Motorbike security - how to defend your bike
Motorbike theft has exploded in recent years. Mopeds and scooters are particularly at risk, but all motorbikes have seen increases in theft.
This is partly due to the availability of tools such as battery powered angle grinders that have become cheaper and easier to get.
The problem is so big that bikers in some areas of the country have struggled to find an insurer for their motorbike.
Thieves will often steal motorcycles to order, to break down for parts. They’re relatively easy to steal too, as thieves don’t need to break into them and they can even lift them into a van or truck to transport elsewhere.
And rising motorbike theft affects everyone, as the greater the risk of your bike being nicked, the higher your motorbike insurance premiums will go.
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How can you stop your motorbike being stolen?
The key is to do everything possible to secure your bike and make it hard to steal.
You should identify a safe place to store your bike while it’s not in use.
You also need to invest in good quality, effective motorcycle security.
Secure motorbike storage
How you store your bike could have an impact on your insurance premium, as certain storage locations can be more appealing to thieves
The ideal storage solution for your motorcycle is a locked garage, as the bike’s secure and hidden from opportunist thieves. Some may argue that any garage – locked or unlocked – will provide some security for your bike.
However, an unlocked garage means easy access. This could also work in a criminal’s favour by providing cover for them to work unseen. Leaving your garage unlocked could also invalidate your insurance.
If you haven’t got a garage, it might be useful to consider a motorbike storage unit. Although costly, these small bike sheds can be anchored down and installed away from the road. Always make your insurer aware of this before you make the investment though, as they may not class it as a ‘garage’.
Generally it’s a good idea to park your bike away from the road, even if you have a residential parking permit. A better option again is a driveway or secured car park. This also reduces the risk of other vehicles hitting your bike.
Better security means less risk of theft or damage - and less risk tends to mean lower insurance premiums.
Insurance companies can look favourably on keeping your motorbike in a secure car park.
Often monitored by CCTV, they may also have gate- or pass-operated barriers. Car parks that allow access to the general public are generally less secure.
You should make the type of car park you use clear to your insurer, as it could affect your premiums.
Motorbike security devices
Motorbike security devices come in many different forms, some more effective than others. Using some of these in combination is often the best way to keep your bike secure – especially away from your home.
Our recommendation would be to use three forms of security, since the more you have, the longer it will take a thief to break them. This means they will likely move on to an easier target.
You want to make your bike:
More difficult to steal
Able to draw attention to the thief.
Cover yourself up
We already mentioned keeping your bike in a garage, shed or storage box at home, but what about if you don’t have access to any of these?
A simple motorbike cover is a cheap and effective form of motorbike security recommended by the police. Motorcycle thieves will often use spotters to drive around looking for bikes to steal. If you cover your bike, they’ll have to stop and lift the cover to find out what’s underneath. This can draw attention to them, which is the last thing they want. It's easier just to move on to the next bike in the street.
Motorbike locks, motorbike chains and ground anchors
Used in combination these can put off all but the most determined thief.
With any security device, check for a Sold Secure logo. Using a bronze, silver and gold rating, Sold Secure tests the security of these products against tools commonly used by thieves.
Insurers and the police work closely with Sold Secure to ensure that it’s keeping up with modern methods of theft.
Heavy-duty motorbike chains
Every motorbike should be secured with a heavy-duty chain when left unattended. Although every chain can be cut with enough effort and the right tools, the time and noise that this can involve can be enough to put off a potential thief.
Cutting through a steel chain with an angle grinder will take at least a few minutes and involve an impressive display of sparks.
The chain needs to go through both the rear wheel and the chassis. Make sure it’s pulled tight and off the ground to stop the thief armed with a sledgehammer.
Lock it to a ground anchor, or if you’re out and about, to a dedicated motorbike and cycle stand. You can even use some street furniture like a lamppost. However, you should always check that you’re authorised to do this.
Don’t use a bollard as the thief can just slip it over the top!
The downside to a steel chain is that they are heavy, but if you ride a scooter you have no excuse, as you can store it under the seat.
You’ll need a lock to go along with your chain and it’s important that this isn’t the weak point of your setup. Make sure it’s Sold Secure rated, the same as your chain.
Motorbike ground anchors
Ground anchors are fixed to the floor or wall of your garage. The bike can then be attached to the anchor by a chain and lock. They’re relatively easy to fit so most ground anchors can be installed yourself. Alternatively, a good locksmith could install a ground anchor for you.
If you don’t have a garage, driveway or wall to fix a ground anchor, a less secure but partly effective option would be to mount one in a bucket of concrete and chain your motorbike to that.
Disc locks are lighter than a chain and can therefore be reasonably carried by any biker. They attach to your wheel, and while they don’t offer the same level of security, if you buy one that’s alarmed, you’ll give the thief something else to think about (and a splitting headache), as he’s trying to get it off your wheel.
Alarms, trackers and other security measures
As a backup to your exterior security measures, it’s worth looking into the more subtle methods of protecting your bike.
Your bike may come with an alarm or you can fit one yourself (or get a professional to do it). Alarms will put off opportunist thieves, but professional gangs will often have ways to bypass your alarm system.
Trackers use GPS to track the location of your bike. They range from the basic to the subscription model that can alert the authorities. Thieves are aware of the usual places on your bike to secure them and will check, so you’ll need to be clever about where on your bike you place it.
A big advantage of installing a tracker is the possibility of being able to locate your bike after it’s stolen. Thieves will often stash the bike in an alleyway or side street near to where it was stolen for 24 hours just in case there is a tracker, before collecting it and taking it back to their main location.
So if you act quickly, you might be able to get your bike back before it disappears and is broken up for parts.
Many bikes now come with an immobiliser installed as standard, or you could get one installed by a professional after you’ve bought it. Combined with an alarm, the immobiliser could deter the opportunist thief.
However, more advanced gangs have found ways to bypass even insurance-approved immobilisers so they may not put a determined thief off.
Using Alpha Dots to mark your motorcycle can help in retrieving a stolen bike. The dots contain a unique pin that’s registered to you and can be applied to different areas of the bike.
If a dot is found on stolen property, the police can identify the owner through the registration database. Some insurers may offer a discount for bikers that use these kinds of security tech.
Stop it moving
A simple way to stop the opportunist thief is to remove a key part of the engine. Spark plugs or the clutch lever are good options here, as they’re quick and easy to remove and small enough to carry. Make sure you replace them before attempting to start your bike up though! If you don’t ride it often, you could also deflate the tyres making it impossible for someone to easily ride away on it.
Taking photos of your bike won’t stop it getting stolen, but may well help you get it back, and may help the police find and arrest the person responsible. Take lots of detailed photos and make sure you get close-ups of any unique identifying marks or scratches. You might be able to match these up to a photo on a social media advert if someone attempts to sell your stolen bike.
The best security for your bike
The sad fact is that if someone wants to steal your bike and comes equipped to do so, then there’s only so much you can do to stop them. What you can do is use multiple levels of security to make it as difficult, awkward and risky as possible. The hope is that they pick on an easier target and leave your machine alone.
Remember, thieves dislike attention and the longer it takes to steal a bike, the riskier it is for them. So, don’t make it easy.
You should also remember to accurately describe your security to your insurer, as some insurers will give discounts for certain security measures.
If an insurer offers you a discount because of additional security on your bike, make sure you have proof. If you need to make a claim and there’s no record of the security, the insurer could void your policy.