bike Archives

The 60 Cent Bicycle Lock

ClevisClipOver the years I have discovered lots of tips, tricks, workarounds and low cost solutions to otherwise expensive problems. Most of these are so simple and mundane that I rarely think about sharing them unless I’m asked or it’s pertinent to the solution to a specific problem that I am helping someone solve. Today I was reminded of how useful some of these solutions can be.

A few years ago when I first began working on and building electrically assisted bikes, one of the first improvements I discovered that an electric bike needs is a quality kick stand. However, whether you’re using a center stand or something like the rear mounted Greenfield kickstand, none of them seem to come with a locking mechanism that keeps them from folding up if pointed down hill or bumped from the rear. To fix this short coming and make an already stable kickstand even better, I discovered that locking the front wheel eliminated this problem. The easiest way to accomplish this was to squeeze the front brake lever tight and insert a small pin into the opening created between the brake housing and where the cable attaches to the lever. For this I use a 2″ clevis pin clip sometimes called a hitch pitch clip although any type of pin would work. (See pictures)

In addition to making a cheap, simple & effective parking brake I had also assumed that this brake lock could double as a good theft deterrent as well. Not because it’s difficult to undo but simply because it will add a view seconds to the time it takes for someone to figure out why your bike won’t move. Using a nail instead of a clevis pin clip might be even better as a theft deterrent since it would be harder to spot.

Locking your bike each & every time you take a short trip into a store is a pain. Not locking your bike is an invitation to any would be bike thief. Doing something as simple as locking one of the wheels will not only increase the amount of time it takes for someone to take off on your bike but because they will no doubt look very clumsy or stupid as they try riding or pushing it away with the wheel locked, they might also attract the unwanted attention of any bystanders.

Clevis pin lock

Brake lever locked using a clevis pin.
For theft protection a nail or similar would be harder to spot.

This morning I was running a couple of errands in downtown Carlisle on my E-bike. My last stop was the Carlisle Post Office where I parked in the large municipal parking lot using an angled parking space on the left side of the right of way, directly adjacent to the front door of the post office. The bike was pulled in and parked in the same manner as the other motor vehicles which is facing away from the post office. As I walked back out of the post office I immediately saw a kid apparently trying to push my bike away. My immediate thought was to holler at him but then quickly noticed that the kickstand was up and this action would undoubtedly cause my bike to be dropped. Since I was in his blind spot and only about 40 feet away I decided to quietly walk up to the bike and grab hold of the rear rack. As soon as my hand was on the rack I began to put the rear mounted kick stand down as I said in a calm voice, “hi can I help you”. The kid spun around while surprisingly still hanging on to the handlebars with one hand and did his best to appear nonchalant while uttering a response that said something like “oh,… hi,… just lookin,.. nice bike. To this I said “thanks, it’s an electric police bike”. (see picture) I’m not sure why I said this but it certainly had the desired effect. “Can I answer any questions for you?” By now he was looking a little pale and his eyes were darting all around like he was about to be pounced upon by the police department. He replied with “er,.. no thanks, see ya later,  turned away, triped over the divider curb in front of him and stumbled away as fast as he could with out actually running.

Clevis pin home

Home for clevis pin when not in use.

As it turned out, this kid was actually a young adult in his middle 20s. His sloppy dress, shaved head and smallish 5’8″, 150 lb build made him look like a teenager from a distance. In addition my bike is a large 22″ MTB frame. This not only made this smallish person appear even smaller than he was but had he attempted to mount the bike he would have found it quite awkward to say the least.

So,… did my 60 cent clip save my bike? I’ll never know for sure. What I do know for sure however is, had this person been able to push my bike away unheeded & I had walked out of the post office just 10 seconds later, my bike & would-be bike thief would have been far enough down the street that I may not have seen him in time to take chase. And, had he been able to get on the bike without toppling over he would have been no doubt gone for good. Of course, If I ever did get it back it would almost certainly be stripped of all it’s electronics & e bike related components.

