Gear Prudence: To teach my friend a lesson, I’m thinking about “stealing” his rear wheel. He’s pretty careless about how he locks up his pretty expensive bike, so I think pranking/educating him would be funny/useful. I’ve tried telling him how to lock it on multiple occasions, but I don’t think he’s going to learn until he feels the consequences of his carelessness. And better that I temporarily take it than it happen for real, right? —To Help, I’m Educationally Filching

Dear THIEF: This is so stupid. GP doesn’t even want to help you because you don’t deserve it. You shouldn’t go around stealing bike wheels, much less stealing them for an unsolicited, didactic, and supposedly benevolent purpose. Utterly asinine. 

It sucks that your friend doesn’t lock his bike to your very high standards, but that hardly warrants the scared-straight treatment. Turning to crime to prevent crime is a great action movie trope, but wholly unnecessary and comes with potentially disastrous consequences (like you getting caught). It’s his bike. If he chooses to be cavalier with it, it’ll be his loss. Your duty as a friend is to text “aww, man that sucks” if it happens, not to actually cause it to happen. Should your friend wish to prevent your so-called prank, he’ll want a u-lock that can fit snugly around both the rear wheel and the frame. Additionally, he should ditch quick-release skewers and replace them with bolt-ons, or even better, locking ones. As the name implies, quick-release skewers allow the wheel to be removed with minimal effort, which is great for fixing a flat but bad when you have crappy friends. —GP

Gear Prudence: One thing that always bothers me is when another bicyclist snaps at me for riding too close—especially when it’s not even that close. Last week, this guy went off on me for “crowding” him, even though I was nowhere near him. I was flabbergasted. How are you even supposed to respond when another bicyclist is so irrational? —You Eventually Learn Losers Enjoy Raving

Dear YELLER: It’s tempting to jaw back, but just fake apologize (a mumbled, disingenuous “sorry” works) and drop back. At the next safe opportunity, ding your bell six to eight times, and loudly announce with your best TV anchor voice that you intend to pass. Then do that, and never look back. 

Personal space when riding a bike is, well, personal. It’s hard to say when someone might take offense, but you can follow some basic rules. Never ever overlap wheels with someone you don’t know, and hovering a foot or two off someone’s rear wheel is still pretty aggressive. Don’t linger there. If you find that you’re getting too close, either pass the person or drop back far enough that it’s obvious that you’re not going to pass. That should clear things up. —GP

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