red folding bike locked to the street sign using u-lock

How To Lock Up A Bike Without A Rack?

Getting around town on a bike can be a challenge because, in many places, there are no bike parking racks nearby. Imagine if someone stole it! Bicycle thefts are unfortunately not uncommon. Most of them happen because the bike was parked in the wrong place or not locked properly.

So, NEVER underestimate how important it’s to lock your bike. Lock it even if there’s no bike rack because they’re effortless to steal. However, you shouldn’t let the fear of theft stop you from riding your bike everywhere.

Riding a bike isn’t only a great way to exercise and stay healthy. Still, it’s also good for the environment because it reduces your carbon footprint. So instead of letting the threat of theft stop you, I’ll show you how to lock up a bike without a rack.

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How To Lock Up A Bike Without A Rack?

First of all, you should never leave your bike unlocked. That sounds like common sense, right? But you’d be surprised how many people forget that. Some even leave it unlocked on purpose! It happens all the time that people make a quick stop at the convenience store and don’t lock their bike because they think nothing wrong will happen to it. But bicycles are valuable. They’re expensive, and if they get stolen, you’re suddenly out on the street and can’t get home!

You must always keep your bike locked. But how and where can you do that? You should always use immovable, strong objects rooted in the ground, and for this, you’ve several options.

Related reading: Does Hanging a Bike by the Wheel Damage It?

Traffic Signs and Road Signs

Traffic and road signs are excellent places to lock your bikes. While they’re a good option, some cities like New York don’t allow bikes to be strapped to traffic and street signs. So check out the appropriate rules in your area.


  • They’re sturdy and can’t be broken as easily.
  • The lock and the bike cannot be lifted over them.
  • They’re easy to spot; you won’t lose your bike even on a busy street.
  • People and cars often pass by, so it’s more difficult to steal your bike


  • Your bike could obstruct foot traffic


Benches are another excellent alternative to secure your bike, but they also have advantages and disadvantages. Since benches are where people hang out, thieves don’t have a good opportunity to pick the lock and steal your bike.


  • Benches bolted to the ground are sturdy and can’t be broken easily.
  • The bike and lock cannot be lifted over them.
  • People often walk by, which discourages thieves.
  • Probably doesn’t interfere with pedestrian traffic.


  • It might be inconvenient for others who want to sit there
  • If the bench isn’t bolted to the ground, your bike could get stolen.

Lampposts and Electric Poles

Both lamp posts and utility poles are good alternatives to bike racks. They’re often located in areas where people walk by. Be careful not to obstruct anyone if the pole is on the sidewalk.


  • They’re firmly attached to the ground, sturdy, and can’t break easily.
  • The bike and lock cannot be lifted over the post.
  • People often pass them on busy streets, which discourages thieves


  • Bicycles can obstruct foot traffic
  • Your bike could be stolen if it’s not on a busy street.

Railings and Fences

Your bike should be safe if attached to a solid railing or fence. However, make sure the railing or fence is sturdy enough. If the fence can be easily cut, it’s not a safe option.


  • Your bike is safe as long as it can’t be lifted over.
  • The fence cannot be easily cut.
  • If it’s on a busy street, it’ll deter thieves

Cons :

  • Your bike could obstruct pedestrian traffic
  • Sometimes the railings aren’t sturdy, so better check them twice.


Trees should be your absolute last resort. If you can’t find anything else nearby, you should attach it to a tree because there are few pros compared to cons. If it’s a big tree, your lock’s cable mightn’t cover the tree’s diameter. But if it’s not a big tree, it might be so weak that a thief can cut it down. If the tree is in a busy area, you can consider it as an option.


  • Large trees with thick trunks are sturdy
  • They’re difficult to cut through


  • Sturdy trees are hard to find in busy streets
  • Your bike can disrupt foot traffic

while women's bike locked to the street sign using u-lock

Where NOT To Lock Up Your Bike

Just as there are many places where you can lock your bike, there are a few places where you better not. There are even places where it is illegal to leave your bicycle and where you can expect a fine.

Here are a few places where you shouldn’t park your bike:

  • Busy sidewalks with lots of pedestrian traffic
  • Unstable trees that are easy to cut through
  • Empty parking lots where no one around
  • Busy parking lots where you could be taking up unnecessary space
  • Handicapped parking spaces that could affect accessibility
  • Close to the road where accidents may occur

Related reading: 8 Smart Indoor Bike Storage Ideas For Apartment | Home | Garage

Tips On Locking Bicycle Without A Rack

Make Your Bike Unrideable

Remove The Front Wheel

Most bikes these days have quick-release skewers that allow you to easily remove and reinstall the wheel. I know that sounds a little ridiculous because where would you store the wheel once you took it off? Take it with you.

