Bicycle theft is the biggest fear of any cyclist - from a Sunday leisure biker to a professional cycling racer and that is why you need to pay more attention to bicycle protection.
And there’s a good reason for that.
Stolen bike stats are alarming in many places around the world. For example, in the UK nearly 400,000 bicycles are stolen annually while the global bicycle theft number is somewhere between 1.5 to 3 million. A big part of bicycle theft is unreported and remains unsolved.
Luckily, there are many things you can do for your bicycle protection. Read these 10 tips to protect your bike and start living with them ASAP. This way you’ll make sure your two-wheeler stays in your possession happily ever after.
1. BUY A SAFE, RELIABLE BIKE LOCK
Let’s do a short 101 of bicycle protection.
Very often the safety of your bike relies solely on your bike lock. Mind that, securing your bike with a good lock that does not mean it will not be stolen. With the right tools, the thieves can get through virtually any bike lock. All you can do is make this task more difficult, irritating, and time-consuming for them.
Here’s how to do that:
Stay away from cable locks, as most of those can be snipped with garden scissors. U-locks and heavy-duty chains offer better bicycle protection, though not impenetrable, protection.
Never lock just the frame - otherwise, anybody with a tool can remove both wheels in less than a minute.
For extra bicycle protection, use two U-locks - one securing the back part of the frame and the wheel, and the other locking the front.
Your second lock can also be a different type - thus the thief will require a different set of tools to open it.
Buy the smallest U-locks because they give the thief less room as leverage to free the bike.
Read more detailed locking tips here.
2. NEVER PARK IN ISOLATED OR OVERCROWDED PLACES
Here’s a paradox - a deserted, isolated place is just as dangerous for your bike as a crowded one.
This can be partly explained by the bystander effect - a social psychological phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to intervene or seek help for others when other people are present. The higher the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help.
The solution is simple - park your bike in a well-exposed place, where passers-by can easily see it. Ideally, choose a spot under a security camera. However, for better bicycle protection avoid crowded parking spots because nobody will notice the act of theft from those even in broad daylight.
3. FOR BETTER BICYCLE PROTECTION - REGISTER YOUR BIKE
We all drive registered cars, but only some of us register our bikes. However, bike registration is a simple and inexpensive bicycle protection, to increase the chances of recovering your bike in case of theft. Really, there is no reason why you shouldn’t take this extra precaution.
To register your bike, browse the web to find the authority that takes care of this process in your city or state (this can be the municipality, the road traffic authority, or an independent program). The registration will require the manufacturer and model of your bike as well as a unique serial number that can be found on your bike frame.
In the unfortunate event, if your bike gets stolen, the unique code will enable the police to trace it back to you. Some bike registration programs also offer warning stickers for securing your bike, that reduce the risk of theft by alerting thieves that your two-wheeler is registered.
4. BRING YOUR BIKE INDOORS
The old wisdom remains true in most situations - whenever you can, bring your bike indoors to protect your bike. This applies to your daily whereabouts and especially for when you come home and park the bike for the night.
If your cycling buddy is dear to you, don’t leave it exposed in the hallway. If you’re afraid it will take up too much space in your home or bring in the dirt, don’t be. There are countless bike storage solutions suitable for any size and type of living space, many of which not only works great but also look gorgeous. Yes - even if you are you are renting and need a bike rack that won’t damage the floors or require drilling holes.
5. LOCK YOUR BIKE EVEN ON A BALCONY OR IN A CLOSED GARAGE
If you really have no option to bring your bike inside, make sure to still lock it even if you store it on a closed balcony or in a garage. You’d be surprised about how creative bicycle thieves can get when they locate their prey! First and second floor balconies and terraces are especially dangerous. Meanwhile, a so-called “secure garage” or apartment-building basement can be easily penetrated by thieves who follow one of your neighbors through a locked door.
