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How Not to Lock Your Bike

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Photo: Erin Wilson
Locking up your bike and having it be there when you return is a minor miracle. Everyone has their favorite lock, method, and location, but there are also proven ways not to do it. We compiled a list—drawing on experience—of the 10 most obvious no-nos when securing your two-wheeled steed.

“My dad moved to Florida and decided that it was so flat he'd better get a bike. Almost immediately after picking it up, he rode to the library and locked it to a young palm tree. Well, you can guess what happened next. The thieves just bent the trunk over and slipped the lock off of it. To prevent this from ever happening again, my dad went on Craigslist and bought the crappiest bike he could find that still rolled, figuring that if they stole it, they must truly be desperate.” — Nicholas Hunt, Editorial Assistant
Photo: Erin Wilson
“My buddy was reporting a story at city hall in San Francisco in the middle of the day, locked his bike to a parking meter directly in front of the entrance—guards all over the place—and someone came along and yanked his bolt-on front wheel. Meaning they brought tools to City Hall at like 2 p.m. on a sunny weekday—and got away with it.” — Greg Thomas, Associate Online Editor
Photo: Erin Wilson
If you do, just make sure the pole is taller than Yao Ming with a step ladder.
Photo: Erin Wilson
“In college, my first legit mountain bike was stolen by somebody who probably used garden shears to snip the flimsy cable lock I stupidly used to secure it to the railing outside my apartment. The worst part: I was inside when it happened, it was late at night and therefore pretty quiet, and I distinctly recall hearing what turned out to have been the clank of the clipped cable hit the ground.” — Sean Cooper, Copy Chief
Photo: Erin Wilson
This is the equivalent of taping your car keys to the driver-side window.
Photo: Erin Wilson
Even the Skunk Lock can’t defend against this.
Photo: Erin Wilson
“I got my quick-release front wheel jacked outside a house party in Oakland one time. Locked it to a parking sign pole and was away from it for like an hour and a half. I then had to carry my wheel-less bike on my back to the BART station, then hump it on my shoulders a mile-and-a-half uphill from downtown San Francisco to my apartment in the middle of the night.” — Greg Thomas, Associate Online Editor
Photo: Erin Wilson
At least you’ll have someone to walk home with.
Photo: Erin Wilson
Step 1. Insert bar into locking mechanism. Step 2. There is no step 2.
Photo: Erin Wilson
“I locked my bike's frame and wheels to a bike rack at a BART station in Berkeley with a Kryptonite U Lock, and left it overnight. The next morning the frame and wheels were still there, but the entire front of the bike was gone: fork, handlebars, shifters, headset, stem.” — Luke Whelan, Editorial Assistant

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