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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Some Friendly Advice.

So, OK, it happened again.
One of the unfortunate "occupational hazards" of what we do and I am referring to buying and selling used items, is that a very small portion of the folks selling bikes are not what one would call, upstanding citizens.  To combat this fact, first and foremost, we have to apply common sense.  If someone comes in to our shop looking to sell a $700 bike in immaculate condition for $20.00, you know it is NOT your lucky day!  There is something seriously wrong with that deal.  So we, politely, decline.  Beyond that, like a capital hill politician, we cover our a$$e$!   It took some time, but we finally got onto the reporting data base, the same one pawn shops use, some time ago.  When someone sells us a bike we run the gambit of photo copying their ID, taking a thumb print and signature, then enter the info online and get an "all-clear" on the purchase.  These are our tools to attempt to ensure we are not buying illegitimate bikes.  However, even these safeguards have their limitations.  There is a certain level of responsibility behooving  the original owner to ensure this system works. 
See, the sad reality in today's world is, with few exceptions, most of the bikes kicking around out there are not all that unique.  Oh sure, over time we all personalize them, a bell or horn, a useful rack or basket, perhaps a gnawed pedal from when the puppy was sleeping in the garage and needed to sharpen his teeth, but by and large the majority of the rides out their (with a little effort from the thief) will look just like every other one sold that year at Wal-Mart.  I can't tell you how many Next "Power X's" or Roadmaster "Mt. Fury's" or Schwinn "Sidewinders" we have bought over the years, and with very little variance, all looked alike!  All the thief has to do is remove any items that personalize the bike and VIOLA!  No, as a bike owner you have to step it up a notch.  First, to dissuade a thief from stealing your ride take these few precautions.
First;  Never, ever, EVER leave your bike unlocked or unattended!   Many thefts are a matter of convinience.  You go to the store to grab some milk, lean it up against the window and figure it's safe.  It will take a thief about 15 seconds to grab and disappear.  And PLEASE don't think your front yard, porch or open garage is safe!  It is not! 
Second.  Bring your bike inside wherever you can!  As a devout rider, when I hit the store the bike goes with me.  Most shops around here, if they have the space, won't mind.  Quite frankly, if they do mind, we don't patronize them.  When you are home, lock the bike IN the garage or shed, then lock the edifice itself! 
Third; Get a GOOD lock!  It never ceases to amaze me that someone will buy an $800.00 bike but balk at spending $40.00 on a secure lock!  Instead they will hit the Dollar Store, buy a $3.00 pencil thin lock and figure any protection is good protection.  Take it from a man with nine kids, "that ain't necessarily true!"   A resourceful thief can get through those puny things with a hefty pair of wire cutters!  No, you need to do a wee errand for this one, but it's worth it.  Go to the hardware store, grab about 6 feet of the strongest welded steel chain you can get....

Reese 6-1/8-ft Welded Metallic Steel Chain

(or thicker if they got it).  Then pick up a disc lock

Master Lock MAGNUM 2-3/4" DISC LOCK 3 PK
 when you have those grab an old 26" inner tube cut out the valve stem and snake the chain through the open tube.  This will give you a rubber coating so as to not scratch up your ride should you choose to hang it.  This will cost you between $40.00 and $50.00 dependent upon where you shop.  But weigh that cost against what it will cost you to replace that bike you just bought.  And don't whine about the added weight!  Unless you are riding a marathon a few extra pounds will only serve to make your ride grant you a bit more exercise!  And that aint a bad thing. 
Now, what to do to identify your bike as your bike!
First and FOREMOST!  Write down the serial number!  Before you take that first ride on your new ride, take these necessary precautions. 
Set up a "bike file".  Locate your serial number, most bikes have it on the underbelly of the bottom bracket housing,

