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!
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.