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How to not get bikes stolen while touring?

Old 07-31-19, 07:50 AM
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Winky
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How to not get bikes stolen while touring?

Just popping in for some tips & tricks on how to best keep two bikes secure while touring.

Thinking of bringing two Abus u-locks and I have pinheads installed on my wheels.

The trip is question is two weeks in Nova Scotia & PEI, but will also apply this knowledge to future more high risk area trips as well.

Thanksies : )
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Old 07-31-19, 08:09 AM
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Situational awareness.

I have not used a lock even when sleeping when I have assessed that the threat level is low or non-existent, such as when I am in a nearly deserted campground off the beaten path. If I feel "exposed," I will take security measures. For example, one night I camped in a town park relatively close to the one through street in town. The park had lush grass, which would make footsteps impossible to hear. While I did not feel the town was unsafe, the setting created a greater risk. I was carrying a relatively long, coil combo lock. I threaded it through all four pannier carrying straps and around the frame and front wheel. No way to snatch and grab a pannier or the bike with ease. The next night I camped at a Forest Service campground that was maybe 3 miles from the highway. Only three or four other sites were occupied by responsible seeming adults and a few young children. Didn't bother with the lock.
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Old 07-31-19, 08:32 AM
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Similar. S.I. and a simple coil lock.

As well I:

  • Park the bike within sight when stopping during the day for lunch, coffee, etc.
  • Put my gear in my tent when leaving the site for sightseeing.
  • Have a carry bag to take with me that holds all my expensive stuff (camera, phone, credit cards).
  • Coil lock and remove the chain from the chainring at night if I feel extra precaution is needed.

Because I can be a heavy sleeper I have also rigged a personal alarm (used to be called a panic or r a p e alarm) to attach from my seat post to rear wheel. If someone tries to move the bike at night it lets off a 130db screech.




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Old 07-31-19, 09:17 AM
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Agree with everything @indyfabz says about situational awareness.

I'm typically more worried about the bike in towns and convenience stores, lunch, grocery shopping, or just buying snacks and drinks. For those I try to park the bike where I can see it, or the cashier can keep an eye on it. I've gone so far as to ask at the customer service desk of a grocery if they can watch the bike leaned up against the wall inside while I shop. Even parking your bike against the community swimming pool's fence gives you enough eyes on the bike to enjoy the pool. If you're with a group (or even one other person), one person can watch the bikes while the other(s) shop, go to the bathroom, etc. My cable lock is a last choice -- any redneck worth his pickup truck has something that'll cut the cable, toss it into the pickup bed and he's gone with your bike.
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Old 07-31-19, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Winky View Post
...
The trip is question is two weeks in Nova Scotia & PEI, ...
I got home a about three weeks ago from a five week trip in Nova Scotia and PEI. I felt that my bike was pretty safe there. I brought a cheap coiled quarter inch diameter steel cable and a padlock.

Locked it to a tree or a picnic table in the campgrounds. I stayed at the HI Hostels in Halifax and Charlottetown, at Halifax the bike was in a gated yard under a wood deck out of site. In Charlottetown it was in a bike rack in the yard, it was sort of out of site and not gated but I still felt it was quite safe there.

When in restaurants or grocery stores, I carried my handlebar bag in with me, my valuables were in that. Often if I would have a good view of the bike from a window in a restaurant, I used a skier type lock that was quicker to use but less secure, see first photo.

But I was there in June and early July before the big tourist rush so often I was the only person in the tenting part of a campground. You will be there when it is busier, not sure if that makes it safer or less safe.




The photo below is from a different trip, shows the cable and padlock I am talking about.

