THIEVES SUCK! How to secure your motorcycle against theft


MXEditor

Theft. Unfortunately it’s a part of our sport and opportunistic bad guys are always on the lookout for the chance to steal our bikes.

With the average price of a new motorcycle hovering over the 5 digit mark, protecting your ride has become even more important. And with many racers and riders packing their truck, van or trailer chock full of valuable spares and riding gear along with their steeds, the haul has become even more attractive for your common thief. Over 46,000 motorcycles were stolen in the US (2012) and 63% of those went unrecovered. Most stolen bikes end up stripped down in chop shops and parts such as engine parts, rims and fairings end up being sold whether online or through other means.

This article has been written with the worst case scenario in mind and we’ll give you the knowledge to beat those morons at their own game! We’ve spoken to riders, racers, homeowners, apartment dwellers, RV owners and some of our industry experts in the moto-world to tell us what works and what doesn’t, because Thieves Suck!

Whether you live in the city or country, thieves are always casing your home, car and your valuable bikes. But the good thing is your home is your castle and this is where you can implement the strongest safeguards to protect your ride.

Securing Your Bikes at Home

Many homeowners who have multiple bikes have a garage and this becomes the place you have to protect first.

Exterior Protection:

Obviously, home alarm systems can be implemented to warn and protect your assets from break-ins. We aren’t going to discuss those methods here as they’re so varied, but bright lighting; digital video recorders, magnetic switch(s) coupled with motion detectors is the way to go to keep the bad guys from making off with your bikes. Doors and windows are most vulnerable to attack…cover windows so prying eyes can’t see your stuff and make sure that security system stickers are prominently mounted and well lit at night.

Locking Motorcycle Covers:

These are a useful theft-deterrent and especially helpful for the urban dweller who may have to store their bike in a garage, on the sidewalk or in the yard and are also helpful for keeping the elements away from your valuable ride. Two types are generally available, the shed and the standard cover. I don’t have any personal experience with the shed type so I can’t comment on them, but I have used the Dowco locking covers and they offer reasonable protection and also have an optional alarm that can be fitted for an added deterrent.

Next is the most valuable layer of protection…on the bikes themselves. If you want to stay worry-free when not at home, using a combination (or all) of these products can offer the protection you desire.

Intelligent Disc Locks:

Disc locks have also come a long way and now offer complex locking cylinders that are very hard to pick, coupled with motion sensors and audible 120 dB alarms such as the units offered by ABUS and XENA. These little pieces of locking jewelry are very high-tech are hard to beat for their very reasonable prices of under $100.

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Photo: XENA XN15 installed on brake disc

Heavy Duty Chains:

The simple chain lock has become more sophisticated, almost impossible to cut and look quite ominous with their bright fabric sleeves warning potential crooks of their use. Quality examples include the New York series chains from Kryptonite, these things are insane and feature hardened, shrouded padlocks and double deadbolts…just the look of the things are discouraging for the average thief. Another interesting variant that we haven’t as yet tested is the integrated lock and chain combinations from ABUS such as the CityChain X-Plus.

Ground Anchors:

Couple your chain setup with a secure ground anchor that bolts directly into the cement of your garage floor or patio area/deck such as the Oxford Roto Force Anchor or Kryptonite Stronghold Security Anchor and chain your bike directly to it. Chains offer little protection if thieves can lift your bike up walk away with it, and they can work on getting the chain off later! As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest mistakes is not chaining your bike to something permanent. This is the only solution we’ve seen that offers such a high level of protection when installed correctly.

Active Alarm Systems:

The new active motorcycle alarms today incorporate many useful features not offered in the past such as real-time alerts, GPS tracking, motion detectors and microwave auxiliary detectors for not only your bike, but for your accessories. These units are usually built around a main control unit on the bike itself with a position sensor (gyro) to alarm against the bike being moved with a transmitter to a receiver on your keychain or phone or both.

While common on newer street machines, alarms aren’t something you’ll normally see implemented on pure off-road bikes but are popular on dual sport bikes and some systems can be implemented on newer off-road bikes with a decent charging system/battery setup. For dirt bikes and the like, we suggest using everything short of a main alarm system: disc lock, heavy duty chain and ground anchor. These coupled with your general premise protection offer a hard combination for thieves to beat.

We spoke with Mike Gasik from RideScorpio who offered this:

“Our recommendation for protecting a streetbike is the Ride Core. Again, this device has GPS tracking, and is run by a phone application. The device will report directly to your phone if your bike is disturbed. The Core is equipped with a tilt sensor, shock sensor and a geofence. It is currently sold as a silent alarm, so the thief/party in question will have no idea that you have just been alerted. We also offer an add-on, to help enhance your bike’s security. The Secure Kit adds a perimeter sensor, 125 dB siren and LCD remote for ultimate protection.”

