5 Jan 2016
BIKE SECURITY: A NO-NONSENSE GUIDE
Your bike is expensive and personal, and losing it can be heartbreaking. There are four main ways to make sure that never happens:
– Don’t let people know it’s there
– Keep it securely locked down
– Keep the building it’s in secure
– Make sure it’s insured
Here’s how that breaks down.
Stay Off The Radar
Keep your bike out of sight. It’s harder to stop knowledgeable thieves who’ve come for your bike specifically than some random chancer who’s ready to steal on a whim.
One rider we know came home to find his €3,500 carbon mountain bike in his hallway, presumably ready to be loaded up with the other stuff that’d been stolen already. The thief obviously hadn’t realized its value, and only luck meant the owner didn’t lose it. Obviously, it’s best not to rely on luck…
So don’t just think about where you keep it. Reduce the chances of people wanting to break in to start with.
Don’t wash your bike in front of your house, and don’t leave a bike rack on your car if it’s always parked right outside – both can attract the wrong kind of attention. Be sure to hide your home on ride-tracking apps such as Strava, and beware GPS in cameras and phones: information embedded in photographs can reveal exactly where they were taken.
Also keep an eye out for people following you home, especially from popular trail centers near cities. We hear reports that popular British mountain biking destinations Ashton Court in Bristol and Cwm Carn in South Wales has had thefts like these, for instance, though they’re not the only places, and it’s not restricted to the UK.
Locks come in a number of shapes and sizes. Follow our advice below for the most secure options
Keep It Locked
Use a chain, even indoors: for the price and weight, a chain will give better protection than from a D-lock. For a bike over €1,000, look for 13mm hardened steel at least, and for wider (such as 16mm) ensure it’s guaranteed impossible to bolt-crop rather than ‘resistant’ to it. At this size, a good chain will be physically impossible to cut by hand. A cheap one won’t.
Use a big lock. Favor a steel padlock with shoulders rising around the shackle to leave little area to cut, and a restricted keyway that resists drilling. The chain should snugly fill the padlock for the greatest security.
Wrap the chain through the frame and wheels so no long loops remain, and keep it off the floor so there’s no stable base to attack it on. Either remove the front wheel and chain it alongside the rear, or run a separate loop out to it – and through valuable suspension forks too, to make simply removing them harder. Thieves, by nature, don’t like effort.
Police advice is to spend 10-15 percent of your bike’s value on security. So if it’s a €2,000 bike, a €200-€300 lock is appropriate. This should be part of your overall equipment budget, and may prove to be one of the best investments you make. When you’ve invested in an appropriate lock, don’t leave the keys to it in a place that’s easy for thieves to find!
Use a ground anchor. These hardened steel eyelets bolt permanently into concrete and are the perfect way to secure a chain. Wooden sheds can be toughened with ‘shed shackles’ that extend across entire walls, and with kits to remove all accessible boltheads/screws from the exterior. Many ordinary shed doors and locks can simply be undone; good kits also include roof bracing, as thieves may ignore secure doors and simply peel up the roof. Use bars or a grille on the windows.
Look for a Sold Secure Gold rating of locks, chains, anchors and more, either a Bicycle Gold or Motorcycle Gold (Motorcycle Gold is tougher). Sold Secure perform independent tests and are recognized by the police and insurance industry. A list of their approved products can be found on their website, soldsecure.com
Arrange A Safety Net
If all else fails, you’ll be glad of insurance. But as we all know, insurance is never simple…
Check the small print! Many policies require locks of a certain standard to honor a claim, and some specialist insurers want Sold Secure accreditation in particular (another good reason to look for that testing standard).
Check all the other small print too. Some policies have extremely restrictive terms, governing everything from the size and style of every window in your house to how long you go out. You may find if you go away for a weekend you’re automatically not covered anyway! Look for insurers that demonstrate an understanding of high-value/race/multiple bikes. Just because you may understand details about a bike, doesn’t automatically mean that a general insurance company does – so shop around for insurers and test their knowledge!
Check even more small print… some insurers cover your bikes abroad or in the car, but only if you follow their guidelines. Others don’t cover such situations at all. And some will cover them, but only in specific circumstances. It’s very much a case of ‘buyer beware’!