San Francisco suffers from some of the worst bike theft in the country, and it's only gotten worse. City dwellers know not to lock up their bikes for more than a few hours if they ever want to see them again (and certainly not overnight), but even with maximum security too many of my friends have had parts, saddles, wheels - and even entire bikes stolen. Rarely do they get recovered.
SF is certainly != to all of the bay area, but with theft high in a nearby area it's always good to be prepared. It's a well known fact that the best thing to do to deter theft is to make your bike the hardest target, usually by using multiple locks and being smart about how you lock up.
But what about your headset? Your brakes? Even if your wheels aren't quick release, they can still be taken by anyone with a 15mm wrench - what then? Often thieves will take a small part so that the bike is unusable, making the owner more likely to leave it for a while longer, then they'll come back to finish the job. Even with the best locks, how do you combat this?
Enter Pitlocks. While certainly not 100% foolproof, with over a hundred different pits and an anti theft seizing mechanism, it most definitely makes your bike less of a target. Pitlocks can be used for axles, brakes, saddles - you name it, and Pitlock probably has it.
|Tough, but shiny.|
Looking like typical unassuming skewers, it isn't until you go to install these that you realize how genius they are. Tapered ends don't allow for a tool to grip these easily, and the nut is protected on the locking side. A special washer will also seize up if someone attempts to forcefully remove the skewer - the only way to effectively remove it is by having the pit or using destructive machinery.
|The specially coded nut is surrounded by a protective end.|
Each pit is coded so that you can order more parts or replacement pits if needed, and each pit is also designed so that not just any wrench could be used to pry it off. For kicks I tried to get a few other bits and my Leatherman in there to see if I could get the nut off, but no luck whatsoever.
|Just prior to tightening.|
After installing, the excess skewer can be marked and removed, leaving your bike with an extra layer of protection and a little less to worry about if you have to park in a sketchy area for a while.
While having Pitlocks doesn't give you immunity from locking your bike up in a dark alley all night, it certainly does add a bit of deterrent and makes your bike less of an easy target. They are a bit pricey, but worth the peace of mind, and will let you love the bay area again.
Except for wind. You suck, wind.