As I’m planning a move from Vermont to the city, it occurs to me that I’m going to need to take stronger security measures into account once again. I presently have secure places to park my bike, and while there is a lot of theft in Burlington (a whole lot more the past year or so) it’s still Burlington. Bigger cities have more people, more people means more scumbags. Scumbags with scumbag resources, and they’re more adept at advanced scumbaggery. The North American Scumbag, by the way, is a species known for the inability or pure disinterest in buying or earning their own stuff. While you might save your pennies, make sacrifices and work extra hours to procure that dream motorcycle, the North American Scumbag is largely incapable of these efforts, and would rather just take your stuff and pretend it’s theirs.
It’s a problem, and it’s increasing all over the place the past couple years. If you just bought a motorcycle, chances are you want to keep it. I also fit that category, so I’m looking into heightened security measures to keep my bike mine, and not just give it to the scumbags of the world.
If you’re serious about the security of your bike, and you live in an area with a noticeable amount of theft, you will want to rely on more than one form of security. The best line of defense is to use multiple layers of defense against the scumbags of the world who want to separate you from the things you hold dear to you, because they’re scumbags and that’s what scumbags do.
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind
Security starts at a good motorcycle cover. Thieves look for their prey, and if they can’t ascertain the value of your bike they’re often more likely to keep looking for one they can more readily inspect. Just like with a camera bags, it’s best to avoid branding on the cover. If my bag is plain black, it’s probably just full of books and a sandwich and maybe a tablet computer or something, but if it says “Nikon” then that bag yells out loud “Hey Look! I’m worth $2,000!”
Covers can be cable locked shut, they can have alarms attached, and while they aren’t solid security measures of their own, if a bike thief has to expend extra effort to peek under the bag, they’re likely just gonna say “Aw fuck it” and move on to the next bike. There are hundreds of bikes in the area, no point in working too hard to decide if yours is even worth it. Remember, scumbags aren’t fond of working too hard, otherwise they would just buy their own bike instead of stealing yours.
Alarms Can Alarm
There are several items available that incorporate alarms. Attached to chains, to covers, to disc locks, and alarm is a big loud obnoxious and obvious indicator that your motorcycle is in distress, it’s currently getting a bad touch and needs adult intervention.
Thieves often look for crimes of opportunity, I’ve seen several videos where a scumbag will be walking down the street, spy a bike that they like, will look at a couple things on it then keep walking, only to return a moment later and start to inspect more closely, casually, like he owns the thing and wants to make sure all is good. Then he’ll sit on it, pretending like it’s his so that passersby won’t think anything is awry. He’ll then make his attempts to start it or roll it away, now imagine a loud piercing WEEWEEWEE!!! emits from it. Suddenly everyone on the street knows this isn’t your bike, and that you are in fact a scumbag trying to steal someone else’s bike. That someone else might even be nearby, and he might be a bodybuilder with a black belt in KickAssDo. It’s quite likely that said scumbag will count his losses, say “Fuck it” and walk away as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on. You know, standard scumbag stuff. An alarm isn’t enough to deter theft on it’s own, of course, but when layered with other forms of security it can certainly help.
Lock It Up With Stuff! Preferably To Other Stuff
The motorcycle accessory market sells a wide multitude of items designed to securely lock up your bike, and generally fall into the categories of “Keep the Bike From Rolling” or “Attach It To A Thing.” I’m using both at the same time, because I’m hoping that stealing my bike is going to be so much of a pain in the ass, the neighborhood scumbag is going to opt instead to steal YOUR bike. That’s the game. A professional scumbag who wants your bike is going to get your bike. It might take some extra work, but if he wants it, you know he’s going to get it… so make him not want your bike in the first place by making it too much work to bother with.
Items to keep the bike from rolling include disc locks, which are a device that locks onto your disc brake and keeps the bike’s wheels from rolling forward or backward. A thief can still pick it up and put it into a truck but he’s not going to push it or ride it away. Disc locks can incorporate an alarm, as well as a cable to attach the bike to an immovable object, or at the very least, cabled to your handlebar so that you’ll remember you locked it up and need to take the lock off before riding. There are also brake lever locks, they attach to the right hand grip and lock the front brake lever into the engaged position. Not as secure as a disc lock, but a visible means of saying to your neighborhood scumbags “Want this bike? You’ll need to work for it.” A good deterrent, because scumbags hate working.
Chains and u-locks can go around the front or rear wheel, keeping it from rolling forward or backward. When using these it’s important that you keep it tight to the wheel and don’t leave it touching the ground. A thief can more easily break the lock with leverage or a hammer if it’s on the ground.
Now the best bet is to lock the bike to an immovable object, like a tree or a pole or concrete or something that’s not going to get picked up and carried away. You can even lock it to your buddy’s bike, because one bike is tough to carry away but two bikes? Nope, not gonna happen. Cables and chains are widely available (brands and models will be listed at the end), and they can be expensive. “A chain and a lock? How pricey can that really be?” Mine is around $150. Yep, more expensive than you would expect, but if you want quality products you kinda need to spend it. My bike cost 13k, if 150 bucks means I get to keep it, I’ll spend the 150. On a side note, the lock and chain will last longer than the motorcycle. I’ll never need to buy a second one (unless someone steals it, naturally).
