Saturday, May 14, 2011

Keeping Your Bike Outdoors

Last week I finally turned my Gazelle into an outdoor bicycle. It has become clear to me over time that parking a transportation bike where it is easily accessible - instead of maneuvering it in and out of doors and up and down stairs every time I need to go somewhere - increases its utility tremendously. Dutch transport bikes in particular were simply not designed to be kept inside apartments. They are heavy, unwieldy and also durable - with all their delicate parts covered from the elements. And while theft is a concern, I think that our fear of it - when it comes to heavy transportation bikes - is disproportional to its actual risk. Bike theft in the US is not nearly as bad as in places like the Netherlands and Denmark, yet in those places bikes are kept outdoors 24/7. Plus, I seriously doubt that a 45lb clunker would be on a bicycle thief's priority list. Why chose fear over convenience when statistics are on our side?

That is not to say that precautions should not be taken: My first order of business was to get one of those huge, heavy chains. I deliberated over Abus vs. Kryptonite and received feedback both for and against each of them. In the end, I think that either chain is sufficient. I chose Kryptonite because a local bike shop had them in stock. The chain is thick and the system is easy to use.

I keep the chain wrapped around an iron rail in a convenient spot at the back of our house. When the bike is parked there, I chain it up. When I use the bike, I leave the chain behind. The key to the little U-Lock that connects the chain is attached to my housekeys, and we have spares at home.

The space next to the railing is cramped, making it impossible to wrap the chain around the frame. So instead, I wrap it around the bicycle's rear wheel. If you are familiar with classic Dutch bikes (full chaincase, dressguards, bolted rear triangle), you will know that removing a rear wheel on these babies requires tools and takes about a half hour - so locking up this way is not much riskier than chaining it through the frame. I also put a cable lock through the frame and front wheel (the cable lock goes with me when I take the bike out). While no lock-up method is 100% secure, I feel comfortable with mine. I weighed the utility of this arrangement against what I perceive to be the risk of theft, and to me it's worth it.

One thing I still need to get is a heavy-duty waterproof saddle cover; ideally something that doesn't look expensive. I have a bunch from Brooks and Rivendell, but they either do not fit the huge saddle properly or are not entirely waterproof. Any saddle cover suggestions for a Brooks B66?

It is not my intent to suggest that everyone ought to keep their bike outdoors. Judge for yourself based on how much extra utility you think you would get from that, as well as how comfortable you are with leaving it out. If you do decide to go that route, I suggest a good chain, a plan for saddle protection (it will rain if you leave it uncovered overnight!), and a lock-up ritual that does not end up being too fussy and time consuming. Do you lock your bike outdoors?

69 comments:

  1. I use plasticbags. Easy to find but most important looks cheapo, so nobody can guess what is hidden under.. Also use it when sun to avoid theft.
    badmother

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  2. Saddle cover: Shower Cap. Got mine from Dollar Tree for...a dollar.

    Or just hit up Clever Cycles. They seem to be giving out boatloads of their lime green saddle covers for free. (Don't tell them I said that!)

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  3. A plastic bag from the grocery store and an elastic band will work just fine to keep the saddle dry.

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  4. I kept my bike outdoors in London for 3 years with no real ill-effects apart from the odd whiff of fox pee in the mornings. It wasn't a very desirable bike (20-year-old hybrid) and it had a crappy saddle - with a Brooks I would be more worried about the saddle than the bike. You were talking about setting it up with a quick release, in which case I'd recommend just removing the saddle when you leave the bike. It makes it a little more inconvenient, but it saves covering it, saves the unpleasant moment when you have to thaw out your saddle before riding (or even during riding - very chilly) and if your bike does get pinched at least you'll have saved something from the flood...

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  5. I have access to a locked shed, which I've found to be a good spot for my bike. It's easy enough to roll out in the morning, and tucked nicely out of sight of the street between rides.
    I've got a pretty tiny living space, so bringing my bike indoors would be impractical.

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  6. Lock & chain look great but the railings look flimsy, anyone who wanted the bike could just cut the railings, put the bike in a truck & cut the chain at their leisure. See that sort of thing quite a lot in London.

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  7. I have recently came to the same conclusion on bicycle security as you. I use two locks though. One U-Lock for the front wheel to frame, and a chain lock for the rear wheel to frame to secure object.