If you can, always cover your two-wheeler so that the thieves don’t feel tempted to go after it. If you are leaving your bike in an office storage space as you go to work, remove bike accessories and consider taking the front wheel with you for better bicycle protection.
6. USE A GPS TRACKER
If you are a true cycling fan, your bike is among your most valuable possessions. You probably already have a bad-ass bike lock and know the basics of smart bicycle parking. But what if you’re still not at complete peace about the safety of your two-wheeled buddy and thinking what else you can do to protect your bike? Get a GPS tracker!
Guardian Bike Light Tracker offers smart-ass gadgets for bicycle protection, that help you take one step further in protecting your bike from thieves. The product looks like standard bike component - bike light. You can set the tracker to alert you the moment your bike moves so you will always know where your bike is located.
Alternatively, invest in a bike alarm that detects when the bike is being jostled, sets of a signal and sends a message to your smartphone.
7. COVER YOUR BIKE DURING TRANSPORTATION
Bikes left on car racks or even in the car interior or trunk are low-hanging fruit for thieves. As much as you love your bike and would like to show it to the world, leave that part of when you’re actually riding.
When you transport your bike with a car, choose a full bike cover that will hide your treasure from prying eyes and protect it from dirt, sand, and scratches. VELOSOCK’s full bike cover is water repellent and easy to use thanks to a zipper that runs lengthwise along the top of the bike.
8. MAKE YOUR BIKE LOOK UNATTRACTIVE
This probably feels counterintuitive for most cyclists. Yes, you love your bike, and sure, you want it to look as good as possible. But this most likely means that the thief will like it too and will choose it over other bikes parked nearby.
If you must leave your bike locked in a public place, don’t make it look too perfect and shiny. Some dirt or duct tape can make it look less attractive to the crooks. For bicycle protection tape your seatpost, handlebars, and various places on your frame to make your bike parts look worn and shabby. Alternatively, place silly stickers all over your bike frame - those will not only make your bike look less valuable but also make it harder for the thief to leave without attracting attention.
Some people say that having an old and cheap bicycle is the best way to protect it from being stolen. This is true enough; however, you should still make it difficult enough for a crook to ride away on your bike. So never forget about other bicycle protection tips.
9. DON'T PARK IN THE SAME PLACE EVERY DAY
If you park your bike in the same public spot, you might feel a deceiving sense of comfort - nothing has happened there before, has it? Actually, you are making the task easier for criminals - they can spot your bike’s location and the times when nobody’s watching it, and plan a flawless attack.
Did you know that “professional” bike thieves often work in teams of three? The first one checks out the bikes in a rack and chooses the most appealing and/or accessible one, and determines the necessary tools. The second one brings the tools and frees the bike, but doesn’t take it. The third one merely rides away on the bike - notice that none of them raised serious suspicion individually. Parking your bike in the same place daily can attract some unwanted attention.
10. BUY AN INSURANCE FOR YOUR BIKE
Unlike car insurance, bicycle insurance isn't compulsory. But, if your bike's expensive, it is a small price for the comforting feeling of safety and your bicycle protection will be increased. Depending on your insurance type, it can serve not only as a safety cushion in case of theft but also help in case of traffic accidents.
Mind that your insurer will most likely demand reasonable precautions, such as locking your bike to a fixed bike rack or barrier. Also, it may be problematic to lend your two-wheeler to a friend or family member if you are the only user mentioned in your policy.
If you worry about keeping your bike in your apartment building, terrace, or balcony, check if your homeowner's and renter's insurance covers bicycles. Mind that many insurers will only cover bikes if they're stolen from your home or a locked garage.
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
When it comes to bicycle protection, you can’t overdo it. Remember - even the best lock can eventually get clipped by a determined crook. So make sure you follow these bicycle protection tips to minimize the chances of your bike being stolen or picked apart.
The secret sauce might be combining several precautions for securing your bike in addition to registering and buying insurance - in case you get unlucky after all.