This entry is a Bike Hacks Classic.
We spend a lot of time on the site talking about basic bicycle security - you know, making sure your bike is where you left it. However we have not really touched on the varied pieces of a bike that can go missing. There are a lot of parts on a bike that might be absconded when your steed is left alone.
Just looking at my road bike right now, if someone had three basic tools that can be purchased anywhere they could walk away quite quickly with my seat, handle bars (with my expensive STI levers), my cranks (with pedals), my derailleurs, and my brakes. In other words, everything but the frame and wheels!
I try not to leave my bike alone for too long, and the real point of the post is to share ways to try and deter or slow a possible thief down. If someone has the right tools and mindset, they are going to take your bike whether you like it or not, but not all criminals possess high levels of intelligence - if they did they'd probably have jobs that would allow them to make money by not stealing. Although there are those people on Wall Street . . . I won't follow that tangent.
If you do live in a high crime area and are concerned about parts of your bike disappearing while you are away, there are some creative solutions. One popular method is to make the Allen bolts and screws on your bike hard to access. A few other solutions are, um, creative as well (#8). You decide what works for you . . . let us count the possible ways to keep thieves at bay! Italic text indicates text taken from referenced sites. And if you have creative ideas not listed, feel free to comment or send them to us.
1. Super glue and ball bearing: Glue a ball bearing into the head of the screw/bolt. Via the blog Living for the City comes this picture:
A variety of glues could be used, but many out there on the Internet believe super glue to be the solution of choice. This may seem odd considering the whole point of super glue is to bond things forever, but mix some Q-tips and acetone or a product like Z-7 Debonder, with a bit of time and a cold beverage, and removing the ball bearing when needed is not that hard. Via the Velospace Forum, member bionnaki gives the following instructions:
- superglue first into bolt head.
- insert ball bearing - try to find one that is either smaller or larger than the bolt head - if it's too snug in the bolt, it will take forever to come out. test this out before gluing. you want there to be enough room to insert something in between the bolt head ridge and the bb....or be able to pull out the bb with a pair of pliers.
- firmly hold the ball bearing down for a few minutes.
- put some superglue over the bb and let dry.
- acetone on a q-tip to remove the top layer of glue
- use a sharpened spoke or something similar (or if your bb is larger and protrudes, use pliers) to pry out the bearing
- acetone on a q-tip again to dissolve the glue inside the bolt head and the sharp object to carve the glue out - this step will take the longest - be sure to have plenty of q-tips and patience to get enough glue out to be able to insert a hex wrench. prepare to spend at least 20 mins per bolt.
2. Straight Epoxy: Via Philosopher DOT Dog comes a similar approach, but with straight epoxy -
What I suggest is that you get an epoxy that is meant for filling steel! There are a number of products around that do this. I used a Steel Reinforced Epoxy Putty. The brand I used was Tech Steel, but there are lots of other makers. You can find it in a well stocked hardware store. Nobody is going to steal your parts unless they have all day to do it, because this stuff isn't coming out easily. Make sure you don't put it on your brakes or anything you need to adjust regularly. Steel Reinforced Epoxy Putty is pretty cheap ($6-$7). It dries into a gray putty that looks a bit like a dental filling. Anyhow, it's a very cool solution that I wanted to pass on. Be safe!
3. Grease and ball bearing: Via London Fixed-Gear & Single-Speed forum comes the idea of using a ball bearing covered in thick bike grease. As stated by contributor maxcrowe:
I used to use a ball bearing covered in bike grease, that holds it in there pretty well and its easy to remove with a magnet.
Most likely the easiest security hack, but also the easiest to get around.
4. Candle Wax: Posted by naxosaxur at MetaFilter.com is a solution used by an old boyfriend who was a messenger in Boston.
. . .my ex would fill all the cavities that had screws in them with candle wax. like the handlebars: wherever there was a joint with a screw, he would drip wax in the holes so that a bike-thief would have to take a lot of time digging out the wax in order to remove the screws.
5. Solder: I ran into some solder zealots on the Web as well. This is the same type of deal as most of the tactics covered so far, but this particular one would be an expensive solution compared to the others if you don't own the right equipment or have a friend that does. Detailed solder instructions can be found here. I can see the molten bubbles in my mind!
6. Security screws: An "official" way to try to deal with theft is to opt for "tamper resistant" security screws. Examples of Torx screws can be found on the Aaron Security Screws Web site. This is most definitely the cleanest solution of those offered but does require a special tool . . . which an enterprising thief might also purchase.
7. Bike Chain: If you are just worried about your bike seat, you might have seen the old bike chain in the inner tube security method. Instructables has the full meal deal instructions if you want this "hipster" security option.
8. Feces of choice: I will leave a picture off of this one. I ran across one post that featured the following advice: smear everything with human feces. Although someone else responded and stated that fox feces is a superior tactic because of a more pungent odor.