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Bike Parking 101: How to Lock a Bike Without a Rack

Over the past two decades, the number of commuters who bike to work has increased by 61%; and even if you don’t ride your bike to your work, we’re sure you love the occasional leisurely ride or going downtown to finish some chores. However, riding a bike comes with several responsibilities, and of the main ones is parking it.

How often have you needed to leave your bike but had nowhere to park it? We know bike racks are the safest way to park your bike, but sometimes you simply can’t find one. Don’t worry, though; there are still other options, and this article will tell you all you need to know on how to lock a bike without a rack.

What Is a Bike Rack?


When it comes to short-term parking solutions, bike racks are the easiest and most economical way. We can find them every day in public and commercial areas, but people also use them indoors for private bike parking.

Locking bicycle racks come in different shapes and styles so they can meet the cycling community’s demands. Some of the most known bike rack types are:

  • U-rack
  • Wave
  • Grid
  • Double-decker
  • Spiral

How to Lock Your Bike Without a Rack

A rack is the most secure method to lock your bike. Unfortunately, though, we don’t find them everywhere, and we have to find new ways to keep our bikes safe. Ready to learn about these ways? Let’s dive in!

What to lock your bike to


Rule of thumb: lock your bike to something tall. Trees, street signs, fences, or light poles are only some of the many tall things you can find no matter where you live. If you’re wondering why we’re suggesting tall objects, the answer is simple: make the thieves’ life as hard as possible. Since they don’t have all the time in the world, thieves try to steal your bike as fast as possible, and locking your bike to tall objects means they’ll have to lift your heavy bike and pass it all the way through, which may look like a hard thing to do quickly.

What if there is nothing to lock your bike to

Having no bike rack and nowhere to lock your bike might make you say, “that’s it – my bike is definitely getting stolen now”. We don’t blame you for that, but what if we told you that you can still secure your bike? Once again, we’ll try not to make it easy for the thieves to steal your bike. There’s only one thing you can do in this scenario: immobilize your wheels.

When your wheels are stuck and can’t rotate, the only thing left to do for the thieves is to pick up your bike and carry it. We’re not saying they can’t do that, but no one walks around the town with a bike in their hands without looking suspicious. However, don’t forget to run the lock through both tires because if you leave one of the wheels unlocked, that allows the thieves to just roll your bike away.

Tips on securing your bike

If you want to secure your bike without a rack, here are some tips to make you feel safer.

Don’t park in the same place all the time

However weird this may sound, thieves make some serious scouting before stealing someone’s bike. They even have teams of three, where one makes the scouting, the other frees the bike with their tools, and the last one goes away with the bike.

Parking in the same spot daily may make it easier for criminals to steal your bike. Though you may not be comfortable changing your parking place every day, it prevents thieves from learning your routine. Moreover, it’s never a bad idea to park near large businesses, as they always have security cameras that may be a great help.

Get a GPS tracking device


Bikes that come with inbuilt GPS trackers may be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have other alternatives. Nowadays, numerous manufacturers offer hidden GPS trackers for bikes. You can put them in the handlebars, seat posts, or even LED lights. This way, even if the worst happens, you still know the exact location of your stolen bike and will make the police’s work way easier.

Find the middle between isolated and crowded places

On first thought, crowded places may look like a great place to park your bike because many people pass through. It’s not like that, though. Leaving your bike unattended in crowded places gives the thieves a great opportunity to hide behind the crowds and make it hard for others to notice them. Isolated places are also a terrible idea, as no one will see them getting away with your bike. Therefore, avoid the two extremes and try to find a middle.

What if you don’t have a lock

This is getting harder and harder, right? But yes, you guessed it, you can still secure your bike even if you don’t have a rack, an object to lock to, or even a lock. How? Let us show you.

  • Hide your bike. They can’t steal what they can’t see. Sometimes, even hiding your bike behind a car or some bushes will save it. This doesn’t stop the thieves from rolling away with it, but it minimizes the possibility of them finding it by accident, and we like those odds.
  • Remove the chains. Yes, you may get some grease on your fingers, but that’s better than losing your bike. This way, you make it harder for the thieves to ride away, and they’ll likely abandon it quickly.
  • Take the bike seat with you. Is the bike broken? Did someone else steal the bike seat? They’ll never know, and the more confused they are, the better your odds. We know that this doesn’t stop them from rolling away with the bike, but we doubt someone would like to ride a bike without a seat, even if they’re a thief.


Securing bikes to a bike rack is the easiest and safest way to keep your bike secure. However, locking a bike is possible even if you don’t find a rack. The main thing you should consider is finding durable and tall objects, so the thieves don’t have it easy to ride away with your bike.


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