Streetfilm: Grading Your Bike Locks, Part II

Here’s some levity for a dreary Monday — and an appropriate way to kick off bike month. Following up on a video from 2003, Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson recently took to the streets with bike mechanic Hal Ruzal of Bicycle Habitat, checking up on how effective city cyclists are in securing their rigs. Writes Clarence:

As with most sequels you need a new wrinkle. This time we thought we’d give Hal some company and invited former Recycle a Bicycle mechanic Kerri Martin (and founder of The Bike Church
in Asbury Park, NJ) to weigh in with her expertise. Once again, bikes
on the streets of SoHo provide lots of fodder for laughs and lessons to

  • Phil

    That second set of bikes gets a big fat F for chaining to a street tree.

  • Josh

    Hey, I know that dude, he’s fixed my bike before.

  • I think if I came back to that second bike to find my seat post at some random height, I’d be pissed. Interesting concept for a video but perhaps it could be done without screwing with people’s rides.

    Also, a hose clamp is no deterrent. You can turn the screw with a penny.

  • Clarence


    That bike was a plant in the video. It was mine. We wanted to find a bike locked like that, but we thought it would be mean to screw with someone else’s seat like you said. So since I had my bike locked up and I had my seat in my bag, we substituted that.

    I actually couldn’t believe that someone hasn’t already noticed my beater bike in the video. Hard to miss.

    So we were sensitive to that.

  • Ian Bicking

    You didn’t score people on placement! It might take 5 seconds to take a wheel, but the ease of spending those 5 seconds unnoticed and then walking away with a wheel depends on where you locked up your bike.

    What does a thief do with a rear wheel? Replace their own broken rear wheels? There can’t be much of a market for them… or is there?

  • Stu

    Well, Ian, you can always sell a wheel to someone who’s had their wheel stolen…

    An Open Letter to the Guy who Stole Bruce’s Bike Wheel
    An Open Letter to the People who Watched the Guy Steal His Bike Wheel

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Hey I know that gal! She’s also the president of WalkBikeJerey! How could you forget to mention her role in our (NJ’s) fledgling equivalent of Transportation Alternatives.

    And yes people WILL cut down trees to get at a bike. I’ve heard first hand accounts. As a cyclist and lover of trees, anyone who parks a bike to a small street tree (they’re no where near as tough as big trees BTW) gets an instant F in my book. It’s just wrong and creates a bad image of cyclists just like those who recklessly blow through traffic lights.

  • Clarence

    Kerri is a jack of all bike trades and one of the most wonderful human beings on the planet. If I had paragraphs I could list tons of more accomplishments and good deeds she has done.

  • Ali

    My brother has had his locked single-speed stolen twice (the same bike). The first time the thieves busted through his lock with liquid nitrogen but then returned it several weeks later because he had special spokes, one of which had busted through the tire, and it was pretty impossible to fix so they brought it back to him – his excalibur. The second time it was stolen, his lock had frozen on a snowy day, with his bike locked around a tree at least 2x as thick as the one in the video, and returned a week later (after the snow had melted) to find the tree cut down with his bike gone. Crazy.

  • al

    i want to watch the video, but it’s really choppy. i’m on a mac. what can i do?

  • Great to see the legendary Hal again. Something tells me that first bike (the Bridgestone) belongs to Clarence or other T.A. folks.

    @al: Video looks superb on my Mac Pro.

  • Nobody has yet mentioned the best lock of all for a bike: it’s called “the invisible bike.” If the thief can’t see your bike, he won’t be tempted to steal it.

    How does it work? Easy, get a folding bike and bring it indoors with you. Forget about the 35 pound lock.

    Plus you can take it on the train or bus with you.


  • Hi Keith,

    I have a folding bicyle and I get around my office building’s anti-bicycle management by stashing it in a bag before I carry it in for the day. It also fits nicely into my front hall closet.

    However, it seems to me that one still needs lock one’s bike on the street when doing things like going to the grocery store, the movies, the Met Museum, or the opera at Lincoln Center. Or have you been able to carry in and check your folded bicycle in venues like these?