    In regards to your saddle cover question, I just use a plastic grocery bag. If you're handy with sewing, I don't think it would be too difficult to make a saddle cover and waterproof it with a bees wax based product.

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  8. A plastic shower cap (with elastic rim) works as a saddle cover.

    Tony

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  9. I use Target bags for the saddles...

    In the past when parking bikes outside I would use a cover of some sort, bike cover, blue poly tarp, canvas tarp, pallet bag, etc.

    Would it be possible to put a hard cover like a mini carport over the area?

    Most of my outdoor bikes have been fortunate to live on balconies or under stairs at apartment complexes.

    Aaron

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  10. I'd never lock my bike outdoors. Where I live people have been known to take anything not secured, including service station toilets. I read recently one guy [not sure where] was arrested while sawing through a bike U-lock.

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  11. We have a two car garage where we keep all our bikes. We rarely use it for our cars, much to the chagrin of my father-in-law. Every time he comes over he starts counting how many bikes we have :).

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  12. Having just spent two years changing cloth diapers, I have often thought it's too bad that the wonderful water proof fabrics available in the diaper industry haven't crossed over to bike seat covers. A nice PUL with a pretty print would be just the thing.

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  13. Two suggestions. That rail could be cut very very quickly, perhaps even smashed with a hammer.

    The other is a bike cover. I've seen one called bike pajamas. If the cover is big enough to fit the gazelle it would be just asceasy to cover the whole bike as to cover the saddle.

    Even though bikes are always parked outdoors in Europe, they are also treated more disposably there. See the bike=vacuum cleaner argument. If your bike rusts out or is stolen you can easily get an identical replacement. Good transportation bikes are a bit more dear over here, and hence might
    deserve more conservation.

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  14. my (commuter) bike is outside 24/7... thankfully I have a covered porch to shield it from the worst weather has to offer. As far as locking goes; it's a ulock through the frame and front wheel with a cable through the rear.

    Good luck! Best thing is to be aware of risk and make precautions against it... not to be flippant OR paranoid!

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  15. Currently my bikes are in my garage, very easy for me to simply roll out. However, I am most likely moving in a few weeks. I will be living in an apartment without a garage, and will have to carry my bike up/down a flight of stairs. I am concerned about the elements more than theft. I will be curious to read an update about your findings. I think I need to develop some muscle in my arms.

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  16. I have been comtemplating keeping my bike outside. Currently I keep 2 bikes in my bedroom and it is becoming a real pain especially tire tracks through the living room. My indoor laundry room just does not have enough room since I also use it as a pantry and aditional storage. After this post I think I might try it but it does rain a lot here in North Florida so I think I will be getting a full cover.

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  17. I'm spoiled. We found a townhouse in Boulder that is reasonably sized, yet it has a double-wide garage. The first thing I did after moving in was to acquire a bike rack. Leaving and returning could not be easier.

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  18. I have to leave my bike outdoors due to space constraints. The only place I could keep it indoors is the basement, and that would require carrying it up twenty stairs. My bike is like 40 lbs, that's not going to work. Convenience trumps safety in this case. I just U-Lock it to a post in our backyard. Although I might get one of those giant chains when we move into Baltimore City in a few months.

    One accessory you might find helpful is a rain cover for the whole bike, not just the saddle. I ruined my old bike (really more of a BSO) by leaving it out in the rain and snow for four years. Now I cover my new bike all the time, and the cover takes five seconds to whip on/off. The $15 Avenir cover I got is sort of flimsy, though, it already has a few tears from catching on the chain, etc. I think a garbage bag or tarp would probably work just as well, unless you sewed something specific to your bike's dimensions. A garbage or bread bag would also work as a saddle cover, although it wouldn't be pretty.

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  19. Iron Railings are relatively soft and easy to cut compared to your hardened lock and chain. Can you ask your building owner to install a bike rack on the property?

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  20. The railing is not as bad as it seems. Also, if you look at the first picture you will see that they'd need to cut it in 2 places. All of this takes time, tools and motivation to take this particular bike.

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  21. The best saddle cover ever - https://www.randijofab.com/products-page/saddle-covers/saddle-cover/ - she'll make 'em to fit whatever brooks saddle you have.

