Invasion of the part snatchers

One of the beautiful things about the fixed-gear bicycle, you often hear, is it’s simplicity. No brakes. No fussy derailleur adjustments. It is the bicycle, distilled to it’s purest essence. Or is it?

We might ask: How pure is it possible to make a bicycle? Well, if you leave your bike out in the wee small hours of the morning, evidently, it is possible that your bike will indeed be made very pure — so pure that it ends up less of an actual bicycle and more of … I don’t know … more of an idea:

Bummer. The cool Panasonic fixie conversion got more or less ravaged, it looks like. It was spotted on 13th Avenue, over in front of Cafe Soriah.

The really weird thing, though, is that two days later I passed by again. Nothing much had changed, except that a second U-lock had been added to what remained.

Far be it from me to deduce what is going on here.

Anyway, over the course of four or five days last week, I noticed that the part-strippers seemed to be out and about town. (All of the photos in this post were shot from Jan. 24 to Jan. 27).

Here’s a purified Giant, spotted downtown.

And there was this Specialized:

It’s odd what they take, isn’t it. I mean, if you are going to go to the trouble of unscrewing the pedals, wouldn’t it be almost as easy to just pull the cranks off altogether?

And in this case, the front brake and front derailleur apparently didn’t interest them. Go figure. And look what else they forgot:

These valuable ball bearings, apparently spilled out of the headset.

And then over by Oregon Art Supply:

I don’t know about you, but any time I had an opportunity to abscond with a milk crate, I wouldn’t pass it up.

Anyway, it’s all pretty low if you ask me. I actually had this happen to a mountain bike I owned back when I was attending the University of Arizona. I was on campus late one night, working on some project. A couple of friends who were with me decided to head home and, as they left the building, interrupted two guys who were in the process of liberating my brake levers and shifters.

They did escape with the levers and shifters. But who knows what else they had designs on. It probably could have been much worse. The bright side is that this allowed me a good excuse to upgrade to Grip Shift (which were a new idea at the time). The bad news is that, man, you feel violated and pissed off.

So watch where you leave your bike in the middle of the night.

12 thoughts on “Invasion of the part snatchers

  1. I’ve always been slightly mystified by this. Do they have that many bikes that they need extra parts? Is there an aftermarket stolen bike part ring? I’ve never heard of any one buying used bicycle “parts”…

    Also, good to see you juggling your way through the parade!

    1. Yeah, I don’t get it either. I’m picturing enormous piles of saddles and seatposts in some trashy garage somewhere. Hundreds of wheels. And so, then what?

      No … I don’t juggle.

  2. My family has had its share of thefts. My bro’s bike was stolen from outside his work in broad daylight (someone took a bolt cutter to the lock and absconded with it).

    As for me, I used to have a mountain bike, and just before I was going to get rid of it, someone stole the front wheel. The bike wasn’t locked up, and they took JUST THE WHEEL. What the hell?!

    My current rides are an old AdulTrike (Luckily, no-one seems to want to steal one of those XD), and a rare foldie (Cheap, but rare. As far as I know, it’s the only one in the Eugene/Springfield area). Maybe I should upgrade to Kevlar-lined cable locks, just to be safe…

    1. In broad daylight? Or was it at night?

      Whoops, I didn’t see the link at first. That is amazing. I always picture this happening at 3 in the morning. Nice photo. But, man … brazen.

  3. It is unbelievable how low some people are. I am leery all of the time when I lock my bike up, even if it is just for a few minutes.

    What more can we as a biking community do?

  4. “What more can we as a biking community do?”

    They’re called stakeouts. Plant a bike, wait for the thieves and them jump them with superior numbers, recording devices and weaponry.

  5. I’m in Portland. My daughter’s bike, a pretty cheap kids bike for commuting to library and school, had the front wheel taken just two days ago. I can see the value of stealing quality parts… but steel wheels off a kids bike? Why bother?

  6. Yeah, it’s just nuts. I don’t understand this, either. I just don’t see why there is a market for junky used bike parts. Evidently there is, but I would love to know what a pair of pedals off a $300 mountain bike goes for on the black market.

    Maybe it’s a volume thing. You just take a pickup-truck full of boxes of used parts to some shady dude and he gives you 20 bucks for the whole load. But I still don’t understand why that guy would want a truckload of parts.

    I suppose it also doesn’t help that in Eugene there probably isn’t much prosecution of crimes like this — what with the state of the criminal justice budget.

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