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I also agree with the “Invisible Bike” method. Mine is under my desk at work right now!

    Also #14 brings up a good point. It would be nice to see the city’s signature attractions like the Met and Lincoln Center have place to lock up bikes or at least check folding bikes in the coat room.

    (I’ve heard that the Met has a bike rack hidden somewhere and I don’t see why they wouldn’t take it in the coat check area.)

  • I’d like to hear from a folder owner who weighs ~200 lbs and rides hard in the city daily, about the durability of folders under those conditions.

  • BicyclesOnly, email me at my blog and I’d be happy to share my experiences as folding bicycle rider with you.

  • Clarence

    I have a PURPLE Bike Friday folder but don’t ride it exclusively. I weigh just about 220, have had it for over six years and has held up. When I bought it I weighed around 200, but I am told my model is technically not recommended for those over 200.

    It’s a good invisible bike when I ride it. But not everyone can make their bike invisible.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I just started breaking the big 200 recently and regrettably (Damned grad school!) and I’ve had no problems with my Brompton. I can even stand up and crank on bars with remarkably little flex even on extended climbs. I even got up and over the Golden Gate Bridge with it without having to get off and push at all and at one point the climb from the SF side got pretty steep. I’ve also put in 30+ mile days on it with little discomfort but the Brompton wouldn’t be my first choice for such distances.

    The only problem I’ve had with the Bropton is the rubber spring used to give the rear swing-arm some give. It is too soft for my 200 lbs and the result is a bit of bobbing. However, I talked to the British factory rep when he visited the shop in Philly where I bought it (I just happened to be their when he was) and he told me that they are working on it and should have weight specific springs out soon.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Oh yeah and the Brompton is rated up to 100kgs or 220lbs.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I weigh 225 and carry three locks the gentleman in the video would approve of.

    And as a result, the gentleman in the video has replaced my rear spokes several times, as his place of work is conveniently located between my place of work and my home. (Other bike shops have also gotten a piece of that business).

    The only disappointment I have had since commuting by bike isn’t the weather, or the need to carry and change clothes, or the traffic, or locking up, or any conflict with motorists. Those have been no problem.

    It is broken spokes. I certainly haven’t saved much money relative to the subway.

  • Urbanis, I have discovered that when folded to the size of a suitcase, the folding bike may be handled like a suitcase, and can be checked in any cloak room, or left with a clerk behind their desk, or half-folded and wheeled around with you like a golf caddy. It is welcome anywhere you are. If in doubt put it in a zippered bag.

    BicyclesOnly, Dahons are rated at 230 pounds capacity. I have carried more than that on one of mine with my own weight plus luggage strapped on; this may depend on which model you get. Obviously don’t hit curbs at high speeds fully loaded like this.

    The “invisible bike” can be put into a shopping cart when you go shopping, too.

  • I’ve visited art museums in Chicago’s Field Museum, NYC’s Metropolitan Museum and the Louvre with my folding bikes. Each time, I checked them.

    Many folding bikes with small wheels can carry more rate than their stated carry capacities. The spokes are typically the weakest link but the smaller the wheel, the stronger they tend to be.


  • Fendergal

    I don’t see myself as a potential customer for a folder. I much prefer locking my bike outside and walking around in a store without having to lug around a giant black bag.

  • BicyclesOnly, the largest person Bike Friday has made a bike for was about 320#, so you’re no sweat.

    Most of the bikes are rated for someone 220# (as is this case with the New World Tourist and the tikit– the latter doesn’t require a giant bag, either, Fendergal, as you just wheel it around with you) but some of the lighter ones are rated for someone 190# or even 120# (in the case of the really light ones).

    That being said, I wouldn’t buy one you don’t know anything about (i.e. a used one).

