Checking in from DC
Hi all! As many of you know, I moved away about a year and a half ago. I moved again, this time down to DC. I’m only a short, 330 mile bike ride away!
I look forward to making it up to Pittsburgh this summer for a few events and to see everyone again. Please do let me know if you end up biking into DC. We can meet up for a beer. I’m only a couple miles from the trailhead.
I didn’t much care for biking in Boston, MA when I lived there. Aggressive driving doesn’t even begin to describe things. I haven’t had a chance to bike around DC yet, mostly because someone stole my wheel straight away.
Which brings me to the advice seeking section of this post (the folks on the DC bike forum are rather shy, it seems). I have a locked bike cage in the locked parking garage in the building. In my first weeks here, someone accessed the garage (likely piggybacked off a car entering), broke into the locked cage (pry bar?), snipped a cable securing the front wheel to my bike, and made off with it. They could have stolen the whole frame, minus the back wheel, but only took the one wheel. It wasn’t a particularly valuable wheel, but probably looked more expensive than it was.
The bikes hang on the cage wall from a hook, and it isn’t possible to u-lock the frame to the cage. I had my 3 bikes hanging upside down, with a u-lock through the rear wheel of 2 of them, and a cable connecting all the rest. Not ideal, but I figured for a locked cage, it was sufficient. Wrong!
What I want to ask you, is, short of buying an additional 6 u-locks (rack to wheel, wheel to frame, other wheel to frame/rack, times 3 bikes), and hauling around a janitor-sized keyring. How can I secure these bikes? This cage is in a secluded corner of a garage without cameras, so theoretically a thief could have hours to mess around undistributed.
I’m looking for the lowest cost, highest security solution. I have 3 bikes, and could potentially hang them up next to / against one another. I want to secure all 3 frames, and all 5 (sigh) wheels. Weight of the lock(s) is no object since it/they will always live in the bike cage and I will only have to haul my u-locks around. Theoretical ideas are great (I’ve spent all afternoon online looking at those), but if there is an actual source I could order something from, that would be better.
I hope everything is going well up there! Stay safe!
kee-effing-righst. You went to all that and STILL someone ripped you off?
I would raise hell with the property owner. Minimally, install a camera system, preferably also with a backup video. I suggest a motion sensor that triggers one, and another that rolls 24/7.
That’s just unbelievable. (I mean, I believe you, but really, it’s amazing that that kind of crap actually happens.)
The solution shouldn’t cost you a cent.
Management seemed unconcerned. I live in an area with a bunch of expensive high-rises, but instead of protecting the bikes, it seems like the cages are just targets for the thieves. I should have figured it out when I didn’t see any other nice bikes hanging up in there. Someone on the DC forums said people have broken into the cage in his building, and stolen every single bike (20+) all at one time.
Ideally, I would keep them in the apartment, but I’d need to throw out some furniture and get a marriage counselor before that could happen.
Raise hell. If someone was busting out windows in BMWs, management would be on that like flies on, um, honey. Perhaps suggest to them that they would kindly accommodate you by installing hooks in the ceiling of your apartment? (assuming that’s OK with her, of course)
Sorry to hear about that; I’d suggest buying 10-15 feet of high-tensile binding chain (what truckers use to secure equipment, etc. to trailers) from Home Depot or Tractor Supply and use that, along with the best padlock money can buy, to chain up the bikes. It’s extreme but unfortunately it sounds like extreme measures are needed!
Didn’t they give you keys to the drones with your new job?
That’s seriously messed up. I’d put the bikes in the apartment, maybe there’s a way to hang them against a wall that’s not really in the way? Do you still have the buzzbomb? At least bring that wheel in!
I was going to suggest a heavy chain (since you don’t have to carry it around with you weight isn’t really an obstacle, right?) but that cage sounds pretty hopeless no matter what you do.
Yeah, I’m w/ Stu. Go bust out some BMW windows! :)
Seriously though, how about some fake $10 surveillance? Mount it in the cage, put the sticker on the outside. It should be enough of a deterrent that the perp will just go to another building.
Speaking from the perspective of someone with family down there… if you are the only one who is concerned, no amount of security is going to be sufficient.
If you just need the long term storage, I’d cover your bikes with grease, wrap them in razor-wire, and run the heaviest chain that you can find through each about a dozen times. Then I’d leave a sign that says “this fucking chain is worth more than these bikes, but FUCK you.”
Sorry to hear that the property owner is such a POS… but, isn’t that usually the case?
Maybe catch a few wild skunks and set up a little skunk house in the cage and feed the skunks so that they love you and will only spray everyone else? ;)
Dan, it’s good to hear from ya! Sorry that your DC welcome was so rude.
I think you want to definitely lock the three bikes together, probably with a chain. You’re never gonna stop a pro who’s steeling 20+ bikes at a time, so concentrate on making your bike the most secure in the cage so the druggie steals someone else’s bike. Just remember that the lock is just as important as the chain – they will most likely use bolt cutters so try to have the thicknesses about the same. Also, I would probably use two different chains. One looping through the rear triangles and wheels, & the other through the fronts and at least one frame. This way they have to cut two times, pain in the ass, go somewhere else.
Don’t forget to add fifteen minutes on to your commute to get a bike down from the cluster-F too. The dummy camera probably isn’t such a bad idea either.
