Bicycles are an efficient, green way to travel – they keep you active, and can go to areas that cars cannot. They are, however, also an appealing target for thieves; unfortunately many owners do not take bike security seriously enough. With approximately 376,000 bicycles stolen annually, it’s clear that better care needs to be taken when it comes to bike security.
Register Your Bike
The first thing you should do when buying a new bicycle is register it. Listing your bike with the National Cycle Database’s bike register is a vital step in protecting your bike. By providing your frame’s serial number, identifying features, and some personal details, you can increase the chances of recovery if your bike is stolen. They are also able to provide marking kits, to temporarily or permanently mark a frame with a unique registration number, which can help to deter thieves.
The bike register also acts as a log book for bike frames, much like the deed to a car. If you are buying a second-hand bike, it’s worth checking the frame’s serial number or bike register code (if available) to see if the owner is legally entitled to sell the bike. This will tell you if the bike is currently registered as stolen by either the owner, or the police.
You can also check Bike Index’s catalogue of stolen bikes against the details of any bike that you see for sale. Both systems work in your favour if your bike ever does get stolen, as you can maximise awareness of your loss and increase the likelihood of getting your bike back.
Parking Your Bike
This is where many cyclists falter, but it really pays to get into the following routine. To park and secure your bike follow our 7 simple steps below:
- Identify a well-lit, public space to park.
- Find a solid structure, such as a bike rack, to lock your bicycle against.
- Use 2 types of lock: e.g. one D lock, with a cable lock.
- Put the locks between the front and rear tires, the frame, and the bike rack.
- Position your bike close to the object it is locked to, to make it hard for a thief to gain leverage.
- Ensure all locks are properly closed and locked in place.
- Remove any lights, accessories, and saddle-bags or baskets before leaving.
Securing your bike at home should also follow the same procedures; lock your bike to a secure subject or object, even if in a shed or garage.
Choosing a Bike Lock
When it comes to locking your bike, it is important to remember to get at least 2 different types of lock. Breaking some locks requires a thief to use equipment, and they rarely carry what they need to break multiple varieties of bike security.
The most important thing is to use the most secure lock available that falls within budget. While a good lock may appear expensive, you should remember that they are normally the only thing securing your bike to a rack, which is almost certainly worth more than the lock. Under no circumstance should a cheap lock be considered adequate for anything but very brief use, in an emergency.
Bike insurers normally insist on a minimum level of bike security being used, with a Sold Secure approved lock in place. If your bike is valuable, then they may insist on the very highest levels of protection available. Gold rated locks offer the best levels of security, while silver should be considered for most bikes, especially if you plan on parking them in public for any period.
If you are parking your bicycle in an out-building or garage at home, most insurers will also insist that this part of the house is properly secured. A high quality door lock, or sold secure padlock, should be used to prevent unauthorised entry, while home alarms and home security cameras can also dissuade thieves.
It was inevitable that the technology would make the move to bike security products and we can see a few bike locks on the market that connect to your smartphone and provides quick and easy keyless entry.
Some of these products have also taken the step towards app integration; allowing a user to check whether their bike is locked or not remotely. Meanwhile, several tracking solutions have begun to emerge that use GPS modules to discretely geotag a bike. The result is that a stolen bike can be tracked via GPS without the thief knowing, and ownership of the bike can be proven upon recovery.
If you’ve missed out on the previous articles in this series, they’re still available; read our advice on home security, preventing personal theft, and securing vehicles against thieves. If you have any questions, or advice of your own to share, leave a comment below.