August 30, 2018

How I Lock My Bike in Berlin

1 year with a bike in Berlin, and counting...

I bought a bike 2 months after moving to Berlin, and a really good lock 1 day after.

With no clue about the theft scene in Europe – Berlin, in special –, I did myself some research on /r/berlin, /r/bycicling and a few other places around the internet. What I did find out? Well, the numbers on bike theft are quite concerning.

Nevertheless, after witnessing some people getting their bikes stolen, I feel privileged to say that it’s been more than 1 year I’ve got my bike. If that is because of my good lock or my good luck, I’ll never know.

But I can tell you about the lock.

My lock setup

I generally agree that you should invest as much as you can afford in your lock setup. I’ve put a considerable amount of money on mine because I deeply care – in other words, I have no psychological resilience when it comes to bicycles so losing mine would definitely get me in tears.

If you care about numbers without any trustable source, I've seen recommended somewhere that you should be investing between 10%-20% of the bike price in a lock. 🤷

Therefore, considering the price of having to go home by feet and with tears in my eyes, I did the best I could and went for the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 with Double Loop Cable (highly recommend you to check their website for more information).

I make sure my bike’s frame and both wheels are locked to a fixed rack – cemented into the ground, ideally.

Yellow bike in a parking space locked with a U-lock and a flexible steel cable.
My tiny yellow bike parked and properly locked at the office's parking space! Locking up the U-lock to the front wheel instead is a good alternative. Also, I often wrap the steel cable through the rack.

I had considered the Kryptnonite's New York Fahgettaboutdit, but I found it way too heavy and the safety factor difference didn't pay off for me at that time. I'd recommend it if an extra weight is no problem for you though.

For I still have my bike after 1 year, I am honestly happy with my choice. The lock came with:

  • Three keys with an unique number. For your information, Kryptonite has a system where every key gets a number, so you can order replacements online in case you mess up.
  • A handy mount made by Kryptonite: Transit FlexFrame U-Bracket (not visible in the photo because it’s in the top tube), so I don’t have to carry the U-lock in my backpack or whatever.
  • Manuals that I didn’t read and got recycled.
  • 1 year coverage according to the Kryptonte’s Anti-theft Program, because the security rating is high enough.

I’ve read a couple complaints about the lock not fitting both the wheel and frame to most city racks, however I’ve managed to do it in most racks around Berlin. It’s definitely not the most flexible and spacious lock, but thieves would love some extra space to do their work too, so I think it’s just the size it should be after all.

In the worst-case scenario, there is always the Sheldon Method lock strategy – or its modified version – anyway!

What bike locks are about

When looking for a lock, instead of (only) asking yourself what’s the best lock ever, ask “How much trouble am I putting a thief into with my lock strategy?”.

It hasn’t been enough stressed that locks do NOT prevent determined thieves with their lock pics, cable cutters, bolt cutters and angle grinders to steal you bike. Period.

Locks do, though, make it harder for thieves to pick your bike, by increasing the “risk” factor in the risk/reward calculation done before they attempt to steal.

It’s all about making it harder. And how do you do that? By having a diverse lock setup, and, just as important: by being extremely careful on where and how to park.

Don’t think just U-lock: saddle locks, wheel locks might be worth-checking too! One awesome lock is just one at the end of the day, and the more tools the thief needs to carry out, the better.

Looking further

Some articles I’ve read last year and that might be interesting if you own a bike and want to learn more on how to keep it safe.

There are a lot of cool videos out on YouTube too, e.g. “How to Lock your Bike” from GCN.

Have a nice ride! 🚲