We asked about alarm technology for pure off-road machines and Gasik replied:

“While Scorpio does not have a device specifically for dirt bikes; we can fit one of our devices on an ATV or UTV. The device requires a 12 volt power source, and pulls 2 milliamps for operation. We would recommend the Ride Core for this type of operation, as it has GPS tracking. Not only will your vehicle be protected, but you can share trails, rides and much more.”

We asked “What happens to motorcycles after they are stolen with the Scorpio system?

Mike continued: “Should you have your motorcycle stolen, while you have a Ride Core security system, the first thing you should do is activate the emergency setting on your device. This allows you to share your account information with the authorities, so that they may see the GPS location of the bike. Even if a thief cuts the power to the Core device, the backup battery will transmit its location for quite a while after the incident. The sooner you can report it to the authorities, the higher probability you may be able to recover your bike.”

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Photo: Scorpio Ride Core Dashboard

When Traveling

What about when we’re traveling, how can we keep our bikes safe and secure?

Disc Locks:

Disc locks with audible alarms such as the ABUS and Xena units also offer a high level of stationary protection and high pitched audible alarms with are ideal for leaving the bikes unattended but within earshot. Kryptonite recommends using disc locks for immobilizing your front wheel (use the bright orange reminder cable as well) when just stopping for a short time.

Chains:

You can add another layer of protection by adding a chain, such as the Kryptonite New York series or Kryptolok Series 2 integrated chain, Hardwire 2018 or 30' double looped cable secured to a fixed object (can secure multiple bikes with 30 foot cable). ABUS and Oxford also make very high quality examples of this hardware.

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Photo: Kryptonite New York Series Chain

Alarms:

An active alarm system above can make life tough for any thief, no matter how experienced. The name of the game is to make stealing your ride so difficult, it just isn’t worth it and most thieves will move to the softest target available.

Lockstraps:

We’ve been using these unique locking tie-downs for years on both our street bikes and dirt bikes, and this simple product has proved invaluable for securing our rides when traveling or transporting them. They are particularly suited to help secure bikes when in a pickup bed or any place prying eyes may be watching to steal your stuff. One end locks to the bed and one end either locks directly on the handle bar or you can use the soft tie extensions to protect the bike finish. We’ve actually spent some time testing the Lockstraps product and it’s a lot harder to cut than it appears. This is a very cheap and effective form of protection, the more layers the better and it serves two purposes with one item.

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Photo: Lockstraps Locking Tie-Down

The Lockstrap is basically a heavy duty tie-down with a locking carabineer at each end and a steel cable running inside the strap. Each carabineer has a separate combination or they can be made to all match. The cable that runs inside is strong enough to deter a casual attack and when coupled with the other items mentioned above such as a disc lock and heavy duty chain, make your bike very unattractive to steal. We’ve also found the Lockstraps handy for running through our helmets and gear to keep them safe too.

We then asked for some general tips from our guest experts for securing your bike.

Our friends at Kryptonite advise:

“Do not lock your motorcycle in the same place all the time, always chain or secure your valuables to a permanent object. Beware of locking to items that can be easily cut such as a wooden post or a chain link fence. To protect against ride-away theft, use a disc lock on the rotor of your bike. For maximum protection use a disc lock and a chain lock to prevent lift away theft, and always secure accessories such as helmets and jackets - anything that can be easily removed.”

When talking to Lockstraps, they offered the following:

“Any thief that has the right tools can break any lock in a matter of seconds. How long does it take to break a car window? How long does it take AAA to open your car door lock.....see what I mean? Locks are designed to detour theft and any lock will detour 90% of theft. The more you can do to secure your bike, the better. The more styles of locks you use the better.”

We also asked the pros at Scorpio and they said:

“Most motorcycle thieves try to steal a motorcycle by simply picking it up and putting it in the back of a van. Chaining it to something may help deter that thief. The other way to secure your bike is to purchase a quality alarm system. The system should have a shock and tilt sensor at the very least. This way, when someone so much as bumps into the bike it will chirp, or even send you a warning (depending on your alarm). Again, these are not guaranteed techniques, but hopefully they’re enough to keep your bike within your possession. The other way to secure your bike is to purchase a quality alarm system. The system should have a shock and tilt sensor at the very least. This way, when someone so much as bumps into the bike it will chirp, or even send you a warning (depending on your alarm). Again, these are not guaranteed techniques, but hopefully they’re enough to keep your bike within your possession.”

In closing, the only way to keep your bike from being stolen would be to chain it to yourself. But short of that, the methods described above will make your motorcycle so much work to steal, thieves will either run out of time and energy and move on or fail…layers of protection is the key and the more you employ the better…because Thieves Suck!




User Feedback


One more thing - if buying a used motorcycle please use your state's VIN lookup form and have a police officer come out to verify it is clean.    This is normally done as part of getting a title or registration for cars and street bikes, but officers will happily do it (For Free) for dirt bikes as well.  

