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Hal Grades Your Bike Locking

Since it's officially the first week of Bike Month, we resurrected this 2003 bikeTV classic that was my first work to gain worldwide noterity in the alternative transportation world.

We hit the streets of Soho with the help of Bicycle Habitat's most famous mechanic Hal Ruzal - who humorously grades the bike locking ability of New Yorkers. Sure he's harsh, but also damn funny while dispensing useful anecdotes from his many decades in the biz. Hopefully you'll learn how to keep your bike safe and avoid a failing grade.

Note: Make sure to catch the sequel!

[music]
Hal Ruzal: [0:02] Let me tell you why it fails. [musical interlude]

Hal: [0:16] Hey I'm Hal, I'm a mechanic for Bicycle Habitat. People come in and give me sob stories how their wheels get stolen, their bikes get stolen, their seats get stolen. Well most of the fault is these people because they don't lock the bikes up right. We're going to take a little walk around here and critique the bikes that are locked outside in the streets of Manhattan.

[0:38] Oh, this nice, secure Lemans 60 has a rear wheel that anyone can steal in a matter of 10 seconds with a 15 millimeter wrench or a vice grip. Notice the rear wheel is not locked at all. This is a D minus, [buzzer] because it'll cost you $120 or so to get a back wheel for this bike and the bike isn't worth $120.

[1:01] Well, hopefully, these two people are eating in this restaurant but so far, this bike gets an F, you can steal both wheels in a matter of around eight seconds, both wheels, eight seconds the bike has no wheels will cost the person around $220 to replace these wheels. In fact, you can steal the seat in one second. This bike gets an F for locking. [buzzer] It fails locking.

[1:31] Contrary to popular belief, the quieter streets, the thief is more likely to get spooked. If you take a busy street, the street noise and all the people walking around screen the thief and people won't care what he's doing, whereas you get a quiet street like this, it's too vacant for the thief to think about what's going on so they don't steal bikes on a quiet street like this.

[2:00] This is locked correctly, we really have an A here, let me tell you why it's an A. Seat is chained down, number one. Number two, proper lock. It's a Kryptonite disc lock with a New York chain locked through the rear wheel and the frame to a secure pole. There's also an auxiliary cable clamping down the front wheel. This bike is locked totally correctly, this bike gets an A.

[musical interlude]

Hal: [2:35] This is what happens when I give you an F. Because when I give you an F, then the thief comes later and steals the back wheel. You've got to lock both wheels or else it becomes community property and you either have a bike that looks like this or you have to spend $120 to correct the fact that your bike is going to look like this.

[2:55] And this bike, has gotten an F. [gong]

[3:01] This bike was a collector's item at one time, now it's collecting rust. And also the stem is about to break in half but that's another story.

[laughs]

[3:09] Good locking job in the rear. Bad locking job in the front, but this front wheel is not that desirable. So overall we give this a C.

Speaker: [3:21] A C.

Speaker: [3:22] C.

Speaker: [laughter] [3:22]

Speaker: [3:24] A C?

Hal: [3:24] Yeah.

Speaker: [3:25] Oh man.

Hal: [3:25] They're going to steal your front wheel eventually.

Speaker: [3:28] The back wheel's got like a thing on it.

Hal: [3:29] I know. I'm rating them, this is a TV show.

Speaker: [3:33] I know, but it's at least worth like a B minus or something.

Hal: [3:37] OK, I'm going to make him, because the guy's a cool guy, he gets a B minus on locking.

Speaker: [3:41] Thank you. Thank you.

Hal: [3:42] He gets a B minus. [gong]

[3:47] He's got tape over here so you can't steal the wheel, tape over here, they're all locked together and the owner is watching, therefore you get an A on locking.

[musical interlude]

Hal: [4:00] Oh, this is sad. This is dead. ["Taps"] If I had some dirt and a shovel I would give it a proper burial. Rigor mortis will be setting in. ["Taps"]

[4:21] What is with these people? They don't lock the back wheels up at all. The frame and front are locked up very well.