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  22. I live in an area where the university nearby has guys pull up in the middle of the night and load the whole rack of bikes into a large truck and drive off. Cops upped patrols a few years back and that hasn't been happening anymore but...

    We have a covered porch and locked our bikes there till they were stolen last summer. Talking to the police in the area they had a couple of tidbits of information, whether right or wrong I cannot fully judge.

    Heavier duty U locks will be cut like butter with an angle grinder - the guys carry extra batteries. The chain such as you choose needs two angle grinder blades to get through and so falls into the category of "easier targets" and THAT is often the goal of the recommendations from the police. "move along now, easier targets out there"

    The other comment is that they see a large number of bikes stolen from sheds and garages because the shed or garage wasn't properly locked that one time and/or the lock is easily snipped with bolt cutters. If you use a U lock on your bike INSIDE your garage they're not going to waste their time.

    Best of luck.

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  23. We were talking about buying a Kryptonite anchor but it costs $60, making the lockup apparatus together quite expensive. It's also a pain to install, I would probably have to buy a couple cement bits and spend several hours drilling into the cement stairs. I also wonder if they can just yank it right out if they put a crowbar through a chain link.

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  24. I never keep my bikes outdoors. In the country where I live, whole bikes (2nd hand bikes included!) can be stolen within 2 to 3 days left unattended, even with both wheels and the saddle locked up.

    The thief's here have industrial tools to break every kind of lock, regardless of how think or heavy-duty it is.

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  25. Oh there is something I wish to add on which I think can apply to everyone. If you feel insecure about "advertising" your bike outdoors and overnight, I highly recommend you to get a waterproof bike cover. You know, those bike covers similar to what people use to cover their motorcycle.

    In addition to most protection from the elements, I find it also makes your bike less of a target to thief.

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  26. I'm sorry but the appearance of security is as important as the devices of security = though you spent time selecting a lock, you seem to breeze through the "yeah, I just lock the back tire, it's tough to get off" without considering how your bike *looks* to a potential thief. If it looks easy, they'll try to get it. If they go "Oh PISH, the chain isn't even through the frame!" They'll be over your fence in a heartbeat and will be trying to take that wheel off. If the lock passes through the frame, if the bike is visibly secured by multiple locks, that is when they'll give it a pass. And remember, if it looks easy but isn't - you've just pissed off a thief, so they'll vandalize what they can't have.
    Try HARDER to get that chain through the frame. If you *really* can't and you're not just blowing it off, then put a second brightly colored lock through the frame and locked to the railing. I'm sort of surprised that you're not more concerned about having it locked to something secure.
    People steal MOTORCYCLES, okay? Weight and unweildiness won't stop a thief.

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  27. When I lived in Boston, I kept my bike outside 24/7. God, I would have hated to bring it inside everyday.

    Now, I bring my Dutch bike up the stairs to my 4th floor flat, every evening!

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  28. Unseelie - I understand what you are saying about how bikes appear to thieves. But if you're going to go that route, than let's start from the beginning: The bike in itself does not appear desirable to begin with, and that is one of its best security features. It is unlikely that a thief will start salivating at the mouth and thinking strategically upon seeing a rickety granny bike that looks to be about 50 years old.

    In any case - As I said, I made a calculated decision. The most expensive thing on this bike is the saddle, so overall it is not a huge financial risk as far as bikes go. Your situation may differ.

    Bicycle covers... They are a nice idea, but they introduce an element of fussiness to the equation that for me would diminish the convenience of parking the bike outdoor to begin with. How long would it take me to deal with the cover in addition to the lock? Where would the cover be stored once removed? I need a low-maintance, low hassle, utility-based solution for having access to my bike. The more I get away from that, the less useful the solution becomes.

    Jealous of those who have garages. That would, of course, be ideal.

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  29. Really, if a thief wants your bike, he's gonna get it.

    I've had a bike chain cut halfway through while the bike was locked to a heavy duty bike rack in a well lit area in plain sight of a well traveled street, with a state police force patrolling the area. The only thing that I believe saved my bike was the thief suddenly becoming aware that it was an Walmart BSO that had no resale value whatsoever. A Huffy sticker on the downtube is a powerful theft deterrent, provided the thief can read.

