Guaranteed protection for your bike? Sorry, no.
If you are looking for an easy and thief-proof way to protect your bike from being stolen, the first thing is to accept that it just doesn't exist.
Bikes are not designed to be secure and no matter what clever ways manufacturers come up with to stop them from being stolen, there are equally clever criminals finding ways round them. So, unless you want to go to ridiculous lengths like storing it in a bank vault the best you can hope for is to deter the thief so much that he (or, less likely, she) steals someone else's instead.
So how do I protect my bike as much as possible?
- First: read our page about how thieves steal bikes. It will give you a good idea of the risks you face.
- Since over half of bicycle thefts are from the owner's home, lock it indoors or in a secure garage, out of view, if possible. If not invest in a Sheffield cycle stand and set it in the ground with lots of concrete.
- Remember that all parts of a bike that are removable are of possible value to a thief. If in any doubt take baskets, panniers, etc with you if you have to leave your bike for a while.
- Make sure that anything you lock your bike to is solid and immovable. I have seen bikes chained to railings that a child could bend or to small trees on the pavement that a bowsaw would rip through in seconds.
- If you secure a part of your bike to a secure piece of street furniture make sure that the removal of a component like the seat or handlebars won't allow your security gear to be slipped off.
- Never leave it out of sight down an alleyway or similar. This just gives the thief more time to work on it.
- Do not lock it to a post that it can be lifted off.
- Lock it to an immovable object through the frame and not through a wheel.
- Get your bike serial number registered on a site like bikeregister.com or immobilise.com. Remember however that these numbers can be filed off and painted over.
- Use locking nuts to secure the wheels - avoid quick release systems.
- There is safety in numbers. Try to park it amongst lots of other bikes is possible; there is more chance of one of them being more attractive to steal.
- Never leave your bike parked in public view for long periods of time as this allows thieves to find it and plan how to take it. Most insurers insist on time limits.
- Visit a website called soldsecure.com. They test and rate security systems and most insurers insist on you using one that meets their approval. This can vary according to the value of the bike and they are rated bronze, silver or gold.
- Remember that even a gold rated lock is likely to merely delay, not stop, a theft.
- Use solid Sold Secure approved D-locks; not cables, which are easily cut by a well prepared thief.
- D-locks should be as small as possible; if they can be moved about they are more easily cut with bolt cutters.
- Ideally you should use three; one securing the frame to an immovable object and one each for the wheels.
- Make sure you can provide proof that you are using this equipment otherwise an insurance claim may be rejected.
- If your bike is still stolen hang on to the cut security equipment if it available, so you can prove to your insurer that you used approved goods.
- Fit an audible alarm if the bike is tampered with if you wish, but be aware of your own personal safety if you tackle a would-be thief or thieves.
- Fitting a GPS would deter many thieves and you can get stickers from Amazon that advertise the fact.
- Finally, be aware. If you stop off for a snack on a long ride keep an eye open for suspicious characters hanging about and try if possible to keep your bike in view.