Ratting a Bike

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by dwj444, May 23, 2004.

  1. dwj444

    dwj444 New Member

    Aug 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    I'm living in DC and commuting to work everyday on a Bianchi Pista (fixie). It's a fantastic ride and I'm thrilled to be able to do my commute this way.

    I'm moving to Chicago this summer to start graduate school. My work in DC let me keep the bike locked in a storage closet in the building (so that I was never concerned about its security). When I move to Chicago though, my bike will be locked up outside more often and for longer periods of time.

    I know from seeing messengers' bikes out here and in Chicago that some guys rat their bikes to make them look less attractice to potential thieves. I've seen guys tape over the decals on their bikes and even go so far as to file off the decals & printing on the components.

    My bikes has minimal components (one front brake). I want to make it as inobtrusive as possible (IE, not a bike that attracts anyone's attention or becomes a target).

    What does anyone use to rat a bike with? My bike is battleship gray with black Bianchi decals -- I'd love to be able to rat it without destroying the simple aesthetic of it.

    Any advice is appreciated!


  2. less'go

    less'go New Member

    Sep 11, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Around here there are plenty of horse thiefs, so you don't want your bike to look to tempting either. Battleship gray is a great color to start with, I think, because it blends in to the urban setting of posts fences, etc.

    Mine is black, with very discrete decals. I NEVER wash it (just do spot-cleaning), and my saddlebags are getting weathered and grungy too. Nothing flashy, nothing shiny...

    My neighbor put a couple strips of duct tape down the top of his fancy new seat and did a convincing job of making it look like it had been slashed, and acetone to dull the finish. Seems to have worked so far.

    And lastly, if it's a bike you really care about and would be heartsick to lose you should find indoor space for it, or store it and buy an old beater for everyday biking.
  3. meehs

    meehs New Member

    Nov 7, 2003
    Likes Received:
    If your bike is battleship grey already and it just has a front brake for components, I'd just try to remove the Bianchi decals and leave it at that.
  4. VeloFlash

    VeloFlash New Member

    Feb 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Battleship grey/gray? Minor cosmetic bike surgery? Bianchi bike?

    This is blasphemous.

    If it was me, I would be assessing my position and give consideration about migrating to a country where bicycles can be maintained as jewels not weapons :)
  5. tyler_derden

    tyler_derden New Member

    Mar 22, 2004
    Likes Received:
    What will the pro thieves look for?
    The easiest way to quickly spot a decent bike (even if the paint is bad and the labeling is gone) is to look for quick release levers on wheels and seatpost. Also, clip-in pedals. No one has those on a complete peice of trash.

    Quick release levers on seat posts are an invitation to steal a saddle and seatpost. Look around any urban bike rack and count the number of bikes that are missing seats and posts. What do they do with them? Hell if I know... It is like back in the late 80s when people were stealing radios/stereos out of cars. All cars by that time came with a stereo. Who was buying all the stolen ones? Where were they putting them? Who would buy a bicycle seat that someone else's butt has been sweating on? EEEEyyyyyyyuuuuuuuHHHHkkkkkkkkkk! I think they are mainly stolen just to p**s off the rider.

    Anyway, forget clipless pedals. They are also a dead giveaway. You'll have to go back to rat-trap pedals maybe with toe clips.

    Water bottles/cages, especially if you have two of them, are another dead give-away of a quality bike. Cut back to one bottle/cage or better yet, lose them altogether.

    How about faking up a set of stickers to make your bike look like a Walmart brand bike?

    Don't leave a pump on the bike, or even a tool kit under the seat. People who ride crap bikes don't carry pumps or toolkits. You'll have to carry that stuff in a back pack or one of those cool bicycle messenger bags.

    Don't leave anything on the bike can can be detached without tools. It will disappear.

    Finally, get a major lock and use it the right way each and every time you get off the bike. Most thieves aren't pros and won't even attempt to break a decent lock. If you leave even a POS bike unlocked it will disappear.

  6. yak

    yak New Member

    May 17, 2004
    Likes Received:
    A few panic stops with just a front brake and your bike will be well ratted from the endo's you'll be doing.
  7. moltar

    moltar New Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Your local artsy-fartsy craft store will have rust or filth colored paints and surface treatments, meant for people who like rusty, filthy things (referred to as "patina" or "rustic") but have too much money to be seen getting thier rusty things for free.
    Oughtta work fine for making a nice new bike look completely rotten, but without the long wait to let nature take its course.
    Maybe the best bet for clipless pedals would be strategic application of "rust", or even better, perhaps installation with yellow Loctite. (aka "permanent", requires a torch to break loose)
    Maybe bury the crankarm bolts and fill allen screws with silicone caulk, it'd be a royal pain to remove them, but also a royal pain for a thief, too! Or maybe just drill them so an allen wrench won't remove anything, you'd need to drill them out (or dremel a slot for a flatblade screwdriver) to replace parts occasionally, but you've got all the time in the world, unlike a thief....
    Don't forget the duct tape, a nasty old roll found laying in the ditch provides the best effect.