How To Lock Up Your Bicycle

In our constant quest to return oldies but goodies from our old website I present the MassBike guide for locking up your bicycle, with some updates. You can download this brochure for printing here (.doc)


We’ve all seen them “ lone bicycle wheels locked to parking meters, and broken bike locks hanging from fences with no bicycle in sight. Maybe you’ve come back to where you left your bike “ and found that it’s been stolen! We here at MassBike never want this to happen to you.

Here’s what you can do to avoid bicycle theft:

  1. Always lock your bike! It takes only seconds to pedal away on an unlocked bike.
  2. Use two different locks, with separate locking mechanisms. Thieves carry tools that will either snip cables, or pry-apart U-locks “ but rarely both. A cable-lock and a U-lock together are very secure.
  3. Each lock should have its own built-in locking device (a key-lock or combination lock, but not a padlock). Don’t use a cable that’s secured by a U-lock “ once the thief gets through the U-lock, he’s got your bike!
  4. Pull your cable lock through both wheels, and lock it around a bike rack or other closed loop stand. Open-top posts (like parking meters or traffic signs) let thieves lift bikes over them. If you use a cable lock and a Ulock, you don’t need to remove your front wheel to secure it.
  5. Wrap your U-lock around a secure post. Then pass it around your rear wheel rim inside the bike’s rear triangle. It’s not necessary for the lock to secure the frame “ if the U-lock locks the rim inside of the frame triangle behind your seat-tube, the bike cannot be stolen by removing the rear wheel. If you can get the frame as well that is a bonus.
  6. A small U-lock is better than a large one. Small locks are much harder to pry open with a crowbar than a wide U-lock.

This bike is locked to a rack with a cable lock and a mini-U-lock. The cable lock secures both wheels to the rack, and the U-lock locks the front wheel and frame to the rack. It cannot be stolen unless the thief can defeat both locks.


  • Don’t leave removable gear on your bike. Take pumps, lights, and other accessories with you.
  • Park your bike where you see other bikes parked. Seek lighted areas with foot traffic.
  • Write your name and telephone number on a piece of Tyvek (a sturdy cloth-like plastic available at hardware stores), and identify yourself as the bike’s owner. Put this inside your rear tire between the rim and the inner tube. A bike shop will see this if they are asked to repair a flat tire!
  • Ask your employer, your favorite shops, and other places you visit on your bicycle to provide safe, weather-protected bicycle parking.

Here are some rather poor locking jobs:

It is possible to go a little overboard:

via flickr

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10 Responses to How To Lock Up Your Bicycle

  1. matt January 24, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    Thanks Shane, very helpful!

  2. David February 22, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    I’d recommend putting your u-lock around your rear wheel with a cable to the front wheel instead of the other way around, as advocated in this post. The reason is that it’s a lot easier to snip a cable than it is to break a u-lock and your rear wheel (more precisely the hub and its cassette) is a lot more expensive than is your front hub. If someone’s looking to make a few bucks by stealing a wheel, they’ll want to take the rear if they know what they’re doing.

  3. grouchycyclist May 17, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    Also recommend running your cable lock through the rails of your saddle. Have seen several cases where the cyclist returned to their otherwise nicely locked but now saddle-less bike.

  4. Robert Flower October 30, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    Nice tips to save the bicycle from the thieves!

  5. Brent July 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    I’ve been using locking skewers from OnGuard ( (there are other brands too) to lock both wheels and my seat for some time. With both wheels, and the seatpost locked, I usually put my U-lock through the frame and rear wheel (because replacing it would cost more).

    Never had a problem.


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