    Looking at your locked up Gazelle in the first photo, and thinking as a thief might, I'd need a hack saw, a 16" pair of channel lock pliers, a towel, and no more than 3 minutes. Two cuts, using the towel for sound deadening, two bends with the pliers, and I'm walking down the street with my new bike.

    That concrete anchor strikes me as a much better idea, but it depends on the location, condition of the concrete, size of the hardware and quality of the installation. A well placed hit on a cracked concrete slab with a sledge hammer might set it free rather quickly. I don't know if a pry bay would generate enough leverage to rip it out, but a 200lb person on the end of a 5 ft long digging bar might, and a car with a tow chain attached to a hitch would. It's still possible to steal it at this point, but we've upped the likelihood of getting caught by it taking more time and making more noise.

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  30. An outdoor light would be advisable, too. Perhaps a motion activated one. My neighborhood has many thefts and break-ins and we've found that simply putting lights outside is a good deterrent.

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  31. Hate to say it, but would a good quality plastic saddle be better for a bike left outside? Electra has some nice ones. Won't be as comfortable as a Brooks, but not having to worry about it might outweigh the comfort factor.

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  32. While I know that leaving a bike outside shortens the "hop on " time I just can't bring myself to do it. That might change if I had beater bikes but I don't.

    As to chaining a bike. I use a simple combo/cable lock so that the bike is "locked up" when I file that insurance claim for theft. But not to worry. Who in their right mind would want to steal a 50lbs. Pimped Out Cruiser ??? Besides, I'll let the insurance company worry about replacing the bike. :^)

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  33. I had two bicycles stolen from a locked outdoor storage room in a really safe neighborhood. The cops found and returned them by 4:00 the same afternoon, so we got REALLY LUCKY. Our bikes ALL live inside now.

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  34. I don't keep my bikes outside, unless there's some sort of extenuating circumstances. If I did, I'd make sure they were VERY secure. I live in NJ, suburbs of Phila, and we once trashpicked a very old, heavy, rusty 3speed. We parked it (unlocked) in our alley, positioned in such a way that you'd have to be deep within the alley to see it. The tires were flat, and it needed a new chain and some TLC; definitely not rideable, and not worth very much. In the time it took us to look up what it was online (some very old communist poland-made thing), someone walked with it.

    The way your bike is chained up, it would be very easy to steal. Depending on how visible "the back of our house" is to neighbors/passers-by on the street, it may be stolen very soon. Although it's not a "hott" bike, Dutch-style city bikes are becoming increasingly popular. They sell them at Urban Outfitters, for whatever that's worth. Is it as "at-risk" as a new, high-end Trek/Specialized/Bianchi road bike? No. But, imagine what one could get for it on CL. Now, imagine you're addicted to drugs, but you still haven't hocked your hacksaw. You could make a few hundred bucks for a few minutes work... hmmmmm...

    I'm just curious as to what the title of the blog entry about the stolen Gazelle will be. I'm not trying to be discouraging; I just think that the set-up you have will likely lead to thievery.

    -rob

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  35. Do a google image search for "zadelhoes" We have tons of designs and ideas in NL :D

    I think locking your bike outside is a great idea. There are things you might want to look into: 1) microchipping your bike. We now have microchipping here in EU....I'm pretty sure it can be done in the US also 2) there is a National Bike Registry in the US. 3) Engraving your info onto the bike. Here in NL we use the postcode and house number. In the US anything you engrave into the steel would make it a deterrent, ruining the paint job. 4) Bicycle insurance. Make sure it's insured so that if it is stolen, it's covered and you can go get a new one.

    And I agree about the Gazelle being weatherproof. They will last 20+ years in bad Dutch weather :D Just watch out for road salt.

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  36. I really like the commenter's point above about getting a bike cover. That seems to be a really good way to camouflage your bike to your landscape, if you will. If it's not easy-access, like many readers have written, thieves won't go for it. I am relocating to Philly in a few weeks and am trying to mull this whole situation over, because here in Austin I keep 1 bike outside u-locked to a post in the carport (but in plain sight) and the nicer bike inside. I don't want to have a small Philly apartment filled with bikes....BUT I also don't want my bikes to be stolen. Hmmmmm....will you keep us posted on how this works out for you?

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  37. I think you are fine, Veloria. Unless your part of the Boston area has professional bike thieves with power tools, that sort of Kryptonite chain will be a big deterrent.

