If you bring your bike with you everywhere, it is inevitable that you will once ride somewhere unfamiliar without bike racks. Knowing how to lock a bike without a rack can be a savior in such situations. Since you can’t leave your bike unprotected and unsafe, you would have to find the perfect alternative to a regular bike rack. You could as well make the bike unrideable by securing its frame and wheels, removing the front wheels’ quick release, or bringing the seat and front with you.
This article has a detailed approach to how to lock a bike without a rack. Read on to learn how you can secure your bike anywhere you take it.
Bike racks are the easiest and most economical short-term parking solutions for bikes. According to an article by New York Times Trusted Source Practical Traveler What to Consider When Choosing a Bike Rack The New York Times Transporting bicycles with your car using a roof- or trunk-mounted bike rack seems straightforward. What could be easier? You install the rack, lay the bikes on top, and away you go en route to that idyllic cycle through the countryside. Now consider all the things that could go wrong www.nytimes.com bike racks are the most secure method of locking your bike. They are common in public and commercial areas. Some places have them indoors for private bike parking. Bike racks are made with different materials with great longevity and weather resistance. The most common styles are the wave, U-rack, double-decker, grid, and spiral. Style and materials aside, the most effective bike rack is one that secures both the wheels and frame of a bicycle with a bike lock.
Are you in the market for a bike rack and need help finding the most durable yet affordable model, read our article on the best front bike racks. The article has a detailed buying guide and a list of top-rated front bike racks.
Although a rack is the best way to secure your bike anywhere, you may not find one everywhere you go with your bike. Here are some ways of keeping your bike safe without a rack;
Any type of bike lock will almost always deter a thief. No thief wants to steal something that takes time and effort. If you don’t have a lock, get one and carry it with you whenever you leave home with your bike. The different types of locks are; a cable/chain lock, a U-lock, and D-lock. All of them will effectively immobilize your bike, but a chain lock is the best for securing your bike in a high-crime area.
According to popular reviews, the Onguard Terrier Combo Cable Lock is the best cable lock that money can buy. It is perfect for securing a bike in a low-crime area.
The Micargi Bicycle Key Lock Trusted Source Micargi Bicycle Key Lock This Spiral Lock has a tough outer housing that protects a branded cable rope that ensures safety and protection of your bicycle or motorized bike! Package Includes:1x Sprial Lock Cable2x Keys1x Velcro Strap for Easy Storage www.bikeberry.com is a better choice for securing your bike in a high-crime area because it has a robust design and a tough outer housing that is hard to break.
Whichever lock you get, ensure you use it to lock the bike on something tall like a tree, a bench, a light pole, or a street sign. Locking the bike to a tall object will give the thief a hard time as they would have to lift it off.
After locking your bike to a secure object, you can secure it further by hiding it, securing its frame and wheel, removing the bike seat, and taking the chain off the rear gears.
Here is how you can keep your bike safe without a bike rack;
Bikes with built-in GPS trackers are quite pricey. Luckily, many manufacturers offer hidden GPS trackers for bicycles. You can get a GPS tracker and place it in a hidden place on your bikes, like seat posts, handlebars, or LED lights. With the tracker, if someone steals your bike, you will know its exact location and making the police’s work easier.
If you don’t have a bike lock, you can easily hide it to reduce the chances of it being stolen. Hiding the bike behind a car or in the bushes reduces the possibility of thieves spotting and rolling with it away.
Removing the front wheel’s quick release makes the bike completely unrideable. You can also remove the front wheel and tie it to the back wheel to give the thief a hard time. Bringing the front wheel with you may be impractical in some situations, but it is the most effective way of deterring a thief. A thief would tolerate the idea of stealing a bike without a wheel.
Most heavy chain locks are made with strong and durable material. They are perfect for securing a bike in a high crime area because they are hard to break. Most of them are made with robust, weather and corrosion-resistant steel. A thief would easily get discouraged when they see a heavy chain lock on a bike.
Removing the bike seat and bringing it with you reduces riding convenience for a thief. It would be uncomfortable and suspicious to ride a bike without a bike seat. A thief would think twice before stealing a seat-less bike unless they have a vehicle to carry it in.
Parking in the same place every day makes it easier for a thief to monitor you and wait for the perfect opportunity to steal the bike. Try different places so you are less predictable to a thief.
You may be tempted to park your bike in crowded places, hoping that a thief will be ashamed of stealing it. Leaving your bike unattended in crowded places increases the chances of it being stolen. The thief can hide in the crowd and take off with the bike. Isolated places are not a good idea either, as no one would see the thief getting away with the bike. An ideal parking area should neither be crowded nor isolated. There should be enough people that would make the thief uncomfortable to steal the bike.
