and leaving my bike, it would be inside my vehicle, under a blanket or otherwise obscured by other belongings like duffles and stuff.


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There's always risk, but you can do your best to mitigate.
Where you park is key- park somewhere visible where you stand a chance of having people intervene or at least call police if they see someone tampering with your vehicle/bike.
All the locks= seriously. Put several locks on the bike-a few for the frame, some for the wheels. Make a thief work for it or make it awkward enough that their efforts will draw attention.
Locked inside a vehicle-as in the bike locked to something inside the vehicle is a better option when possible.
It's always a gamble in cities leaving a bike on a vehicle and out of your sight.
That being said, I drove across the USA and back(CA to Maine) last summer with bikes on the the back of the van for 2 months.
 

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On wuss patrol
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Nope, I wouldn’t do it, no matter how many locks wrapped around it.

To a thief, it‘s like leaving $2000-$6000 cash laying on the trunk.

You‘ll most likely regret it.
 
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I would try to arrange somewhere to leave it where it would be safe . Bike shop maybe, hotel room etc. In the Bay area some Bart station have enclosed bike lockers ,that might work. Another option might be to rent bikes when you want to ride.
 

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from what ive read about the area you are visiting: dont do it unless you wouldn’t miss your bikes. Find a way to keep them inside. If they are full suspension maybe disassemble the frames and keep them in locked a roof box out of sight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone for the replies. Seems like a pretty big consensus to NOT do this :)

If they are full suspension maybe disassemble the frames and keep them in locked a roof box out of sight.
After reading all your comments I had decided to just rent bikes, but now reading this comment I could buy a roof box and put the bike in there disassembled...that's not a bad idea. 🤔
 

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I once had no option but to leave some valuables in the back of a minivan parked in a hotel parking lot overnight. I backed the van against a concrete wall, so that it was physically impossible to open the rear hatch. Sure, someone could have broken into the van and then lifted the items from the back through the van and out. But at least they would have had to do a lot more work to do it. You might be able to do this with the bike on the rack--back it up against a wall, so that it's just physically difficult to lean in with a grinder and cut the bike free.

You could also get a pit bull and tie it up to the bike while you're out on your hikes.
 

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If you’re staying a hotels, why not check in early and leave the bikes in your room?
 

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I have traveled with my bike in a rack many times with good results.
It is a large risk. But no worse than risks we live everyday. Read post #6 that is great.
Your bike is important and its value is known to you. Most thieves only would want it to sell for a few bucks.
Things I do to decrease the risk.
Stops for gas or other. Either have someone in your party have eyes on the bike at all times, or if unable, minimize the time the bike will be not observed by someone.
Unless a thief was following you for awhile, theft is not instantaneous. It can be quick, but thieves take some time to observe and plan. This is negated by snatching and grabbing.
Do not park in a remote area or far out in the parking lots.
The tarp is good but it invites curiosity about just what is under it. Probably something valuable a thief might think.
Overnight. Bring the bike with you. If you ask at the front desk they may tell you No. Be bold and remember its’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. Call it a “Comfort bike” instead of comfort pet.
They may have a place to store it if you are uneasy being bold and just doing.
 

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Just a thought: add a roof rack and put your bike up there when you won't be around. Lock it with locks as high up as you can so that it is not easy to get to to cut, maybe mount the rack dead center. You might have to carry a small step stool so you can get to them if standing in the open doorway doesn't give you enough height.
 

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Thanks everyone for the replies. Seems like a pretty big consensus to NOT do this :)



After reading all your comments I had decided to just rent bikes, but now reading this comment I could buy a roof box and put the bike in there disassembled...that's not a bad idea. 🤔
I got a JegSport box for about $200, i think it will fit my frame and wheels, definitely if I disconnect the rear triangle. Or it will make room for a lot of other luggage so i can keep the bike in the car. If bike can be seen through a window, cover it with a tarp or blanket.
 
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