How to protect your motorcycle from theft
Lately, bikes are becoming more and more popular and also more expensive. Compared to cars, trucks and other types of four wheelers, thieves find it really easy to steal a motorcycle due to its light weight, compact shape and ease in transportation. To top it all, majority of the bikers only secure their motorcycles with a standard steering wheel lock, which has been proven to be of no use whatsoever.
As per a report from NICB, the number of auto thefts in 2020 totaled 873,080, a 9.2% increase compared with 2019. Moreover, the fact that thieves prefer motorcycles is also proven by the crime statistics. Criminals are not only interested in complete bikes, but also in high-quality accessories due to their high resale value in grey market (sports exhausts are popular stolen accessories).
Additionally, as per the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual motorcycle thefts report, the top most stolen motorcycle brand is American Honda Motor Co., followed by Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Harley Davidson, details of which are shared below.
So how can you prevent your beloved bike from getting stolen? We have compiled together a detailed list of measures from our own experience and by discussing with hundreds of other fellow motorcyclists. Let’s take a look.
Safety tips to prevent motorcycle theft
- Park your motorcycle in a safe place; the best way to protect your motorcycle against possible theft is by parking in a secured place. This can be in a private garage or a covered carport. If you park your vehicle on public roads or parking lots, you should not only secure it with the steering wheel lock, but also with at least one chain lock or brake disc lock. In addition, do not park your motorcycle in deserted areas. Always look for parking spots that are crowded and under surveillance.
- If you have parked your bike outside, cover it with a tarpaulin: especially if you are planning to park it for a very long time (usually while winterizing the motorcycle), you should cover it with an opaque and lockable tarpaulin. It protects the motorcycle from dirt, rain and prying eyes (you reduce the risk of theft).
- Secure your motorcycle with different types of locks: Professional thieves often specialize in a certain type of lock. You should therefore obtain two different security systems for your motorcycle; for example a brake disc lock combined with an armored chain. You can also lock the bike to a fixed pole or other sturdy objects on the street. Numerous motorcycle locks of this type are available in retail stores as well as on online portals like Amazon.
- Invest in high quality motorcycle theft protection. When it comes to curb chains and the likes for your bike, it is not worth to be economical (and therefore compromise on quality). Locks made of cheap metal breaks very easily; better to use high-quality and solid materials while locking your bike. A motorcycle lock made from hardened special steel, for example, can withstand bolt cutters, hacksaws and ice spray without any problems.
- Chain to a solid object; if you are traveling alone and planning to park the motorcycle for a long time, attach it to a bracket with a fat chain that cannot be removed (lamp post, iron grating of a cellar window, etc.).
- Chain two bikes together; if there are two of you, it is better to lock the rear wheels of the two bikes together with a chain.
- While travelling, if you are planning to spend the night in a hotel, make sure you park your motorcycle in a dedicated parking zone of the hotel. Also make sure there is proper lighting and that your bike is under the camera’s line of sight.
- If you do not find a dedicated parking spot while staying overnight in a rest house or a motel, make sure you park your bike as close as possible to your room. The bike should be visible clearly from your room’s window.
- Visible and invisible markings; these do not prevent motorcycle theft, but, in case your bike gets stolen, it is helpful while reporting the loss of the motorcycle or its individual parts. If you ride a premium motorcycle or if you have valuable modifications (rear silencer, etc.), you can mark them as your property with a UV pen (“theft deterrent”). The marking is invisible under normal light, but glows fluorescent under UV light and is therefore immediately identifiable.
