Motorcycle security top tips
Bike theft | Bike locks | Trackers | Shackle locks | Bike covers | Alarms | CCTV | Disc locks
So you want to keep your
Same here. We want to keep our own motorcycles exactly where they belong, which is either right beneath us and in the breeze, or tucked up in the garage under blankets. However, there are times when you feel that you have to leave your bike in the street. It's a wrench, we know. But life is life.
Ultimately, if a bike thief is absolutely determined to get at your motorcycle, there's a pretty good chance they'll get it—assuming, that is, that you leave it to chance. And only a fool does that when he or she doesn't have to.
Keeping your bike safe and secure is, in its way, like riding defensively, meaning that it's more than just a casual habit. It's a state of mind. Keeping your wheels safe means thinking ahead, and thinking obliquely.
We've compiled some advice to help stimulate that part of every biker's mind that deals with security—although some riders, we've noted, are never going to seriously address this problem. If they're lucky, the thieves will pass them by and they'll never become a victim. But few stay lucky forever. Make sure it isn't you.
Now see if any of the following bike security ideas appeal to you...
1. Keep it out of sight. Can't overstress the importance of this. If the bike isn't visible to a thief, it won't get stolen. It's as simple as that. The trick is to ensure that it stays invisible. It's no good stuffing it into an otherwise dark alleyway that might suddenly light up when the streetlights come on (and how chrome and polished aluminium loves a streetlight, huh?). It's no good hiding the bike behind a truck that gets driven off some time after you walk away. Therefore, think not only about where you plan to leave it, but how that location is going to change in the minutes or hours that follow.
And when you've got the bike at home, the same rule applies. Tuck it away where it will stay tucked away. Don't leave it on the front driveway when you can wheel it out of sight behind the house. Bike thieves are daring opportunists, and they'll take the most improbable chances; the kind of chances that most of us wouldn't contemplate. Remember this phrase: Ride it, hide it. And if you absolutely MUST leave it on your driveway, at least make sure you lock it (ideally to a Rottweiler, or similar).
2. Keep it visible. What???? We've just told you to keep your motorcycle hidden, and now we're telling you to leave it in plain sight. Well, this means that when you feel you absolutely have to leave it in a street somewhere, and where there's no convenient cubby-hole or screen, consider parking it where maximum eyes are on it.
More than once we've parked a bike within view of an estate agent's window and asked them to phone the cops if they see anyone tampering with it. Sounds extreme? Well we don't think so. We'll do what it takes to secure our motorcycles. Besides, most folk are fairly good natured and like to help (and it often amuses them that someone cares about their motorcycle enough to ask for help). Just tell whoever you ask not to interfere with a thief. Reiterate that they should just make a call. It's not their responsibility.
Or park the bike outside a busy cafe and make the same observation request. Just avoid parking it where a thief can fiddle with the machine when he or she is partly or entire unobserved. These ploys might help. Make a judgement under whatever circumstances you find yourself. Everything is a different situation.
3. Lock the bike. One lock won't do. It has to be at least two locks, and better make it the best locks you can carry. Look for some kind of plausible accreditation (but don't count of it). Lock the back wheel with the big lock; ideally a lock and chain. And lock the front wheel too; perhaps with a disc lock. Keep the chain lock (in particular) as tight against the bike as possible. You want to reduce a thief's operating space. So try and position the padlock where it's hard to get access without a key.
4. Lock the bike to something immovable. A lamp post. A solid fence. A bike rack. Or some other fixed item of street furniture. If you're travelling with a friend, lock the bikes together. Don't be lazy. And once again, try and position the locks between the bikes where access is tricky.
5. Fit an alarm. But don't rely on it. When the first alarm was invented, the whole world looked round. Today, most folk won't pay much attention—and very often the thieves don't pay much attention either. But some will.
6. Consider using a bike cover. This, of course, won't make a bike invisible. But it might make it less interesting. Or less approachable. Thieves will generally want to know what make/type of bike they're scoping before they try and steal it. They often specialise in one make or another. A cover is simply another level of security, but an imperfect one.
And think about this idea that we had some time ago (image immediately above). A bike cover like that will get pretty much everyone watching it. Might be just the thing to deter a bike thief—and the cops are bound to notice it too.
7. Fit a tracker system. There are many on the market, and although these devices won't necessarily stop a bike being stolen, the recovery rate is said to be very good. Check the online reviews, and don't instantly opt for the cheapest gizmo. There's usually a reason why some systems cost much less than others. Whatever you decide, make sure you mark the bike with a TRACKER FITTED sticker. But don't count on it. You'll have to pay a few bob for a tracker plus a monthly subscription. But remember that you're not simply buying security. You're also buying a little extra peace of mind.
