When you’re riding to town with a friend, the two of you may find yourselves in a situation of having two bikes—but only one lock.
So can you lock up the two bikes with one lock? The long answer short is, “yes, but be careful.” Keep in mind that a thief will only have to break one lock to take both of your bikes. That’s two for the effort of one!
To lock two bikes together, place the bikes with the rear wheels on either side of the bike rack. Place a lock around the seat post and rear wheel of each bike with the rack in the middle. Attach a cable lock to the front wheels for added security.
Only do this when you know the other bike’s owner and they’re aware of it.
You wouldn’t want to come back to your bike just to realize someone had locked their bike to it. So why do it to someone else? (This, by the way, can be a common move for thieves, who come back and work the locks later if you leave your bike.)
Read on for more tips on locking two bikes together, no matter how many locks you have.
Locking Two Bikes Together with One Lock
Locking your bike with only one lock in a high-theft area is a risky move. Think twice before you do this with two bikes, especially if you suspect that thieves may be lurking nearby.
If you live in a safe place with low bike theft, one lock might work fine.
One is better than none, that’s for sure!
Keep in mind your two bikes will be a target for a bike thief who’s weighing risk to reward, so it’s a good idea to use the best lock you can if you are locking two bikes with one lock.
Put the rear wheels of the bikes on either side of the rack. Depending on your bikes, you might have to place them end to end, not side by side. Keep in mind that this takes up a lot of space and your front wheels might look like targets to potential thieves.
Locking two bikes might be easier if you can lock to a signpost or lamppost (check local rules, though, so both your bikes aren’t impounded). Don’t lock the bikes to a tree and make sure neither is blocking the sidewalk.
You can then place a U-Lock or chain around the seat tube and rear wheel of both bikes and the rack or post.
If you don’t have quick-release wheels as your rear wheels, you could also attach to the rear triangle of both bikes, if you are confident that a thief couldn’t detach your wheels as easily and lift the frame out of the lock.
In some areas, you will also want to lock up your front wheels (especially if they are quick-release wheels and you do not have locks or skewers on the wheels).
Related: How to Lock a Bike With Quick-Release Wheels
Locking Two Bikes Together with Two Locks
Two locks are always better than one.
Many bicycling duos will carry a U-lock and a cable lock. The U-lock will be placed around the rear wheels and the seat tubes, and the cable lock will be placed through both front tires and then again around the rack or post, if possible.
Remember that cable locks can be easily cut by thieves, and should not be used as the primary method for protecting bikes in many areas.
If you are frequently locking your bikes like this, you might want to invest in locking skewers for your front wheels.
Skewers or wheel locks attach to the bike and have special keys that allow you to remove the wheel but protect from thieves.
The advantage to wheel locks or skewers is that they stay attached to your bike, and you don’t have to carry them. (But don’t forget your key, in case of a flat.)
If you have two locks, you will have to determine if it is better to lock bikes together or just lock separately. Obviously this may be determined by the availability of racks or other structures to lock to. If there’s nothing to lock to, stealing two bikes together might be harder than stealing each bike locked individually.
Locking Multiple Bikes Together
If you’re locking up several bikes—say, for your entire family—you will need some type of long cable or chain if you want to lock them all together. The drawback to this is that a long chain will be heavy to carry.
A lighter chain may be more manageable, but it may also be easily cut with wire cutters. The same is true of a long cable.
If you have several family members riding, it may be best for most of them to carry their own locks.
Depending on the size of the bike, you may be able to find bike lock mounts that can attach the lock to the frame so you don’t have to carry in a backpack. Or look into getting a basket on one of the bikes.
Other Tips for Locking Bikes
Since two-for-one bikes might be a potential target for thieves, it’s a good idea to park smart:
- Choose a location with foot traffic, other cyclists, security cameras, or security guards. The best place to park a bike is where you can see it.
- Don’t leave your bikes locked in the same place overnight or for long periods of time.
- Always face the lock of a U-lock toward the ground to make the lock harder to tamper with.
- Make sure you have a photo of each bike and its serial number in case you need to report it stolen.
If you are in a place where it makes sense to lock two bikes together, go for it, but make sure you don’t make the bikes more attractive to thieves looking to get two bikes for the price of one!