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Old 07-31-19, 01:48 PM
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I carry a very light $5 combination cable lock and a velcro strap to hold on the front brake (which is also good for stability when parking). Since those obviously won't stop anyone who really wants to steal my stuff, my main approach is to use a bike and gear and that are not very valuable, and look it. The main effect of any loss would be making new vacation plans. I just don't worry very much about it.
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Old 07-31-19, 02:02 PM
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hi there winksies
I think of you each time I pass by that store that you got the trek from. Hope it has been good riding it and that you and it are fitted well , as well as adapting to drop bars.

a really big nod to the situational awareness comment.
Ive only ever carried a coil lock, they dont weigh a ton like u locks, and even better, its easy to lock bikes to trees, picnic benches, a pipe sticking out of a wall or whatever.
My view all these eyars is that using common sense is the main thing. if an area is really that dodgey, you dont leave your bike locked up, and generally, going into touristy places, there are tourists around, not bike thieves, so Ive just locked my bike to something, panniers and all (maybe coil through pannier handles) , leave some drying socks or underwear out onto of pannier and that will put off joe blow teenager probably, and you scout out the area and the people.

at night in campground, I always lock up my bike to a fence, tree, picnic bench or whatever, even at the toilets if I go to them on bike. Sleeping means bikes will be just outside, and two bikes together are even harder to move quietly, so locked together, head to tail , is a good way for them to be a bit noisy if moved or attempt to cut lock.
but really, if locked, chances are low for theft, but you simply dont give the opportunity, lock em.
Just think like a T.O person (or Mtl person) and lock em up, and use common sense of where and for how long.

nearly all the time on a trip, one is either riding, or someone can spot bikes while other goes into store, or simply lock bike to something out of store, steal glances at it regularly, same at restaurants. Within sight is the rule, coil lock always, handlebar bag with valuables with you , always....

being a city person, you should have a good idea of observing people in a given surroundings, so go with instinct, and be aware, notice people, notice stuff, but always lock.

having my coil lock available and not too far is nice, but also , with two of us, doing the tag team watching bikes routine is nice also with two.

have a good time
montreal guy
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Old 07-31-19, 02:26 PM
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One more thing I do in addition to my comments above, I use bolt on skewers when I tour, not quick release. Since I usually lock up the frame and sometimes the frame plus one wheel to an immovable object, that means that one or two wheels are not locked when I lock it up. I assume a thief is an opportunist, the skewers are ones that I can open with any 5mm allen wrench, I am assuming the thief has no such wrench with them.

There are special lockable skewers with a special key, but I know I would lose the special key so I do not use them.
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Old 07-31-19, 02:36 PM
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ps, Ive gone the coil lock route also simply from a weight pt of view, u locks are heavy suckers, and you just cant use them against trees, or weird shaped stuff like the legs of a picnic bench.
I also really dont like the idea of having a key to lose, so never had used a keyed lock in the 30 years since my first tour. Just dont want the hassle and total pita situation of losing a key, so combination coil locks are my fav.
There are loads of these on the market, I dont go with the cheapest, and on my last trips, Ive gone through the ones we have in the house, and chosen the one that is a bit longer, just for the convienance angle of using a tree or whatever, and or being better for going through a wheel and frame of two bikes side by side with enough length.
Examples of assessing a situation--last summer we biked across France, and visited a super cool chateau one day. Left bikes next to a food stand area outside, sort of out of sight, but not really, and figured that anyone going by were tourists visiting France, so the chances of French thief Pierre wouldnt be wasting his time wandering around there and wanting to go through some panniers on a bike, only to find dirty clothes and an old sleeping bag. touch wood!

but I wouldnt leave the bikes like that in Mexico or Guatemala, or even Toronto for that matter, or Montreal.
Same goes for smalltown PEI, if going into a store, I may or may not lock bikes together if we both go in. If you observe and its mid day, granny and grampa smith are sitting around smiling at you, chances are pretty good its ok. If in Joeblow town whereever there are a bunch of shady looking teenagers or street people looking at you park your bikes, one of you stays out, simple as that.

and again, I always lock my bike in a campground, SleepyGrandmaVille or not.