Yep, flip it over and the number will most likely be stamped there, or you can google your bike info and get the location that way.   Write that number (and there maybe letters too) on the receipt.  Then take a photo of you  standing with the bike.  And make it a real photo, not a Iphone selfie!  Put a copy of the photo in the file.  Make sure you also have a physical description of the bike, ie: make, model and color,  You would be shocked at how many times stolen bike reports were given to us by folks  with the bike description as "It's a blue bike, have you seen it?" 
Next, mark your bike!  Even if you have the serial number, it may not always be enough.  Here's a couple of tips, Take an index card, write your name, phone number, address and license number on it then seal it in a zip lock bag.  Remove one of the handle bar grips, roll up the card and stick it inside the handle bars, then replace the grip. 
Also, and more permanent, get yourself a metal engravers stamp.  It could be a symbol or a number, whatever.  Near the serial number, whack in your own custom symbol or number sequence and write it down in your bike file.  If ever you have the misfortune of having your bike stolen, and are lucky enough to find it, you can inform the officers not only it's serial number but your own secret code!  Whatever you can do to identify that particular bike as yours will only help!
I realize that's a few more steps then most folks will consider when choosing to ride a bike, but not only are you potentially going to loose your ride, but trust me, I can say from personal experience, it will happen when you are six miles away from home, the buses have stopped running, you can't reach any friends or family to come get you, it's about to rain and you were stupid enough to leave your cell phone in the bag on your handle bars!
I hope that some of this will be helpful in your future!
OK, Now on to work!!
had a very busy start to the day yesterday!  Sent the Schwinn three wheeler home yesterday, and for a very good cause!  I do hope your wife will get better and enjoy the exercise sir!  And we even managed to fit it in the back of a Geo Metro!  WOW!  OK, the back did have to be left open.  Also found an appreciative new parent for the sweet men's cruiser, and there is a very lucky young man who will be visiting his grandparents next week and finding a way cool "Cars" 12" waiting for him!  We did manage to put out two newbies as well!  A shocking revelation considering the amount of repairs we had come through the door (thank you very much!) Both were full and I mean FULL re-furbs!  The first, a very nicely redone, older Trek Antelope 800 hard tail, and a "back yard" find of a 6 speed cruiser.  Once the weeds were removed (not to mention the rust and a plethora of replacement parts) she is a fine looking ride!
Thanks to our buddy Bullet for the trunk load of donations to the cause!  He ponied up a (soon to be) SWEET Panasonic road bike, and an equally sweet (and hard to find) 6 speed internal hub cruiser!!  WOOF!  We LOVE  Mr. Bullet! 
So with that, I need to get a going and put out some more goodies!
See ya soon!

ONLY $80.00!!

ONLY $140.00!!


  1. Good advice, all, my friend!

    Want to kick it up another notch? Take the bike apart and sign the steering tube with a Sharpie. Tape your business card to it. I have my own triangular decals that go on every bike that comes out of Uncle Chippie's garage- if you see that on a bike coming through your door- CALL ME.

    I just bought a 6 foot by 10mm looped steel cable at Home Depot that I use now with my monster Master lock- the biggest padlock they make. The cable cost me $7. The lock I've had for forty years. Tough to carry? Maybe a little, but it sure beats walking. (And it looks DARNED impressive.)

    No bike is theft proof, ever. But it doesn't have to be. All it has to be is more annoying to steal than the bike parked next to it. and mine are that. Every time.

    Want to know more? The City of Dunedin is hosting a seminar on bike theft, bike laws and local trails on Saturday, March 22nd, 10 to noon at their community center, 1920 Pinehurst Road. Free. Free lunch, even! Be there or be square. I will be.

    There, that is.

    1. Thanks for the extra tips and info! Yes, locking up your bike is like the old joke "if you and a friend are being chase across a field by a grizzly bear, and the field is 3 acres wide, how fast do you have to run in order to get away? answer; slightly faster then your friend!"

  2. Yep, Scruffy got it in one!

    By the way Steven, those round Master locks you show in the blog above are REALLY anoying to use. The Lovely JoAnn and I bought a couple awhile back, but they got shunted aside right quick like. They don't snap shut- you have to key-turn them shut, and that's a pain. Also, the area beneath the clasp is too small for any serious cable.

    I'll stop by in a bit here today and show you what I'm using these days to keep my bikes mine.