Nothing will make your bicycle theft proof, so your goal is to simply make it as difficult, awkward looking and time consuming as possible for anybody but you to take off with your bike. Parking your bike in a well lit, conspicuous spot, locking your brakes. removing a wheel or your bike seat & of course using a bicycle lock are all well proven methods of slowing or stopping bicycle theft.

Use the comment box below & leave us some of your tips & tricks for thwarting bicycle theft or any other of your time & money saving ideas. After all, saving money is one of the big motivators for using your bike more often & as members of the cycling community we should consider the sharing of ideas one of our membership requirements .

Thank You,

Matt

Marin e bike conversion

I’ve been told this looks like a police bike. Perhaps I should market it as such.

Marin e-bike

Police Bike? No, just another EZgo-Now E bike conversion.

Good Kickstand at a Great Price.

Five years ago putting a kickstand on my road bike or mountain bike would have been sacrilegious.

Five years ago I also rode my bikes for fun or exercise when I had the time, which is to say, not very often. For the sake of conveyance I also carried an 8″ Velcro strap which I used as a parking brake in the rare event that I actually had to park my bike during a ride.

A few years ago I had a huge re-awaking and discovered that even as an adult a bicycle could be used for transportation much like when I was 14 and used it to go everywhere. E-bikes played a big role in this re-awaking but whether its electric power or pedal power a bicycle is fantastic way to get around at least 50% of the time for 80% of my trips.

This new adult and socially responsible approach to bicycling however did require a slight change to my old world philosophy of “If it doesn’t make it go faster it’s not needed”. Kickstands where right up there with saddle bags when it came to the things “that weren’t needed”. Nowadays, I wouldn’t want to be without either one of them. At the same time, however, lighter is still better, the ability to quickly install & remove something is quite important and a quality look & feel are paramount.

That said, let me tell you about this little gem of a kickstand I found on Amazon.com. It meets all three of those requirements and it will arrive in your mailbox for under ten bucks. There are a ton of kickstands available and many of them are very good. Most good kick stands are going to cost at least $20 delivered. If your LOADED bike weighs more than 70Lbs. (the majority of e-bikes) however you really shouldn’t even consider anything other than a proper center stand. Most rear kickstands are just not up to the task. A decent center stand will cost between $30 & $60 delivered. They are however worth their weight in gold when you’re trying to load your bike up with grocery bags & other items after a shopping trip. Sadly they are not something you take on & off in a matter of minutes and they can be pretty clunky looking. Read the rest of this entry

ToBike-OrNot-ToBike.

That is the Question.

    • The bicycle is the most efficient vehicle ever devised; a human on a bicycle is more efficient (in calories expended per pound and per mile) than a train, truck, airplane, boat, car, motorcycle or jet pack.

    • Nearly half of all trips in the US are three miles or less; more than a quarter are less than a mile, distances easily covered by bike while saving you money and getting you fit.

    • Every mile traveled by bike rather than by car keeps one pound of climate-damaging carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, while reducing cash draining stops at the pump.

Those are just three of the many reasons given in “Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet” by Eric Sorensen and the staff at Sightline Institute. For the rest of them click here: Sightline Institute.

In addition, anybody that has ever lived near a high school zone have no doubt been astonished by the endless parade of school buses filled with students entering the highway at 3:15 PM. This is immediately followed by a mile long line of automobiles being driven by the remaining students.

Now if you also happen to live in a college town you may have noticed the huge amount of parking space dedicated to automobiles. Take this a step further and observe the number of bicycles you don’t see parked or in use and you’ll probably see where I’m going with this.

The last straw came this spring when GM ran an automobile advertisement targeted to college students. Perhaps you remember it. “Reality Sucks” LUCKILY THE GM COLLEGE DISCOUNT DOESN’T. The thrust of the ad was that no college male should be caught dead riding his bike on campus else the girls would consider him a complete nerd. GM quickly pulled the ad but it highlighted the much bigger problem with American culture. We simply do not consider biking as a reasonable alternative to driving. It’s a mindset that has run its course and the consequences are everywhere.

We have to change our out-look towards bikes & biking. Bikes ARE NOT UN-COOL! Read the rest of this entry