Motorcycle Security Guide
Levels of motorcycle and moped theft are higher than we’ve ever seen before. The rise in this type of crime has been most noticable in London, the South East and Bristol, but is a growing problem in all areas of the UK. No doubt you’ve seen the videos plastered all over social media and newspaper websites – thugs on mopeds armed with bolt croppers and battery powered angle grinders brazenly stealing someone’s pride and joy in broad daylight, safe in the knowledge that there’s next to no chance they’ll ever be caught. It’s disgusting, and just like you, we’re absolutedly fed up of it.
Bike security isn’t the most exciting subject but neither is waiting on hold for your crime number after discovering your wheels have gone walkies. Unbelievably, 60% of us use no form of security at all apart from the steering lock… and with theives all too aware that stolen bikes are easy money, it’s clear that the problem isn’t going away any time soon.
While we’ll all acknowledge that if a thief wants your bike they’ll definitely find a way, there are plenty of things you should do to deter them. After all, opportunist theives will always choose the easiest bike to steal, so you’d be mad not to invest in at least some security. There’s loads of tatty security products on the market that hide behind all sorts of false claims and schemes, so this guide aims to cut the bullshit tell by telling you what to buy and how to use it properly.
1. Get a proper chain and lock
Basics first: your first line of defence should be a good old fashioned lock and chain, and they don’t come much tougher than chains from Almax. There’s a decent array of sizes available, from 16mm all the way to 25mm. All of Almax’s chains are constructed from carbon manganese alloy steel enhanced with boron and are case hardened. The chains themselves are typically paired with Squire’s SS65CS padlock, which is Thatcham approved. None of Almax’s chains can be bolt cropped, and the bigger you go the more they put up a fight against an angle grinder.
Think carefully about the size of chain you’ll need: in your gargage you can go nuts and go right up to 25mm, but if you need to carry a chain in a top-box for parking out & about, the 16mm or 19mm chains might make more sense. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Top tips when using a chain…
- Try to keep the chain off the ground to avoid hammer attacks
- Use the shortest chain you can possibly get away with
- Try to loop the chain through a wheel and the frame. This’ll stop a thief simply unbolting your wheel and fitting their own
- Use more than one chain if necessary!
- 16mm should be the minimum link diameter to aim for. Any less, and you’re vulnerable to bolt cropper attacks
2. Lock your bike to something solid
Traditional ground anchors have a few drawbacks associated with them, the main one being the difficulty in keeping the chain away from the floor where it’s at its most vulnerable during an attack, but the pros vastly outweigh the cons. Again, Almax sell what you need: a big-ass ground anchor that chemicaly welds into to a concrete floor. Wall mounted options, from Oxford products, are a good alternative if you cannot bolt into a floor.
If you can’t use an anchor – for example if you park in a shared underground car park – try to lock your bike to a pillar, or some other immovable object. Chains from Almax, as well as Pragmasis, can be linked together form bigger lengths (you’ll need one extra lock per chain that you’re joining together) too.
3. Cover it up!
It may seem obvious to you, but given how many bikes we see left un-covered on the road, apparently it isn’t obvious to all of us. Hiding your bike with a cover is one of the best and cheapest weapons available. Don’t get a bright red Ducati or green Kawasaki branded one, get something subtle – black, and with as little branding as possible. We’d recommend Oxford’s Stormex cover as the cover of choice. It won’t attract attention and there’s loops in the cover front and back for chains to pass through. Did we mention it’s heat proofed against hot exhausts and engine casings meaning you can throw it on straight away?
From £69.99 via OxfordProducts.com
Top tips for using a cover
- If the weather is set to be stormy, covers can turn into sails. It might actually be worth taking it off if you know it’s going to be windy. You may return to your bike on its side otherwise…
- Loop your chain through the holes in the cover to secure the cover to the bike. Most covers have a clip at the bottom to secure it, so use that too
- You may only have one chain, but consider a cheap second chain to secure the front of the cover to your front wheel. Even if a cover is designed to reduce attention to your bike, making your cover hard to lift up is hardly a bad idea
4. Get a bike tracker
After you’ve properly locked your bike up, covered it and made sure it’s secured to something solid, the next step is a tracker. If the ne’er-do-wells do manage to hot foot it away with your pride and joy you’ll be pleased to know it isn’t necessarily game over. BikeTrac is a 66mm x 33mm x 15mm box of tricks that might just be your savior, but don’t take our word for it: Bike Trac boasts all the time on its facebook page about the bikes it has recently had recovered, and it’s even tracked and recovered bikes as far away as Lithuania.
