I had my bike locked up properly so that the frame and wheels were secure, but somebody stole the 8 speed and handlebars off of my bike. I don't understand how this can have more than a $10 resale value.

The bike is a Shimano 8-speed. They cut the tension cord in 2 spots... i'm not sure why they cut it near the derailer....

Is there any way to protect the gears? It looks like the other one that remains is susceptible to just an allen wrench and wire cutters...

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    this sounds more like vandalism than a serious attempt to steal valuable parts (kinda like when morons taco the wheel of a locked up bike for no reason). Unfortunately I am not sure there is a good way to prevent this.
    – DQdlM
    Nov 19, 2011 at 14:45
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    The question is valid, but the way it's written comes across as a bit of a rant. Any objection to retitling this "How to protect a bike against petty theft and vandalism?" Sorry to hear your bike was hit like this. Nov 19, 2011 at 17:18
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    I've edited it to address the practical questions more and remove the sort of "rant" parts. Feel free to revert my changes or otherwise change it if you feel I lost the spirit of your question.
    – freiheit
    Nov 19, 2011 at 17:58
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    By "8-speed" you mean the rear derailer mechanism (the thing that moves the chain to a different gear) or do you mean the casette (the set of 8 sprockets)?
    – freiheit
    Nov 19, 2011 at 18:01
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    @DQdlM -- Sounds to me like someone needed (or thought they needed) those specific parts. Nov 19, 2011 at 18:55

5 Answers 5


There's no way to 100% secure everything, but there are things you can do to make it more difficult or time-consuming.

  1. Don't lock up your bike. Bring your bike with you instead of leaving it outside. Mine goes into my office.
  2. Choose a location where you or other people will see thieves messing with the bike. Not a super-high traffic area (in that case everybody assumes somebody else will do something), but a moderate traffic area. A thief will be more reluctant to do something obviously shady if there's people that might stop them. When I'm at a cafe, pub or restaurant, I try to lock up where I can see the bike from inside. Or use bike lockers of some sort where it's hard for thieves to get to any of the parts.
  3. Use locking skewers such as pitlock or pinhead. There are a lot of variations on the concept, but the ones I've seen can secure wheels (via skewers), seat post (seatpost collar), fork (headset cap) or some brakes. A locking skewer would protect the casette from being removed, but not the rear derailer.
  4. Replace the bolts with unusual bolts. Bike thieves are likely have a variety of sizes of allen wrenches (possibly in a single multitool) and maybe a T25 Torx (commonly used for disc-brakes). Also Phillips and flat-head. But they're unlikely to have other sizes of Torx or other more unusual types of bolts. Getting proper "tamper-resistant" bolts is difficult unless it's something like the pitlock stuff.
  5. Mess with the bolts so that they're harder to undo. One technique I've heard of is to put a ball bearing into the hex head and melt some wax/paraffin into it. Tilt the bolt, heat it with a small flame and the wax runs out. Or a bit of time prying and scraping with a small screwdriver.

Personally, I do #1 and #2, and have considered investing in #3. #3, #4 and #5 all make your bike harder to work on, but at least #3 bike shops are used to and you just make sure to bring the special tool with you all the time.

  • #3: Seems like a good idea for expensive bikes. I like the idea of having a unique key.
    – Ambo100
    Nov 19, 2011 at 20:17
  • #4 - The "Robby" would be a good choice. Local hardware stores will have it, and tools - you just have to make sure you have the tools with you :/
    – OMG Ponies
    Nov 22, 2011 at 3:33

The short answer is, no: There's no simple way to protect against this with certainty if you want to leave your bike unattended. The same thing can happen to a car: you return and the wheels are gone, the car up on cinder blocks.

Your question doesn't say where your bike was parked, but I'm guessing it was in a public area. It sounds to me like the thief knew what components they needed, and that they had the tools to get at them. There's really no way to protect against that, short of sealing your bike in a box.

You have a few options to discorage this: You can not leave the bike by itself, or you can park it in more secure areas.

I prefer parking my bike where I can keep an eye on it. If I'm stopping for lunch, I'll try to bring my bike into the restaurant with me. This is easier when I'm riding one of my folding bikes, and can slide it under a table or behind a chair. Some stores will even allow you to bring in a full-frame bike, especially if you're obviously being careful and polite.