I have friends who took U locks on a Europe trip, and geez Louise, the locks added lord knws how many pounds to their bikes, I for one just am not going to lug a 3 or 4lb U lock around ontop of all the crap I lug.
But then, I pick and choose very carefully where and when I leave my bike.
Ive asked smalltown Mexican market vendors to keep an eye on my bike when going into a market, and gone with my instincts that they were trustworthy, so every situation is different.

good luck with packing and the whole trip.
In my experience, PEI drivers are very courteous and patient.
will you go on that rail trail in PEI at all?
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Old 07-31-19, 03:06 PM
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pps, by pinheads, do you mean those special anti thief thingees that takes that special tool? A good friend of mine has those on her bike, and last year sometime I had to help her with something on the bike, and it took her a while to find the keychain that she had the special thing on, so we couldnt take the wheels off until she did.

in my opinion, its just one more thing to keep track of and not lose. And while its probably very unlikely that you will get a flat, its nice to just be able to take a wheel off lickity split without fishing out the doohickey.

ya ya, I know, everyone has an opinion on everything ;-)
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Old 08-01-19, 09:22 AM
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A previous poster who seems to be from the Southern U.S. said that he thought your average Joe Redneck would have lock-breaking tools in his pickup truck, and would jump at the opportunity to use them to steal a bike. I'm not sure this is fair to rural southerners, nor is it a realistic appraisal of the theft threat. Bikes have value as theft targets because of the ease with which they can be converted into cash for drugs, as vehicles for the retail distribution of drugs, or possibly for the valuables like cash and credit cards, convertible into drugs, that a bike loaded with luggage might have. And then some people will steal a bike just to be vicious and mess up your travel plans I suppose. (But cars are more fun to steal.) None of these factors seem to be motivating for pickup-truck drivers in rural areas. Even when they don't seem to like cyclists -- and nearly all in my experience do move over when they pass and many wave us through all-way stops -- there is a rural culture of respect for private property not shared by urban low-life.

Canadian readers will not be surprised to learn that the only bike lost to theft on a large cross-Canada bike tour my friend did a couple of years ago was stolen in downtown Winnipeg. Indeed, the crime rate, per 100,000 people, is much higher in Canada's towns and small cities in the West and North than it is in the large cities of the East, and Winnipeg isn't even in the top 20. So vigilance is certainly appropriate especially in unfamiliar environments, which touring is, almost by definition. Bored young people hanging around sharing a bottle or doing drugs in a campground or near a downtown convenience store -- few small towns have actual grocery stores downtown nowadays, they're in malls out on the highway -- should activate your spidey sense. I just don't think the thief is likely to be a rural person in a pickup truck.

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Old 08-01-19, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by conspiratemus1 View Post
A previous poster who seems to be from the Southern U.S. said that he thought your average Joe Redneck would have lock-breaking tools in his pickup truck, and would jump at the opportunity to use them to steal a bike.
I think the last part of the above is not warranted by the post you are referring to. Here is what he wrote:

"My cable lock is a last choice -- any redneck worth his pickup truck has something that'll cut the cable, toss it into the pickup bed and he's gone with your bike."

The point was that if someone wanted to, they could defeat the lock with tools in the truck. Nowhere did he write anything about jumping at the chance.

And anyone who leaves a money or credit cards in their bike "luggage" while away from their bike in the presence of other people is not the brightest bulb in the socket.

P.S. During my recent two-week tour in MT and ID I visited at least 5 small town grocery stores.
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Old 08-01-19, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I think the last part of the above is not warranted by the post you are referring to. Here is what he wrote:

"My cable lock is a last choice -- any redneck worth his pickup truck has something that'll cut the cable, toss it into the pickup bed and he's gone with your bike."

The point was that if someone wanted to, they could defeat the lock with tools in the truck. Nowhere did he write anything about jumping at the chance.
Thanks, indyfabz, that was the point I was trying to make.
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Old 08-01-19, 11:30 AM
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First, if you have nothing, no one will want it. Don't make your stuff look like it is worth a million dollars and then no one will want to mess with it. There's multiple reason I use kitty liter buckets, one for water proofness, the other because no one wants the kitty liter buckets so I can get away with using them and everyone wants to avoid my bike.

