Monday, March 30, 2009

Ask Dr. Wally

(Image from miscpix on Flickr.)

Dear Dr. Wally,

A few weeks ago, I walked out of my local coffee shop with a skinny, double-carmel, decaf macchiato only to find my precious all-carbon Especializmo Rocket 4 was gone! Stolen by some low-life who certainly couldn't appreciate the bike's ceramic bearings and leather saddle lovingly hand-tooled by Italian artisans. But my insurance carrier paid the claim quickly, and my local bike shop said they can get me a suitable replacement bike, a titanium Nuevo Rico Pretentioso. My only question is, what is the best way to prevent a thief from taking this bike too? I certainly don't want to carry one of those hugely ugly u-locks, and cables are simply too plebian.

Best regards,

G. Brinton Wallingford III

First of all, "Gee", try drinking some real coffee next time, not a candy bar in a cup. Your waistline and your cardiovascular system will thank you.

As for securing your bike, since you're unwilling to carry some form of lock the best you can hope for is to slow down a potential thief. Actually, that's all any security system can do because with sufficient time, any of them can be defeated. But you need some quick-and-dirty way to discourage a would-be thief.

If you don't lock your bike, DON'T LET IT OUT OF YOUR SIGHT! Even if you can see it, a thief can ride off on it in a matter of seconds, so these minimal security measures are meant to gain you only a few seconds. If you can't see the bike, these methods are worthless.

Consider doing one or more of the following: fasten your helmet straps around a wheel and the frame, or alternatively, remove the front wheel and use the helmet straps to secure it to the frame, put the top of a water bottle between some spokes in the back wheel and rotate the wheel to slightly jam the bottle in place, adjust the shifters so the chain is misaligned, squeeze the brake levers and jam some coins in the opening to lock the brakes.

This should give you enough time to get out of the coffee shop to confront the thief. Come to think of it, you could throw your sticky coffee drink at him, possibly gluing his eyes shut with all that sugar.

Next month: How to ward off attacks by blood-sucking monkeys from West Mifflin, Pennsylvania.




Blogger Steve A said...

If riding my precious all-carbon Especializmo Rocket 4 to the local coffee shop, I'd simply wheel it inside to get the drink. That would not prevent the thief from clunking me on the head, but that's a different sort of crime. The bike isn't going to drip oil or pee on the floor and it's not any different than wheeling it into the house upon returning home. Why is this a controversy?

If my local beater got stolen, I would mourn the loss of a good lock.

PS: I drink REAL coffee - none of that fru fru stuff.

4:50 PM  

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