    The railing could be stronger, that's true, but I doubt most bike thieves would think to cut it. They would still have to pick up and carry the bike instead of riding off on it, and then figure out how to cut the huge Kryptonite lock at home.

    I would recommend continuing to use a cheap plastic bag or shower cap for the saddle. If you want, put a nicer looking cover underneath, but the plastic bag is the most waterproof option, takes up no space, and is disposable and cheap to replace if it rips or gets lost.

    But I would consider a long U-lock instead of a cable. The U-lock is a little heavier, but who cares on the Gazelle. A longish U-lock can lock the front wheel to the frame when it is parked overnight (and would be a bigger deterrent than a cable), and is a more secure way to lock the frame to a rack when you are at your destination. I also find large U-locks faster to use than a cable, since the cable is floppy.

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  38. Oh, and I think its funny that we worry about bikes getting stolen with power tools or 5-foot pry-bars, from outside. If a thief cares that much, couldn't they break into your house and steal computers and bikes easily? They would just need to break a window, right?

    But there is a big difference between the opportunist thief with a pair of bolt cutters, looking to make a few bucks, and a professional thief willing to invest in major tools and high risks of getting caught.

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  39. A thief who breaks into a home and steals items will be looked for far more diligently by most law enforcement than a bike thief. They just don't have the resources in many places to prioritize a loss of "sporting equipment" that isn't as expensive as a car or a boat, the way potential run-ins inside of a dwelling would rank.

    That lovely iron railing might not stop most thieves. If that's all that's standing between them and an easy (?) $50 to go score, it's coming down. And more sophisticated bike thieves, regardless of their motivations, would be willing to come back with better tools and a truck. It still won't be as big a deal charges-wise as a B&E, right? What can I say, my old BSO must have been worth chump change, and it was still ripped off like it was some carbon fibre special. And if they can't get it, they'll wreck the bike because the bike owner's decent security wasted their time. We have a lot of pro bike thieves in the city where I work, and some of them just swipe parts, so a bike locked overnight = bike store.

    My bikes live locked in the garage. I'm more thinking of teens messing about around here than bike thieves, but I'd hate to be complacent and have to replace one or all of my bikes. Again.

    ohkay

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  40. Our bikes are spoiled rotten: at home, kept indoors in half the garage that is attached to the house. The whole shebang is on a security system. As far as we know.

    I wonder whether a patio/balcony/landing scenario could be secured with a wireless motion detector that sets off a radio turned up to highest volume inside the apartment? I think Home Depot and Radio Shack sells the stuff fairly cheap.

    I am intrigued by the racks at Phoenix Zoo. Zoos, being zoos, one would think they know what they they are doing when it comes to keeping things locked up. It looks like you only need a good padlock to tuck up inside the inverted "coffee can." No need to to use cables, chains, u-locks. Yet humans, being human, still use the things with cables, chains, u-locks. Irony.

    "It's a Zoo Out There, Don't Use Cable Locks "

    at:

    http://onespeedgo.blogspot.com/2011/03/its-zoo-out-there-dont-use-cable-locks.html

    Does anyone know who makes these racks? There's gotta be patent...

    Yes, I know any system can be defeated.

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  41. A shower cap takes a second to put on your saddle. You can store one stuffed under the saddle when you ride. Get one with flowers on it :-)

    Tony

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  42. I keep my Pashley and two other bikes in my garden shed which has a crappy little lock on the door which I imagine could be cut off very easily. I then lock the Pashley's frame with a Krypotinite ulock to a very heavy push mower. (I'd like to see them try to saw through that or try to carry them off while still attached!) The other two bikes are locked to one another's frames with two ulocks.

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  43. MDI, if you seat it deep enough in the concrete (if you end up drilling) you should be ok. Ideally, though, you should have a l1' x w1' x d2+' (or more if you are ambitious) hole to pour some concrete around a bent piece of metal which "u"s up as a locking point. The concept being that it is easier to pull a straight piece of anything out of the ground than something tangled like a root... it might talk a little time but would most likely be less expensive (and more secure) than a Kryptonite anchor.

