With the motorcycle crime wave showing little sign of abating any time soon, you can never be too careful. We here at Bikesure, the free-wheeling insurance broker, have searched far and wide to find some of the best tips and tricks to help you minimise the possibility of someone stealing your pride and joy.
Many motorcyclists will need two similar but separate security set-ups, one for home and one while out and about.
Getting your shed or garage secure has to be your top priority. The vast majority of bikes are stolen from homes, with many owners complacent about the level of security their garden provides. If you have a garage or shed, take some time to look objectively at how easy it is to get into it. Just because you lock the doors doesn’t make it impregnable.
Indeed, most sliding doors are comically easy to defeat. The real weak point is the hinges. Ideally you should aim for hinges that make it tougher to remove the bolts, for example by covering them with the hinge once it’s closed. You can also use something like coach bolts, which are impossible to unscrew from the outside.
Better to use bolts that go all the way through into the shed. But that’s not all! Look for hinges with properly welded pins, otherwise they could be knocked out, rendering any lock mostly pointless.
Fitting new locks is your chance to make things as difficult as possible for unauthorised people to open them. A lock at the top of the door is going to be awkward for anyone to work on, so if you are going to multi-lock that’s a good place to put one of them.
If you store tools in your garage, consider getting something to secure anything that could be used to defeat your other security measures – chaining your bike up next to a set of bolt cutters is just asking for trouble!
You might want to consider getting some opaque sticky-back plastic on any windows in the shed, alternatively blinds or anything that makes it more difficult for anyone passing to see what’s inside.
All watched over by machines of loving grace
Of course being able to see what’s inside your shed or garage is kinda useful, for you. Luckily it’s never been easier to turn your home into a mini surveillance state, with the ability to monitor anything you want at the swipe of a touchscreen.
There’s a wide range of security camera products vying for your money, and it can be pretty confusing trying to figure out which is the best one. The current time period means that there’s a whole new set of items promising full HD, motion triggered cloud-stored recording that can be instantly sent to your phone. Many of the fancier products are designed for use inside your house so make sure you’re getting something weatherproof if it’s going to be used outside.
If you do manage to get footage of someone robbing you there are certain rules that apply in order for that evidence to be admissible evidence.
Firstly, you must not invade anybody’s privacy – that is, you can’t use it for peeping at neighbours or spying on people in your house. Make sure the camera is focused solely on your property.
It needs to have the time and date recorded on it, and the footage should be securely stored so it can’t be tampered with. You also need to have a clearly visible sign on your property warning that CCTV is in operation, if you have any outside cameras.
Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise
As discussed in our previous article about security, the right bike chain is vital for any security setup. There are some amazingly strong chains on the market from companies like Pragmasis, Almax, Oxford, Abus and Pewag. Look for stuff which has been Thatcham certified, and the bigger the better. Obviously you also need something to attach the chain to, and this something should be impossible to move or cut through.
There is a variety of anchors available if you don’t have anything suitable, from units that can be completely embedded in concrete to those that get attached to concrete. Bolt-down units are easier to install, but still need a hefty layer of concrete to attach them to.
The third and final element is, of course, the padlock. Many of the chain manufacturers offer padlocks paired with their products, and for the most part they make pretty good choices – often Squire . If you want to go full bespoke the best recommendation is to get something with a closed or covered shackle, to minimise the likelihood of them being attacked successfully with bolt cutters.
So you’ve turned your garage or shed into an impenetrable windowless fortress guarded with cameras. What’s next? There are a few other things you can do to decrease the attractiveness of your house to potential thieves. Gravel on your drive and paths will help, as will motion activated lights – anything that will make someone trying to be stealthy less stealthy. A dog is good for this, so if you’ve been looking for a reason to get a dog and “dogs are awesome” isn’t somehow enough for you, then maybe this will sway the argument.
Now let’s move on to portable security solutions. A lot of this is also useful for non-garage owners too, but we’ll get into that later.
The principles are basically the same as before, a combination of security through obscurity and making it too much hassle for thieves to bother with. The MVP in this situation is the humble cover. Not only will it protect your pride and joy from the elements but a decent cover will do more to dissuade the baddies from trying their luck with it. After all, if you can’t tell what the bike is and more importantly what other security measures might be under there with it, it’s time to look for easier targets.
A cover is definitely a Bikesure top tip for all bikers, so the garageless and shed-lacking should definitely take note.
But what security measures do you put under it? Ideally a few different things, just to be on the safe side. A smaller chain and a disk lock of some variety, or you could throw a brake lock into the mix. The same brands that make the good chains make good disk locks, so stick with the big names and you can’t go wrong*. Some disk locks are fitted with alarms which, if you don’t have an alarm on your bike can be useful.
Putting a lock on the rear wheel will make it more difficult to attack, and if this is doubled up with a chain attached to something immovable and a cover, this will hopefully deter all but the most persistent thief.
Like so many things in life, it’s not just what you’ve got but how you use it. Locking things up is a land of contrasts and there are right and wrong ways to do it. Firstly, and (hopefully) obviously: lock it to something. Ideally something that doesn’t move and can’t be cut. The chain should also not be resting on the floor, as it’s much easier for bolt cutters to attack it if it is. Some covers have inner pockets designed to hold the chain, so bear that in mind.
When it comes to disklocks, many are sold with a safety cable that will remind you that it’s on before you take a tumble, and you’d be a wise biker to use one of these. Alternatively, the Roadlok is an integrated device that claims it’s impossible to damage your bike when using it. It’s expensive, but if your bike is too then it’s probably worth it.
Getting what you pay for
One thing to bear in mind here is: you get what you pay for. It absolutely pays to pay for the good stuff from a brand name you recognise, and if you’re buying online then do take a look at the one-star reviews as they’re more likely to be real on the suspiciously cheap items.
If all this isn’t enough to guarantee some rotter getting through all your expensive security measures, then using markers and trackers, make it possible – touch wood – to at least give you a chance of getting your bike back should the worst happen.
As with every other category of security gear there’s a range of products at different prices, although with markers and trackers it is slightly easier to work out which will be the most effective and suitable for you. At the cheaper end of things are products like Alpha Dots. For just £25 you can mark your motorcycle with microdots that means it can be definitively traced back to you if it manages to be recovered after a theft.
One of the main reasons to get these on your bike is for the reductions some insurers offer.
The potential of marking only really comes into its own when it’s used in conjunction with trackers. But they need to be installed correctly. Finding a professional installer is a good idea here, as they will be able to avoid the obvious hiding places and give the tracker a fighting chance of staying on the bike long enough to be useful.
The two biggest tracking solutions in the UK are from Datatool and Biketrac. The main difference between them is that Datatool operates over GPS/GSM only, which uses fairly basic mobile phone radios. Biketrac meanwhile has more powerful radio transmitters, which means it is less likely to go dark if it gets stashed inside somewhere. They also offer package deals of pretty much every security item you could want for a relatively decent price, so if you’re looking for a one-stop security solution then you can’t go too wrong. With a dedicated callcentre active 24/7 it means you’re more likely to recover your bike.
If you don’t have a hugely expensive bike that virtually demands a hugely expensive tracker then more budget options, like the Autocom tracker are about half the price and don’t require an annual subscription. The DB-1 Lite is even cheaper. The main consideration here is that these cheaper models require wiring in to the electrical system which could make them easier to locate than self-contained units, such as those from Oxford.
While none of these things together or alone are going to be 100% proof against theft, the more layers you use the more likely you are to keep hold of your bike.
Have we missed anything? What are your super security secrets? Let us know in the comment section below.
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Motorbikes, Motorcycle Insurance