Second, watch where you park your bike. I don't shop in Whole Food, I go to Walmart. Reason, people don't assume I'm filthy rich, they think the exact opposite. On my 2015 bike trip I was out, by myself, 75 days and I only locked my bike up 3 times the entire time I was going. All 3 times were outside of libraries. Otherwise to go shopping, eating, sleeping, anything I never locked it up at all.

Most people don't want your stuff in the first place. The news media makes it sounds like if you going to get killed if you dare leave your house. How many have you left you house and not got killed. Can you really trust the news media? Think about it for a while.
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Old 08-01-19, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
First, if you have nothing, no one will want it. Don't make your stuff look like it is worth a million dollars and then no one will want to mess with it. There's multiple reason I use kitty liter buckets, one for water proofness, the other because no one wants the kitty liter buckets so I can get away with using them and everyone wants to avoid my bike.

Second, watch where you park your bike. I don't shop in Whole Food, I go to Walmart. Reason, people don't assume I'm filthy rich, they think the exact opposite. On my 2015 bike trip I was out, by myself, 75 days and I only locked my bike up 3 times the entire time I was going. All 3 times were outside of libraries. Otherwise to go shopping, eating, sleeping, anything I never locked it up at all.

Most people don't want your stuff in the first place. The news media makes it sounds like if you going to get killed if you dare leave your house. How many have you left you house and not got killed. Can you really trust the news media? Think about it for a while.
Funny. Your argument is that most people can be trusted but then you ask: Can you really trust the news media?

I'd say at least as much as I trust the homeless and drug addicted that live right behind our local malwart. Why the juxtaposition of trustworthiness? Why are people hanging around wholefoods more likely to steal than those around malwart?

Not sure if you are aware but homeless stealing from other homeless is a real issue. Same with addicts stealing from each other. Apparently even when you have "nothing" someone still wants it.

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Old 08-01-19, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
...
Can you really trust the news media? Think about it for a while.
Genuine news media? As in the people that if they find they reported something that was incorrect, they then publish a correction? Yes, I trust them.

If you do not, that is your call.
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Old 08-01-19, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
How many have you left you house and not got killed. Can you really trust the news media? Think about it for a while.

Well, it's true that the news media have to sell ads or clicks or whatever, and crime stories sell. And the perfectly factual, restrained reporting of a real crime can create a perception that getting killed or robbed by a criminal is higher than it "really" is. Right now Canada is being captivated by the serial murder of three tourists (two who were foreign visitors) along lonely roads in northern British Columbia, and the failure (so far) of the police to find the suspects who are on the run (if not eaten by bears already.) Now, this doesn't happen very often in Canada but it's still legitimate news and makes one think of the "killer on the road" when you're out there all by yourself. But that's just me. No one in the papers is claiming that this indicates a rural murder wave, beyond what we already know about crime statistics prior to the events. (The suspects are not "from" northern BC but from a small city in the more densely populated south, far, far away.)

Another real crime that the media have not been sensationalizing is currently the subject of a trial in Alberta. A tourist from Germany just driving along the highway with his family was shot in the head by, according to court testimony, someone in a car full of liquored- and methed- up locals. The story has racial overtones and the media are, wisely I think, not giving the trial prominent play, at least not here in the East. Again, not a common occurrence, but it did happen on a road that cyclists would normally ride from Calgary into the Rockies. I will draw my own conclusion about whether to ever ride, or drive, that road again.

I haven't seen anything in either of these stories that would cause me to not trust the mainstream media generally. Or do you think I should doubt that these crimes even happened at all?
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Old 08-01-19, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Similar. S.I. and a simple coil lock.

As well I:
Because I can be a heavy sleeper I have also rigged a personal alarm (used to be called a panic or r a p e alarm) to attach from my seat post to rear wheel. If someone tries to move the bike at night it lets off a 130db screech.