The immovable object part can be bought as well. Heavy duty anchor points than bolt into concrete can be placed permanently in your garage or driveway. It helps, if you’re renting, to get the landlord’s permission, but then it’s not like your name is on the thing, so…
In the era of computeriffic bluetoothedness there are some techish countermeasures you can employ to keep your motorcycle… your motorcycle. Your ignition can be hijacked with simple tools, but you can install a secondary ignition somewhere the thief is unaware of, that needs to be engaged for the bike to start.
Another countermeasure is a GPS tracker. These are widely available means to recover your bike post-theft, should none of your other means of protection do their job. These can be installed easily and activated for as little as $50 a year. I pay more for the anti-virus protection on my laptop, which cost 20 times less than my motorcycle. No-brainer.
Organized professional scumbags will often sell the bike in parts, rather than a complete motorcycle. Plenty of profit but less risk of getting caught. There are ways to mark each and every part, such as a paint with a unique marker (such as “SmartWater“), which only shows up under UV light. This is more a means of helping police identify your property after it’s been stolen.
Less Fancy Good Ideas
Aside from spending money on a 15-pound lock and chain, there are other ways you can avoid getting your bike swiped.
There’s an old Bonnie Raitt song from the 70’s that advised women who have a good thing to not “Advertise Your Man.” Same can be said for your bike. If you’re in an area where greater theft is a possibility, don’t wash it and wax it on your front lawn. Don’t park it on your front lawn. People who see your bike will covet your bike, because it’s a thing of beauty and majesty, but scumbags will go that one step further and just take a thing they see that they want. Also, if you’re riding around and feel like someone is following you, it’s always possible they want to see where you park your bike for the night. I mean not always, they might just be someone who you cut off in traffic and they want to follow you home to shoot you, but still, it’s possible they might want to steal your bike instead. Just one more thing to keep in mind as we ride alongside the 4-wheeled enemy.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to parking. Should you park someplace conspicuous and brightly-lit so that a scumbag will be less likely to steal your bike, or do you park it someplace dark and tucked away so they don’t notice it in the first place? I can’t answer that, but what I can advise is to look up when you park it. See any security cameras, or those big brothery CCTV cameras that are at every intersection and on a zillion corners all over town? Park near that. Your thief will be recorded stealing your bike. I’d also recommend against parking in large underground parking garages. Those are prime hunting grounds for scumbags.
If you manage to recover your bike you’ll need to be able to prove it’s yours. Start by taking photos of your bike from a number of angles. Consider tagging your bike in various places with uniquely identifiable markings or numbers. Reconsider repainting that bit of fairing that got scraped when parking one day, it too is a unique marking that can be identified as yours.
Also, when leaving your helmet with your bike, there’s a lock for that, too. Worried about thieves just cutting the chinstrap you locked it with? Get a cable lock and run it through the chin guard on your full-face helmet.
Another simple tip? Bring a screwdriver and remove your clutch lever when you park it. It takes seconds, and guarantees no one will be riding it away. You could also just take out the main fuse, the bike won’t start up without it.
Good luck keeping your bike, and keep an eye out for the scumbags. Following is a list of recommended products. This blog isn’t monetized, by the way, so I’m not advertising stuff because I’m being paid to, I’m just sharing info about products I genuinely believe in, many of which I have invested in myself.
Disclaimer: Throughout this article I realize I’m painting motorcycle thieves with a broad brush, referring to them as “scumbags” and suggesting they don’t like to work or earn the things they want. I stand by that accusation.
Kryptonite NYC Fahgettaboudit Chain
This thing is heavy. 15 pounds heavy. It’s also damned near impenetrable. The Fahgettaboudit chain is one of the best on the market, and has been for the past 20 years… you’ll just need a saddlebag to carry it in.
Xena Disc Lock with Alarm
A disc lock isn’t always a great countermeasure on its own, however, if you’re using multiple forms of anti-theft this one is small and easy to stick into your bag, and it’s an easy way to add an alarm system to your bike.
Kryptonite Stronghold Anchor
If you have a garage or other dedicated parking spot, this is a superb anchor to bolt right into the concrete. Once it’s in there, it’s probably gonna stay there ’til the end of time, so measure twice and drill once.
Dowco Weatherall Plus Cover Alarm
It’s a simple $20 alarm that you put into the pocket of your Weatherall cover (or you can put it anywhere there’s a pocket for it, or just make a pocket) and clip the cable you your bike. Someone pulls on the cover, the cable pops out and the alarm goes off.
Bully Locks Grip Lock
It’s a $50 lock that locks the throttle as well as the front brake in place. Available in black, red and yellow. I opt for the nice conspicuous yellow one.
Monimoto Anti-Theft Tracker
A tracking device you can install onto your bike that is tracked via GPS using an app on your phone. It’s activated with a paired keyfob, when you walk away from the bike (with the fob) the system is armed. If it moves you get a phone call from the system, and it is tracked using the app as well as a series of text messages. If someone takes your bike for a joyride, you can find where they dumped it. If someone steals it, you know where it is. It’s pricey and requires a monthly subscription, but I sleep better at night knowing it’s there looking out for me.