This month's Star Letter

Ever experienced that sickening feeling of returning to where you locked up your bike only to find an empty space? You’ll be wondering how to prevent it happening again.

>>> Five ways to beat bike thieves

This month’s Star Letter asks us for some advice on how to lock up his bike effectively.

Lock it or lose it

It was a dark day indeed when, last September, I returned to where I had locked my bike only to find it no longer there. Cue much confusion and questioning of myself as to whether this was, indeed, where I had left it, before the realisation that I had fallen foul to that most hideous and heinous of crimes that seems so rife on this Fair Isle – the bike had indeed been stolen.

I had used three reasonable quality, brand-name coil locks, but these had proven a simple enough task for our committed ne’er do well, who spent about five minutes in removing them. I cannot help but admire his tenacity and cast iron balls; he took the bike in broad daylight, in the middle of town, outside a (well known, national chain) bike shop. I know all this, as some good citizen enjoying an early supper in an adjacent restaurant filmed the theft on her mobile phone.

Given the bike’s financial value, I chose not to use my heavy duty locks, favouring lighter cables instead. This was my error in judgement, and not to be repeated. I have since replaced the locks with more substantial ones, and am particularly impressed with the Hiplok’s Lite. It is comfortable to wear, and offers excellent theft protection.

The problem with this type of lock is their lack of length. As bikes get slacker the front wheel moves further from the down tube. This distance is further increased with longer travel forks and frame shapes putting the front wheel squarely out of reach for standard locks. It is simply not an option (in my view) to leave the front wheel unsecured and vulnerable.

I don’t know what the solution is. Carry more locks at the cost of weight and space? Buy a longer lock (this would negate the benefits of Hiplock’s wearable attributes)? Perhaps some clever boffin out there can fashion a simple-yet-effective locking quick release axle. Who knows, maybe in years to come, as biometrics are more widely used, we will be able to lock/unlock the axle with just a thumbprint.

– Matt Roff

Ed – Matt, we salute you, to be able to admire this guys cast iron balls even after he pinched your bike is a noble act. On a practical note, we’ve taken a look at bike security this month, and although it’s aimed at home security there is plenty of crossover for out and about: 1. Take two different kinds of lock, try a quality D-lock and chain). 2. Cables are useless. 3. Tie the bike down to something — lamppost, bike station, police car etc.

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All Star Letter correspondents win a Madison Zenith waterproof jacket worth £99.99.