Street Seen: Bob’s Virginia Beach Free Spirit

Our old friend Bob sent us this true “Rat” Free Spirit which he spotted in Virginia Beach recently.  In his message he mentions that he was, “..kind of surprised it was actually locked!”  Bob, I can tell you from my own recent expirience, that there are people out there that would steal wet toenail clippings if you don’t secure them with a U-lock and cables.  As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I ended my unemployment streak and took a job in down town Chicago.  I have about a mile and a half trip from the train station to the office, so I decided I would take a rat bike in to keep at the station for that portion of the commute.  I was leery of taking any of my nicer OTS for fear of theft,  luckly, I recently purchased a yellow, 24″ Magna mountain bike on craigslist for $15.  I decide it would be a perfect commuter—heavy, uncomfortable and small—plus, it wasn’t an old 10-speed or a fixed gear, so what possible market value could it have that would motivate anyone to steal it? Labor Day, my wife and I hauled it into the city and parked it at the station.  Convinced no one would even look at it much less steal it, I only locked it with a Schlage cable and a good size Master padlock. I arrived at the station the next morning to find my bike locked up safe and sound right where I left it—or so I thought.  I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary until later that afternoon.  Someone did try to steal my bike, but for one reason or another failed!  The cable (10mm thick) was cut, leaving about 2-3mm of the cable uncut.  I’m not sure what foiled their plan—cops, passers by or their own better judgement, but I was impressed and relieved to see that the cable was at least good enough to thwart their efforts in that circumstance.

After that expirience, I realized no bike is ever safe, no matter how small, ugly, heavy or un-10-speed it is.  I decided to beef up my security—my $15 Magna now has $50+ worth of lock securing it! And every morning I pray it’s still there.


I spotted this classic Free Spirit in Virginia Beach, VA this weekend. I was kind of surprised it was actually locked!

Thanks Bob

  • Grit

    I was recently in Chicago and noticed a LOT of sweet old bikes. Many were not secured at all. Some, oddly, were very well protected. I can’t imagine a bike worth owning that is not worth locking up. Still crying (on the inside) after losing my yellow Yamaha Moto-bike in ’77:( Later!