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  44. Joseph E --

    I agree that it's a bit funny, but in line with what anonymous 6:29 said; the crime of B&E carries a much harsher sentence and is more thoroughly investigated/prosecuted then "simple" bike theft... Sadly, 95-99 times out of 100, when a bike is stolen, it's just gone and you never find it or the thief (but I'd alwayssearch craigslist ;)

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  45. I don't know if anyone else mentioned this(I skimmed all of the posts but might have missed something), but the best insurance against bike theft is, uh, insurance. I've had a few bikes stolen over the years, once from a friends house, once in college from the dorm and once from my house. My homeowners insurance covered it when it was stolen from my house and my fiends insurance covered it when it happened at his house(it was he who suggested we make a claim, it didn't occur to me), the time at the dorm I was on my own of course(I did get it back eventually, sort of messed up but repairable).

    If you rent and have renters insurance it probably covers it too. My homeowners insurance even covers some situations away from home. I make sure I have a list of serial numbers just in case. It doesn't make you feel any better when it happens and you still end up late for work but at least you don't necessarily have to eat the whole replacement cost. I even made money on one where the new replacement value far exceeded what I spent putting the bike together from odds and ends. Like the commercial says, "Talk to your friendly Insurance representative".

    Spindizzy

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  46. BTW showercap as saddle cover is a good idea, thanks! Will look for a polka-dotted one; for some reason that seems to be what this bicycle needs!

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  47. On a bit of a tangent, regarding saddles, does anyone know of an acceptable non-leather saddle that has bag loops? The cost and the weather (I do leave my bike locked outside all day at work) make a putting a Brooks on my commuter impractical, but I like using a Carradice bag for day trips. Right now I've got the ViVa bolt-on loops from Velo-Orange, but they never seem quite as secure or well-placed as integrated loops.

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  48. I keep the bicycle I am riding most often outside. I lock up to a massive steel beam that has a very heavy chain attached to it. I then attach bicycle + U lock to the chain. This whole thing is under a car port at my apartment building, and in total, there are about 5-6 bikes there at any given time. So far so good. We asked our apartment building's owner for outside bicycle parking, and this is what we got. I keep my other bicycle in a stairwell completely unlocked. But you need a key to enter the building to get there. This is probably more vulnerable than the outside parking.

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  49. The plastic bag works very well. It hides the fact that it's a brooks and looks bad which may turn off thieves. An official brooks cover is asking for trouble. A shower cap is a great idea too, but I would want to make sure the brooksness shape is disguised.
    As for leaving the bike outdoors, it depends on the bike. Now that winter is over you should be able to keep the gazelle outside until the worst of winter appears. I live in the country and have various bikes outside under rafters and have little to worry about in terms of thieves-yet anyway. My landlord has boats and fishing gear galore that would probably interest someone far more than a bunch of unridable bikes. Although a local cyclist had his beautiful vintage italian bike stolen from his garage so now he rides an old ugly mountain bike.
    Also, damp or near ocean maritime weather will start nibbling at metal and rust will form. This is why I keep the 'nice' bikes inside. Also lighting systems can suffer from too much moisture. But if this isn't a weather concern, then it should be fine, and those dutch bikes are built to be outside.
    So, save yourself some cursing, huffing and puffing.

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  50. Oh and as for security, my dad took one of my bikes and my brothers lovely raleigh sport and put them in the locked storage rooms of the apartment building he lived in at time. The bikes were meant to be for when my sister or I went to visit. They both got stolen.

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  51. If we had anywhere reasonable to lock our bikes outside overnight (the only thing nearby is a street sign), I probably would leave mine out, at least part of the year. It really would be more convenient, and nice to not have it taking up part of our (thankfully fairly large, for an 800 sq ft apartment) kitchen.

    Locking it to something solid with that kind of chain makes it unlikely to be stolen, especially given the type of bike, in the U.S. - bike thieves are after easy targets, quick-release components, and stuff that they can sell for $$$. If they determine the bike weighs 40lbs, can't roll and has a huge chain around it, I don't think most people are going to bother.

    I have a seat cover from bikecap.nl that I picked up in Amsterdam, but I know at least Clever Cycles carries some of them, and I think they do also ship to the U.S. I just sprayed it with some silicone waterproofing, and I leave it out in torrential rains all day while I'm at work and the saddle stays totally dry.

