April 14, 2014

Thieves Love Three Things

I've been mistaken for a bike thief before (subject of a future post, perhaps?), and it's an uncomfortable feeling. So when I go around tagging bikes, I do it stealthily, wary of appearing to be inspecting lock jobs with suspicious care. This means, of course, that I am sometimes not as observant as I could or should be. Case in point, courtesy of a comment received last week:
you tagged my bike without noticing.that my wheels are secured.with hose.clamps. i've had my bike locked at that spot every day for years. Colleagues have had their bikes stolen from spots right next to mine several times, but they havent taken mine. I think you need to learn a bit more about securing bikes.
Indeed I do need to learn more! About, for one thing, hose clamps and their potential to thwart would-be wheel thieves.

So here's the deal: Hose clamps are an imperfect remedy to the problem posed by the now ubiquitous quick release wheel. While it's great to be able to whip your wheel off quickly to change a flat or transport your bike on a roof rack, the possibility of speedy removal also makes your wheels attractive targets for thieves. As Bike Man Dan says, "Thieves love three things: transit stations, cable locks and quick releases."

Deploying a suitably sized hose clamp in the manner that Dan describes won't guarantee that you retain your wheels, but it may make stealing them enough of a hassle to send thieves in search of easier pickings. Seems to have worked for my anonymous commenter...

And the strategy receives Hal Ruzal's seal of approval in "Hal (and Kerri) Grade Your Bike Locking" (around the one-minute mark). The captioning on the screenshot below doesn't accurately reflect Ruzal's commentary, so I've included a more faithful transcription:

"Hose clamp here. Very nice. That keeps your thief honest. And it prevents the quick release 
from opening without someone having either a screwdriver or an 8 mm wrench here to push 
the hose clamp up."

I'm not ready to go the hose clamp route myself yet, but I did learn something from rewatching Hal (and being chastised for not noticing the commenter's hose clamps): Inspectors of bike locks shouldn't be shy. Hell, Hal straight up removes someone's saddle at ~1:40 just to show that he can! 

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