Securing Your Saddle: How To Outsmart Thieves
It’s an unfortunate truth that saddles, among other components and accessories, are one of the most commonly stolen items when it comes to bicycle thefts and a huge inconvenience! However, there are ways to visually deter and make it more difficult for the opportunist thieves out there. Our guide below provides some common sense advice to help lower the chances of it happening to you.
Whilst theft/vandalism of your cycle or components is included as standard, if you already have insurance with us, please be aware that for your full cycle to be covered under your policy, you must meet our locking requirements when it is away from home and left unattended.
Saddles can not only be expensive to replace if it’s a high-end model, but also quite difficult to replace. For example, a Brooks saddle shapes to the rider due to it’s leather construction which moulds over time. This means even an identical saddle would take months to break in again, which could be very frustrating.
So how do you go about protecting your bike’s saddle from thieves, without resorting to using a budget saddle or never leaving your bike locked in public spaces? There are several options out there, each with their own merits and drawbacks.
Use a secondary lock
The most obvious method of protecting your saddle is to run a lock through the rails and the frame of the bike. Using a cable lock to secure your bike is a very common method, so why not use excess slack on the cable by feeding it through the rails at the back of your saddle.
Doing this means even if a thief does remove your seat post from the frame, unless they remove the lock your saddle is going nowhere. It’s therefore a very handy method of keeping your saddle safe. If you use 2 locks to secure your bike already, the secondary one can be used for this purpose. Alternatively, a small third lock could be used to secure just the saddle to the frame.
One of the minor drawbacks of this is having to carry multiple locks around, and potentially buying new, longer cable locks to ensure it can reach all components as well as the object it’s being locked to. However, we’d recommend using more than one lock anyway as this can slow or even halt the progress of any thief should they be trying to steal the whole bike.
Non-quick release seat clamps
Many road bikes already come with this as a standard feature, but mountain bikes commonly come with a quick release (QR) seat clamp as standard due to riders frequently adjusting the height of their saddle whilst on a trail. This poses a serious risk to the safety of the saddle as it can be removed in under 5 seconds, so is a prime target for any opportunist thief.
Replacing a QR seat clamp with a non-QR clamp means any thief would need to carry tools in order to remove the seat post and saddle, thus removing opportunist thieves from the equation.
There are 2 main types of mechanisms for non-QR seat clamps:
- Allen key seat clamps are the most common type, and as mentioned before are generally standard on a road bike but can easily be retrofitted to almost any bike.
- Nut & Bolt seat clamps are normally found on budget bikes or kids bikes; allen key clamps have made them more-or-less redundant, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t effective against theft.
Locking seat clamps
One step up from non-QR seat clamps, some manufacturers have introduced proprietary locking mechanisms into a seat clamp. This requires a manufacturer specific tool to release the seat clamp, making it far more difficult and time consuming for a thief to remove a saddle.
One example of this is the Pinhead Seat Post Lock, which uses a 3-notch key to lock the clamp in place. Standard tools cannot operate this mechanism, so unless a thief happens to have the exact key for your seat clamp, your saddle is going nowhere.
Their locking technology has also been applied to QR skewers for your bike’s wheels, making them more secure when leaving you bike locked up as well. Any additional locking mechanisms installed to your bike are bound to put off an opportunist thief, as the last thing they want is to be caught. A simple locking seat clamp can add those extra few seconds that change their decision.
Alternative seat post bolts
Often overlooked, the bolt(s) that fix your saddle rails to the seat post clamp are almost always allen key bolts, which are a very standard bolt type and can be removed by almost any multi-tool depending on the bolt head size. Thankfully this is pretty easy to change, and will combat thieves that are equipped with basic tools.torx
Torx bolts (also known as star-nut bolts) are an ideal substitute for the standard bolts. Similar to allen key bolts, these use a 6-point star instead of a hexagonal hole, meaning normal tools won’t fit. Common enough to be easy and cheap to purchase, but less common to have the correct size on a multi-tool, this is one option for preventing thieves from a quick and easy getaway.
A brilliant option, if you’re willing to spend, is Hexlox’s saddle lock security set. Hexlox have a unique key to tighten and remove their bolts, making it even harder for thieves to get their hands on the correct equipment to remove your saddle. I’ll leave it up to the experts to explain, check the video out below for more info.
Removing the saddle and seatpost
Far from an ideal option, but possibly the most viable for preventing theft, removing the saddle from your bike and taking it with you makes it impossible for a thief to steal it from your bike.
In reality, this option isn’t really viable as it’s impractical, requires you to carry your saddle and seatpost anywhere you go without your bike when leaving it locked up, can allow excess rain to gather inside the frame because of the opening, and may cause you to be complacent about arranging other security alternatives for protecting your saddle. This means if you forget to remove it, it’s at full risk of being stolen.
More of a DIY solution, but just as valid, and in some ways more effective. In the case of allen key seat clamps, blocking up the allen key hole is an easy method of stopping a thief using even the correct tools to remove the clamp. Ball bearings are perfectly suited to this as they come in a range of sizes, are very cheap, and are difficult to grip due to their shape.
There are 2 simple ways to fit them:
- Magnetic ball bearings will hold themselves in place, and cannot be easily removed without another magnet as prying them out with so little space to manoeuvre makes it impractical for thieves. Neodymium magnets are perfect for this application due to their immense magnetic force for the comparative size, and are not too expensive.
- Standard ball bearings can be held in place with superglue, which will prevent thieves from removing the seat clamp. The glue can be dissolved with acetone if you should need to adjust your saddle height. Use caution when working with acetone. Bear in mind these modifications make on-the-fly saddle adjustments far more difficult, so it’s best to set your saddle to a height you’re always going to be happy with before committing to this method.