Keep Your Wheels Safe: How to Lock Your Bike

Editors: This story was originally published in Issue 158 of our quarterly Tube Times magazine, one of many perks of membership in the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.



In San Francisco, always use a hardened-steel U-Lock as your primary lock. Cable locks and cheap U-Locks can easily be cut. Secure your wheels with locking skewers (best) or cable around both wheels. Lock the U-Lock through the rear triangle of your bike frame (never just the wheels) and to a secure corral, rack or pole. Allow for as little space within the lock as possible; loose locks can be more easily broken open. For extra security, get a locking skewer for your seat or attach a cable through your seat and frame. You can also install a locking skewer for your handlebars.

If you’re in need of new locks, be sure to flash your SF Bicycle Coalition membership card at one of our participating Discount Partners:

We also strongly recommend being proactive about keeping your records straight. Take photos of your bike and its serial number. Contact your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance company to see what options exist for insuring your bike. Register your bike with SAFE Bikes, who maintains a registry of bikes in SF. You’ll get a unique serial number attached to your bike. If your bike is stolen and then recovered, the police will know who to get it back to. Visit to register your bike.


We sincerely hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does, follow these steps to aid in recovery of your bike.

First, file a report with the SF Police Department. While you can file it online (, investigators strongly recommend reporting it in person at the nearest station. Provide your serial number and photos of your bike. If you can, collect extra evidence: Look for cameras near where the bike was stolen. Buildings often have cameras facing the street, and you can contact the building owner to recover the tapes. Ask soon after the bike is stolen to ensure the footage isn’t deleted. We also suggest filing a claim with your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance company, if bike theft is covered.

Next, post your stolen bike online. You can register it with the Bike Index ( The Bike Index makes stolen bikes harder to sell and easier to reunite with owners when they are recovered. We also recommend posting the bike as “Stolen” in the bikes section of craigslist. However, if you receive a tip or info, contact the police. Do not attempt to recover the bike on your own.

Finally, visit local flea markets to look for your bike. Some people have reported finding their bikes at San Jose (Wednesday, Friday); Oakland Coliseum (Saturday) and Laney College (Sunday) flea markets. If you do spot your bike, call the local police immediately and ask them to assist in your recovery.

For more resources on theft & locking, please visit:

The Tube Times is published quarterly as one of the many benefits to members of the SF Bicycle Coalition. For a complete list of membership benefits, or to join/renew today, click here.

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