The following quotes (the title of today’s post included) have all been fished from various cycling forums and constitute a broad-ish swathe of opinion on the general subject of saddle theft.
„If you’re worried about it, just take the whole damn seat post with you. Oh, and if you go that route, don’t forget to cover that hole where your seat post went.“
„I use a u-lock, and a long braided-steel cable that goes through the front wheel, the rails on the Brooks, and the leather loop on the Carradice. And I still twitch when I can’t see it.“
„If you have access to a MIG welder, get that seatpost at exactly the height you want and tack weld the nut to the bolt threads. Just plan the weld so you can get at it with a hacksaw or cutoff wheel or drill when you want to unweld it.“
„It’s not the end of the world if someone were to steal my saddle, and the mental load of perseverating over it isn’t worth it.“
Did anyone else learn a new word up there?
Saddle theft is often explained away to some extent as „a crime of opportunity“, i.e., that saddles get robbed because their owners haven’t done enough to deter even the casual passer-by from having a go. Not true.
Overwhelmingly, saddles get robbed because they can be easily sold on for a decent price, and the vast majority of saddles robbed will tend to have been robbed by someone who has gone in search of a saddle to rob.
And it’s unfortunately true if you have one, that a Brooks, more so perhaps than any other make of saddle, is the one a casual prospective buyer will gravitate towards, whether it be at a fleamarket or online auctioning house, thus making yours a prime target for thieves.
So. Who wants it more?
Assuming you have a Brooks on top, the cardinal sin would have to be using a quick release lever (clue is in the name) to set the height of your seat post. Nowadays, this functions literally (and i don’t use that word lightly) as an open invitation to everybody, LITERALLY EVERYBODY, to take said seatpost-and-saddle-combo away, should they judge either piece to be worth three seconds of their time. Literally. So, at the very least, use an allen nut and bolt.
Imagine trying to get sympathy from someone because you didn’t win the lottery last week. That’s how people will look at you when you tell them what happened.
Anybody with a passing interest in etymology will likely be familiar with the glut of theories that still do the rounds today in relation to the origin of the English word „sincere“.
Most of them are fairly convoluted, but nearly all have at their core the erroneous assumption that the word derives from a putting together of the Latin „sine“ (without) and „cera“ (wax).
Depending on which story you go for, something „without wax“ was at one time considered to be, broadly speaking, good. Lazy Roman stoneworkers, for example, are charged in one version with the practise of waxing marble instead of taking the time to polish it properly, thus causing non-lazy Roman stoneworkers to advertise the fact that they worked „sincerely“, or „without wax“.
So what has this got to do with minimizing the risk of saddle theft?
Drip some melted candle wax (perhaps something from Rapha) into the allen nut heads that fix seat post to frame, and saddle to seat post. Unless you live in a very hot country, the wax will get fairly solid, and remain so. The extra time required to clear the heads will deter… who, exactly? The opportunist carrying no tools, for sure. And perhaps also the ill-equipped amateur saddle thief, who might make a mental note to pack a box of matches next time out.
Waxing nut heads can also be employed as a preventative measure against brake block theft, which, believe it or not, is also on the rise. And if you’re concerned that in your absence somebody could be tampering with the tightness of your system pedals, you know what to do.
Next time somebody describes your bike as „insincere“, take it as a sharp-eyed compliment.
Right. Let’s take it up a notch or two, and look at how to give your more tenacious or dedicated purloiner of other people’s stuff the „vee-sign“.
Running some form of extra lock through the seat rails and closing it through the frame can yield what some might call a halfway acceptable „functional-ugly quotient“.
The dilemma now is whether to leave that lock on there all the time, or only when you leave your bike parked somewhere out of sight. If we were going to be grown-up and sensible about it we should maybe say “all the time”, but a clunky lock can take the clean look off a bike quite easily. And while it’s arguably foolish to be completely enslaved by the visually pleasing, it’s surely equally ridiculous to sacrifice all aesthetic concerns at the altar of saddle safety.
A good compromise, with oodles of street credibility thrown in, is the (preferrably used) bike chain looped through rails and frame and re-linked, a popular one with knowing minimalists. Extra points for housing it in an old inner tube.
But here’s the big one. Elegant, functional, not too messy. Let it sink in.
First up, make sure both your seat post height and saddle position are how you’re going to want them for the foreseeable future.
Now get your hands on some ball bearings that will fit snugly into the nut heads we’ve already been talking about.
Superglue these bearings into the heads, and your work is done. Even someone who has ventured out with the express intention of taking a few Brookses back home with them is going to come unstuck, unless they’ve got some acetone or a flame thrower in their toolbox. Which if they have, let’s face it, means they really want that saddle.
If you can get John Brooks on the phone, and are able to prove that this is how yours got taken, I’d nearly dare say he’ll give you a new one.