If you want a cheaper option (and we're not sure how well this will work), you might buy a cheap and very small mobile phone and find a way to secret it on the bike. Switch it on when you leave the motorcycle unattended. Mobile phones usually know where they are, and they can be tracked by the cops if the cops put in the effort. Worth a thought perhaps. Tell us how you get on.
8. Fit a hidden lock. For example, loop a small padlock on the drive chain, and keep the lock out of sight. The idea here is that the thief defeats your first two (obvious) locks, manages to start the engine, then tries to pull away—and (whoah!!) the bike goes down unexpectedly. Yes, it might damage the bike a little. But it just might cause enough confusion to change the crook's mind and save the day. Tip: remember to remove the lock before you ride off. Tip 2: remember to remember that.
However, we should warn you that there might be legal repercussions here if the thief seriously hurts himself. It seems that even crooks get protection under the law, and we all have a duty of care, even to lowlifes.
9. Let down the front tyre. Are we serious? Well, half serious. Most thieves won't travel with a pump. And a flat tyre will make the bike hard to push, and near impossible to ride. But you can buy a small, powerful and fast pump that will get the front tyre inflated quicker than a thief can steal your bike. Not an idea for daily use perhaps, and not for all bikes, but might be a useful ploy under special circumstances.
But wait? Why the hell do we have to go to such lengths simply to protect what's ours? The answer is that we don't have to do anything. We can simply take us much, or as little, risk as we choose.
10. Fit a hidden cut-out switch. Many thieves have learned how to defeat standard security systems. But a cut-out switch is a wild card. So play it. If you're not sure, have a motorcycle electrical wizard do the work for you. Can't be more than an hour's work. Probably much less.
11. You might consider finding a couple of rubber tubes (or similar) and putting them over the spark plugs, and then replacing the plug caps. That should keep the thieves guessing. But of course, this won't work for all bikes, notably those where the plugs are fairly inaccessible. Just think deviously. The thieves do.
12. Hang a small card over the instruments or ignition switch reading: I'M WATCHING YOU FROM MY WINDOW, SCUMBAG. Tip: won't work unless there's a window nearby. Tip 2: some scumbags probably can't read. Just keep ideas like this in mind. You might come up with a similar, but better idea. If so, pass the word.
13. Never park the bike twice in the same place. Yes, that's not very realistic for most people. But if you can vary your routine, parking habits, arrival and departure time, that makes it harder for a bike thief to plot your movements and organise a theft. And many bikes are stolen by people who pass by the motorcycle every day whilst carefully hatching a plan to lift it. Tip: keep an eye on anyone checking out your bike, especially if they live in your neighbourhood.
14. Unless you are 100% sure of your friends, keep your home security details to yourself. Not always easy to do. But just do what you can. People who have their garages raided while they're on holiday should concern themselves with anyone who visits the house, especially the garage. Yes, that's painfully cynical. But we've read Shakespeare, and it's a nasty world. It's your friends who lift you up, and it's your friends that bring you down.
Also, many thieves respond to BIKE FOR SALE adverts, then come around and check out the security. So if you're selling a motorcycle, let buyer's view it away from your garage or shed. And while we remember, don't fire up the engine unless you have a lock and chain on the rear wheel. Tip: Don't ride off or play with the gears while the bike's on the centre stand. What's that? You're not that stupid? Well probably not. But even smart people do stupid things.
15. CCTV. Buy it. Use it. These days, CCTV systems are cheap. Fit one at home. See if you can fit one at work. These days, thieves tend to ignore CCTV, but they won't ignore a thump on the head with whatever comes readily to hand when you creep up on them. Tip: Take special care when challenging thieves. Chances are that they're more desperate than you. Alternately, don't risk your life over a stolen motorcycle. Just be cool and let the tracker do its job. It's hard not to be incensed when someone is pushing away your bike. Just try and keep some perspective. It's just a bike.
15. Vans. Many bikes are quickly picked up and thrown in the back of a van. Takes less than 30 seconds. How do you prevent this? Well that's very difficult. But if you can park the bike away from the road, or in a position where extracting it is hard, then do that.
For instance, if you park your bike in the company car park, can you have another employee with a car box it in? Can you park the bike behind bollards that would stop a van getting too close. No one wants to carry a stolen bike very far. Make shifting it a serious logistical problem.
Above all else, think like a thief. Might be hard to do if you're essentially an honest man, but sometimes you have to get dirty to come up clean.
Are we right?
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