Thinking about Bike locks

Recently I have been thinking about bike locks. I have been looking at the variety of options that there are and for a while I was worried about bike theft. It is for that reason that I never left my bikes unattended for more than half a minute to a minute during bike rides. 

This is easy when you’re going on 30-100km bike rides where you spend all of your time with the bike but what about when you replace your scooter with a bike. I never worried about leaving my scooter unattended and so far no one has stolen it. Logically I should have felt the same way about bikes and bike locks but I don’t. 

For years I was happy with the springy cable bike locks that everyone had but recently as I have seen D or U-locks I have been curious to see what works best. If you’re using D/U locks you need to find something to fix the bike too and that’s impractical most of the time. You could use a standard spring lock to get the appropriate distance but anyone with bolt cutters could knick a bike within seconds. 

I recently remembered that my concern about bikes being stolen is based on the fact that a few years ago a gang came and stole every bike that was not secured from the garages. They tried to take my bike from 1996 but after a short distance abandoned it. By this time the tires were ruined and the bike was covered in dust and dirt from years of neglect. 

A bunch of bikes were stolen a few years ago

After that experience I always kept bikes either in the basement or when I was riding a lot in the landing. When you ride a lot it’s nice to have everything organised and ready to go. Carrying it up and down a staircase, getting covered in dirt and potentially dirtying the walls is not ideal. I won’t disclose where I keep bikes between uses. 

Organised Gangs taking bikes

I went to try an e-bike recently and at the end of the trial I asked the bike shop owner about bike thefts and both he and a customer laughed. He told me that organised gangs come to Geneva with a van and just take every bike that they can fit into the van, whether electric or other. I haven’t checked with police to see whether this information is correct so I class it as possibly true, rather than fact. 

Yesterday as I walked around Geneva I looked at how bikes were locked up. I saw that most of them were using the Ugrip Bordo style lock. I saw them used to lock most kinds of bike. They have a security rating between 7-10 so they’re moderately secure. As you see from the video above a bike lock doesn’t take long to break if someone has the right tools. 

Ugrip Bordo style lock

It is for this reason that I have two bikes. I have one bike for when I want to do medium to long distances ranging from 30-100km and another that I use for going to the shops. The one I use for the shops is one of the cheapest and simplest bikes I could find. After today’s errands it has its first mud splatters. I was using a level 10 D-lock but found it impractical in certain places so I moved to a ugrip lock instead. The lock is marginally less secure but I was encouraged by the fact that so many people feel safe enough to leave their bikes secured with such a system. 

Vélostation

There is a third option. For 2 CHF per day, 7 CHF per week, 20CHF per month, 150CHF per year or 200CHF for every bike parking you can park your bike at the vélostations by these locations: CFF Cornavin, Montbrillant, P+R Etoile, P+R Genève-Plage, Hôtel des Finances, P+R Sécheron, P+R Sous-Moulin and Uni-Dufour. The strength of this system is that bikes should be more secure but the weakness of this system is that you don’t have the convenience of parking the bike by your destination. 

Bikeep

In theory you could use this, if and when it becomes available. 

Publibike

The last option is to use bike sharing services like Publibike. There are a few stations in the Canton de Vaud, you can rent by hour for up to 25CHF per day or go for other options. They offer both human powered bikes and electric bikes. A mobile app allows you to see where bikes are available as well as where to park them. 

Conclusion

According to this website 40,000 bikes are stolen a year and only 500 are recovered in Switzerland. Bike locks offer protection from opportunists but not organised gangs as demonstrated above. If you have a higher range bike you can park it in specialist parkings and if you have a low to mid-range bike you can lock it close to your destination. People in Geneva seem to trust ugrip style locks so that’s what I opted for with a low end bike that I can use for errands. 

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