How do thieves steal bicycles?


A few years back, Kryptonite suffered a bout of bad PR when it was alleged its D-Locks could be opened with a modified Bic Biro. The episode called into question the efficacy of many cylindrical-lock products, however in reality most thieves don’t have the time, patience or skill to pick locks – they prefer to cut, freeze or smash them.

A well-equipped and determined bicycle thief can defeat most designs of lock within minutes and with many bikes now worth thousands on the second-hand market, the crime is rife. And when a thief is unable to remove a lock, it is not uncommon for him to vandalise the bike or simply steal parts. Thieves in London this spring have taken to stealing handlebars from road bikes. Once a few control cables are severed, they walk away with bars and shifters worth hundreds of pounds.

The advent of powerful cordless angle grinders and brazen attitude from thrives who use mopeds to escape from police make no bike parked in public safe from a determined criminal. Occasionally, the approach is more subtle – thieves cut a section from a Sheffield stand and cover the damage with tape or a rubber sleeve. They return every so often and harvest any bikes without the need for any tools. The lesson is that even stoutest lock is no replacement for a good cycle insurance policy. Cycle insurance from the ETA includes the theft of parts.

Deter the opportunistic thief

They say that every bicycle weighs the same. A lightweight (and by extension, expensive) bike requires a heavy lock whereas its cheap and cheerful cousin (which weighs more) can make do with a lighter version.

If you own a lightweight road bike it’s likely you often ride without any lock at all, but what to do when you stop for a coffee or a loo break? Hoping to solve this particular conundrum is the Z LOK.

While the Z LOK might look similar to a conventional zip tie, it incorporates a stainless steel band to deter the opportunistic thief.

We know it’s stating the obvious, but the Z LOK is not rated by Sold Secure and, as such, its use as a primary lock will render your cycle insurance policy void. Its purpose is to deter opportunistic thieves when the bike is within your sight.

Win a pair of Z LOK zip ties

We have a pair of Z LOK zip ties worth £15 to give away. Leave us a message at the bottom of the page and we will draw a winner at random.

Z LOK cable tie lock bicycleETA cycle insurance



  1. Jim Woodlingfield


    My 6 year old hybrid doesn’t owe me anything but it would still be a long walk home without it!

  2. Alastair Seagroatt


    The wee lock looks just the job for our club run in the country.

  3. Richard Scrase


    In case you lack a lock

  4. John Fletcher


    Having just bought my first ever new bike this looks just the thing to keep it safe while I pop in the cafe to choose my cake!

  5. Andrew



  6. Frank beedell


    any deterrent is better than none. I always use my soldsecure gold lock but also add other more visible locks to be the bike that’s just too fiddly to steal.

  7. Jamie J


    Just the job for the back pocket…

  8. George


    So, I had a really really old bike that I used for commuting. I reasoned that it would be fine to leave at the station because nobody would want to steal it. And if anyone did I wouldn’t really mind that much.

    A couple of weeks ago it got stolen from West Byfleet station. And I did really mind that much, I’d had that bike for so long I’d become quite sentimental about it.

    But a Z LOK would be really good for my good road bike which I would never leave at a railway station and never let it out of my sight when out on the road.

  9. Jonathan Hunt


    These are perfect on a train to prevent anyone making a quick grab and exit before you can react.

  10. Rob


    Perfect for a quick stop!

  11. Peter Clark


    Can never have too many locks, especially if they’re of different types and I’ve not got one of these

  12. Dinnie Brooks


    This looks interesting – ideal for those situations when u want to dash into a small local shop but daren’t leave your bike unlocked even for a moment. I wonder how long it is & whether u could use places like railings, parking meters etc.

  13. Daniel Ash


    My girl friend would enjoy this

  14. gregory chauvet


    a wee lock is better than none

  15. Howard cheesman


    Until someone comes up with a lock that emits an ear piercing racket if anyone tampers with your bike (come on folks, how about it?) this seems like the perfect addition to a range of anti-theft devices you should be using. And the bright colour draws attention to itself and therefore informs and deters those naughty people who want your bike!