Choosing the right lock to avoid motorcycle thefts
Statistics show that motorcycle thieves are becoming increasingly shady. A bolt cutter is standard equipment if a thief is planning to break the lock. That is why motorcycle anti-theft protection has to be one thing above all else: robust. This is especially true for the classic chain or U-locks. If you choose one, make sure it can withstand any attempts made by bolt cutter. However, it is much more advisable to secure the motorcycle in more than two ways; one mechanically, and the other electronically. This will make your bike extra secure in the event a theft is attempted. Let’s take a look at different types of locks that can help you secure your bike:
At the top of the list is a GPS tracker. This means that you can always track where the motorcycle is in the event of theft. However, thieves are well aware about this device and so it is important that you hide the tracking device as much as possible. In addition, it only helps if the device is in an open environment, say for example your motorcycle was stolen by some truckers, the thick walls of steel may block the signals of your tracking device.
Brake disc locks that are coupled with an alarm system serve as effective anti-theft protectors. First of all, thieves may find it extremely difficult to remove the lock, as the bolt and the load-bearing parts of the locking mechanism are made of hardened steel. Second, the attempt triggers a piercing alarm tone that alerts everyone in the vicinity.
Most motorcycles are equipped with an electronic immobilizer or can be retrofitted with it. It can only be switched off with the original ignition key of the two-wheeler. Even if the thief uses the key from same make of motorcycle, tries to bypass the circuit, or replaces the combination switch, he cannot override the immobilizer.
As per your parking environment, it can be supplemented with an additional shock sensor that sounds an alarm if unauthorized people sit on it or dismantle individual parts. The sensitivity of the sensor can be changed depending on the area of application. But before you purchase such a sensor, check whether it is compatible with your motorcycle’s alarm system.
However, the motorcycle owner cannot be sure that someone will hear the alarm system and react to it. With both electronic safety mechanisms, the motorcycle can still be moved because the wheels are not locked. Thieves can therefore load the two-wheeler onto a van, for example, and steal it in this way, despite the immobilizer and warning system. This is why mechanical safety devices are essential along with an electronic lock.
It is one of the most efficient mechanical lock, because it is very difficult to break or cut. These come in different sizes that vary in terms of length, diameter and curve. It is therefore important to analyze your parking space before purchasing the lock. The “U” must fit inside your motorcycle wheel and there should not be much space left for other things to fit easily (for example the bolt cutter). For best results, it is important to secure the motorcycle and the lock to a fixed anchor point.
Chains are one of the most practical locks to prevent your motorcycle from getting stolen. It is often recommended to lock your bike with a chain lock in addition to a “U” lock. These are relatively lighter as compared to “U” locks; however, they have more chances of breaking. Lately, the quality has improved a lot and you can find good motorcycle chains in specialised retail stores. Moreover, they are long and flexible, and are much easier to lock against a fixed pole.
Here too, it is recommended to hook the chain to the wheel. It is also not advisable to leave the chain on the ground so as to prevent any attempts made by sledgehammer.
As per our research we deduced that there are primarily four factors that persuade the likelihood of a motorcycle theft:
- Attractiveness of the motorcycle
- Price of the external modifications
- Parking environment
- Security system
We cannot control the first three factors; however, we can certainly prevent this adversity from happening by installing a robust security system.
To conclude everything: Here are some quick tips to prevent your bike from getting stolen.
- If you own a bike worth several thousand dollars, use at least two locks while parking your motorcycle in addition to a standard handlebar lock. This increases protection enormously, because thieves need more time to pick two locks. Two locks are also safer because thieves usually only specialize in one type of lock. To prevent them from loading the motorcycle onto a van and taking it away, always lock your machine to a solid object.
- We also recommend purchasing a lock with an alarm system or installing a separate alarm system.
- No matter how many, locks alone are only half the battle and are not enough to protect your motorcycle. The modern standard as motorcycle theft protection is a GPS tracker. If your motorcycle is equipped with the GPS tracker, you can keep an eye on your bike at all times via the app. In the event of theft, you can locate the motorcycle in real time and immediately send a theft report to the police.
- The combination of locks and GPS tracker as safety precaution usually costs a fraction of your motorcycle and pays off in the long term. This is true even if you park your motorcycle in your own garage. Good luck and ride safe!