The GPS, GPRS, GSM and RF tracking device has its own 30 day in-built battery supply. It’s a properly clever bit of kit and will also inform you by phone, app and text message if your bike has been moved, crashed or tipped over. For ultimate peace of mind there’s nothing that can top it. We’d love to show you what the device actually looks like but we can’t so make do with a photo of the box instead.
www.biketrac.co.uk – Price: £299 plus £99 per year for subscription and fitment
Top tips using a tracker…
- Trackers have their own internal batteries, but they draw on your bike’s battery to recharge, so keep a close eye on your battery’s level of charge
- When your tracker activates, you’ll typically get a phone-call from a security operations centre, a text message, or an app alert – hopefully all three. Make sure silent mode or DND on your phone isn’t accidentally silencing these alerts, or you’re literally defeating the point…
5. Get a good disc lock
Like chains and locks, no disc lock is foolproof, but security is about layering. More layers means more time, and the more time it takes to steal your bike, the more likely a thief will decide it isn’t worth the bother. There are plenty of disc locks on the market, but here’s the tip: don’t buy a rubbish one. Cheap disc locks are often made of cheap, soft metals like zinc. The more expensive ones will actually put up a fight and add meaningful amounts of time to the total time required to take your bike.
You should be looking to spend a minimum of £70 per disc lock, and we recommend the Abus Victory 68 which comes in at around £100 online.
Tips for using a disc lock
- One good lock is better than two crap locks
- If you only have one disc lock, lock the rear disc up.
- Use the ‘reminder cables’. Riding off with your lock attached will result in an expensive bill and much embarrassment
- Alarmed disc locks can be a nuisance in windy weather.
6. Get a garage… even if it’s not a proper garage
For those of you without garages there is an answer in the form of the ‘Racer’ from secure-a-bike. The price may seem a little steep but bear in mind when the nuclear apocalypse arrives, you can wheel the bike outside and use it as a makeshift bunker, it’s that tough. The setup you see here is pretty discreet and looks more like a toolshed so won’t attract too much attention in the first place. Even if the thieves arrive determined and armed to the teeth it’ll put up some considerable resistance thanks to Thatcham approved 6-lever 4-pin CISA locks. The ‘racer’ works on a trolley system which clamps the front wheel in place and the bike simply slides in and out with ease. If you want storage that offers garage levels of security without bricks and mortar then the secure-a-bike ‘Racer’ is a top level alternative.
Prices from £1885
7. Storing your bike in a garage, garden or shed? Get a baby monitor / CCTV.
Price: £varies. Check Amazon baby monitors for latest deals
Installing baby monitors in the garage to listen out for trouble is nothing new but technology has moved on a bit lately. Instead of splashing out a fortune on a high-tech CCTV system, it’s now possible to get baby monitors with cameras built in for the ultimate in spying peace of mind. Various models have colour screens as well as a digital zoom function to keep a closer eye on your baby (the one with two wheels)
8. Consider an Alarm
Alarms always seem to divide opinion with some seeing them as essential while others view them as more hassle than they’re worth. It’s certainly true that fewer people pay any attention to a wailing alarm and poorly fitted items can cause nightmares with electrical gremlins and immobiliser issues. The Demon alarm from Datatool keeps things simple with a straightforward 2-wire install that’s easy enough to do at home without the need for any messing around with loom cutting or soldering. The ultra-low current draw means you won’t end up with a dead battery either and the two button fob is as simple as they come. Datatool say the Demon comes with a failsafe movement sensor with proven technology that helps eliminate false triggers so you won’t have to get up at 3am every time the cat decides to sit on your bike
9. Get clever, be paranoid
Thieves are stupid and lazy. Outsmarting them isn’t hard.
If you’re parking your bike in a quiet underground car park for long periods of time – say over winter – do something to make look unridable. Take the seat and battery out – it’ll give the impression that the bike isn’t in working order and will be a waste of time to steal. You might think this sounds daft, but I’m as sure as I can be that this exact tactic saved my Triumph Street Triple R a few years back in London.
If you don’t use them, remove the pillion pegs. Thieves often push stolen bikes using an accomplice on another moped. The stolen bike is pushed by the rider of the moped using the pillion pegs. No pegs? Much harder to push away. It’s the small things, but everything adds up in this game.
Don’t leave locks chained to pillars, railings, etc while you’re out riding (or at work, or whatever). If a thief spots an Almax chain left chained around a pillar, it’s a dead give-away that something, at some point, will be returning there. This gives the thief the opportunity to steal your lock or disable it in some way – meaning when you come home, you can’t lock your bike up, which makes the job of the thief easier when they do come back for your bike.
Sometimes what looks like petty theft is a sign that someone is after your bike. Have you ever randomly had a brake lever stolen? It might be an effort to disable your bike – i.e., to make you leave it parked in place while you source a replacement brake lever. If this happens, move your bike somewhere safe immediately, and up your security game in the mean time.
Yes, your bike is your pride and joy, but it’s just a lump of metal when all’s said and done. Unfortunately, there’s been a number of cases, mostly in London, where thieves have threatened and ultimately attacked owners who have caught them in the act.
As much as it pains us to say it: don’t be a hero. If you discover a bunch of thugs attacking your bike – let them. You risk being stabbed, having acid thrown in your face, or worse if you try to intervene. Dial 999 – however pathetic that may sound – and let the Police deal with it. It’s not worth your livelihood, and karma will eventually catch up with the perps. Film the crime if you can – every shred of evidence helps – and despite the Police’s hands largely being tied at the moment by our namby-pamby government, they are slowly being allowed to do more to hunt down the scrotes who make our lives a misery.