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I've recently come into ownership of two very nice bikes. I live in an okay area, so I haven't had to worry about bike security very often.

We do, however, often take our bikes to less than savory areas - we have a Thule T2 Pro and often stop for lunch ~wherever~.

What is the most reasonable way to secure our bikes from theft? I understand that no security is perfect. (If you see my profile, most of my rep is form Security.SE /humblebrag)

Presently we do this - this is assuming a worst case, run down terrible area, with a bike chop shop next door to where we park, etc etc.

1) Avoid parking in such areas.

2) Stay with the bikes if at all possible.

3) Bikes are attached to the Thule T2 Pro using the built in cable locks - it connects the front wheel and frame to the rack. The T2 Pro can be firmly attached to the trailer hitch using an expansion screw included in the design of the rack.

We are also considering adding the following:

1) A cable lock threaded through the seat, frame, and rear wheel, to complement the front cable.

2) Locking the bikes together using a flexible plate-link lock.

Neither of these are absurdly harder to implement, and avoid some, but not all, piece-meal theft.

EDIT: The T2 can be attached to the car in such a way that it can't be removed without the key, or spending some time 'hacking' the locking mechanism in one way or another. This post originally didn't say that and some comments will be confusing due to this.

  • I've got my own ideas on what makes a good reasonable trade off of risk and effort. I'll probably post my own longwinded answer at some point, but obviously will let people who have more hands on experience with this stuff answer before me. – Adonalsium Sep 6 '18 at 12:55
  • Edited title for clarity. – RoboKaren Sep 6 '18 at 14:10
  • Worth noting that the rack can be removed from the car entirely, but it + 2 bikes is around 150 to 200 lbs. A couple fit men could carry this off if they wanted to, and they might. Umm, it's not too hard to find one fit man who can carry that much weight a decent distance rather quickly, and do it rather easily. – Andrew Henle Sep 6 '18 at 15:20
  • How about "uglify" your bike? – mootmoot Sep 6 '18 at 15:28
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    As you can get a pickup within 2ft of the car, its no more than 12 feet to carry the whole kaboodle and drop it into the tray. Needs two men to be efficient one to lift, one to drive. The whole 'episode' could be over in less than 10 seconds. – mattnz Sep 8 '18 at 2:17
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My preference for my hitch rack security is to use a 5 foot Schlage 999478 High Security Chain with Cinch Ring to pass through the frame(s) and use with a long kryptonite evolution U-lock to secure the chain and my bikes to my hitch rack, which is secured to my car with a locking hitch pin. I also will incorporate a separate cable lock to secure my wheels (I just use a loop style and thread it through the ulock as well).

I figure this way, if anyone wants to steal my fancy mountain bike, they at least probably need power tools to easily steal my bike. I prefer this method so I can more safely leave my bikes unattended for short periods while on road trips or during after ride beer stops.

My opinion is a cable lock is about as good of security as a strong rope. Any yahoo can buy a pair of wire cutters at a dollar store for $3 and steal your bike in a minute or so if you rely only on cables.

However, the folding plate lock is a bit higher security. I also use one of these on my commuter and would trust it for a medium level of security where I'm leaving the bike unattended for a bit. Maybe not in NYC, but in the smaller city I'm from, I trust it about as much as a U-lock.

  • FWIW, I also try to run the chain through the bottle cage, so it rubs on the cage more than the frame, even though it has the nylon cover. I also sometimes make a loop around the front wheel and frame with the cinch loop to secure the front wheel as well if I'm only using one bike on the rack and have more chain slack to work with. – Benzo Sep 7 '18 at 19:01
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    "buy a pair of wire cutters at a dollar store for $3" I thought dollar-store wire cutters cost $1? Even if they sell the two halves of the pair separately, that's still only $2. Or are you factoring in the inevitable case of buying two left-halves and having to go back for a third? ;-) – David Richerby Sep 10 '18 at 13:16
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    I guess I was just thinking of stores we have around here like "Dollar General" and "Family Dollar" not necessarily "Dollar Tree". – Benzo Sep 10 '18 at 14:12
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You don't say how the rack is attached to the hitch such that it's removable, but if there's any kind of bolt, even a hand-operated screw, you could replace that with something more secure. Anti tamper torx bolts are avaliable quite large, and while it's not hard to get the drivers, it's also not common to carry them.

When I've got bikes on the back of my van, I have a cable lock at all times (it's an adjustable one so acts as an extra strap). For long stops or in iffy areas I D-lock the bikes together, but I'm prone to forgetting to remove it and then it bangs around. My rack is aluminium tube and would take seconds to cut with a hacksaw, but the lowest point of the bikes is 4' off the ground so an unwise thief would end up underneath 2 bikes and half a rack if they tried cutting. I also have a cover over mine. It's only fabric and elastic/straps but even assuming someone was prepared to slash it, that's still extra delay and hassle, before they even find out what's inside. The main purpose of the cover is to protect the bikes from rain/spray and keep accessories safe.

All these are delaying tactics really, and you should still try to keep them in sight except for brief periods, assuming they look valuable.

One thing that's more than a delaying tactic is to reverse the vehicle until it's almost against a wall, fence, or hedge (even into the latter). My van is oversized for much of the parking I use so doing this also protects against people driving into sticking out bikes, and keeps the vanfrom getting in people's way.

If you have a proper (police-backed) security marking scheme in your country, it's worth doing. Obvious markings are a further permanent deterrent.

As they're e-bikes, taking the battery away and putting it inside the car (even out of sight) makes them much less desirable (and slow to ride off on). Of the 2 e-bikes I've used, one had a removable battery using a key; the same key was required to start the motor, so don't leave it near the bike

  • A cover might be a good investment... They're both eBikes so they kinda scream "Steal me, you'll get away quickly too!" – Adonalsium Sep 6 '18 at 15:01
  • Hence the weight. I thought the rack must be really heavy if it plus 2 nice bikes was 200lbs. Can you take the batteries off? – Chris H Sep 6 '18 at 15:03
  • I can but that's a fun #10 to lug around in our backpacks. One comes off via a key very easily (Haibike) the other you need to whip out an allen wrench and unscrew a through bolt. (Specialized) – Adonalsium Sep 6 '18 at 15:06
  • I've added a note about the batteries to the answer, but I was thinking of hiding them in the car. I'd do that anyway to reduce the weight on my rack, but yours is probably stronger – Chris H Sep 6 '18 at 15:07
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    I'm never sure whether a cover says "Leave me alone because it would attract attention to look under me and find out what's hidden" or "Ooooh, must be something valuable under there -- he's kept it covered!" But I appreciate that you need the cover for other reasons anyway. – David Richerby Sep 10 '18 at 13:20
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Another approach may be to use some sort of bike alarm. A web search will turn up various brands (or there are a few mentioned in this article), some simply sound a loud alarm whilst others have the ability to notify you via your smartphone if they detect that your bike is being tampered with. This should be appropriate for your requirements, i.e. where you're no more than a few minutes away from your bikes - it would be rather less useful if you planned to leave your bikes and wander round a big city for a few hours.

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    ABUS actually makes an alarmed version of their bordo folding lock, which might be of interest to the OP as they mentioned possibly getting a flexible plate-link lock. – Benzo Sep 10 '18 at 17:13

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