The “modified” Sheldon Brown Bike Locking Strategy

Sheldon Brown’s Lock Strategy is often referred to as a preferred method for ease and security. It involves using a mini u-lock to lock the rear wheel to a bike rack between the rear triangle of the bike frame. This accomplishes two things, it secures the rear wheel (2nd most expensive part of the bike) and the frame cannot be stolen unless the rear wheel is completely sawed through. See Sheldon’s page for detail.

In real world situations I’d say it’s not likely a thief is going to saw through your rear wheel, but as this Youtube video shows, it can be done quite quickly. My main gripe about his method is that visually, it doesn’t look as secure as it could.

Lastly, Sheldon’s method does not secure the front wheel. This isn’t a significant issue if your front wheel is bolt on, but most bikes these days use quick release wheels. Sheldon’s method leaves your front wheel vulnerable.

As such, this is my modification of the Sheldon Brown Locking Strategy.

Modified Sheldon Brown Lock Strategy

Modified Sheldon Brown Lock Strategy

This shows an OnGuard mini u-lock securing the rear wheel and frame (via one chain stay). The front wheel is secured using a 4′ accessory cable. It is locked to a 2″ pipe, the same diameter tubing used for most bike racks. If you lock your bike like this, chances are it’s going to be the most securely locked bike on the rack. Now, cables can be cut using a hand tool in less than 30 seconds, but I feel comfortable saying that many thieves will not cut a cable just to steal a front wheel, unless your front wheel is really nice. If it is, I suggest an additional u-lock for the front wheel. Alternatively you can purchase a long shackle u-lock, remove the front wheel if quick release, and place it next to the rear wheel and secure it with the u-lock. The Kryptonite Evo lock is also very popular. If you plan to carry an additional u-lock for the front wheel and weight is a concern, consider the lightweight Palmy u-lock.

To prevent quick release seat theft, remove the seat from the bike and thread the cable coming from the front wheel through the seat rail before looping it into the u-lock. Alternatively, affix a seat leash.

6 Comments to “The “modified” Sheldon Brown Bike Locking Strategy”

  1. By Ryan, August 8, 2011 @ 12:54

    Don’t forget though to use the cable around the actual front wheel and not just around a spoke. They could just cut the spoke on the wheel and they’ve got a wheel with a spoke they can easily replace. [ says: The angle of the photo makes it appear that it’s only wrapped around a spoke. It is wrapped around the wheel, look closely.]

  2. By Ian, August 17, 2012 @ 15:26

    I think bike alarm will do good also. If they move the bike, it will yell help me. Making the bike look old. Will be great also.

  3. By EH, November 21, 2012 @ 00:13

    The cable in the picture does go around the wheel, if you follow through the loop, but the picture is taken at a bad angle that makes it look like it’s just looping around some spokes.

  4. By Tom, June 23, 2013 @ 17:17

    6/23/2103, re-staged the photo and uploaded a new one as the old one caused confusion.

  5. By KRB, July 25, 2013 @ 10:23

    This is still wrong. Sheldon Brown says to put the U around the post and the bar on the bike side to better defend against a leverage attack. [802bikeguy says: leverage attacks rely on space within the u-lock for the thief to fit a jack, with a mini u-lock not much space is left at all. I’ve never had a bike stolen using this method.]

    Second if thief defeats the U lock (because it was placed wrong), the cable is of no use at all because it is just attached to the U lock. Why not just attach the cable to the post, too? If you are going to use two separate devices that will much a thief’s job much harder. [802bikeguy says: the cable is merely an annoyance for a thief, it can be cut with a hand tool in less than 30 seconds. It’s risk vs reward. Is it worth the risk for just a front wheel? Maybe. That’s a risk I can live with. The cable is just there to prevent casual crimes of opportunity. If you’re in love with your front wheel you should use a more secure method.]

    Third, never lock your bike to something that is not secured to the ground! [802bikeguy says: agreed, this is a staged photo for my blog. However, I’ll pay you $20 if you can carry away my bike while attached to that 175 pound pipe cap.]

  • How NOT to Lock Your Bike « The Bike Nerd — September 3, 2013 @ 15:58

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