Pedalshift Project 244: preventing Theft on Your Bike Tour

The Pedalshift Project 244: Preventing Theft on Your Bike Tour

Avoid catastrophe and think about preventing theft before your next bike tour. On this episode some thoughts and tips on keeping your bike and gear safe.

Pedalshift Project 244: preventing Theft on Your Bike Tour

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Preventing Theft on Your Bike Tour

Hat tip to listener Dimitri for the show idea… email me with episode ideas… 
Check out my prior episode on locks (Pedalshift 066)
This is also on my mind as I get ready to roll on the microcamper adventure. Look for a full review of how that works out in early July.

Things to think about

Bike theft 
– in camp
– at a hotel or other roofed public accommodation
– from your vehicle
Gear theft
– in camp
– at stops when it’s unattended

Bike theft – all about locks

I tend not to tour in spots that have high security needs, so the locks I use in DC don’t tend to come with me. Still, I like to have the peace of mind to lock up outside grocery stores and other spots when I’m leaving my bike outside.
Some people are good with just cable locks on tour… I used to be ok with them, but I think they’re SO easily defeatable with simple tools that I prefer something more secure.
No lock is foolproof… all can be defeated. The trick is to find the right risk management.
New folding lock styles are interesting. I used to like my Inbike folding lock as a touring lock option. Only downside is TSA sees it as a multitool every time so you should pull it out of your carry on separately or risk the (often lengthy) wait. I found it to be a little difficult to use at times and don’t reach for this often anymore.
Back in ep 066 I spoke about testing the cinch Ottolock. I think this is a good upgrade from a cable lock, but no substitue for a good U lock. On tour though, I think it’s a great compromise considering I’m rarely away from my bike long.
Speaking of… know where you’re going to be! San Francisco and Portland are notorious for bike theft so I bring a u-lock and frankly double lock. Or bring the Brompton and bring it inside.
In camp – I do lock habitually, but it’s probably not always necessary.
In roofed lodging – first choice always is to bring it in the room. If the hotel doesn’t let you or it’s impossible, ask for secure storage (inside if possible). And lock the thing tight as a drum.
What about on or in a vehicle? Huge target if you are going to be away from the vehicle and something I’m extra aware of with this trip. Thule makes a leash that has a hockey puck on one end that you can loop around your rack or your bike and close the puck end inside the trunk. Certainly defeatable but not quickly since it has two steel strands in it. 
I won’t be leaving my Brompton unattended ever, but for overnights when we’re in the vehicle with the privacy shades up I’m locking it to itself folded, leashing it to the trunk AND covering it with a tarp. If I sleep through that, they deserve the bike. This is not a challenge.

Gear theft

Only thing I ever got stolen was frankly my own fault… I left a battery charging unattended at Sunset Bay SP in Oregon and it walked. 
Not saying you can’t do that (it’s usually safe because lots of people charge stuff in bathrooms) but sooner or later someone’s going to walk with your power bank
Beyond that… I’ve grown comfortable with leaving my loaded bike locked but the bags hanging on it at grocery stores, cafes, etc.
Don’t underestimate the degree to which people think they’re being watched
I carry all important things on me always (wallet, phone, usually computer if I have it… which is way less often these days)
Cable lock for bags? Sure. I don’t but it’s not an awful idea.
Again, know your location
Camp? Hotels?
I always bring gear in with me. All of it. 
Always needed? No.

As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows and covering new tours like this spring’s DC to Cincinnatti bike tour! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at

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You’ve been hearing about Jason Kent and his music for many fine episodes. Sunfields has a new album available NOW, AND Jason has a new solo album coming this year, AND his first solo album is now streaming on Spotify, including America, the Pedalshift theme. Go listen!