    Oh and Clarence– if you have a Pocket Rocket Pro or a Pocket Crusoe and you have a TOTAL weight under about 210#, you should be fine. Which is probably why you’ve been fine. However, if you’re concerned, there’s always the possibility of trade in…

  • @Larry & @Keith: What size wheels do your bikes have and how compact do they get when folded? I have a Downtube 8H with 20″ wheels. I always fold and bag it when taking it into the office, but it’s a heavy and bulky thing–if this is a suitcase, it’s a large suitcase. I think it would occupy most of a shopping cart and I have a little trouble imagining it getting admitted to the Met, especially when I read on their site “Luggage is not allowed into the Museum and cannot be checked in at the Museum’s coat-check facilities. This includes small carry-ons and oversize backpacks. All standard-size backpacks, large bags, and packages 16″ x 16″ x 8″ or larger must be checked in at the coat-check facilities.” I would imagine my Downtube bag would fall under the “oversize backpack” category.

    I always wonder when I read about people taking their folding bikes everywhere if they are riding models with 16″ wheels (e.g., Bromptons). Or perhaps I need to be more courageous?

  • Urbanis,

    The Met has free indoor bike parking in its auto garage. So do the AMNH and Lincoln Center.

    Those are the only free indoor bike parking facilities in NYC I know of, share if you know of more.

  • Indeed you get what you pay for…not all bike locks are the same, they are like snowflakes considering some models might have a “black sheep” in the bunch and lock failure can occur. This is common when products are massed produced, the consumer loses quality over quantity. But anywho, locks are a great deterrent to those who decide to steal what is not theirs. Our lock shop has a great selection of high-end bike locks…if you are interest check us out at…

    Bike Locks – For bike locks from Kryptonite, OnGuard, and Abus, the bicycle lock pros at A Js’ Bike Locks have everything you need.

  • I’m always using my bike when I have time off work and I did find looking for a really good bike lock rather difficult. I read up online the reviews of each lock and decided to buy the kryptonit evolution series 4 and it was a great choice. It’s a brilliant lock to use.

  • Jack Smith

    Losing your house keys or getting the keys stuck in the lock
    are very common problems faced by all of us. Being common, it does not reduce
    the inconvenience it creates faced by the people. There may be many other
    reasons as well for which you will have to call for the help of Emergency Locksmith.


The 2008 Streetsie Awards, Part 5

Best Spontaneous Livable Streets Moment: Joyous New Yorkers take to the streets to celebrate Barack Obama’s victory. Movement of the Year: This year we saw cities across the U.S competing to run the first, biggest and best Bogota-style Ciclovia events. San Francisco debuted Sunday Streets (after local activists sat Mayor Gavin Newsom down in front […]

1,200 Pack Town Hall for “How New Yorkers Ride Bikes”

Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson was at Town Hall on Saturday night for the New Yorker Festival’s "How New Yorkers Ride Bikes," hosted by former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. Clarence wasn’t allowed to film the event so he published a nice write-up on StreetFilms. Some excerpts: Mr. Byrne, dressed in black and sporting his cool taxi-yellow […]

The 2009 Streetsie Awards, Part 3

This post wraps up the Aughts for Streetsblog. For more year-in-review flavor, Clarence has a real treat over at Streetfilms. Have a great New Year everyone. Best Legislator: Brooklyn’s David Yassky capped off a very pro-livable streets tenure in City Council by carrying the banner for the Bicycle Access Bill. After a legislative win that […]

Hal Grades Your Bike Locking 2014

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nearly five years since we last went traipsing around SoHo grading people’s bike locking with Hal Ruzal from Bicycle Habitat. So it was time for the next chapter with the mechanic who wears pink-purple socks, admonishing you about how to lock your wheels, frame, and seat correctly. The process is […]

Streetfilms: On-Street Bicycle Parking, Portland

Following the news about the new sidewalk extensions and bike racks being installed in place of car parking space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Clarence Eckerson of Streetfilms sends along this short video looking at on-street bicycle parking in Portland, Oregon, that cyclists’ Shangri-La. As Greg Raisman from Portland DOT says, "After we put it in, it […]