A long insulated steel cable stealthily wired to the nearest 240v 30a circuit? Bzzt. You did not hear this here.
You can get a secure storage shed large enough to hold three bikes for a couple hundred dollars. Just have it installed in place of the cage and you’re done. (I would put up a link but the URL blocker keeps defeating me. Just search for secure storage shed. Get something with solid steel walls so they can’t tell if anything is inside.)
It is a shared facility in the parking garage, it is permanently installed. Like one of those merchandise rooms you see at costco or something. All the building residents can swipe into the room. It holds ~40 bikes.
I think my best best is a chain, or chains. It is what I was considering before I made the post, but I am not sure what to buy or where to buy it. What sort of chain do I need to get to make it not appealing to someone with a typical bolt cutters capable of cutting your standard bike cable? I assume these guys aren’t walking around with 48″ bolt cutters. Is the hardware store the best place to get it? I looked at home depot’s website, and I didn’t see anything that I thought looked like it was meant for security.
The big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes sell many sizes (weights? gauges?) of chain that you can buy by the foot. I’ve found that their websites are lacking when you are looking for materials and not decor. According to the Lowes website, a sheet of standard plywood is something stupid like $50. If you go there, you’ll find that’s not true.
Oh. I was picturing a wire mesh cage in a parking garage. You could still put a cabinet in the room, I guess.
Any chain you can buy at a hardware store can be cut with bolt cutters. That’s how they sell it. You can get chain that can’t be cut that way if you buy Kryptonite chains like the New York Fahgettaboudit. I would sleep pretty soundly if my bikes were locked up with that, even in a common area.
These are all great suggestions. Thanks. I get that the buy-it-by-the-foot stuff is easy enough to cut in a store, so likely not that secure out in the wild. I have to believe there is a way to the cut-resistant quality chain in a 10+ foot length for less than it would cost to buy multiple kryptonite products.
I would sleep better too, but buying 3 (or more) Fahgettaboudit’s is approaching the cost of replacing one of the bikes, and certainly on par with my renter’s insurance deductible.
Dan, send me a picture. I have an idea of what it looks like, and I think I can weld something up. Do you have an assigned spot?
Also, the chain they cut at hardware stores is cut using an hydraulic cutter. It would most likely cut Kryptonite chain as well.
No assigned spots. I would probably just lock up / hang the chain along the empty space when I left in the morning though. I’ve never seen anyone else in there. Most of the bikes look abandoned. I don’t know how much of that is winter, and how much of it is just abandoned bikes. Right now I have two hooks next to one another.
Here are two pictures:
The straight prong of the U of the U-lock just barely strung through the diamond pattern you can see. The hooked prong didn’t fit.
Move back to Pittsburgh!
or, buy used Ulocks on craigslist or ebay?
Sorry this happened to you — I got mad reading it!
BTW I was looking for some other stuff in my favorite on-line store ever, McMaster-Carr, and they have security chain with links that are 3/8″ in diameter. I would think that would be enough to discourage theft. Ten feet will set you back $58.40. See mcmaster.com.
@jonawebb, did you see the USA made, single-speed, adult trikes? :D …and it’s still cheaper at ~$800 than the $1000 caliper I was just looking at. I totally forgot about McMaster-Carr, thank you for that!
One option that comes to mind for the wheels is the keyless locking skewer set that depends on vertical/horizontal position for locking/unlocking. Seems like it might work if you are consistently hanging these vertically.
I came across these recently and I was initially confused by the IKEA-like pictorial-only instructions. But it seems that when secured in one position, they open and close but when rotated 90 degrees, they lock.
Urban Velo review: http://urbanvelo.org/onguard-minpin-keyless-locking-skewers/
Anyway, it might be a partial solution.
If you go the six U-lock route: http://www.tillys.com/tillys/variants.aspx?prod=185043100&ctlg=010_Guys&cid=1262&source=2
I actually picked up a set of those ones you linked at my LBS but then returned them when I saw how easily they could be circumvented. If these guys are going to bring bolt cutters to rip off wheels, they will likely have a pair of pliers handy to get around gravity QR skewers.
Came to the same conclusion with the chains and locks. They are just going to rip off saddles, brakes, etc. when I do that.
I’m currently in negotiations to put one of these up. Anyone have interior decorating tips to make our living room look less like a garage? Strange as it sounds, not everyone enjoys the look of bicycles hanging on the wall.
Who on earth doesn’t like the look of bicycles hanging on the wall?
Anyways, you could try to just blend it in with the surroundings…
Dan; I think for your purposes (meaning the bikes will get a lot of use), the stand in the living area is a good solution. Could you pop for an extra $100 or so and get one of those folding screens to put in front of it? Might help dissipate some of the visual impact of bikes in the main living area.
So these don’t eliminate the bikes on the wall, but they look pretty when the bikes are out and about:
Of course, everything is probably crazy expensive. But it could jog some ideas for DIY shelf-looking things that might work for you.
I’ve used the keyless locking skewers that unlock when flipped. Let’s just say that I’m no longer using them. They were a pain in the ass when I needed to take off my wheels. It’s really inconvenient to flip your bike over, they sometimes had a hard time disengaging with the force I had them cranked in at, especially when they came close to my brake rotors.
The seat skewer was painful, I have to flip my bike to adjust the seat! I’ll ultimately flip the bike over 4 times before I get my seat position right.
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