Classification of anti-theft systems
Based on their mechanical resistance to burglary, bicycle anti-theft devices are divided into two main groups. Here they are, in detail:
- Protection level 1: these devices are able to resist cutting by burglary tools less than 35 centimeters in length.
- Protection level 2: resistance is guaranteed against tools whose length does not exceed 60 centimetres.
In some models of traditional bicycles and city bikes there may be an anti-theft system that does not fall into these two main groups. It is a sort of semicircular clamp inserted at the level of the rear wheel, and which can be tightened until it touches the wheel, preventing it from turning. This type of deterrent is undoubtedly one of the least effective, since it is sufficient to lift the rear wheel to take the bicycle away undisturbed. Furthermore, the semicircular element can be easily tampered with using an elongated tool like a lever.
On the market you can find a wide range of anti-theft cables for bicycles of different designs and functions, which if used correctly can be good (but not infallible) systems for avoiding theft. The simplest of all are circular metal cables covered with a plastic sheath and closed with a small padlock system. These anti-theft models are cheap and simple to use, but unfortunately they are not safe systems at all since they can be cut with a common wire cutter. The padlock is by far the weakest point of the entire system since a person of average size could even be able to force it simply by pulling the two ends in opposite directions. Another very common type of bicycle anti-theft device is represented by spiral-shaped steel cables , which take up minimal space and are very practical to attach to the bicycle when pedaling. Their particular extendable shape allows you to adapt their length based on the needs of attachment to poles or racks, but even in this case there is a built-in padlock which represents the weak element.
Anti-theft chains and bars
Another anti-theft system for bicycles is the metal chain , whose rings are covered in plastic or synthetic fabric sheaths; the two ends of the chain are free and must be secured with a padlock (generally to be purchased separately). In this case you can choose a medium-large sized padlock, with greater resistance to burglary, although unfortunately a large wire cutter is enough to get rid of it. Furthermore, the larger the size of the padlock with which you choose to accompany the chain, the less practical it will be to carry it with you when traveling. On the market it is also possible to find types of rigid anti-theft devices, made up of steel bars or "U" shaped bars which, at the ends, are fixed by a transversal locking element. These systems are quite resistant to cuts, and as the thickness of the bar increases the safety level increases. Again, however, the crossbar insertions are typically the weakest ones, without forgetting another downside related to the lack of practicality. The "U" bars are in fact rather awkward to carry around, unless you have a basket or a roof rack to attach them to. Some of these anti-theft devices are equipped with an alarm system which, in the event of an attempted physical tampering, begins to sound, thus discouraging the thief from continuing with the theft.
Tips for avoiding theft
Even the best anti-theft device on the market can do very little if the bicycle is carelessly left unattended in unsafe places, within the reach of thieves. This is why, in order to minimize the risk of theft, it is essential to observe some good rules, such as:
- the bicycle, where possible, must always be secured to a fixed element such as railings, road poles, racks or fences;
- it is not uncommon for the bicycle to be subject to acts of vandalism such as the removal of the front wheel. To avoid theft, the device used must be passed between the bicycle frame and the wheel. Even better if everything is also hooked to one of the fixed elements that can be found on the street: for a thief it is in fact child's play to take away a bicycle, even with a wheel that doesn't turn, and then subsequently remove the anti-theft device that blocks it;
- the bicycle should always be parked in a place where people pass by, which is sufficiently lit in the evening to discourage intruders.
According to the latest estimates, over one million two hundred thousand bicycles are stolen every year in Italy: an undoubtedly worrying figure, since it makes it clear what the illegal turnovers are that hide behind this real business. Security, therefore, is never too much and it is always better to invest in an anti-theft device that may be expensive, but which can provide some additional guarantees. A useful initiative is that of the Italian Bike Registry , a public and free national registry on which it is possible to register the data of your bicycle by linking them to your name, surname and other personal information. Thanks to the Italian Bike Registry, the police are able to recognize a stolen bicycle and return it to its rightful owner.
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