Speaker: [4:27] And that's what they do.

Hal: [4:27] Proper lock, secure pole there, wrought iron, takes a while to saw through that, seat is locked, that's good too, but the rear wheel makes it no good. Where do most stolen bikes end up? They end up at various restaurants. What happens is the junkie who steals bikes trades the bike to his fence for a bag of dope. The fence calls up a local restaurant who he knows and says, "Hey I got a bike for you, $50," and all is good, except for the person who lost the bike. Anybody with a cable cutter or wire cutter could cut this in a matter of 15 seconds.

[5:10] This lock is pretty bad. It's an OK auxiliary lock to lock a wheel to the frame, but to lock a whole bicycle? This bike is out of here. So I give this locking job, D minus. The only reason it got that high a grade is because the bike is a D minus.

[5:30] We got another A. Let me show you why this bike gets an A. Frame and front wheel to a lamp post, I doubt if anybody's ever going to saw this lamp post down. Rear wheel and frame locked to each other. Seat locked. This bike gets an A, this is the proper way of locking your bicycle. Solid A.

[musical interlude]

Hal: [5:58] You can ride on the sidewalk legally in any borough if you own three dogs and are riding with them at the same time.

[6:05] I know the owner.

Speaker: [6:07] You know the owner of this bike?

Hal: [6:08] Yeah, he's a nice guy.

Speaker: [6:10] OK, and now you're going to critique him.

Hal: [6:12] Notice clamp, and a clamp here, and a clamp here and a chain, and a proper lock. Still anybody, with a couple, in like less than a minute, you can take these wheels off. There is deterrent, it's not quick any more. It's a B, this bike gets a B.

[applause]

Hal: [6:37] Locking your bicycle, a lot of times you're just buying time and that's important. If you put enough locks on your bike where even if they're not the most secure lock, it just takes a thief too long and he'll give up and go on to the next bike, you know. On this street, there are many next bikes.

[6:56] Now here, the rear wheel isn't locked but it will not get stolen because the thief would have to buy a new tire and tube because it's flat. In fact, here's the nice piece of glass that gave him the flat.

Speaker: [7:07] So Hal are you saying one deterrent for deterring, you can.

Hal: [7:09] One deterrent.

Speaker: [7:10] You can.

Hal: [7:12] If you have a flat tire, the odds are it probably won't get stolen. Because whoever the thief sells it to then has to fix it.

[7:19] See it can be easily stolen, it's not locked at all. The front wheel again, easily stolen. And the rear wheel easily stolen. So this bike gets an F in locking. [buzzer]

Speaker: [7:33] What would your grade for this bicycle be?

Hal: [7:36] My grade? As far as this bike, what you've locked up here, I give him an A because no one is ever going to steal this. But the quality of locking is an F. But, it's like locking dog manure. Whatever you use, no one's going to take it and same here, this is just dog manure in the shape of a bicycle.

[8:00] Hope you learned something from my little pointing stuff out and I hope you learned how to lock your bike, especially. And, you get a good strong pole, decent locks, lock your wheel, lock your seat and have a crappy enough bike, you get an A. And all right, on that point, you have a nice day now. Bye-bye now.

[music]

[8:20]



Clarence Eckerson, Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • http://www.pdxk.com/crankmychain Dan Kaufman

    Hal is a RIOT! He has great insight and uses humor to get his point across. More please.

  • http://www.bikehoustsonst.net IanD

    But Hal...my New York chain already weighs more than my bike! Do I hafta lock my back wheel to get an A?

    And to be picky - sure looks like you're walking around Nolita more than Soho, Clarence. Geography, B+.

    Best part - when the guy leans out the window and says, "I get a C?!?"

  • jaysus

    Hmmm, the two bikes that are locked to the street signs (the ones made of steel with the holes in the center) should definately get downgraded as often times these signs can be removed/or the lock can be lifted off the top of the sign. Other than that exceleent!