Registering the bike and having its serial number will give you peace of mind that you can easily track it if it gets lost. The USC Department of Public Safety Trusted Source Locating your Bicycle Serial Number Department of Public Safety The best chance at recovering a stolen bicycle has a registered serial number. These numbers are used by police across the nation. dps.usc.edu recommends registering your bike’s serial number to give the police an easier time retrieving it when it gets lost. The numbers range between six and ten digits, and they help identify a bike and its compatible components across the nation.
Do you need a high-quality bike but struggle to choose one from the endless options? Read our articles on the best road bikes under $500 and the best gravel bikes under $1000 for durable, budget-friendly bikes with superior functionality and a detailed buying guide.
Some of the designated areas where you can lock your bike include;
Bike racks are meant for short-term bike parking. They are a perfect way of discouraging illegal bike parking in cities. There are different types of bike racks, including; circle racks, double u-rack, spiral racks, ribbon racks, and inverted u-racks. Nearly every city has designated bike racks. You can do research online to find the nearest bike rack.
Bike parking shelters are like bike racks but with a shelter that protects your bike from the elements. The shelter prevents your bike from getting damaged by the sun, snow, and rain. Bike shelters are common in college campuses, bus and train stations, subways, music festivals, and sporting events. Check online for bike shelters in your city.
Unlike a bike rack and bike parking shelter, a bike room is a long-term parking solution. They are basically indoor rooms, mostly found indoors, and are meant for cyclists who live or work in areas with parking challenges.
Bike corrals are bike parking spaces in front of stores and offices similar to vehicle parking spaces. They are common in big cities like Santa Barbara and New York.
You cannot lock your bike anywhere, especially if you are in the middle of a city or an institution with parking laws. Different cities and institutions have different parking laws. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Clair Trusted Source Parking Bicycle Rules, Regulations, and Safety UWEau Claire We have developed rules and regulations alongside the UW System for proper parking for your bicycle. www.uwec.edu prohibits parking in non-designated areas with a warning of immediate removal of your bike. You may not know all the bike parking laws of a certain place, but here are some common places you shouldn’t lock your bike unless you are sure of the laws and regulations;
Many cities prohibit bike parking on trees. Many city ordinances clearly state that no objects can be attached to city-owned trees. Bike locks can damage trees’ barks, making them prone to pest attacks that could kill them. Also, if you lock your bike to a young, weak tree, a thief could easily cut it down to make away with the bike. Before locking your bike to any tree in the city, ensure it won’t attract a hefty fine.
It is illegal to lock your bike on a subway railing. Subways are among the busiest places in a city, and locking a bike to its entrance or exit railing would obstruct people. Luckily, nearly all public transportation stations have designated bike racks.
Locking your bike in a fire hydrant is not only unsafe but also blocks its use during an emergency. The fire department or police are likely to cut off your bike’s lock if they find it tied to a fire hydrant. Also, avoid fire call boxes, traffic signal poles, and mailboxes.
Be careful not to park your bike on handicap signs or street signs on sidewalks. If you choose to lock your bike to a signpost, ensure it is firmly attached to the ground. Give the post a wiggle to check for steadiness. Avoid short poles or signs without signage, as a thief could easily lift the bike over it.
Parking a bike on parking meters is prohibited in most cities as it can obstruct vehicles from using the meter and make fee collection difficult. A security officer is highly likely to cut off your bike lock and remove the bike from the parking meter. Moreover, parking meters are short, and a thief with enough muscle can easily lift your bike over it and ride off. To be safe, avoid parking your bike next to anything that makes the city money.
Nuts and bolts hold scaffolding bars in place, which a thief can easily unscrew to remove your bike. What’s more, scaffolding is not permanent, and the workers may abandon your bike on the streets when they take down the scaffold. They may as well take it with them. Only lock your bike to a scaffold if you are sure the construction workers will not be done with their work before you are back.
As tempting as it is, do not lock your bike to a chain link fence. With the right tools, a thief can easily cut through the fence’s links and steal the bike. Avoid locking your bike to security fences in business premises, condos, or the city. You may damage the fence, and the premises’ owners will hold you liable.
If you take your bike everywhere, you need to learn how to lock a bike with nothing to lock it to and without a lock, as not all cities have designated bike parking racks. The first thing to do is be sure that you are not breaking any city laws when improvising bike parking. Avoid locking your bike in emergency areas or any places that make the city money.
We have explored all the hacks on how to lock a bike without a rack in the article. We may not have covered how to lock a bike without a lock, but some tricks like taking the bike seat or wheel with you could deter a serious thief from stealing your bike.