How to Protect Your Bikes on a Bike Rack (Complete Guide)

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How To Protect Your Bikes On A Bike Rack

If you live in a neighborhood where bikes get stolen often, you’ll need to know how to protect your bike on a bike rack.

Placing the lock in the proper position and securing anything removable/valuable, your bike will be perfectly safe no matter how long you leave it there. 

In the United States alone, there are $188,500 bikes stolen.

That’s just those that are reported. It doesn’t include unreported instances or partial thefts (stealing parts).

Losing your bike can be a dagger to your entire week, and we understand that. We want to help you keep your bike safe

In this article, we’ll outline some tips for how to keep your bike secure on a bike rack. We’ll also list some of the things you should try to avoid. By the end, you won’t have to worry about your bike getting damaged or stolen on a bike rack. 

What's In This Guide?

      Steps for Securing Your Bike to a Bike Rack

      Before we get into the do’s and don’ts of bike rack locking, we’ll first lay out a step-by-step process for how you should lock your bike on a bike rack. 

      Step 1: Find a Rack with Empty Space

      Often, people will try to lock their bikes on the first rack they see, regardless of whether it’s full or not. We’ve seen some hilarious attempts and even some clever attempts. People will try to lock their bike to the top of the rack or even lock it to a stranger’s bike. 

      Overcrowded racks will only result in a higher risk of your bike being stolen or damaged. Instead, find a rack with free space. This will ensure you have the appropriate amount of space for properly securing your bike.

      Step 2: Ensure Rack is Safe 

      Just because you’re locking to a rack and not a light post doesn’t mean security is guaranteed. Many racks are old and have holes or can be lifted out of the ground. Before you secure your bike, try to check the rack’s safety. Pull on it and see if it’s loose. 

      Step 3: Secure the Most Important Components

      Your lock should be long enough to secure the main parts of your bike: the wheels and the frame. Choosing a long and secure wire or chain lock will allow you to include all three when locking. If you use a U lock or another type, then be sure to bring extra for the wheels. 

      If you don’t have a long enough lock, try to secure it based on each component’s value. Your frame, back wheel, and front-wheel are the most expensive parts of your bike (in that order).  Secure your frame first, then the back wheel, and finally, the front. 

      Step 4: Test the Lock

      Once your bike is secured, you can test the lock. First, you should test the locking mechanism. Try to pull on it and see if you fastened it correctly. Then, stand up and pull on the bike’s frame wheels to be sure they are secure.  

      Finally, take a step back from your bike and check it visually. Sometimes people can accidentally overlap the lock or forget to thread it through the wheel. 

      Step 5: Take a Picture of Your Bike in the Rack

      Having a picture of your bike will help you make a police report if it’s been stolen or damaged. It will also help you recognize any damage that took place while you were away. Try to get a picture of your bike from multiple angles if possible for the best evidence. 

      Tips for Locking Your Bike on a Bike Rack

      Now that we’ve learned the correct process for locking your bike follow these tips to protect it on a bike rack. 

      Find an Uncrowded Area

      Data suggests that most bike thefts occur in cities in crowded areas. It allows the thieves to work quickly while people are distracted. It’s also harder for authorities to notice them there. That’s why it’s better to lock your bike on a side street with good visibility. 

      Of course, visibility is a vital element here. Locking your bike in a dark alleyway in a lousy neighborhood probably won’t be much safer than Main Street. Try to lock your bike under an area that is already surveilled by video cameras if possible. 

      Use Cemented Bike Racks

      Bike racks that are not cemented into the ground are the most dangerous. It’s not common, but bike thieves have been known to remove the entire rack from an area if they aren’t adequately secured. 

      Try to avoid these racks at all costs and only leave your bike for a short time if necessary. 

      No Loose Locking

      If you have a wire lock, then you should be locking your bike as tightly as possible. Bolt cutters can cut even the strongest wire locks, and leaving extra space makes it easier to cut. U Locks or metal chain locks are the best options because they can’t be cut easily. 

      Lock It in the Middle

      Locking your bike on the ends of the bike rack makes it a more accessible and more obvious target. By closing the bike in the middle, you’ll have more anonymity. It will also be harder to reach your bike depending on how tightly you packed it between others. 

      Choose the Right Bike Lock

      The worst thing you can do is cheap out on your lock. Buying the most inexpensive lock in the store is like asking for your bike to be stolen. Invest in a reputable lock brand to keep your bike at its most secure.  


      You have to be mindful and patient to keep your bike safe. We know it’s tempting to lock up fast and get back to your life, but following the steps above will make no one walk away with your belongings. Keep the tips in mind as well for the safest bike rack lock. 

      Next Steps

      Now that you know how to lock your bike, it’s time to get out there and ride!

      Photo of author
      Bryan Ray is the Co-Founder of The Biking Apex. He's a cyclist and a trainer who loves fitness and loves to teach people how to ride and maintain their bikes and bike accessories.

      The Biking Apex

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