5 top bike security tips

Man on a bike on a road in a shirt
A bicycle is a very personal possession, and having one stolen can be devastating as well as extremely expensive – as I know only too well! So...two or more locks, tamper proof screws, RFID tracking - securing one’s bike these days requires more than a 4-digit combination lock and a prayer to the gods of lycra.

1. Don’t park your bike, secure it

A trip to Berlin really opened my eyes... Bicycles ‘locked’ by the saddle to a sapling tree using what might as well have been candy floss. In contrast, it’s common to see a lone wheel affixed to a bike rack in the UK, or even just the slashed remnants of a flimsy, supermarket cable lock on the ground. Professional bicycle thieves are one thing, but don’t advertise to opportunists. Always secure the frame to an immovable object (that the bike cannot be lifted over), and lock the wheels to your frame by the rim, not just the spokes. Running a cable or length of old chain up through your saddle and around the frame is not fool-proof, but can deter thieves from nicking your seat. An alternative is to use tamper-proof screws, or super-glue a ball bearing into the socket head. Even when I’m confident my whip (He means bike – ed) is secure, there’s always a chance that it could fall victim to a random act of hooliganism when left for longer periods of time, especially after dark. What I do is lock it up in a visible place, but away from the stream of pedestrian traffic. Instead of locking it up on the pavement, I might park it on the island in the centre of the road, with the bike on the road-side of the railing, making it an inconvenient target.

2. Use two or more different locks

There is no perfect lock, so a popular strategy is to get two and differentiate both the brand and type. U-locks (or D-locks) are popular for their convenience and strength. Couple your chosen device with a regular chain (not thin cable) lock and you’ve made the barrier against theft exponentially higher – the casual, opportunist criminal will certainly be deterred.

3. Bury your brand under masking tape

Concealment is a handy technique to thwart thieves who are either attracted by a specific brand or model or simply want a top grade machine. If you think your bike may be a target due to its value, consider removing the branding so it blends in a little more. Some cyclists go as far as to cover their bike in stickers or tape. My Surly looks bland enough without branding, but your Pinarello or BMC may never truly blend in.

4. Avoid becoming a victim of circumstance

City centres during business hours are peak times for push-bike prowlers.  The density of bikes and riders makes it easier to hide in broad daylight, and this is where lock differentiation and concealment can save you. Even if your security is tight, thieves are known to target bikes that are regularly in the same spot. A particular tactic is for the thief to let down a tyre in the hope the owner leaves it overnight – giving the criminal time in which to work. If you come back to a flat tyre, move your machine to a safer location if you’re unable to fix it right away. If you find two flat tyres or scratch marks on your locks, it’s definitely time to get you bike out of there. Don’t let your guard down simply because you’re at home or your bike is indoors. Always lock it up thoroughly, even if left in a shed or in communal areas.

5. Register your bike and insure it!

A half hour spent documenting the make, model, frame number and size of your bicycle makes it easier to identify and return  if it is stolen from you. Take a few snaps of any distinguishing features and file them in a safe place. The Bike Register is a great scheme with a range of solutions to tag and retrieve your bicycle. Registration starts at around £11 for tamper -resistant stickers, to £23 for RFID tracking. Police forces around the UK use the Bike register and are even known to run free tagging campaigns. Insuring your bike provides worst-case-scenario restitution, and doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Home insurance with personal possessions cover should be all you need if your bike is worth under £1500. Any bike valued over that should be specified in your insurance cover for maximum protection. And finally… Never buy a stolen bike Finally, remember that buying a stolen bike directly supports the two-wheeled underworld. As tempting as it could be to pick up a bargain of unknown origin, avoid bad karma (and jail, incidentally) by making sure that your new ride comes from a legitimate source. You might not know it at the time, but if you have any doubts about potential second-hand purchase you can double check if it’s stolen… Have you any more top tips to secure your bike? Or have you ever had a bike stolen? Let us know...

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