It’s an unfortunate fact of cycling life that unless you’re actually sat in your bike or riding it then you’re always at risk of having your pride and joy stolen. Whilst this is something that all cyclists need to be wary of there is no need to live in fear, and a few simple precautions taken both when you’re at home or out and about can keep your trusty steed safely in your possession, and not that of someone who wants to make a quick buck.
Keeping your bicycle totally safe is almost impossible, and as with luxury cars etc there’s nothing that will deter the really determined or professional thief, but taking some of the precautions below will help to keep you safe from the casual or opportunistic scallywag.
The safest place for your bike at home is inside your house, however for many people this is impractical or impossible, next best place is your garage, and coming in a distant third is a garden shed.
If you’re storing your bike in a garage then you will still need to lock it up as some garage doors are notoriously easy to open, we would recommend either a wall or ground lock to safely attach your bike to the structure of the garage.
If a wall or ground lock isn’t possible then try to lock your bike to something else difficult to move, if you have multiple bikes then locking them to each other will make stealing one on its own more difficult.
If storing your bike in an outbuilding consider adding extra security to the building as an additional deterrent. Some good options are:
- Motion sensing lights.
- Motion sensing alarms.
- Use add-on garage door locks, bolts etc to secure doors.
- Investigate the new breed of wi-fi enabled cameras to help monitor your premises
- If you have unnecessary windows brick them up or at least cover them with boards.
Out on a ride.
The golden rule of not losing your bike when out on a ride is to never let it out of your sight, however in practical terms this can actually be quite difficult if you are stopping off somewhere so again a few simple precautions can help.
- Invest in a good quality lock (see more below on locks) that will deter the opportunistic thief – you’re never going to be able to carry the most secure lock while you’re riding due to the weight and bulk, but get one that will at least give you a little peace of mind.
- If you’re stopping mid ride for refreshments etc try and find somewhere with outside seating, that way you can keep your bike in sight for much of the time.
- If you’re riding in a group and stop somewhere then take it in turns to go in to order / buy refreshments so that others are around to watch the bikes, similarly if you can plan to stop somewhere where there are other cyclists then there will always be someone around to keep an out for potential thieves.
- Make sure whatever you’re locking your bike to is secure, not easily moved, and well lit. If possible also try to find somewhere that has a decent level of CCTV coverage.
- If you have quick release wheels or easily removed accessories consider a cable lock that will secure those items. For small accessories consider removing them from the bike and taking them with you.
Record the frame number of your bike(s) and keep it in a safe place at home in the event that the police recover your bike it will help you to claim it back. Be aware though that a significant cost of the bike isn’t the frame but the components, and it’s increasingly common to see stolen bike frames dumped once all the expensive untraceable components have been stripped off.
- Consider a GPS tracker for the frame.
- It was all the rage back in the 1990’s to remove all the manufacturers logos, decals etc from the frame in order to obscure the model and value of the bike – it doesn’t do much for the aesthetics of the bike but might make it look less desirable.
- If you’re a Strava user then make sure you take advantage of the security features that allow you obscure the area around your home so that the location of your bicycle storage is harder to pinpoint.
- Make sure your bike is covered by insurance, most home contents policies will cover cycles, but make sure there aren’t any exclusions on value, or bicycles being away from the home premises. If you can’t get a good deal from your home contents provider then there are plenty of good providers out there, and a simple Google search will turn up plenty. Alternatively check with either Cycling UK or British Cycling who work with various insurance providers to give members a good deal.
If the un-thinkable happens make sure you report the theft to the police as you will certainly need a crime number for the insurance.
Bicycle locks can be a tricky subject, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution so you are likely to need more than one depending on what you want to do. Traditional advice was to buy a lock that cost at least 10% of the value of your bike, but with some bicycles costing many thousands of pounds these days finding such a lock is quite possibly impossible.
The best advice we can offer is to buy the best lock you can afford for your application:
- In the garage / outbuilding – get a really heavy and strong chain lock to secure your bike to the structure of your building.
- On your bike carrier on a car – get a good quality cable lock to secure your bike to the towing hook on your car.
- At the cafe or other stop – get a decent cable lock or ‘D’ lock etc that will deter the casual / opportunistic thief, if using a ‘D’ lock try to fill the lock up as much as possible to prevent someone prising it open.
Always remember that no lock is going to stop the determined, professional thief – all you can do is put enough obstacles in their way so that they decide it’s not worth the risk or even move on to easier prey.