Bikes can be an attractive target for thieves. Not only are bikes very portable, but they are also generally not easily identified so selling them later isn’t that difficult. With some simple gear and planning, it’s possible to reduce your risk of getting your bike stolen, and even recover it if it gets taken.


Below are the three things that you need to know:

  • How to best lock your bike
  • Where it’s best to park your bike, and
  • Ideas for how to recover your bike if the worst happens and it gets stolen.

Don’t let your bike get stolen through the use of bolt cutters on your cable lock.

Locking your bike

Locking your bike adequately is the single most important thing that you can do to prevent theft. Picking the right lock, and using it consistently, will dramatically decrease the chances that your bike or its components will get stolen.

There are three basic kinds of locks: U-locks, cable locks, and chain locks. Each have their pluses and minuses, but to reduce the chances of your bike being stolen, use a U-lock or a chain lock. Adding an additional cable lock for your wheels will help your quick-connect front wheel also stay with your bike.


Solid metal “U” shape with metal cross piece connecting legs. Can be keyed or with a combination.


  • Very tough. Cannot be cut through with simple tools.
  • Great visual deterrent to thieves
  • Easy to carry
  • Lighter than chain
  • Can come with additional cable to lock wheels at same time
  • Can sometimes be hard to use to lock your bike to non-standard locations (i.e. not bike racks) as they are not flexible

Cable Locks

This most common lock is a braided cable encased in plastic with the two ends connected with a combination or key lock.


  • Not nearly as strong as U-locks or chain locks. Can be cut through with simple tools.
  • Very easy to carry for all bikes
  • Lightweight and inexpensive
  • Not a good visual deterrent
  • Good as a secondary lock for wheels in conjunction with other kind of lock

Chain Locks

Less common than the other types of bike locks, this is heavy duty steel link chain with a padlock to tie it together.


  • Very tough. Cannot be cut through with simple tools.
  • Easy to carry for all bikes
  • Very heavy
  • Good visual deterrent
  • Flexible

Watch this great WBC video here about locking up your bike, from our own Biking Viking!

Parking your bike

It’s important to find a good spot to park your bike.

At home, it’s best to put it in your garage if you have one and close it at all times. If you don’t have a garage, lock it up in an out-of-the way location that is not visible from a street. Usually thieves will see the bike while driving by, and come back for it later when it’s dark or the street isn’t busy.

When out at shops or other destinations, it’s best to pick a location to lock your bike that is near the front door of a business. Many bike racks are behind or to the side of stores, in out of the way locations, which encourage thefts. Do not use these racks if at all possible, but lock your bike to a pole or other metal fixtures (such as cart corrals) that are in a better location.

Encourage business owners to have better bike parking. Many small business owners do not know that cyclists bring additional money to their businesses and their needs should be addressed. (See here with more about that.)

Recovering your bike if it’s stolen

To recover your bike, you first have to be able to find it. The easiest way to do this is to add something to your bike so that you can locate it at all times–even if it leaves your possession.

Apple Airtags or similar

Apple Airtags are an easy and reasonably priced way to add a discreet tracker to your bike. They cost about $29 per tag, and can be easily hidden inside an inexpensive, specially-designed water bottle holder or seat post-mounted reflector (available through most major retailers). There are other non-Apple options for Android as well. Read about those here.

If you add a tracking tag or tile, make sure it is installed discreetly, and with hard fasteners. You don’t want anyone stealing your airtag or knocking it off your bike easily.

Built-in trackers for e-bikes

You can also buy bikes with GPS trackers already built in! Van Moof is a bike manufacturer that does this, and they will actually track your bike for you and replace it if they cannot recover your bike. They’ve made a series of entertaining videos on Youtube showing their adventures recovering bikes. Watch them here.

I hope that no one has to go through the frustration and unhappiness of their bike being stolen. I hope these tips will help you avoid this loss keep you riding happily!