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How much would a bike cost at most that can be reasonably left outside before it's too much risk of theft? Areas like

  • grocery stores
  • parks
  • gyms

etc. I think a $500 bike can be safely locked outside, how about $1000? or $1400? I realize this is probably subjective but there is probably a ballpark value where it's not worth it to leave the bike outside?

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    Way too-broad a question for a SE site. In some areas, a $100 locked bike would get stolen, in other areas a $5000 bike could be left unlocked and would not be stolen. Probably the most accurate answer is "A bike that is cheaper, with a stronger lock, than the one next to it". Of course, this changes once the one next to it is stolen.
    – mattnz
    Apr 22, 2023 at 3:01
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    The kind of bike does matter as well, some bikes are more desirable than others. To take an extreme case: I'm sure that the risk of having a vsf T-900 (4200€ trekking bike) is lower than for example any other kind of bike being worth half the price (especially electric).
    – Rеnаud
    Apr 22, 2023 at 5:59
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    You’re going to need a lot more details about location and context. There are a lot of factors to consider, to the point that the question seems impossible to answer conclusively at all—locking up inside a gated office complex is different than locking up outside a downtown strip mall, even in the same city.
    – MaplePanda
    Apr 22, 2023 at 10:13
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    The only real way to find out is to conduct an experiment. Be prepared to lose your bike, though. Apr 22, 2023 at 16:14
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    FYI: in Amsterdam one can often see locks worth more than the bike they are locking.
    – L.Dutch
    Apr 22, 2023 at 17:11

2 Answers 2

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This may sound funny but is actually the answer that I promote from comment (by @mattnz):

Your bike must be cheaper, with a stronger lock, than the one next to it. Or at least comparable.

Look into the other bicycles at the place you plan to park. How are they locked? How expensive? This may differ at another place, even in the same town. Take as much risk as majority does.

Also, assuming the thief only appears at random time intervals, the duration of parking matters. When my E-bike was new, I was also taking the battery away with me.

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This is unanswerable.

I've seen $5k carbon race bikes leaned up in a pile with nobody round, and I've also seen $20 junk bikes with two separate locks holding them down to a rack.

It completely depends on the environment, nearby crowd, time of day, lighting, visibility, and even the state of the economy.

That last? When things get tight financially, some people are swayed to theft as a way to make ends meet. Your bike can be resold for $20, or even actively used, so it might be stolen.

If you want to come out and find your bike, lock it well. Or take it inside with you.


I maintain a literal junk-bike at work, for the occasional lunch trip to the local shops. If it was stolen I'd be disappointed and have to walk, but its not my "good" bike.

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    Examples to demonstrate: My junk bike gets locked up outside the station overnight. Its lock is worth as much as it is. During the day my tourer (now looking rather tatty) gets locked up outside another station with a good D-lock through the back and a cable to the front wheel. Similarly outside shops, but I'm less fussy about how well I use the lock at work and the gym. If I was leaving the tourer overnight I'd use a 2nd D-lock. I try to avoid locking my newer road bike (still not expensive) for long periods; outside cafes I use a cheap flimsy lock
    – Chris H
    Apr 22, 2023 at 8:32
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    Other examples, I will never leave my upright, main brand but 20 year old, sit up bike in the Netherlands anywhere without a lock, second hand value around €30 I guess. I often have my velomobile unlocked, even where people can easily access it, also about 20 year old but €3000 rest value. Why? The sit up bike has a direct use for many people and an easy resell value, the VM is much harder to ride unless you are the same size as I am and while the resell value would be higher, most people will not know how to get the money for it. And many people around here know it is mine.
    – Willeke
    Apr 23, 2023 at 13:31

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