Bike Theft Prevention

Practical Principles

Bike theft is not uncommon at GVSU.  Many thefts can be prevented by simply having a properly locked bike.  Having a strong lock & knowing how to use it is important.  The following steps can help make your bike a less attractive target.

  1. Make your bike more secure than those around it.
    Many on-campus thieves are opportunists whose goal is not to steal the most expensive bike, but to find the easiest bike to steal.
  2. When possible, lock your bike in a location that is well lit & highly visible.  If it's an option, bring your bike inside at night.
    Thieves are less likely to target a bike if they're more likely to be seen doing it.
  3. ALWAYS lock your bike to an immobile object.  A GVSU bike rack is the best place.
    This prevents thieves from moving your bike to a more private location to remove the lock.  This is more likely to happen if your bike is locked near a road or parking lot.
  4. Pass the lock through the frame.  Also pass the lock through the front or rear wheel if your bike has quick releases.
    Passing the lock only through a wheel that has quick releases makes it easy for thieves to either swap out your wheel with one from another nearby bike or simply take 2/3 of your bike.

Lock Use

A lock that fits the rider's needs is more likely to be used. The following generalizations are true for many basic locks.

Use the information below to decide which is right for you.



Cable Lock







Ease of Use

Harder to lock properly.  Especially, shorter ones



More Expensive

Less Expensive


Bulky. Look for ones that have brackets that attach to the frame.

Pack smaller & can easily wrap around the frame

Common Do's & Don'ts

The following are real bikes found "secured" around GVSU's campus. In providing our insights about how they are secured, we hope to encourage more thoughtful lock use.

Cable locked to rack through bike's frame & front wheel

General Impression

  • This is one of the easiest & most practical ways to do it.

How to do it better

  • U-lock instead of cable lock


  • Heavy-duty cable lock used
  • Frame & front wheel secured
  • Locked to an immobile object


Bike Photo

Cable locked to rack through bike's frame & front wheel

Cable locked through rear wheel

General Impression

  • This is better than nothing but very easily bypassed.

How to do it better

  • Lock through the fork & front wheel to the rack.
  • Likely worst case scenario, someone walks off with the rear wheel. At least they don't get the rest of the bike as well.


  • The rear wheel won't spin which prevents the bike from being ridden away


  • Bike not attached to an immobile object.  If near a parking lot, a thief could very easily walk off with this bike & put it in a vehicle to be unlocked elsewhere.
  • Only the rear wheel is locked.  The bike's quick release rear wheel creates a situation in which a thief could simply swap the rear wheel with one from another nearby bike & ride away.
Bike pic

Cable lock through the rear wheel

U-lock through fork and rack

General Impression

  • This is absolutely worthless. On a scale of 1-10, this gets a 1 for security.

How to do it better

  • Attaching the lock through the wheel would be an improvement.
  • Through the frame would be better.
  • Through the frame & front wheel would be best.  


  • They used a U-lock
  • It gives the impression of being secured but a closer look reveals that this bike will roll away in under 60 seconds if someone wants it.


  • Because the lock is only passed through the fork & not the wheel or frame, all a thief needs to do is open the quick release, slide the fork off the lock, & reattach the wheel.  
  • The owner returns to find their lock securely fastened to the rack
Bike Pic

U-lock through fork & rack.

U-lock through rear wheel

General Impression

  • This is okay but there is room for improvement.  
  • This is how bikes are intended to be parked at these racks.

How to do it better

  • Lock it to the rack.
  • Unless the thief is carrying a wrench to undo the axle nuts, this bike won't go anywhere.


  • U-lock employed
  • Gives the impression of being secured


  • Not locked to anything immobile
  • Only the rear wheel is locked.  This bike doesn't have quick release wheels which makes it harder to be removed & swapped for a different wheel from a nearby bike.
Bike Pic

U-lock through rear wheel

Page last modified January 5, 2022