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.
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.
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.
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.”
Photo: Scorpio Ride Core Dashboard
What about when we’re traveling, how can we keep our bikes safe and secure?
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.
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.
Photo: Kryptonite New York Series Chain
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.
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.
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!