Motorcycles are easy to get stolen when left unprotected. It takes seconds for a couple of guys to hoist a motorcycle into a van and take off (see Video 1 at the end of article). Let’s find out more about the different methods for motorcycle theft, and some ways you can secure your bike.
Protection Against Casual Thieves and Joyriders
The majority of simple security devices and techniques guard against casual thieves—thieves who see an opportunity and go for it. The following steps can help you secure your motorcycle against unplanned thefts:
- Lock the ignition and take the key with you—motorcycles often get stolen because the owner left the ignition unlocked.
- Lock the steering—motorcycles come with a fork lock, which is the equivalent of a car’s steering lock.
- Install a hidden switch or a spring-loaded switch that must be pressed when starting the engine.
- Remove the main fuse of your motorcycle when you park.
- Lock your disks with motorcycle disk locks. Disk locks come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and features, and they are more compact that wheel locks. Disk locks are attached to the disk brake rotor to prevent the wheel from rolling. An alarm motorcycle disk lock has the best combination of features (see Video 2 at the end of article).
- Lock your wheels with motorcycle wheel locks. Wheel locks work the same way as the disk locks—they are just larger in size. Some wheel locks are universal and can be used to lock other motor vehicles.
- Chain your motorcycle to a secure object that is difficult to destroy. You can do this with any lock designed for this purpose, usually chain-link locks or metal rope locks.
- Use two or more locks of different type (i.e. a chain lock and a U-wheel lock). Thieves might not have the tools to break two different types of locks.
- Chain your motorcycle to other motorcycles when you park together.
- Use high-quality locks that are difficult to break, force, or pick.
- Avoid parking next or between large trucks, SUVs or anything that can help cover thieves trying to steal your motorcycle.
- Cover your motorcycle with a motorcycle cover that doesn’t say what is underneath. This will help you avoid tempting thieves.
- Park your motorcycle in a security camera’s view whenever possible, especially when you travel and you have to spend the night in a hotel.
- Keep an eye on your motorcycle. Check your motorcycle frequently, especially right after you park at a public event.
Protection Against Professional Thieves
Remember that most locks and other similar devices will not help you protect your motorcycle from professional thieves. Professional thieves know how to pick, break, cut, or force locks, and they plan and prepare well before they attempt to steal. The following steps can help you protect your motorcycle from professional thieves:
- Remove the key numbers off your motorcycle’s ignition lock if they were left by the manufacturer. The key numbers are used to help you obtain new keys from the manufacturer in case you lose the originals. Keep a record of these numbers in a safe place, away from your motorcycle.
- Customize your motorcycle. Unique, customized motorcycles are easy to recognize when stolen. Professional thieves know this and prefer to steal motorcycles that haven’t been altered or personalized. Take pictures of your motorcycle and the unique parts and marks. This could help the police to locate your motorcycle in case it gets stolen.
- Install an alarm or a complete motorcycle anti-theft system. Some wheel and disk locks have an alarm. A motorcycle alarm can be integrated with a pager that alerts you if your motorcycle is being tampered with.
- Attach an alarm to your motorcycle cover that goes off when the cover is removed.
- Install a tracking device such as LoJack. LoJack motorcycle-recovery-rate statistics seems promising, but have in mind that thieves might locate the device and dismantle it. Other recovery systems (i.e. GPS recovery systems) might also be as effective.
- Store your motorcycle in a secure location such as a locked garage or fenced area.
- Keep your motorcycle locked even when you park it in your garage.
- Install a U-bolt in your garage floor and chain your motorcycle to it while it is still on the stand.
- Block your motorcycle with cars whenever possible.
- Install monitors or Wi-Fi cameras. Both closed-circuit video monitors and baby monitors can help you check on your motorcycle while you are at home. Wi-Fi cameras allow you to monitor your property from wherever you can access the Internet. Many Wi-Fi cameras include advanced recording systems.
- Get a dog if you live in a house. Some breeds are good at alerting you of an intruder. Other breeds (i.e. Doberman and Rottweiler) are good guard dogs, which are also able to restrain intruders.
- Watch your back for professional thieves. Professional thieves might follow you to find out where you park your motorcycle during the day or at night. They do this in order to size up the situation and decide what they need to steal your motorcycle. If you think that someone is following you on your way home, pull over, let them pass, and use an alternative route to get home.
- Don’t keep your title in your motorcycle storage compartment, tank bag or motorcycle saddlebag. Keep your title in a safe place at home.
- Be careful about giving out your private information on where you live or work, especially when you’re trying to sell your motorcycle using websites like craigslist.org or cycle trader. Don’t post pictures of your motorcycle with the landscape around your home when you use such websites.