I was wondering what one could do to keep his bike attachments from being stolen. On Monday two lights were stolen off of my bike. I only had them for a day. It was the kind that has a rubber "strap" of sorts that goes on the handlebar. I only really care/want to know because they were fairly expensive...
1You can try locking your bike in a secured facility with CCTV 24/7. That seemed to work.– AronNov 19, 2015 at 10:04
1I'm not so sure about that. Lots of bikes get stolen from places like that, Its not a great option given the quality of CCTV/retention time/other things in many cases.– BatmanNov 19, 2015 at 14:53
3Sad to say, but you effectively can't. Crime pays. Take this into account when you evaluate utility/price, and especially when you consider whether a bike accessory is easily clippable or not. Bike accessories should easily unclip so you can carry them with you. Even cheap ones. Always keep in mind: crime pays. Usually quite well. This is my view and I live in Japan which is the land of crime statistic anomalies. I've never had anything stolen here. I took a contract in New York and was robbed blind. Twice. California was exactly the same way. Texas, not so much. wtf? Crime pays.– zxq9Nov 19, 2015 at 17:13
Take the lights and anything else thats likely to be stolen off your bike.
For things that can't be removed easily, you may want to use something like Pitlock security skewers (or security bolts) or glue in ball bearings or similar into the head of the bolts (which will make them hard to remove when you need to remove them, but a casual thief can't remove them easily). Also, make sure you know how to properly lock up your bike (which has been discussed at length in other places on this SE).
3ok i just thought that we lived in a world where a man doesn't need to regularly take bike accessories on and off while at school– BuildNCNov 19, 2015 at 0:52
4@EvanWarren to the contrary, anything which can be easily stolen from a bike will be stolen in many areas. Sure, some towns are safe enough that you might not need to worry. But considering that nice bike lights can cost upwards of $100, it's not really that surprising. You wouldn't leave a $100 bill taped to your seat and expect it to still be there when you got back. It's sad, but it's the unfortunate reality. Nov 19, 2015 at 0:54
6@FarmAmerica You just had your lights stolen and think you live in a world where lights are not stolen? Nov 19, 2015 at 10:22
2@FarmAmerica - try and see the positives - you got an invaluable lesson in human nature, and all it cost you was some stupid bike lights– PeteHNov 19, 2015 at 11:28
4@Jekowl I just thought that we lived in a world where a man, a plan, a canal, Panama.– MichaelNov 19, 2015 at 18:41
In terms of accessories like lights, GPS, etc. the only way to be safe is to remove them entirely. Remember that if something is quick-releasable for you, it's also quick-releasable for thieves. Bike lights will frequently get stolen even if they aren't easily removable, because they're valuable. There is an assortment of "anti-theft" bike accessories available, but most of them just rely on obscure screws, and they tend to be inferior products as they must make other compromises in order to be harder to steal while also being priced competitively.
For bike components you may also want to remove as many quick release levers as possible. I've had a seat + seatpost stolen before, and know many people whose wheels have been stolen. You can lock your bike in such a way to prevent wheel theft, but it's impractical to lock things like seats, so you have to make it as difficult as possible.
Quick release removal removes thefts of opportunity (someone walking by and saying "hey, i need a seat" and grabbing it). But, a normal bike thief will carry a small adjustable wrench and hex keys. Seats are easy to lock -- just use a small cable lock to the frame (but the lock can still be cut).– BatmanNov 19, 2015 at 0:57
1@Batman most thefts like the ones the OP is referring to are likely a theft of opportunity. It's a pain to carry around an extra lock just for your seat, but I'd do it if I was regularly in a high-risk area. Of course, any lock can be cut by a sufficiently determined bike thief; it's all about being less valuable and/or less accessible to a thief than the bike next to yours. Nov 19, 2015 at 0:59
The one mitigating factor is things that have hard-to-remove quick release mounts - a cycle computer with no connection to the bike is worth less (but I've still had them stolen)– MóżNov 19, 2015 at 1:05
Fortified Bike sells bike lights that are designed to be theft resistant. They're made of heavy aluminum and use security screws so most thieves won't have the proper tool to unscrew it.
The also sell a security seatpost clamp to help keep thieves from stealing the light by stealing your seat.
I haven't used their newer rechargeable lights, but I've had their older Defender Stealth model on my bike for about 3 years now and haven't had it stolen despite keeping my bike locked up outside at work.