    In my opinion, be reasonable, lock it to something sturdy, and keep lots of photos of it, and the serial number so it will be easy to identify as yours. I agree with you that the perceived risk is higher than the actual risk (even if you or someone you know had a bike stolen, the overall risk of a well-locked bike getting stolen is still small - just because you've had that experience doesn't mean it's likely to happen to everyone else, or even to you again). Like everything else, think logically about the risk and do what you're comfortable with.

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  52. I seriously think the risk of theft is massively overplayed. I have yet to personally meet someone who had their bike stolen in Boston, when it was locked up with a serious lock.

    I'm sure that some of those mythical "professional" bike thieves with fancy tools exist, but somehow it seems like only people with crappy locks have their bikes stolen.

    Just look at the comments in this discussion: many people have had their bikes stolen, but in every example (it's not clear if c. is an exception) the bikes were not actually secured with a high-quality lock to something immobile.

    Screech - "We parked it (unlocked) in our alley..." Let me guess what comes next... it got stolen?

    Seriously, *any* unlocked bike will get stolen if it's left outside, for obvious reasons. I've have basically abandoned 4 bikes like this, and they were all stolen very soon. Including one with both tires flat.

    "Depending on how visible "the back of our house" is to neighbors/passers-by on the street, it may be stolen very soon."

    It won't. But guess what, if V's Gazelle gets stolen in the next 6 months (is that very soon enough?), I'll buy you a bottle of wine. Okay?

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  53. i find the different attitudes to bicycle locking in different countries fascinating. i live in london, and even if i'm leaving my bike (like yours, really not very stealable) for just a couple of hours i lock the frame and wheels up with a big heavy chain lock and a d lock and put a rubbish old plastic bag on the saddle. i know several people who have had their bikes either stolen or stripped of all the parts from their very secure gardens (one who lives in a gated community!) and if that happened to me i'd cry.

    on the other hand, i just came back from berlin where the bike market must be very different. it seems everyone has a bike and they're just how people get around. locking them just involves stopping on the edge of the pavement and using a really flimsy d lock to lock the back wheel to the frame. amazing for someone used to london, like me!

    i don't know how where you live sits on this spectrum, but i really hope your bike survives. it must be gutting to lose something that means a lot to you.

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  54. We keep our bikes on the ground floor of our house. There is a ramp up to one of our doorsteps so it's pretty easy to get a bike in and out. I wouldn't have a really nice bike in NYC if I were not able to park it inside.

    That said, if I were to keep a bike outside all the time in NYC I would get an old, very bare bones Dutch bike and lock it well and I'd feel philosophical about theft.

    I do know lots of people who've had bikes stolen and most either locked their bike with a cable or cheap u-lock, left it in the same place for days, locked it wrong (just a wheel), or had a track bike that they left in its florescent glory on the crowded racks by a Williamsburg subway stop, which is basically tempting a hipster-hating bike god, like, way too much.

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  55. I lock my Raleigh Sport to my fire escape behind my apartment building and use it for all my short trips (including most shopping excursions and daily commutes to my grad studenty office) while I haul my road bike (a sport touring bike, I suppose) down a flight of stairs when I feel like riding it. It's strange - I don't want to lock it up outside despite it being a 35 year old bike that cost me less than many of the hybrids, mountain bikes and low end modern road bikes that my neighbours leave outside, but I have an emotional attachment to it and would feel devastated to lose it.

    One advantage of vintage and vintage style bikes is that while bike nerds might be super impressed by them and recognize their utility and in some cases monetary value, high end bike thieves want new, high end bikes to sell and opportunist thieves with substance abuse problems are looking for an easy bike to steal and/or one that looks modern and expensive.

    I also support the idea of sticking with the plastic bag. Whenever I park the Nishiki outside I put a bag over the saddle (leather VO one) to protect it from the elements, but also to make it look less attractive to thieves.

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  56. I live in a semi-rural gated private enclave where nearly everyone knows each other, and even cheap BSOs still get up and walk away with some regularity. Of course, the nearest town- <1 mile away- is a coastal California college burg with a very large number of transients, drifters, homeless folks and a brisk heroin, methampehtamine, & marijuana trade.
    We need to worry about ocean salt air and rust here, too.

    IIRC, local-to-us Shelly from the "Riding Pretty" blog does not leave her bikes locked up outside.