 

Yes, you can use online services to check VINs, but this is something that can be cheated (seller gives you wrong VIN for example).  Having an officer come in person gives you an added layer of security to the process.   Unless you are setting up a sting always let seller know you will have an officer verify VIN before purchase.

If everyone reqests an officer assisted VIN lookup, we can make a big dent in the stolen bike market.   

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Great read! Another idea I use is simple contact alarms at home depot. 1 on the stand, one on the bike. The minute the contacts break as when the bike comes off the stand, a loud alarm goes off. I like using these when i'm parked at a hotel for instance. If it won't stop them, at least it wakes me.

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Great read! Another idea I use is simple contact alarms at home depot. 1 on the stand, one on the bike. The minute the contacts break as when the bike comes off the stand, a loud alarm goes off. I like using these when i'm parked at a hotel for instance. If it won't stop them, at least it wakes me.

Thanks for the props - Cool idea with the contact alarms!

 

Beat those jerks at their own game.

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my friend has had a few bikes stolen over the years so he implemented his own security a 7 inch spike that came out when the theif sat on his bike ,obviously my friend was given free room and board for 3 months by her majesty but even the judge tried to fine him but my friend refused to pay the theif spent some time in hospital but that was it ....

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A cover is also good: thieves usually go after particular types or brands. So a cover also serves as a slight deterent.

 

Jesse

Hi Jesse, we did mention the Dowco locking cover because it's the only one I have used. I know they also make portable garages that you can secure but have never used one of those either.

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When I went down to San Felipe 2012 for the SF 250, I used the New York chain and Xena disk brake lock. Chained my back tire to by buddies on our CRF 450s and put the disk lock on my front tire. That thing is LOUD! It chirps when you try to unlock it, so being at a hotel at 6am and unlocking it might not make you friends, but it keeps your bike there. Hotel at the SF marina also had security. Just left the bikes in the parking lot in Mexico. Good point about finding something stationary to chain it to. Next time I will run a cable to my truck or a steel rail

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When I went down to San Felipe 2012 for the SF 250, I used the New York chain and Xena disk brake lock. Chained my back tire to by buddies on our CRF 450s and put the disk lock on my front tire. That thing is LOUD! It chirps when you try to unlock it, so being at a hotel at 6am and unlocking it might not make you friends, but it keeps your bike there. Hotel at the SF marina also had security. Just left the bikes in the parking lot in Mexico. Good point about finding something stationary to chain it to. Next time I will run a cable to my truck or a steel rail

 

Hi Steve,

 

How sensitive was the unit you had? Do you think it's a good deterrent?

 

Thanks

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On my enclosed trailer i installed a hidden switch that can be accessed with the lid just "cracked", a micro switch, a battery and air horns.

No false alarms. Loud! especially if you are thieving scum try to be quiet.

 

Something else I have not used personally, but seems a good idea in some circumstances: A baby monitor with your bikes. (You might hear thieves discussing how to remove your lock - you could take something heavy (or loaded) to "help" them.)

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Now I bought the trick! This unit is a little pricey, but then again what's more important a $5,000-$10,000 bike or a $250.00 thief resistant bike holder? It even saves your fork springs and seals no tie down straps needed.  It works great unless the thief is carrying a set of torches or a cut off saw with a metal cutting blade. The unit can mount in the back of your pick- up, on the front of your trailer both open or enclosed or mount it to your garage floor. Once the front wheel is in the unit you lock it in. Lock weights 2 pounds! If anyone is interested I can send a picture and give the phone number for the fellow that takes the order and builds them.

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Now I bought the trick! This unit is a little pricey, but then again what's more important a $5,000-$10,000 bike or a $250.00 thief resistant bike holder? It even saves your fork springs and seals no tie down straps needed.  It works great unless the thief is carrying a set of torches or a cut off saw with a metal cutting blade. The unit can mount in the back of your pick- up, on the front of your trailer both open or enclosed or mount it to your garage floor. Once the front wheel is in the unit you lock it in. Lock weights 2 pounds! If anyone is interested I can send a picture and give the phone number for the fellow that takes the order and builds them.

 

What if they try to unbolt the front wheel?

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Thanks Bryan. Yep the problem starts after the bike is stolen, before that it's just how much you are spending on preventative security and how good it is.  When the bike has gone you are relying on it being found and that's not as promising as we would believe. If it is found unless it can be identified it can sit in a holding yard for ages and maybe eventually auctioned off.  And as hard as it is to believe, the databases that the authorities use are not perfect and in many cases not even linked. So a bike stolen in say Idaho may turn up in Alberta but what database has the info? These are some of the things I am trying to address with the Stolen Motorcycle Register.

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I really should get a bigger cable! Got a disc lock too, just haven't gone anywhere with the new bike where I've needed it yet. Some more advice in general that happens to be free....is try to stay on the lowdown. Keep a low profile, wash your bike at a car wash, don't put motorcycle stickers all over your trailer, and of course...close that damn garage, and keep it closed as much as possible!

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