Saturday, July 07, 2007


This post was motivated by 2 unrelated events that happened quite by fluke. First off I received an email from Jay Turnbull from CBC Radio concerning my previous post about bike theft prevention and ended up being invited on the Homerun show to talk about just that. I had to consider doing my homework on the subject even more to make sure I could answer any questions correctly right there on the spot. Less than 24 hours after, one of our readers made a comment in the above mentioned post about U-Locks being really easy to pick with a pen and to go out and buy a lock and chain instead. Iron Cross 87 even provided a Youtube link to such a video to prove his point, the message was received loud and clear man! I couldn't believe how easy it was and further research made me realize that the usual tubular lock associated with these U-Locks are pretty simple to pick with an available tool as well. I couldn't replicate the pen trick with my locks, but the fact that the tool to pick tubular locks was out there made me realize that I was easy prey.

I have never left a bike outside locked out of my site for more than a few minutes, most of my good rides sleep indoors, so should yours. But I was now in a jam since I would have to leave my bike locked outdoors for at least a few hours while I was going to be tied up in a building while doing a radio show. I always toyed with the idea of buying one of those super chain locks and I freaked out at the idea of paying $175 and more for that type of lock. But then I started thinking outside the box.

I went to my local big humongous hardware depot and bought 3 feet of 5/16inch, grade 70, 4700lbs test chain for $12. I then purchased a good quality padlock for $27. The whole thing for $39 plus tax and it is a lot better than any cheapo U-Lock that goes for about $20. The chain also gives you more flexibility on where or on what to lock your bike to. Now it depends on how good is the pole you lock it to. Remember, don't lock it to a tree! One big disadvantage to this set up is weight, the whole thing weighs in at 5lbs. It also doesn't have any cover to protect the finish of your bike, but you can always put together a chain caddy from any material easy. How hard can it be to make a cloth tube? I carry my contraption like a bandoleer, makes me look mean ;) Even if you decide to make yourself such a set-up, remember to still follow the other usual preventive tips from the previous post and lock your bike next to a better looking one with a lesser lock. It sounds bad but it's the truth, thieves always go for the easy prey.

So if you want to buy in on heavy duty protection, you can without forking a lot of cash. If you want to hear me on the radio and you have access to CBC radio, I'm on at 16H00 eastern time on the Homerun show Tuesday July 10th 2007.

Until then, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)


I did the show and it went very well. Actually it went lightning fast. I had the chance to use my new lock set up while doing the show and later on during the ride home. The fact that it is very heavy is a mere inconvenience to the sense of added security and how flexible this is in it's use. I feel it was money very well spent. The bike was there when I returned, mission accomplished.


Anonymous said...


Where would you say is the best place to buy bike tools in Ottawa?


Gerry Lauzon said...

Dave, I can't help you with that one, I live in Montreal. Check out your local bike shops and if they are friendly and supportive to your needs, I say buy them there. A good bike shop does more than sell and fix bikes. A good one will build a lasting relationship with it's customers.

Gerry :)

GhostRider said...


the Bic pen "trick" for opening U-locks with the tubular key is old hat...3 or 4 years old now. That's why most of the U-lock manufacturers went to "disc-locking" mechanisms with a flat key. Kryptonite had a huge recall and traded upgraded locks for the old tubular models (at great expense to the company, I might add).

Still, your post was excellent and informative...keep it up!

Gerry Lauzon said...

I knew that this was mostly done to older locks. But I kept in mind that a lot of people, like myself, didn't know and still have those old locks. The tubular lock picking tool is the one thing that truly freaked me out. Thank you for your comment Ghostrider, it is very appreciated and informative as well. People like yourself help make this blog interactive.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

You can't beat a decent heavy duty chain and a solid padlock - not the sort of cr%p that is used to secure a gym locker.

Look around the downtown core - what do the cycle couriers use? Most of them use a Godzilla-size chain - which they wear as a bandolier.

It sends a message to the scumbags who steal bikes. It's visual and evident.

Anyway, it's great exercise lugging the equivalent of the Titanic's anchor chain around with you...although for the older, more expansive body, I go for 5 feet of chain....no fetish comments please...

Anonymous said...

Hi Gerry and Ghostrider! Thanks for the tips- very helpful. I just got a (new) U-lock with combination number keys (instead of an actual key). What do you think of those in terms of ease of picking?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Pops, thanks for the great comments. Sandra I can't give you an opinion on these since I have never had the chance to try one or even see one.

Gerry :)

Brizmo said...

I use a Master Lock Street Cuff, bought on eBay for $50. I find it more flexible than a U lock, with much less space to insert a jack or pry. It is heavy, but no heavier than a thick chain. The small cuff size does limit where I can lock it up, but there are always trade-offs. Master Lock has a $3500 anti-theft guarantee, too.

Thanks for the site. Love it!

Gaelon said...

Before I found a great deal on a Kryptonite chain on Craigslist I used a similar, heavy duty hardware store chain. It still serves as a loaner when someone borrows a bike.

To prevent chafing the paint and make it more comfortable around your waist or shoulder while riding, cut a large diameter inner tube in half, removing the stem. Slide this rubber sheath over the chain.

Most bike shops will gladly donate a discarded tube for your use. I stopped throwing mine away because I keep coming up with uses for rubber strips or tubes.

Anonymous said...

I just went to my local orange coloured hardware depot store and purchased the lock and chain. To protect my frame I cut a length of an old mtn bike tube and slid it oven the chain. The tube just slides on and acts as a perfect chain sleeve.

Anonymous said...

Just seen an ad using handcuffs
Cuff & lock the Axel of your Wheel to the frame, espically if they are quick release.

simple, nice iDEA.

you could probably buy them with longer chains at your local 'you know where' store for less.

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