  16. Stuart Lamb


    These would be perfect for cafe rides out in the countryside

  17. Wayne


    While riding it can double up has a head band,orange is the new black

  18. Fergus Duncanson


    Perfect for my needs!

  19. Brad


    Great idea for trains, I worry about leaving a Brompton on the luggage rack

  20. Dave Coleman


    Yeah, perfect for when I need to park my bike outside the office ( in a secure area!) for 5mins but don’t want to drag out my chain and D-lock….

  21. Greg


    When zipping to the loo, zip up be before and after.

  22. Keith Graham


    Lock stock and barrel!

  23. Mike The Bike


    Anything that acts as a disincentive to potential thieves and doesn’t weigh as much as a baby elephant is very welcome !

  24. Philip Benson


    Great idea!

  25. Julie Lang


    Has many uses – not just for bikes!

  26. Helen


    I reckon even my six year old could use this. Perfect for popping into the shop.

  27. Nick



  28. Lance Woodman


    This would be great for the club run

  29. Steve K


    I too have really old bikes – but this would be great as a second lock …

  30. Darren C


    A good visual deterrent to lock up both wheels with.

  31. Mike Croker


    Get yer bike all tied up!

  32. Kath H


    Looks useful for a quick stop off

  33. Hollie


    Would be a great little deterrent to secure bikes during a cafe stop – my bike may not be the most valuable but I hate leaving it outside, even if it’s in sight.

  34. Stephen Wardrobe


    Perfect when I stop for my post ride coffee

  35. Janet Powell


    Such a simple but brilliant idea as an additional deterrent and a means of gaining extra precious minutes in which a bike theft could be foiled. These could be used in so many different ways!

  36. Francis Voon


    Is that how I Lok my bike???

  37. Brian Fairchild


    Light and easy to use. Sounds perfect rot the commute to work.

  38. Sonia Wasiejko


    Great idea. Looks small and light enough to carry and does the job of keeping your bike safe when you stop.

  39. Tara


    These look great for a coffee stop mid ride!

  40. Lynne


    The Z Lok is so versatile. Another addition to your bicycle armoury

  41. Sarah W


    If only I could think of a witty comment to protect my bike.

  42. Peter Chisnall



  43. frank


    Locked n loaded!

  44. Jane collier


    Great as additional security, even if just as a deterrent.

  45. Bruce


    I’ve relied on my helmet strap through the rear wheel and frame to deter thieves at the cafe. Z LOK looks much better!

  46. Kris


    Looks like a great lock for a quick stop!

  47. Chris


    Perfect to Zip-up the Brompton on the train

  48. Ian Maclean


    Zen like calm with your Z lock

  49. Richard


    Looks really good. Nice bright colour too

  50. Gillian Watling


    Neat, simple and light concept, like it.

  51. Stephen D.


    I hate carrying my heavy D lock around with me, so this is a very nice alternative.

    Thanks ETA!!

  52. MARK


    Looks to me like this would be very useful for short term security.

  53. Elspeth


    Just what I need for nipping into shops around Cambridge and hoping my old faithful is still there afterwards! Thanks for another opportunity ETA.

  54. Ian Harvey


    Having lost my road bike this would come in very handy for my new one.

  55. Craig Young


    Useful for securing quick release components as well, so could be used in addition to a decent D lock.


  56. Anna Davis


    Anything which makes life a little harder for those bike thieves works for me!

  57. David Shaw


    Not surprised that thieves are using angle grinders, but I will definitely be checking the integrity of the things I lock my bike to in the future. Good article, thanks!



    look great are they in the shops yet?
    I live in Sheffield, will look out for tape on the bike stands!

  59. Sue


    I am pretty sure that I would soon lose these neat locks to my husband if I won…

  60. steve


    Recently had my saddle nicked in town, they’ll take anything! Nice lightweight lock for such components.

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