Going Places

Going Places

My favorite way to see the world is by bike. That’s no newsflash ’round these parts. It is, if I may, the raison d’etre of this site. But here’s an awkward admission. For all the exploring I do by bike, when I roll into an unfamiliar town, I’m reluctant to pull over to a café or bar to relax, unless I can keep my bike within a step or two of me. I’ve had too many friends walk out of a convenience store or coffee shop to discover no bike. Hell, it happened to me 25 years ago at a grocery store in rural Virginia. I’d locked my bike, but not to anything.

And so I’ve often rolled through a hamlet without putting a foot down. Sometimes that was the don’t-stop-gotta-go-fast-for-training racer in me, but more recently my excuse has been my lack of knowledge of a community, and not knowing if I’m in a place where a bike leaning against a tree is just a bike leaning against a tree or, possibly, the location of an impending crime.

I’ve found a compromise more recently, thanks to Abus. I’m not going to put a lock bracket on any of my high-end bikes. I’m hoping I don’t have to explain that. I’m just not sticking some Philips-screwed clamp on a handbuilt frame. Complicating matters is that as I’ve begun riding around my town more, I’ve noticed that it can be difficult to find an object to which you may secure a bike. It’s not impossible, but damn, it’s rarely obvious.


That’s where the Abus Steel-O-Chain comes in. Can I just say how much I love how direct the name is? It’s got this truth-in-advertising sensibility that I appreciate when considering security devices. I’d like to see what they’d call their trebuchet.

So the Steel-O-Chain is a 42-inch steel chain covered by a polyester fabric sleeve to protect the finish of your bike. Yes, it’s quite a bit bigger than a U-lock, but it has several advantages. On a short ride, it’s easy to just toss it over your shoulder and wear it like a bullet-free bandolier. Also, I’ve seen bike racks that use such large tubing that it’s impossible to get a U-lock around the rack and the bike. With the Steel-O-Chain it’s easy to lock the frame and both wheels (after removing the front wheel) to any rack.


The Steel-O-Chain ranks an 8 on Abus’ 15-point security scale, putting it in the middle range of their locks. It goes for $54.95, which is substantially more than the $20 Kryptonite I bought in 1987, but what hasn’t gone up? This thing is easier to use, offers greater security and is a good deal easier to transport. Win win win.

Final thought: Think I might go get a Pliny at Russian River Brewing Company.

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  1. Scott G.

    Why are there no Ti chain, cable or u locks ?
    Palmy makes a aluminum U Lock, or U lock shaped object.
    Tigr makes a sort of U lock, the Tigr Mini, but is an odd shape,
    hard to pack without a bag.

    1. Tyler B

      A new “Altor lock” which is a titanium folding lock has been bombing my facebook feed of late. My local shop is getting one to demo so I’ll get a chance to try it out soon. Less of an odd shape than the Tigr but I’d want to get hands-on before using it. (https://altorlocks.com)

      I personally use a Vier lock when out and about on my S&S travel bike. It packs down small enough to be easily traveled with, thrown into a large saddle bag, or strapped somewhere on the frame. (http://tallachouse.com/vier-lock/vier-lock)

  2. Winky

    My urban cafe will have complimentary loaner-locks. Swap your (decent) helmet, glasses, seat, CC or licence for a lock while you enjoy your coffee/breakfast/mid-ride nosh and I’ll loan you a decent lock. Swap back when you’re ready to go.

  3. Les.B.

    Oh yeah, I hear ya. My good bike — there’s only one place in the world on my rides where I’ll leave it sit out of my direct sight.

    Being retired from engineering, I’ve thought of building a bike theft device that when the thief takes a turn the front brake clamps down. Eat pavement, creep! One reason I haven’t made that device is that eventually I would forget to disarm it…

    That place BTW, is the Rock Store in the Santa Monica Mts. I figure anyone stealing any kind of 2-wheeled conveyance there, he might just as well jump into a shark tank.

  4. Michael

    I’m hoping the Ottolock will be the compact, lightweight lock I can take anywhere without thinking about it. The preorder is still open on Kickstarter.

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