    I think you're probably okay with the locking scheme, but that iron railing is very soft to a hacksaw or grinder, and you do need to bear in mind not just the cost you paid for your Gazelle, but what it would cost you to replace it.

    If you work out all of those factors to your satifaction, go for it!

    Corey K

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  57. If I had to bring my bikes innside every day for sure my main ride would be a folder!
    badmother

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  58. I live in Sydney city, in an apartment and I've locked my bike up outside on and off but everyone thinks I'm crazy.

    Unfortunately from what I can see, our problem is that it's so unusual to see a bike outside that it's an instant magnet for miscreants of all descriptions. I reckon people like to just have a go at it. Over in NY bikes are locked up everywhere. I wish we had that in Sydney, considering we have the same problems with space.

    Anyway, the most annoying thing that has happened to me is vandalism. Someone drew a penis on my seat in white permanent marker. Got any suggestions for warding off vandals for such a gorgeous bike? (I'm about to get a Gazelle too!)

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  59. I've kept my bike outside in Portland, OR for the last 9 months (it's an Azor - heavy dutch bike). I thread a huge heavy chain around a good-sized tree and through the frame and saddle, plus I use the wheel lock on the back wheel and a u-lock on the front one. With all the security, it's actually slightly *less* convenient than lugging the bike in and out of my apartment, but the extra apartment space is worth it to me.

    I've just used a brooks saddle cover, turned inside out to hide the brooks logo. The cover is definitely not truly waterproof, but the saddle seems fine so far, even though it's a brooks.

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  60. Here's a hard luck story that will break your heart. After all that work a dad does for his daughter, and then this lovely bicycle is stolen from out back of the house. Enough to make a grown man cry! If you love your bike....take care of it. That means bring it in and keep it safe!

    Mixte Gallery Story of woe: http://themixtegallery.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/marks-bianchi/

    So so sad!

    OKB

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  61. Old Knotty Buoy -- I'd say the lesson is, don't use a cable lock.

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  62. C--I have to admit that your post made me scream with laughter. That must be incredibly annoying to have a penis on your, um...seat.

    I agree with Chris though--I think one of the hidden benefits of a vintage or lovelybike aesthetic is that most bike thieves are not thinking "oh cool, vintage Gazelle!" or "wow--1965 Raleigh DL-1!" They're generally looking for newer, cooler, more anonymous bikes, though of course there are always people who will steal anything they can get their hands on--I've lost several lights and a gel seat cover. Hmm--maybe if I'd drawn a big penis on it, no one would have stolen it...

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  63. With just the wheel locked, you are bound at the very least to find your bike hacked to pieces in frustration. But seriously, ugly or now that Gazelle will be stolen within the month. The crumbiest bike on eaarth with the strongest chain on earth locked to a totanium pole will get stolen within a week of being left in the same place every night.

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  64. @Anonymous: there are quite a few bikes in my neighborhood that have been locked to street signs day-in and day-out for going on two years now, and haven't been stolen, haven't had any pieces of them stolen, are still (other than having gotten wet a lot) the same as the first time I saw them there, a year and a half ago. A couple of them being 1960's or 1970's Raleighs.

    That's a pretty absolute statement to make about everyone in the world.

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  65. back in college (norfolk, virginia) i never locked up my bike at all. then one day i left it parked outside the 7-11. i came out to see a young boy riding off on it. that afternoon i furiously stalked the streets somehow convinced that i was going to find my bike. i turned down one street and saw two boys walking a bike. i picked up the pace and they started glancing back at me. then when i was about ten steps away, they threw the bike down and took off running. i picked up the bike --which was too small for me-- and brought it home and used it for the rest of that school year. i was näive back then and will not be so näive in 2011.

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  66. Of course, the other thing to consider is weather. Rain and snow on a bike that is not ridden regularly can invite a lot of rust and decay. A cover will help some, but it might be better for the bike and peace of mind to find an indoor solution.

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  67. I live in the suburbs and park my bike behind a closed gate inside a yardstash product. It's not secure but has a floor and has kept my bike bone dry for over a year.

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  68. Disposable shoe covers are nearer to the shape of a saddle than a shower cap is, the elastic is tighter and they are heavier duty. Cheap too, at 30 for £1.10.

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