Brian Lehrer’s Bike Stolen — How Should He Lock Up His Next Ride?


Via the Facebook news service (subscription required), WNYC’s morning radio host reports that thieves have spirited away his bicycle, and he’s thinking about how to secure his next ride. If you’re Brian Lehrer’s Facebook friend, you can now follow what promises to be an encyclopedic discussion of bicycle locking. Do we sense an opening on tomorrow’s show for the master of bike theft prevention, Hal Ruzal? Or perhaps a hard-hitting segment about why it’s taking the City Council so long to move the Bicycle Access Bill?

  • The “Crappy” Plan: Two locks, at least one of them a Kryptonite (not a “crap-tonite” as Hal says) and a cheap, crappy bike with not a high resale value.

  • I have to add him as a friend? I never met the guy!

    Clarence, any idea as to what the threshold is for resale value? If I have a bike worth $100 on the resale market, is that worth a thief breaking a Kryptonite chain?

  • One thing Hal doesn’t mention is the overnight factor. In my experience, a bike left locked on the street overnight is 3X-5X more likely to have at least a component stolen.

  • In my opinion, I’d think $100 bucks is right on the precipice of having state of mind as long as you are locking decently.

    I think what it comes down to is each individual saying to themselves: how much am I willing to spend on a bike that is the bike I will use most frequently, have locked up and be away from, and willing to not have overwhelming sadness in my heart if I lose it. My $30 bought stoop sale bike (that I probably spent $50 getting tuned up and fixed at a shop) is great, but mentally I treat it like it will be stolen tomorrow even though I lock it up well. My other bikes I would be devastated to lose and only ride those when there is not a theft potential.

    Add Brian as a friend. I did. He has lots of good things to say!

  • anonymous

    Perhaps Brian can be our spokesperson (no pun intended) for getting electronic bicycle lockers on the streets of New York City. No, they’re not cheap, but neither is secure parking for automobiles in New York City. NYC has the best chance of having the cost of installation and operation paid off quickly by user fees of any big US city.

  • anonymous

    How about motion-activated wirelessly-armed bicycle alarms that fit snugly inside the seat column and go off whenever it detects even slight movement? Then anyone who tries to off with your bicycle will become much more conspicuous than otherwise–either you or someone else on the street (or hopefully a cop) will know that something’s wrong and stop the perp. And if enough people install these alarms, thieves will have to be that much more careful about which bike they choose to attack, not knowing which ones are alarmed. Heck, with such alarms eventually people might not even need locks anymore.

  • anonymous

    Also, everyone will think you’re bad-ass when they hear a “chirp-chirp” from your bicycle as you leave it to go into your favorite restaurant.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    The more things change the more…. Did anyone see “The Bicycle Thief”?

  • How about getting a renter’s/homeowner’s insurance policy, most of which cover stolen items such as bicycles even away from home. Renter’s/homeowner’s insurance, unlike alternatives mentioned above, is invisible, intangible and silent.

  • LN

    If he posted a picture and description of his bike on his face book, craigslist and bike blog, he might get it back.

    It never ceases to amaze that people who are willing to spend several hundreds on their bikes get cheap with the lock.

    I have a uninteresting (to those that dont know) bike with which I secure with 12 pounds/$100 worth of lock.

  • Opinions please:

    My entry-level ($200 something) Gary Fisher mountain bike has survived for the ~six years I’ve locked it up with a Kryptonite chain and U lock.

    If I upgrade to a Specialized Sirrus and use the same locking technique, will that more expensive bike be at greater risk of being stolen than my old beat-up Fisher? What do you all think?

  • I’m liking my pinhead system. It means I can lock up the frame tightly with my monster 100 dollar lock and not worry about my wheels (and seat, although that needed a little extra insurance). I don’t leave my bike out overnight and try to bring it inside when I can. But MAN does my pinhead make it better when I’m out and about

  • The 1948 Italian film “Bicycle Thief”? Would you spend two days trying to track down your stolen bike? Probably not even an option today with bikes being striped down until they are unrecognizable.

  • ddartley,

    If you upgrade, I’d keep the old bike – use that for any trips that you deem less secure or places you might have to lock up for an extended period of time…

    A Sirrus is a nice priced bike, no matter how well locked, I wouldn’t leave that locked outside for very long.

  • Ian Turner

    Anonymous: In NYC, when someone is conspicuously trying to steal a bike, the result is assistance, not condemnation, from strangers:

  • Are more expensive bikes at greater risk of theft in NYC?

    (that’s what I should have asked; for some reason I felt the need to include fascinating personal information about my own bike situation.)

  • anonymous

    Ian: Yes, well, that situation would be much less likely if the bike were alarmed :-).

  • So many high-tech proposals for secure bike parking! What about having police <a: href= to take an interest in bike theft?

    Back in the 1970s and 1980s, it was not uncommon to see parked cars throughout Manhattan with little signs saying “no valuables” and “nothing to steal–door not locked. Nowadays you’ll routinely see 50K vehicles parked overnight on the street. I think it’s because the police began investigating and punishing auto theft seriously.

    Given the upsurge in bicycle communting, any chance of launching the kind of “sting” operations to catch bike thieves described at the bottom of this thirteen year old TA bulletin?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Perhaps we need to put “this bike has no radio” signs on our bicycles.

    In any event, I have an old bike purchased seven or so years ago.

    At work I the frame and front wheel with a U lock, also lock the frame with a massive chain, and lock the rear wheel with a second U-lock. I take the seat and all accessories with me.

    The theft threat discourages me from getting a new bike. It also discourages me from using the bike for errands. Who wants to go through all that to stop into a store? Perhaps it’s overkill.

  • Forget locks, get a folding bike and take it with you.

    No risk of theft or vandalism, and less awkwardness on the subway. My folder came with a little bag that makes it look like a piece of luggage in case of uptight doormen or boneheaded building policies.

  • That bike-theft film is great entertainment, and a great indictment (and kind of European in sensibility, with it’s twist not-happy ending).

  • i’ve been theft-proofing my components for years using this method: fill the bolt head with super glue and drop in a bearing or BB. once it dries, it’s very difficult to remove, it takes a few minutes of dedicated with with a sharp tool, far more work than any street thief is likely to put in.

    of course this is only to be done once your parts are adjusted to the right spot and the bolts are tight. it’s a pain to remove the bolts, but how often do you adjust your stem or seatpost height?

    here’s a picture:

    lately i’ve also been stuffing the bolt head with cotton from a q-tip, then filling it in with superglue. the solid bolt head leaves thieves at a loss, but pops right out with a power drill and small bit.

  • The lack of secure bicycle parking in New York could be instantly solved if all commercial parking garages were required to install a bicycle cage (or two) to house customer bicycles at reasonable rates.

  • Got a tweet that Hal was taking questions, live, on Brian Lehrer this morning. For some reason Im not getting these on my Blackberry. Anyone know if its available in mp3 yet?

  • Here is the show, Stacy. I’m going to listen to it now.

  • Don’t concentrate on the lock as much as the problem of recovery itself. Get your bike back and deal the thieves a boomerang blow w/ .


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