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb/ Clarence

    Ian:

    Yeah we were all around the area so technically let's call it SoHoNoLita! I think that is what that area was called by the Dutch back in the 1600s. :)

    But I'll take the B+

  • ElizabethM

    I saw this video about two years ago and met Hal a year after that. At least I knew what to expect!

    He's a crazy man in real life, -and- he plays one on tv.

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  • max

    it is very useful to my life

  • http://www.alifelessmediated.blogspot.com nickdigital

    I wish i would have known the importance of a New York lock when i first moved here from DC so ever long ago. Lost my first bike that way. They were kind enough to leave my cut lock though.

  • Andy B

    Too bad you didn't actually go over locking a bike in the most ideal way possible. I agree with all that I saw but it still could be unclear to a total beginner.

    Peace

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  • BGGB

    Great video with good tips, but I was definitely hoping for tips on how/where to place the lock, both on the bike, and on which kind of signs/poles.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.karmaarmy.com Senan Gorman

    We love Hal and his awesome passion for our cycling/biking community's well-being. We're big fans Hal and hope to meet up with you soon!

    Senan
    aka GeneralKarma
    KarmaArmy.com
    "Like an Amber Alert for your Bike"

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  • Jen

    He didn't point out any locking jobs that have the problem I see ALL the time around the corner from me: people lock their bikes to the crossbar of a scaffolding. You can remove a scaffoling crossbar in seconds with a crescent wrench. If the bike is locked to a removable crossbar, it doesn't matter how good the lock is! It can be stolen.

    Sometimes I think of removing the bar and leaving the bike standing there by itself, just so people can see how stupid they are. But I never do.

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  • http://www.tyrebaydirect.com tyre balancers

    This is great. With this highly grades of lock, theft will not harm anymore your bicycle.

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  • Pstiegl102

    Interesting.  I'm going to follow up on his suggestions because he has put more thought into this than I ever could have dreamed.  I had a bike stolen once and it will be the last time. 

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  • Hannahvjones83

    I'm confused....aren't there any purpose built bike parking areas in Manhattan... ?! It seems like the only option is a pole that you hope your D-lock fits round...

  • mondegreen

    he is like the happy brother of norman finklestein, weird

  • Anderhu

    Thanks Hal.  Next week I'm moving two of my children to NYC and both have great bikes - I've been wondering what kind of locks to get and how to lock them - this little film was informative and enjoyable and I"m telling my kids to get their bikes serviced at Bike Habitat!

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  • Anonymous

    Hal's an amazing dude.  I walked my bike into Bicycle Habitat for something and he said something like:

    "83, 84 Bianchi Triumpho"

    I was stunned because he was correct.  If he wasn't in Manhattan I would have him work on my bike but I'm in BK.

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  • Babybaborella

    If that bike was locked up so darn well, why did he not give it an A+? Great video thanks very much!

  • Doug

    What is the weight of carrying the suggested amount of locks?

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  • Nikki

    Hi, What's the name of the song playing at the end of the video? Thanks! Also, very helpful and informative tips.

  • David Buccola

    Hal is the best! He's an amazing mechanic and a great guy. Awesome video!

  • Los Angeles College Rider

    Hal, My cheap bike & 4 expensive locks will get an A+ and make you laugh.. I have a Walmart GMC Denali, locked with a TiGr bow lock, 2 Kryptonite New Yorks, a Kevlar cable through the both D locks, and an OnGuard heavy chain & lock. I take the pedals off and run a cable through the crank holes, I remove the quick release seat & post. Also, i put a hinged pipe repair clamp from Home Depot on both D locks with heavy masters lock holding both clamps shut. Bottom Line: A $160 bike with over $400 worth of locks and hardware.

  • Charlie Canfield

    i'd get and A+, but still had my bike HANDLEBARS stolen; haven't figured a great way to secure them except glue a BB pellet in the allen screw. Gotta love that crystal meth work ethic...

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