2See above re: "tend to be inferior products as they must make other compromises in order to be harder to steal while also being priced competitively". These aren't very good lights for the money. Nov 19, 2015 at 17:59
3While it's true that they may not be the best lights out there, it's comforting to know that if you accidentally leave your primary lights on your bike when you park it, your backup theft-proof lights will still be there for your ride home. If you're buying the light because it's theft resistant, it's hard to say that they aren't very good lights for the money, since you're paying the premium for the theft resistance. The theft resistance may be weak (relying only on a special screwdriver than anyone could obtain), but it seems to be good enough against most casual thefts of opportunity.– JohnnyNov 19, 2015 at 21:53
I love these lights and have used them in SF for years. Very effective at lighting the way and I leave them on the bike outside all the time. I wrote a post about them and other secure light options on my bike blog biketoeverything.com/2018/01/01/light-up-the-night-securely Jan 7, 2019 at 7:42
I've attached lights etc. with anti-tamper torx screws and normal screws in awkward places (like under the rear rack). Both have some deterrent value over normal screws in easy-to-reach places, which in turn are better than clips that need no tools at all. Some modifications may be required to replace the thumbscrew with something more secure.
But I had half a front light stolen because the rest was well screwed on - they opened it as you would for changing the batteries. Most lights are designed to be easy to take off, which might as well mean hard to secure. For anything other than cheap rubbish lights you should reckon that they'll be stolen or destroyed in the attempt whatever you do. You should probably make the same assumption even for cheap rubbish if you reply on them, or at least have a backup (in my case a cheap rear light on my pannier - which comes with me - and a headtorch on my helmet).
The only way to do this would be lights that are integrated into your frame so they can't be removed. Not a cheap option.
Instead, leave your lights and tools, etc in a bag that can be removed from the bike with one motion, or in a backpack, so you have them but only fit the lights to the bike when you need them.
I don't generally leave the helmet at the bike either... I've had one stomped to pieces while I was elsewhere
Update - I've also heard of a helmet being whizzed-in because it was left on a parked bike, sadly at night in the weekend near a pub.– Criggie ♦May 13, 2017 at 1:03
[With lights that attach via a quick release system,] clip the quick release thumb lever off with wire cutters, you can still remove them with a flat screwdriver. It's only good for stopping the opportunistic thief.
If you're going to do that, you may as well just use traditional axles secured by nuts. May 26, 2017 at 10:10
1@DavidRicherby I guess this answer refers to little plastic latches on lights, rather than wheel QRs. The phrase "quick release" is misleading - original question was about attachments with rubber straps - A stout cable tie instead of rubber strap might be workable.– Criggie ♦May 26, 2017 at 12:26
Edited to clarify. I misread this as well. May 26, 2017 at 15:26
I wrote a post listing out some locking lights and other alternatives to detachable lights on my website: Bike to Everything - Locking Lights. Here is some of the info rewritten specifically to answer this question.
You have a few options to prevent theft of your bike lights:
- Locking lights that use tamper proof screws on them (example: Fortified lights mentioned in another answer.)
- Anti-theft lights that are extremely inconvenient to remove and use non-standard hex sizes (example: Bell Radian 650 anti-theft lights)
- Concealed Lights. If you attach your light on a seat stay or underneath your rear rack for example, it may be less obvious to a thief that there's a light there.
- Get your own tamper proof screws and attach your (non-detachable) lights that way. (As Chris H mentioned)
- Bike saddles can sometimes come with integrated lights (easier to find for a cruiser style seat), and bike saddles can be locked down.
- Helmet lights can come with you if you take your helmet in with you. There are now helmets with integrated lights (example: Lumos), you can get a light that attaches to the helmet, or you could even get a normal headlight that you put on your helmet.
- You can attach lights to your bag or pannier that you take with you, so you don't have to think about removing the lights.
I love using both my Fortified lights and the Bell Radian 650 lights, and honestly I hope more companies start coming out with some better anti-theft lights so you can lock your bike with only a U-lock!
1If you use strong helmet lights you have to be careful not to blind other cyclists (or not be bothered about doing so.) That is even more so as with fixed to the bike lights, which are less unpredictable.– WillekeDec 25, 2019 at 12:38
Yes I agree, it's important to make sure your lights are not in people's eyes, fixed or not! I've seen people with lights angled upward since they're just to "be seen", but people can't see you if they're blinded by the light! Jun 14, 2020 at 0:31