January 9, 2010
No matter where in the world your bike travels take you, one accessory to remember to drop in your pack is a bike lock. It's not that people can't be trusted, for the most part, the strangers you encounter will be far more courteous than you would expect. But there is a great deal of money and often sentimental value put into a bike, and you want to make sure it is safe from misfortune (especially if you are camping, and are unable to store your bike behind a locked door).
Right now there are tons of options available for buying locks, and chances are, you already own one of them. There are U locks, cable locks, chain locks of all sizes that use either keys or combinations. I always suggest anyone on tour steers clear of a lock that uses a key. If you lose your key, you may have to cut your lock and buy a new one.
Between cable locks, U locks, and chain locks, I have always leaned towards the cable lock option (about a quarter inch thick). They are often easily coiled, which makes for simple packing, and relatively light compared to U locks and chains. If bike specific locks are too pricey, you can always head to your nearest hardware store and find a length of steel cable, and a combination lock for under $15.
No matter which route you choose, all options are breakable. The main goal of a lock is to send a would-be thief off in search of an easier target. In the end, knowing one of your most prized possessions is safe will help you sleep better at night, giving you more energy for the next day's ride.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.