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Original Posting: 12 December 2004
Last Updated : 02 July 2012

This article is about preventing your motorcycle from being stolen. It will cover things such as locks, alarm systems and the latest transponder key systems that are being introduced to most new motorcycles.

Over the years I've read many mails from owners who have had their bikes being stolen. It's not a good experience and it prompted me to do some research on this topic. Hence the result is this post on the topic of motorcycle security.

Essentially the message which I want to deliver is always lock it up as best you can. If someone really wants to steal it there's not many ‘humane’ things you can do about it. YOu see you can't legally install a security system that actually kills the would be thief.  See the James Bond Security System in the movie For Your Eyes Only for a really cool and inhumane system – devastatingly effective really.  At least you made it more difficult to pinch.

There are so many points which can single out your bike to be targeted. Some of these points may cause you to object but this is just my opinion. (Since no-one reads this stuff especially if its in brackets…) Furthermore this article should be read as a whole not just to focus on one point ! (I get lots of mail from people who don’t read the whole thing so sometime I wonder - why?) Besides as with all human behaviour you can never be really sure what the would be thief may be after. They also read this site.

Types :
There are various locations and types of locks you can buy for additional security. U-Locks or U-bolt type with standard or extended tumbler mechanisms. (I'd avoid the circular variety for reasons explained later.) I don't recommend the standard padlock as most are a joke. If you must make sure you get one and test its breaking point first before you actually use it. They aren't expensive and its actually quite an enjoyable experience breaking one.

However its not just the lock you have to look at before choosing. The actual lock is only as good as the chain or rods that it is attached to. See if is the shielded variety with hardened chains or rods I think these are the best to choose.

The purpose of the visible lock is a deterrent and to make your bike harder to steal. That said relying on a physical device is just part of your security arrangements.

An electronic version with a siren is also a welcome addition, however they aren't the most reliable since they are prone to random sounding off. If you do get one make sure it doesn't proximeter sensors or vibration sensors turned to high tolerance or off as it would probably make your bike a target of vandalism rather than theft! (Caused by annoyed passerbys.)

What could make your bike a target :

Your bike doesn’t stand out. If your bike isn’t customised it won’t draw attention if someone is trying to steal it or someone riding it away.

Your bike stands out. Although it attracts attention it is probably unlikely to be stolen in public because everyone will be checking it out. However you may be followed and they may pinch it from your home under the cover of darkness.

You live in an area that enables the thief to case out your home easily and without attracting attention.

Bike thieves often work in gangs because they can rarely get away with the bike without the keys - quickly.

You’ve left it unsecured in every possible way. Eg. no locks what so ever.

I guess the point is that there is nothing you can do. If they want your bike they will get it.

Bikes are easier to steal than most other motorised vehicles. It is unfortunate to learn that only one manufacturer offers standard built in electronic security systems for their bikes. That manufacturer being Honda. Sure manufacturer as slowly offering them as options ie BMW but almost all new cars have them so why not motorcycles ? UPDATE 2007: More manufacturers are now including transponder type - engine immobilisation systems for motorcycles however yet again it is a let down that only some models are using them - no names mentioned!

* How your bike could be stolen:
The simple and easiest is to drive up in a truck with some cohorts, lift it up and throw it and the back and drive off. Even if chained they will have a set of bolt cutters.

* The next would be to shove a screwdriver into the ignition and give it a hard enough twist to break all the pins start it up and ride off or roll it away into a truck or down the road to start. Sure driving in a truck is a dead give away but it's not difficult I'm sure there are professional thieves who do this.

*Even if your bike has a computerised lock they may break into your home and get the keys and anything else you might have.

* Simple things to do to make it more difficult to steal every time you park even at home :
Make sure you use the built in steering lock and ...
Use a disc lock/s and make sure can be concealed, your bike my be damaged but the would thief would have got a nasty shock and may be injured to your delight.
If possible get one with an alarm system. There are many types available. Even a cheapie may save your bike.
Put a U-lock on the wheel spokes or swing arm or any other bit that can hinder moving the bike.
Make sure you use a decently constructed lock.
Be careful of where you park.
Don't leave your helmet attached to your bike.

* Other things to take note of :
Most insurance companies seem to offer discounts to alarmed bikes (They may even have recommendations) so why not subside your alarm system purchase.

According to crime statistics Goldwing's are the lest likely to be stolen.
Harley Davidson's are easy to steal and also the most likely to be stolen – for parts.

Sure it takes time to lock the motorbike up but don't be complacent.
Just like cars a lapse of a few minutes may be all that is required to lose your bike.

Note: that Kryptonite locks have a known security issue with their keying system. Although everything else about the lock is very secure the actual key or barrel can be easily picked by a (pen) biro by Bic. Yep, no sonic screwdriver needed here (Doctor Who) I have 2 of these locks myself used specifically for securing the Hayabusa and a variety of disc locks based on this mechanism. I no longer use them. Of course, this is old news but something you should be aware of when selecting an older Kryptonite model. The latest models don't have this problem.

Please don't ask me which are the best ones to get because I don't know what type or model suits you! That said, my choice has always been a U-bolt and a alarmed disc lock. The lock type I always choose is a star type or '+' type.

See these articles from more dedicated sites on such issues.

http://www.engadget.com/entry/7796925370303347/
http://www.bikebiz.co.uk/daily-news/article.php?id=4753 
http://yaledailynews.com/article.asp?AID=26420 

Addendum:

There are bikes out there with transponder key locks. (Exactly the same as system as fitted to cars) Honda for example has many models with this sort of anti-theft system.
As at 2007 most manufacturers have introduced transponder type keys to the new and more expensive models in their range eg 600cc and up. This is a welcome addition for the security conscious. That said it will prevent joy riders and the less intelligent fools from targeting your bike but it won't stop the professionals from stealing the entire bike for parts.

 




 




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