If you have to leave your bike unattended regularly, such as at a train station or at an airport, look into renting a bike locker. If that's not an option and you have to lock your bike up "naked" in public, you can look into making your bike less attractive to thieves. (Spray-paint, duct tape, and so on can all serve well to this end.)


Neil's recommendations for passive theft protection are very valuable - ie making your bike look less attractive. To add to that I would recommend always locking your bike up in a well traveled public area, preferably well lit, and find a few of these areas so you're not always locking your bike up in the same location. If you're looking for active theft protection (beyond a heavy duty u-lock for the entire bike which should go without saying) You have a few options that I'm aware of. There are various types of seatpost and saddle locks that you can buy which consist of a thin braided wire cable to deter thieves from simply coming up and pulling your post out of your frame and walking away. There are also a few manufacturers of keyed locking skewers that exist. These would potentially make it more difficult to take your wheels and saddle, but last time I looked, which I admit has been a few years, there were none of high quality to choose from. I bought a pair many years ago that used a uniquely keyed lever that was removable. Novel concept, but very little clamping force and I was able to shove a flathead screwdriver into where the keyed end of the lever was supposed to fit and simply leverage the skewer open. I would do some googling for "locking quick release skewers" and see what's new on the market these days.

Here's the last thing I'll mention which I dont recommend! I have heard of individuals super gluing or (gasp!) epoxying individual ball bearings into the heads of the hex bolts of their bike's components. This is a great active deterrant, but unfortunately bike components need adjustment and replacement which this method does not facilitate. This method might be worth it to you if you live in an ultra high crime area, but I will reiterate that I would not do it myself.

  • Some good points here. freiheit's excellent answer also gets into a little more detail on the ball-bearing trick. Nov 19, 2011 at 19:23

Silly answer alert...

You can also get a Dahon folder where no tools are needed to take bits off the bike. Make sure it is looking well past its sell-by date and then you can park it anywhere, locked or unlocked. Nobody will touch it.

There may be good reason for this - what can you do with a 3 foot long Dahon seatpost? It is not really worth having unless you have plans to take the seat off the top of it, but, if that is scuffed up, why bother? Then the wheels, they won't fit on anything else.

Hence, somewhat bizarrely, the bike best suited to being parked indoors, e.g. under a desk, is safest from thieves when parked up in public places.

Maybe you need to go for some non-standardness? A bike with no commodity parts and perceived lack of functional utility for the bike as a whole?

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    Yep, this is quite excellent and correct. When riding my folding bikes to work, I never carried a lock. Folding bikes are indeed the ultimate in theft-protection, but even they get stolen from time to time. Nov 21, 2011 at 21:04
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    What can you do with a 3' Dahon Seatpost? Why, this! Nov 21, 2011 at 21:04
  • thanks... I think I was actually gravitating in this direction actually... how much extra work is it with those small wheels? and how much speed are you losing...?
    – Bozostein
    Nov 24, 2011 at 8:49
  • I don't think you do go slower on a 20" wheeled 'shopping bike', it is also interesting the comments you get from people that you pass or give a tow to. There is no need to park up outside which saves time and riding out the saddle is a no-no (as a hinge might open) so there are gains in total journey time. Plus nipping through traffic is easier due to the small wheel, even if curbs are a no-no. It is swings and roundabouts. The low center of gravity and speedy acceleration of the small wheel work for me. So long as the bike is kept in tip-top mechanical condition there shouldn't be a problem. Nov 24, 2011 at 10:00
  • Actually - I need a very long seatpost on my regular bike.... Where's your bike parked? BRB...
    – Criggie
    Oct 24, 2015 at 21:45

I use my bike for commuting.

I keep it parked (U-locked) in the bike room of my apartment building.

At work, I have permission to park in (on the lowest level of) the underground parking under the office building: where it probably only sees office workers (and shoppers) who have paid to park their cars there.

When I started, I parked it all day and into the evening, locked up on the side-walk outside the office. With a U-lock on the frame, and pin-head locks on the wheels, I figured nobody could steal it and could only, at worst, vandalise it (for which I saw no incentive). And it was fine, for several months (someone stole a front light once).

But I feel safer now, with its being parked mostly out of sight.

has the world gone crazy?

I suspect that a few people want to have bikes without buying them: and create and maintain Frankenbikes using 'found' and 'spare' parts.

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