I know the idea sounds absurd, but here’s a simple question: Would you rather look like an idiot carrying the bike wheel around and still be able to ride home or an idiot standing in the middle of the road unable to get home? Trust me, looking like a fool is worth not losing your bike.

Remove The Bike Chain or Seat

This is similar to removing the front wheel but maybe a little less awkward. You can keep the chain in your bag or backpack, and the saddle will fit in a backpack if you carry one. If you remove one or both parts, the thief can’t make off with your bike.

Choose A Sturdy Chain and Cable

Some good old sturdy chains or cables might be a good investment in this case. Even if they cost you more money, buying strong chains and cables with a good working lock could save you in the future. You could also chain the wheels together or attach your bike to something else with the cables if you can’t find a rack nearby.

It would be best if you could buy a chain or cable with a combination lock because the regular locks have keys that can be easily duplicated and tampered with. However, if you’re on a budget, a standard chain is better than no chain.

Sturdy chains and cables are available at bike stores and online, but you need to know what you’re looking for. If you need recommendations, I have a few of those too! The Master Lock 8114D might be a good choice. It’s made of stainless steel, which makes it durable, and at 6 feet long, you can wrap it around your bike a few times without worrying about it being too short.

Get a U Lock

A heavy-duty U-lock can go a long way. Like chains and cables, a U-lock will be your best friend when you park your bike in a public place. High-quality U-locks can withstand bolt cutters and other tools thieves might use to break the lock. Locks like the Kryptonite Evolution 11-14mm U-lock have steel shackles and anti-theft protection that can even protect your bike from lever attacks. U-locks are the best products you can buy to protect your bike.

Get a GPS Tracker

Another way to keep your bike from getting lost is to get a GPS tracker. Many GPS trackers can be linked to your cell phone, so you always know where your bike is. And even if it gets stolen, you can find it again. You can also report it to the police and show them the last tracked location. Then they can definitely help you.

The Invoxia Cellular GPS tracker is an excellent option for trackers as it’s small and portable. You can discreetly attach it to your bike, so the thief won’t even know it’s there. It’s long battery life and even sends you a notification when there’s suspicious activity, or it’s tampered with.

Set Up an Alarm System

An alarm system is a must when it comes to keeping thieves away. Not only can an alarm system notify you, but it can also alert people around your bile about suspicious activity. It’s also the perfect way to catch thieves off guard. If they know you have the alarm on, they may leave your bike alone.

The Wireless Vibration Anti-Theft Motorcycle Security is a great option to keep your bike safe. Its compact size and loud alarm sounds can catch anyone in the act, and trust me. No one will want to mess with you again if you’ve it.

Register Your Bike and Remember the Serial Number

Here’s another pro-tip: register your bike and remember the serial number. Even if your bike gets stolen, you can report it to the police and give them the serial number so it can be easily tracked down and recovered.

Related reading: Best Outdoor Bike Storage Ideas For Home | Garden | Yard

The Basic Dos and Don’ts of Parking in Public

Let’s now go over some rules for parking bicycles in public.


  • Always keep your bike locked.
  • Double-check the bike lock.
  • Avoid parking in the same place every day – thieves might follow you to see when and where you park your bike.
  • Park where there aren’t many cars – your bike could get hit.
  • Choose a place where there are surveillance cameras.
  • Park it near other bikes – this sounds a bit harsh, but if you park it near other bikes, your bike is less likely to be stolen.


  • Do not keep the lock on the ground – this makes it easier to smash the lock.
  • Don’t park on a busy street – the thief isn’t as easy to spot in a crowd.
  • Don’t park on an empty street – no one will notice the theft or hear the alarm.


Life would be so much easier if there were bike racks everywhere. But unfortunately, that’s not the case, and it’s incredibly unsafe to park your bike anywhere without adequately securing it first. Always lock it with sturdy chains and locks against immovable objects when you’re outdoors.

If possible, purchase GPS trackers and alarms that alert you to suspicious activity. Now that you know what to do and how to lock your bike when there’s no bike rack, you can enjoy your cycling adventures!

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