We’ll all recognise the sweaty palms, twitchiness and constant craning on the neck that occurs when your prized bike has to be left outside while you enter the mountain hut, cable car ticket office, or even just public toilets. There’s a sinking sense of dread that rivals your relief at having reached your well-earned pit stop. But it goes without saying that in situations like these you’d obviously feel safer if you could lock it up like Fort Knox with titanium chains and multiple D-locks, but in reality that’s just not practical. After all, who’s seriously going to ride with a heavy padlock in their backpack?

Of course, lightweight, nimble little cable locks could be a fairly good preventative but we’re all aware that they’re barely able to withstand nail scissors, so the knot of worry in your stomach probably won’t go away.


We’ve gathered a list of clever tricks that flex a bit of muscle against potential bike thieves. Naturally, should you find yourself with your € 5,000 beauty outside London Kings Cross or any major train station without a lock, we doubt these steps will be much use in the fight against thieves – but don’t discount them on that basis. While out trail riding, these could be key against opportunist bike thieves and let you enjoy your mid or post-ride beer with some peace of mind.

First off, it’s fundamental that you can enjoy an uninterrupted view of your bike. These tricks should basically just win you time in the event of unwanted hands trying to whisk off your beloved.

Take out the thru-axle

If the thief doesn’t have the wheelie skills of Danny McAskill then it should be a pretty safe bet if you take out the front thru-axle. We don’t recommend trying it yourself, but it’s like skiing without bindings. If you elevate your game and go for the advanced version, you can also take out the rear wheel axle, as this will doubly complicate matters when someone tries to get away with your bike. Just don’t forget to put it back in before riding.

Cheapest on top

So simple it’s almost easily overlooked: the basic principle is about where to position your bike when pitching up somewhere for a few minutes. Look at what’s already there and assess the value. The most expensive bike is best obscured behind some older rigs. A worthwhile deterrent as we doubt many opportunist thieves will shuffle through all the bikes.

Shift into your biggest gear

Opportunist thieves are usually in a hurry. They want to get on the bike and out of the dicey situation as quickly as possible. Make things difficult for them by leaving your bike in the highest gear – we all know how it feels to try and kick-start in a hurry when you’re pushing the hardest gear. Not so subtle for the thief’s getaway plan.

Where you go, your front wheel goes too

This is surely one of the most preventative of all the preventative methods. You can get your own wheel in and out rapidly, and its glaring absence is a clear sign to thieves that this bike isn’t worth their time. Plus, we don’t think many restaurant or bar managers will have a problem if your front wheel is propped up alongside your table (provided it isn’t caked in cowpat).

Lock the disc brakes

Throwing some more obstacles in the way of your bike’s unwanted departure is certainly a good idea so we’d suggest clipping your helmet into the disc brake rotor. Admittedly very easy to open, but if the thief remains blissfully unaware as they try to start riding, this is the sort of hurdle that could turn a bit awkward for them. Hit-and-ride fail.

Call on the muscle

This doesn’t involve interviewing prospective bouncers, but simply requires one courageous volunteer to step forward from your group and wait outside with the bikes. Obviously this is only fair if it’s a brief stop at a bakery, and it works best if they have the shoulder width to really look the part.

It remains to be said that these tips and tricks are no replacement for a D-lock around a lamppost at certain times, but they should complicate matters sufficiently for any opportunist thief. Just keep your bike in your vision whenever possible, and it’s probably best to avoid city centre pub crawls if you don’t have a sturdy lock.

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Words: Sven Günzel Photos: Noah Haxel