I want one of these to carry on me while touring. What is this?
Do you have a link?

Last edited by Bike Jedi; 08-01-19 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 08-01-19, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Bike Jedi View Post
I want one of these to carry on me while touring. What is this?
Do you have a link?
Anything like this will do. It's a cheap project to experiment with. Pull the pin and the alarm goes off until it is reinserted or the battery dies. I hot glued velcro to it to wrap around the seat tube.

https://www.amazon.ca/Sacow-Personal-Emergency-Keychain-Children/dp/B07DFBX87V/ref=sr_1_14?gclid=CjwKCAjwm4rqBRBUEiwAwaWjjMweLMNzHpdTVTuH6eCdrfRhAz2IwoYQUtpCC1V2gPwP0aLhE2VNvRoCbg 4QAvD_BwE&hvadid=319448010896&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9001485&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=b&hvrand=18386440249 336323273&hvtargid=kwd-1715790076&hydadcr=29899_10620717&keywords=person+alarm&qid=1564708899&s=gateway&sr=8-14
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Old 08-02-19, 03:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
I hot glued velcro to it to wrap around the seat tube.
Thanks. I was wondering what would keep it from simply slipping out of the Velcro loop when pulled.
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Old 08-02-19, 06:09 PM
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No this won't do. This is a panic button. The other one is initiated by a key/pin being pulled out. Like a grenade. I like the concept of this because you can actually use it like a grenade if it's truly loud enough if you get in trouble too. You can separate the pin from it, activate it and drop it and run, or activate it and throw it away from you into brush. People change their tune when load noises and cameras are on them. This is a great preventive tool on several fronts. I like their idea a lot. Have a car that's harassing you, use it like a grenade, pull the pin, and toss it in their car. Assuming this thing is one of those really annoying and ear piercing kind of things like a smoke detector. Of course if someone stomps on it it's game over, but there are options there.
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Old 08-02-19, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Bike Jedi View Post
No this won't do. This is a panic button. The other one is initiated by a key/pin being pulled out. Like a grenade. I like the concept of this because you can actually use it like a grenade if it's truly loud enough if you get in trouble too. You can separate the pin from it, activate it and drop it and run, or activate it and throw it away from you into brush. People change their tune when load noises and cameras are on them. This is a great preventive tool on several fronts. I like their idea a lot. Have a car that's harassing you, use it like a grenade, pull the pin, and toss it in their car. Assuming this thing is one of those really annoying and ear piercing kind of things like a smoke detector. Of course if someone stomps on it it's game over, but there are options there.
You're correct about that alarm. I didn't look close and just googled personal alarm but don't know why, if you are so up on them, you needed me to provide a link. Anyway, here that is:

https://www.amazon.ca/Vigilant-Personal-Emergency-Batteries-Included/dp/B005BCL66Y/ref=sr_1_25?gclid=Cj0KCQjwvo_qBRDQARIsAE-bsH-7bIzPMzyD4ckzmGCzHv_3c_BJZQ4QhOUebQVDwyBpG2b99tjlDxYaAri8EALw_wcB&hvadid=231052835419&hvdev=c&hvlocp hy=9001496&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=b&hvrand=4360483556606680779&hvtargid=kwd-297558422585&hydadcr=23340_10308594&keywords=personal+alarms&qid=1564796670&s=gateway&sr=8-25

Last edited by Happy Feet; 08-02-19 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 08-02-19, 08:58 PM
  #23  
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I am not up on them, I just kind of reversed engineered what was in the picture, I did do a search on Amazon and got nothing but the push button ones. I still like his better because it's smaller. Can hide it and use it better like how his is setup. Seems smaller and much more compact.
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Old 08-03-19, 04:59 AM
  #24  
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https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B07655PC95/
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Old 08-03-19, 05:28 AM
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I always remember advice on this forum years ago. Place dirty underwear on top of your rack and panniers. This will deter most thiefs.
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