Looking for top tips to protect your bike from thieves? In 2011 more cycling equipment was sold worldwide than for any other sport, and as bikes become objects of desire for increasing numbers of people, so thieves will go to greater lengths to lay their paws on your carbon fibre loveliness. With this in mind, here's our guide to keeping your two wheels in your possession.
When not out riding
Store in your house
Breaking into your house is a big mental step for a bike thief to take. A thief is much more in his comfort zone lifting your bike from the garden or shed than running the risk of waking up the house occupants.
Store in the shed
No room in the house? The house mates/partner object to having a bike in the hallway or you object to it being used as a makeshift clothes horse? Then the shed or garage it is. At least you can make sure there is a secure lock on the door and that your bike is locked. Actually, don't just use a lock, use a chain and lock. And don't just pass a chain through the wheels so it can't be rolled anywhere. Chain it to something heavy - or even better, an anchor in the floor. If your bike is expensive, consider having the shed or garage alarmed. A low-powered radio left at low volume is great. Hearing a voice in the dark when they are expecting it to be quiet will unnerve intruders. Bike thieves also fear an Archers omnibus.
If you absolutely have to store your bike in the garden, once again chain your bike to something that can't be moved. Cover your bike with a waterproof rain cover to prevent water getting to the bike and over that throw an old sheet or cargo net with branches to avoid catching a thief's eye. How easy is it to get into your garden? Are fences easily climbed? Fit loose trellis to the tops of any fences. They will feel unstable when grabbed to be climbed. Thread thorny brambles through them to further deter thieves.
Out and about
- Never let your bike out of your sight. If you're out for a ride with a friend and you pass the sweetshop - if you're going in, one of you needs to watch the bikes. If you're on your own, take your bike into the shop with you.
- Use two good locks to secure your bike and beat the thief. Image courtesy of London Cycling Campaign.
Lock it. Properly. If you're riding into town to do your shopping or you absolutely have to leave your bike while you're out and about, then it goes without saying that you need to lock it to something.
First, look for a place where there are plenty of people around (thieves don't like an audience).
- This mid-range Kryptonite D Lock with 4-foot cable included is great value at £26.99 (RRP £40)
Second, when you lock up your bike use two good locks - ideally of different types, so a thief can't use the same tools to break both locks.
Pass your main lock through at least the front wheel (ideally both wheels), the chain, the frame and the fork if able. Then attach a smaller cable through the front and rear mechs (and rear wheel if it's not already covered), and lock this onto the main lock.
Make sure you've attached at least one of your locks to a railing, lamppost, cycle stand or similar. Too many cyclists have locked their seat post nice and tight to a railing only to return to find just that: a lonely seat post. Don't let this be you!
See this 5-min video by London Cycling Campaign for more tips on how (and how not) to lock your bike.
- Get another bike. Sometimes it's worth riding a cheaper basic bike that you can lock up so that whilst it may get stolen at least it isn't your pride and joy that's being sold in a pub garden.
Bike locks come in a range of guises. Here are the main types:
- Cable lock. These locks consist of a length of woven steel cable, usually with a plastic outer sleeve. They thread through the bike
frame and are either locked with a padlock, combination lock or a lock connected to the end of the cable. They are easily cut through.
- 'D' Lock. This is a piece of curved rigid metal in the shape of a D, that clips and locks at both ends into a locking section. A 'D' lock is harder to cut through than a cable lock and tends to be opened using leverage.
- Armoured cable lock. This is similar to a cable lock, but with the added protection of steel rings covering the cable. This makes the cable extremely difficult to cut and means that if the cable is broken, it will most likely be broken at the lock.
- Chain lock. These locks are made from very strong square link chain. The diameter of these links can be up to 15mm, which makes cutting through them a very arduous task. These are the most expensive locks and will come with a very high anti-theft rating (see below).
- Ground Anchor. This piece of equipment is designed to be fixed into the floor of a garage, giving an anchor point for a bike to be chained to. While the ground anchor itself is extremely strong, the security of your bike still depends on the durability of the lock holding it to the anchor.
We've all seen locks tested on consumer programmes. A £200 lock is set upon by a man with a hairpin or bolt cutters, who breaks it within fifteen seconds. The sad fact is that whilst lock technology moves fast and is always improving, the thieves are never far behind and locks can only hold up for so long at the hands of a determined criminal. If you've been savvy enough to insure your bike or you want it covered on your home insurance then there is something you should look for in a lock. A Sold secure rating. Sold secure is a test house owned and administered by the Master Locksmith Association, which tests locks and awards them a bronze, silver or gold rating, depending on how long they took to break and the tools required. While this is not a guarantee that a lock cannot be broken, you may find that your insurance policy will be invalid without a Sold Secure rated lock - check your individual policy terms to be sure.